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Reviews Written by
Clive P L Young "Clive Young" (London, England)

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Quartered Safe Out Here
Quartered Safe Out Here
by George MacDonald Fraser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars War in the raw, 16 May 2017
The creator of the marvellous ‘Flashman’ novels was a 19 year old infantry soldier in the Cumbrian borderers in Burma in early 1945. The 14th army was chasing the disintegrating but still very dangerous Japanese army towards Rangoon and MacDonald Fraser was in the front-line of ‘war in the raw’ I, the last major land campaign of the war. As you would expect from his novels, the author has a keen ear for authentic language and you get a real feel for how his fellow soldiers spoke, acted and thought at the time. The tale is fragmented due to both the fog of war and to some extent the fog of memory, MacDonald Fraser was in his seventies when he wrote his memoir. One of his stated motivations for writing was to counter ‘myth, revisionist history, fashionable ideas and reactions’ about the war, and while this is understandable and often moving, the intrusion of modern, ostentatiously un-PC fogeyish tirades weakened the book for me. MacDonald Fraser is a truly great writer of war and his former companions could and should have been left to speak for themselves.


Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
by Tim Marshall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Topical topography for everyone, 16 Feb. 2017
How can you ‘explain’ Russia? Or China? Anyone even vaguely interested in world affairs and politics should read this fascinating and accessible book straight away. It genuinely changes the way you see the world. I finished the book a few weeks ago and find myself remembering and using Marshall’s clever analysis to make sense of rolling news stories. You will soon be amazing/boring your friends and families with tales of Russia’s endless search for a warm water port, China’s water crisis and the strategic threat of Arctic global warming...


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
by Max Brooks
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual zombie yarn, 16 Feb. 2017
Brooks’ unusual and expectedly sophisticated zombie pandemic tale takes a Studs Terkel type ‘oral history’ approach. Through fragmented short testimonies an effective mosaic picture of a global pandemic is constructed. This works quite well, much ground is covered efficiently, plausibly documenting the public chaos, and the bewildered response of governments and the military. The multiple viewpoints are a little less engaging but an interesting approach. Some fantasies rather jar; S Africa and Israel (pioneers), Cuba (reform), the UK (royalism), N Korea (vanishing) and so on, but on the whole a good read.


Ice Station Zebra
Ice Station Zebra
by Alistair MacLean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Still punchy Polar page-turner, 15 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Ice Station Zebra (Paperback)
Haven't read an Alistair MacLean for 30 years, had forgotten what a good writer he was. Pacy and gripping, Zebra has stood up well to the test of time, despite the tech-heavy plot you would think might have aged. The atmosphere on the nuclear sub and Arctic ice cap are exceptionally well described with a genuine air of tension throughout. MacLean is not so strong on characterisation though so the Agatha Christie whodunnit denouement doesn't quite bite as it should; you just don't know enough about the accused. But a damn enjoyable read nonetheless.


The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
by Patrick Hennessey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Millenial war, 6 July 2016
What is it like to fight as a millenial soldier in a modern war? Hennessey takes us right into the heat and dust and blood of Afghanistan. For all the modern kit and internet and IED-proof vehicles, the emotional, individual impact of war seems timeless. The writing is impressionistic, though, even pomo, a fragmented, rushed, mash up of unglossed military jargon, random characters, chaotic unfinished stories, email dispatches, pop culture references and jarring boys-own, bayonet-led combat. A bit hard to get into initialliy, the cumulative effect is quite gripping. Hennessy was clearly a very good soldier but eventually Catch 22 madness of military life takes its toll.


Prague Fatale: Bernie Gunther Thriller 8 (Bernie Gunther Mystery 8)
Prague Fatale: Bernie Gunther Thriller 8 (Bernie Gunther Mystery 8)
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Guther "does" Poirot, 6 April 2016
Kerr's original Berlin Noir trilogy and the post-war follow up The One From the Other were quite oustanding and the Marlowesque Bernie Gunther character a splendid invention. The addition to the franchise is OK, but Kerr sees to be over-working this literary seam. There is some serious shark-jumping going on as Gunter has to solve a bizarre locked-room murder in Prague at the behest of SS-General Heydrich. The writing is as good as you'd expect, but again needed some editorial tightening. The period detail and feel are still impressive (though the research now sometimes seems a bit forced), and the shocking brutality of Nazi occupation of the Czech capital is worth reiterating, but I hope Bernie doesn't outstay his welcome.


VEDONEIRE Mens Wax Jacket (3050 BLACK) waxed motorbike style
VEDONEIRE Mens Wax Jacket (3050 BLACK) waxed motorbike style
Price: £99.99 - £125.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good looks and value, 15 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good looking jacket, got admiring comments from pals. Quality seems fine, worn it now for a couple of months, no prob.
Waterproof but really has a more plasticky than a waxy feel to it. Not breathable either, gets sweaty in warmish weather.
So, not a Barbour or a Belstaff but pretty good value for money, I wear it a lot and and have no regrets at all buying it.


Classic Wool Handle Traditional Herringbone Style Tweed Waistcoat Grey Large
Classic Wool Handle Traditional Herringbone Style Tweed Waistcoat Grey Large
Offered by Clermont Direct Ltd
Price: £29.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good, generous fit have been wearing it for a ..., 7 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Really good, generous fit have been wearing it for a while.
Not "false pockets", they just have to be unpicked (with care).


Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics)
Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Berger
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art and power, 5 Dec. 2015
Not surprising to see why John Berger's 1972 polemic is now widely regarded as a classic of visual culture studies. Art can "define our experience more precisely in areas where words are inadequate. (Seeing comes before words.) Not only our personal experience, but also the essential historical experience ofour relation with the past". He therefore opens with an attack on the academic "mystification" of art-as-object that conceals and decontextualises the underlying relationships between the subject, the artist and their social context. This is important, "A people or class which is cut off from its own past is far less free to choose and to act as a people than one that has been able to situate itself in history". The image of women in classical art, and especially "the nude" is explored as a case-study of both the unconscious and deliberate representation of power relationships. For me, however, the most powerful section was the economic foundations of oil painting. The technique was used to portray the solidity of posessions as symbols of power and status of a growing moneyed class. "Merchandise became the actual subject matter of works of art" and so underlined "you are what you have". The result was mostly banal, save the tiny group of masters such as Rembrandt who broke out of the stultifying convention (often to their financial detriment). Just as calssical oil paintings died out as a cohesive art form their consumerist banality, according to Berger led to the the bizare language of advertising with its product-led dreamworld that defines and dominates our capitalist "freedoms". Powerful stuff, don't miss!


The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tale of "girls" off the rails, 5 Dec. 2015
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
Righty praised as a "page turner", a claustrophobic almost misanthropic rollercoaster of damaged, half-demented people apparently unable to get their lives on track. The journey focuses on drunkard Rachel, the epitomy of the unreliable narrator who stumbles into a situation well beyond her haphazard control and drink-fuzzy undertanding. The author cleverly (and entertainingly - there is a very dark humour in there) structures Rachel's corkscrewing, alcohol-fueled trajectory as both passenger and participant, occasionaly exploring the other female participants' views to open the landscape. You just can't help but warm to daft, drowning Rachel but none of the "girls" come out too well, all seemingly driven by obsession and irrationality. Don't worry, the male protagonists are portrayed as even worse, uniformly vain and potentially violent. All credit therefore to the author for keeping the narrow focus so tightly gripping and still achieving quite a few unexpected turns on the route (well, I didn't see them coming, anyway).


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