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Caterkiller (Darlington, UK)

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Mimi and Toutou Go Forth: The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika
Mimi and Toutou Go Forth: The Bizarre Battle of Lake Tanganyika
by Giles Foden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but ends a bit disjointedly, 13 Dec. 2005
This is a fascinating study of one of the more obscure aspects of Britain's WW1 campaign. It is an entertaining read describing how a Biritsh expeditionary force led by a commander considered a liability by every other section of the military somehow led his men to complete their objectives, and ultimately to wrest control of Lake Tanganyiki from Germany. The main character, Spicer, is like a comic book Captain Mainwaring, constantly boasting of his hunting and military exploits despite evidence to the contrary, and is eventually recalled to Britain after falling out with Britain's Belgian allies. The actual story of Mimi and Toutou (Spicer's two boats) is well written and engrossing but the book flags badly at the end with an over lengthy chapter on the film "African Queen", which was partly based on the story of Mimi & Toutou, and a tour of the region by the author, both of which would have been better served by a separate book. Still, an easy read and very entertaining.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2008 11:47 AM GMT


Kabul Catastrophe: The Invasion and Retreat 1839-1842 (Prion Lost Treasures)
Kabul Catastrophe: The Invasion and Retreat 1839-1842 (Prion Lost Treasures)
by Patrick Arthur Macrory
Edition: Paperback

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-dropping incompetence, 30 Nov. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The most amazing thing about the Retreat from Kabul is how it appears to be a forgotten incident in history. It is easily a catastrophe to be placed alongside the Light Brigade, Rourke's Drift and Gallipoli in the peons of British military disasters. The recent shenanigans in Iraq make this doubley relevant: most powerful nation on Earth invades a Middle Eastern state to enact regime change, with no exit strategy, in the face of a hostile populace. The British venture was doomed from the start: Afghanistan had few natural resources to cater for an invading army, cue inflation and localised starvation wherever they went. As a fighting force they were compromised by each officer bringing with them an average of ten servants each, plus their wives and children. Elementary mistakes were made such as placing their food and armaments store outside of their encampments (otheriwse where would they accomodate all the servants?) where they were easy pickings for marauding Afghan warlords. Military tactics which worked fine at Waterloo simply gave the Afghan guerillas and cavalry a bigger target to aim at, and to top it all they were commanded by a septigenarian in precarious health, who was medically incapable of issuing orders for several days at a time.
All of this is described in excruciating detail, then onto the Retreat during which 16,000 soldiers and hangers on were slaughtered over three days by Afghan snipers, and their wives, servants and Indian sepoys being little more than cannon fodder. Overall this book is engrossing, frightening and unbelievable. The best history book I have read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2008 11:57 AM GMT


Papyrus: VOLUME 1
Papyrus: VOLUME 1
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £19.95

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The perfect soundtrack to your midlife crisis, 7 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Papyrus: VOLUME 1 (Audio CD)
Where can I start when it comes to reviewing this unlistenable dirge? This is major free-form performing that makes Albert Ayler seem as accessible as Britney. There is no rhythm (on some tracks it's a struggle to identify the instrument being played), no tunes, no talent. This is the contemporary art installation of jazz: pointless, understood only by the artist, and endlessly discussed by jazz purists who will regard listening to it as the equivalent of ascending to a higher astral plain. They are wrong. The only people who will enjoy this will be the leather beret-wearing, goatee beard-sporting anoraks who always attend jazz gigs having "accidentally" forgotten to remove their saxaphone neck-strap before leaving the house. These "send a glass-eye to sleep" bores must be destroyed. Not buying this album is the first step.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2011 3:12 PM BST


The Worst Journey In The World
The Worst Journey In The World
by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Edition: Paperback

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christ, it's cold, 3 Oct. 2005
This has to go down as one of the most depressing yet exhilarating books ever to have been written. The sheer desolateness of the Antarctic landscape coupled by bad planning allow the reader to foresee the desperate conclusion to Scotts second expedition to the South Pole almost from the first chapter. Firstly the motorised sledges intended for the polar journey refuse to work in the -47C temperatures, the ponies used by Scott for pulling the sledges struggle from the start and the near-suicidal mission to collect Emperor penguin eggs from the birds' winter retreat uses up vast amounts of supplies and stamina. (The eggs later lie forgotten for months in the Natural History Museum). This book removes any romanticism from polar exploration: it takes nearly an hour to defrost a sleeping bag, don't expect more than four hours sleep per night, be prepared to shoot and cut up your faithfull pony for meat and spend half your time trying to stop your sled-dogs from eating each other. Although the conclusion of the journey is well known this is still a throughly engrossing book, just add a few maps in any furue reprint.


The Gangs Of New Orleans: An Informal History of the French Quarter Underworld
The Gangs Of New Orleans: An Informal History of the French Quarter Underworld
by Herbert Asbury
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent history of an amazing city, 16 Sept. 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Ignore the title: this book covers more than just the gangs. The founding of New Orleans is described in detail followed by histories of the bordellos, the history of slavery and the culture of the slaves, the history of voodoo in the city via diversions into riverboat gambling and the post-Civil War Yankee administration. An engrossing read, even surpassing the author's superlative "Gangs of New York".


Rain Men: Madness of Cricket
Rain Men: Madness of Cricket
by Marcus Berkmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly amusing in the main, casualty-ward funny in others, 11 Sept. 2005
To get the most out of this book you need to be familiar with the minutae of village cricket and the characters of bowlers,umpires and batsmen. The book is at its most sprightly when describing the annual rituals of the cricket fan: pre-season anticipation, the joys of listening to overseas test matches at 3am, and how to "out" youself as a cricket-fan in present football-obssessed climate. The book slows down though when concerning the characters involved: compulsive-obssessives, deluded has-beens and never-weres who can be found in any sport, not just cricket. And don't even get the author started on women's cricket. The dissappointing chapters of the book peppered with in-jokes and cartoon cricketers are more than compensated for by the sections on the "joys" of attending a test match during England's 1990's wilderness years, and an hilarious section on the career of world-class-cure-for-insomnia blocker Chris Tavare: I could quite happily have read another five chapters on that subject.


Rebels and Redcoats: The American Revolutionary War
Rebels and Redcoats: The American Revolutionary War
by Hugh Bicheno
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For experts only, 26 July 2005
Despite its claims this book fails to convey clearly the events leading up to the American Revolution. Key events such as the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's midnight ride and the events at Lexington and Concord are skirted over or, the author presumes that the reader's knowledge of these events is already extensive. The characters of the revolution, Adams (Sam and John), Revere, Washington, Franklin and Jefferson are not fleshed out in any way so although one gets a sense of what they did you are left with no idea of their background or motivation, or of the logistics of organising a "spontaneous" revolution. Anyone who has read Richard Holmes's books "Redcoat" and "Wellington" and are buying this book after watching his TV series beware: the narrative is as dry as dust with none of the atmosphere of Holmes's own writings.


Boo Hoo: A Dot Com Story
Boo Hoo: A Dot Com Story
by Ernst Malmsten
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe Swedes should stick to furniture, 3 Dec. 2004
It is difficult to know where to start with this book, there were so many problems with boo.com's business plan. Their project was undoubtedly ambitious: launch a fashion retail website across Europe and the US but in planning the project the boo founders believed that THEY were the fashion house,not a retail business. They did not need to buy/lease offices in downtown London, Paris and New York (three of the four most expensive cities on Earth) and their spending beggers belief: [...] per day for an interim CFO, recruiting superstar hairdressers to design a hairstyle for their "virtual shop assistant", and writers from Vogue and Vanity Fair for their stillborn virtual fashion magazine. Guys: stick to the basics; locate your ONE office in the cheapest part of Indiana/South Wales, hire any accountant as FD (a company turning over [...] in 3 months does not need Warren Buffet), and focus on your core activities: you do not need eighteen seperate IT vendors to run your company website and back office. Malmsten does at least lay out a lot of cold facts in this book and does not give us a hard luck story (which would have been pretty hard to do after spending shareholders capital on 5 star hotels and flights on Concorde). I urge anyone with a business idea to check this out and avoid the pitfalls of boo.com.


The Naked and the Dead (Flamingo modern classics)
The Naked and the Dead (Flamingo modern classics)
by Norman Mailer
Edition: Paperback

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A multiple-levelled marvel, 30 July 2003
Although superficially a war novel the predominent themes of this book are escapism and the disappointment of unfulfilled desires. Each chapter ends with a potted biography of each protagonist and the life they have left behind in the US, academic failure, an unfulfilling job or a loveless marriage and effectively juxtaposes these incidents against the grind, boredom and sheer physical trauma of war. In these cases these men have escaped an imagined hell for a real one. Although in the main this book is downbeat it remains rivetting, in particular a 300 page passage covering the platoons mission through the jungle which demands to be read at one sitting and ends with a bizarre piece of Catch 22 style black humour.


Dr.No (James Bond 007)
Dr.No (James Bond 007)
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slice of Quaint yet Thrilling Machismo, 8 July 2002
This review is from: Dr.No (James Bond 007) (Paperback)
What first draws the reader into this compulsive page-turner is the sheer contrast between the freeze-dried, low-cal, caffiene free Bond of the cinema and this source material where Bond is an almost vulnerable figure in parts but still a slave to his notorious libido. The action is terrifically vivid particularly when a poinsonous centipide is placed in Bond's bed 9it was replaced by a rather more cliched tarantula in the film) and Fleming describes every heartbeat and bead in sweat in skin-crawling detail. Despite the age of the book Fleming does not balk from emphasising Bonds carnal desires but he also frequently recalls past dangers and injuries (it would surely shock cinema audiences to see Pierce Brosnan get more than a cursory scratch). Although there are occassional flashes of political incorrectness and a hilariously coy reference to Bond "uttering a four-letter word" this classic adventure should be read by anyone who hasn't grown out of classic Boys Own adventure.


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