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EFMOL "eugeneol" (Dublin)

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Lincoln: A Foreigner's Quest
Lincoln: A Foreigner's Quest
by Jan Morris
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I want more again!, 7 May 2003
This short book is an excellent introduction to the life of Abraham Lincoln. It is nicely written and easy to read.
However, it is short on the detail that an avid biography reader (like me) craves, and I therefore felt the index was unnecessary.
It relies on the author's personal experiences on visiting Lincoln Memorials/Monuments/Sites - and towards the end it simply reproduces some of Lincoln's more famous letters.
While I enjoyed the book, it left me wanting a lot more, and it didn't really tell me much more about Lincoln than is generally known.
I will definitely go for a more detailed biography on Abe.

Blue Horizon (The Courtneys)
Blue Horizon (The Courtneys)
by Wilbur Smith
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Wilbur Smith - 5 stars!, 16 April 2003
I really like Wilbur Smith books - in fact I have read them all. So when a new one comes out, I rush to the bookshop to get a copy - this time I managed to get a signed copy by the man himself!
I found the family trees at WS's web site a good help in trying to remember the Courtney family names from previous books. In fact, having this sometimes made the reminders that WS employs to jog readers memories really helpful - I'd recommend this to all readers.
The book itself is, as with all WS books, fast paced and almost unputdownable. WS manages to keep several subplots going at the same time without the reader losing touch with any of them. Things happen so fast that I almost found myself turning the last page looking for more - as always, WS leaves the door open for another saga about the Courtneys.
I find facinating WS's descriptions of violent death and injury - you can almost feel the blades or gunshot entering your own body. Bloodthirsty descriptions, but not in a gratuitous way. Less endearing are certain bodily functions also described in some detail.
I can't wait for the next WS book. This one is an absolute must for WS fans - I'd recommend to new readers to check out earlier Courtney novels before reading this one. In this way you get maximum enjoyment.

"Tellicherry" Five: Transportation of Michael Dwyer and the Wicklow Rebels
"Tellicherry" Five: Transportation of Michael Dwyer and the Wicklow Rebels
by Kieran Sheedy
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I already reviewed this book..., 25 Mar. 2003
Several of my recent reviews (including one for this book) have not been posted and I'm dropping near to the bottom of the Top 1000 Reviewer list!
I enjoyed this book which is based on an RTE TV program of the same name. I grew up in Wicklow where Dwyer was a legend and heard many stories about him as a child. However, very little is known about his time in Australia and for this I enjoyed the book. A signifcant amount of research was obviously done by the author in determining the purchases and sales of the TC 5 in Australia.
The excessive amount of typos spoiled this book a bit, but nevertheless I'd recommend it for students of early 19th century Irish history.

An Unsung Hero: The Remarkable Story of Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor
An Unsung Hero: The Remarkable Story of Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor
by Michael Smith
Edition: Paperback

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb biography of forgotten Antartic hero, 12 Mar. 2003
The first stiking thing about this book is Frank Hurley's magnificent photograph of Crean on the cover. This picture conveys as toughness and resoluteness that characterized Crean's adventures - if ever a book can be judged by its cover, this is it.
The story of Shackleton's expedition to the Antartic has had a huge revival in that past few years, and Michael Smith is partly responsible for this in my view. From start to finsh, I enjoyed every page of this story which will add another interesting view to students/readers of Antartic explorations. Crean's participation in what must be one of the 20th centuries survival stories is heroic. Smith's book now ensures that Crean is no longer an unsung hero.
Highly recommended!

Dangerous Waters: The Life and Death of Erskine Childers
Dangerous Waters: The Life and Death of Erskine Childers
by Leonard Piper
Edition: Hardcover

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings about this - Irish viewpoint, 11 Mar. 2003
Erskine Childers is the kind of hero that we like in Ireland - someone who dies (preferably by execution) for Ireland. Childers is rightly lauded as having made a significant contribution to the fight for Irish Independence. He is remembered in Ireland for three things: Gun-running with the "Asgard", getting shot for possession of a gun given to him by Michael Collins, and being the father of a President of Ireland (Erskine Childers Junior in 1970's.
Leonard Piper writes an interesting account of Childers' early life and and his career as a Civil Servant, Writer, and Soldier. Apart from authoring "The Riddle of the Sands", very little is generally known about him in Ireland until his ill-fated involvement in Irish politics. For me, this was the most enjoyable part of the book. Childers' single minded dedication to anything he participated in is viewed as a strength by Piper, and rightly so.
Some critiscism here - Piper obviously went to great lengths researching his book. However, I dislike the description of the sinking of a German destroyer in WW1 that Childers' participated in. Simply naming the destroyer would have lent a more authentic air to this story - this is only a minor issue that could easily be corrected in future editions.
However, I take issue with his painting Childers almost as a death-wish seeking zealot when it comes to Irish politics. The Treaty negotiations are poorly dealt with, and the subsequent dealings in the Treaty debates on the Dail get scant attention - surprisingly so in my view as this was clearly the beginning of the road to disaster for Childers. He is painted as someone who easily made enemies, though only when he came to Ireland. The political landscape in Ireland in the early 1920's meant that Childers was one of the first victims of the savage execution policy of the then government as it struggled to maintain order.
Finally, Piper succesfullly banishes any idea that Childers was a spy for the British. He was simply an idealist looking for a cause - he (among many others) picked the wrong side in a bitter Civil War.

Robert Emmet: A Life
Robert Emmet: A Life
by Patrick M. Geoghegan
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about an Irish legend, 21 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Robert Emmet: A Life (Hardcover)
Every Irish school child learns about Robert Emmet's 1803 so-called Rebellion. He is regarded as something of a legend, but other than his pathetic "rebellion" and his "let not my epitaph be written" speech from the dock - many Irish people do not know that much about him. Paddy Geoghegan's excellent book marking the 200th anniversary of his death is a comprehensive read (if occasionally guilty of duplication - eg, two descriptions of Emmet's execution).
The decision as to whether Emmet's hero or legend status is justified is very much left up to the reader. Geogeghan gives an excellent historic account of events and Emmet's participation in them. The botched rebellion and the reasons for its failure are described, and very much paint Emmet as an idealist for whom the word "planning" meant very little. The comparison with Patrick Pearse's "sacrifice" in 1916 is a valid one.
This book is a must for students of late 18th and early 19th century Irish history and I enjoyed it very much - RECOMMENDED!

The Political Animal: An Anatomy
The Political Animal: An Anatomy
by Jeremy Paxman
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!, 21 Feb. 2003
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It is often amusing - though occasionally I found some efforts at amusement not that funny. The best effort at amusement, not one of Paxman's, was the reference to Churchill's quote "buggers can't be choosers" (which I had not heard before).
Anybody picking up this book will most certainly have opinions on the ambition and honesty of politicians. The actions and promises of politicians create their own stereotyping of themselves - if anything this book emphasises this stereotype. There seems to have been politicians of all types occupying the hallowed seats in the House of Commons. Every electorate deserves what it gets - and the British certainly got its fair share of liars and corrupt MPs.
I liked the style of bringing the reader from the aspiring MP seeking election right up through the ranks to Prime Minister.
This book could be written about any democracy - only the names and scandals will change. I'm sure there are rich pickings for aspiring authors to follow Paxman's example here.
It is easy to read and not too demanding on brain power - RECOMMENDED.

The Lost King of France: Revolution, Revenge and the Search for Louis XVII
The Lost King of France: Revolution, Revenge and the Search for Louis XVII
by Deborah Cadbury
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Facinating story - no need for history of France, 5 Nov. 2002
I enjoyed this book having not before heard much about Louis XVII. The story of how genetic evidence was used to track down the real identity of Louis-Charles is facinating and well told. It was simple enough not to require a degree in Genetics, but detailed enough to follow how this identity was determined.
However, for the first part of the book, it felt like I was reading a biography of Marie-Antoinette. There was very little about the then Dauphin, as I'm sure it would have been difficult to find much interesting to write about a ten year old boy who died in 1795 (apologies to any ten-year olds reading this!). This build up was rather unnecessary in my view, and indeed would not provide much more information on the French revolution than that found in elementary school history books.
All in all, a very good read - with the suspense about Louis XVII and his imposters being kept right to the end.

Churchill: A Biography
Churchill: A Biography
by Roy Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb biography - go buy it., 30 July 2002
This review is from: Churchill: A Biography (Hardcover)
I read this biography following a review by Garret Fitzgerald (former PM of Ireland), and I was not disappointed with his recommendation. Everyone knows that WSC was a true giant of 20th century politics and an inspiring war leader, but Roy Jenkins' book goes much deeper than this.
The book is slightly heavy going in certain places - in particular, the "Wilderness Years" had little appeal to me. As an avid reader of biographies, I found for the most part the right balance of personal detail with historical record. Being Irish, I found that much of the early 20th century material relies on the reader's knowledge of British history, which I did not have.
I found the frequent comparisons of events in WSC's political life to events of recent years a great way for RJ to place events in context and to give them a clearer understanding.
Like many other reviewers, I found the liberal use by RJ of words I've never heard of before unnesessary and occasionally irritating. The grammar is first class throughout, though there is a duplication of the word "the" at the bottom of page 706 in the hard back edition (I felt a certain triumph on spotting this error). However, readers should not be put off by RJ's seemingly superior vocabulary.
This book is a must for readers of biographies. It is a superb piece of work that captures all the inspiration and leadership qualities of a remarkable man.

by Robin Cook
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Abduction? Take it away..., 25 July 2002
This review is from: Abduction (Hardcover)
This was my first (and possibly last) Robin Cook book which I purchased on impulse in the Airport on the way to a week's holiday in the sun. I should be more careful with my impulses.
The book starts out well with interesting, if unspectacular, scene setting. As an ex-SCUBA diver myself, I found the drilling and diving scenes good to read until the main characters reached the bottom of the sea. From here the story goes rapidly down hill and loses what little plot the book has. The characters are weak, but I kept going to the end hoping in vain that it would improve. As for the end? I'll not spoil it for anyone here, but what a let down it was.
Abduction - only for Robin Cook fans.

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