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R. S. Stanier "Robert Stanier" (London)

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by Clive Woodward
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still worth reading, despite the Lions debacle, 31 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Winning! (Paperback)
Since the Lions tour, Woodward's stock has plummeted, so is this guide to elite management still worth reading?
I would say, Yes, and you can actually begin to see why his approach worked with England and not with the Lions.
The basic thesis is that English rugby for decades could not think 'outside the box' and, with his business background, Woodward helped them to do this. That, combined with a relentlesss commitment to innovation, means that England were given every chance of winning the 2003 World Cup.
It's written for the cross-over business/ sports market, but is pretty accessible even if you have little interest in the other of these two areas. As a result, there's less player assessment than a rugby fan might hope for (though, reading between the lines, there are a few titbits: Woodward feels Phil de Glanville and maybe even Jeremy Guscott (hard to be sure on this), for example, held back the team.)
What's impressive about Woodward is his drive to try any route (eye coaching, training with the marines, redecorating the changing rooms) to give England the edge and his commitment to innovating, rather than just simply copying what the All Blacks were doing. A good example is changing shirts at half-time. It's still, let's face it, a pretty wacky idea, but it not only worked, but has been copied across the world.
He is also prepared to rethink the whole sport: instead of 'backs' and 'forwards', the game should be divided into 'attack' and 'defence'. And why not get a specialist kicking coach?
It's obvious now, but it wasn't before Woodward. And I would be very interested to see how he gets on in football (which he reveals is his first and true love). I feel certain he would get a specialist 'heading' coach, a 'taking penalties' coach, a 'corners' coach etc. And, frankly, I bet football teams would benefit as a result. Football's got all this money: why on earth aren't they doing this kind of coaching?
The key thing is, his approach takes time, so it will work in a football club, but not with an international team, unless they change the structure of the game.
It's noteworthy how much England cricket has learnt from the way Woodward structured the rugby team, and we seem to be getting the benefits of that now.
Woodward is far from perfect. He's a bit zealous in proclaiming the usefulness of some of his odder innovations, but at least he tries things out. And he was a crucial part in getting England to win the World Cup in 2003.
A very good book, that has made me think about what I could do consistently to improve my own performance at work, as well as leaving me with the warm glow of reliving the World Cup triumph.

Shooting History: A Personal Journey
Shooting History: A Personal Journey
by Jon Snow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent: informs, educates and entertains, 30 Aug. 2005
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This is a terrific memoir: it is hard to classify, though: he mixes an account of his professional life with his views on world events, while the first part is essentially an autobiography of his life up to the age of 21. Here, his account of being brought up by an authoritarian pillar of the establishment and failing to please him is an excellent evocation of being a child in England in the early Sixties.
Yet the real heart of the book is Snow's years as a foreign correspondent for ITN. He tells his tales with flair, passion and insight.
Thus, on one page, you are wondering about Britain's failure to accept its responsibilities to Uganda in the 1970s; on the next, you are wondering about the fall-out from a whirlwind relationship he falls into, while covering events there: it's a beautifully written little vignette. For me, this made it a wonderfully entertaining read, though I imagine it would be frustrating for some.
That it is self-consciously subjective means that he can afford to be opinionated as he can't on Channel Four News. A good example of where this works well is in his chapters on America. As he covers the wars in Central America in which the States played an ugly hand in the 1970s, you sense his anger. Thus, it is all the more compelling when he becomes Washington correspondent in the 80s and is instantly seduced by America's can-do culture and sympathy for freedom of information and values he holds dear.
It's inevitably less interesting once his career takes him behind the News desk in the 1990s, but he still has a coherent and interesting take on world affairs which is worth reading.
Ironically, given his antipathy to the BBC, Snow has achieved the Reithian triumvirate: he informs, he educates and he entertains.
This would make a great Christmas or birthday present for anyone with a reasonable interest in world politics but wouldn't enjoy having to wade through a dry history. I am already planning it to give it to several friends.

Reading Texts, Seeking Wisdom: Scripture and Theology
Reading Texts, Seeking Wisdom: Scripture and Theology
by David F. Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection of essays linking scripture to theology, 18 May 2005
There is a general thesis behind this collection of essays, which is the attempt to try to rectify the division between doctrinal theologians and biblical scholars.
Scripture asks to be treated theologically, not picked apart by dry historical criticism, so why not do so? Reading theology out of scripture need not be the preserve of biblical conservatives: serious academics can (and should) do it too.
The essays are the result of a symposium at Cambridge University (UK) in 2003, so that's where the bulk of the academics are coming from. Essays that stand out include Rowan Williams on viewing the Bible as a sacred text (which has to be of interest to anyone considering how he is handling the Anglican Church with the Windsor report et al) and Diana Lipton, a Jewish academic, considering what to do with "unacceptable" Biblical texts, looking at the text in Deuteronomy that calls for the exterminatation of Amalek: how does this read in the light of the Holocaust?
This is a great collection: it's lively, yet penetrating and none of the essays outstays their welcome by being too long.

Documents of the English Reformation (Library of Ecclesiastical History)
Documents of the English Reformation (Library of Ecclesiastical History)
by Gerald Bray
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful compilation of Reformation documents, 18 May 2005
This is very useful if you are studying the Reformation and want to get easy access to documents in their original wording.
It is excellent in its coverage of all the major official documents e.g. Injunctions, Articles, Acts and Prefaces to Bibles.
If you are looking for the softer stuff with more colour, like churchwarden's accounts, pamphlets or accounts of trials and visitations, you won't find it here. For that sort of thing, try "Religion and Society in Early Modern England: a sourcebook" (Ed. Cressy and Ferrell) for a starter.

Playing With Fire
Playing With Fire
by Nasser Hussain
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Constantly insightful and utterly honest, 24 Jan. 2005
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This review is from: Playing With Fire (Hardcover)
As Hussain himself says, sometimes the greatest cricketers aren't the best observers of the game: they have never had to try at it and so often don't understand what they are doing.
Hussain wasn't among the great batsmen of his time, but his observations are correspondingly all the better for that. He turned it to his advantage as an insightful captain, both in terms of tactics and man management, and now he describes his career brilliantly. Hearing about how he got the best out of someone like Andrew Caddick is fascinating and he shows his debt to Brearley in this.
Yet beyond the tactics, you get an extraordinary picture of a bundle of neuroses. Hussain dreaded going into bat throughout his entire career (rarely sleeping properly the previous night) and knows that he got too worked up about it: his best innings, he recognises, were when the top order collapsed and he was in before he had time to realise it.
Many other cricketers in their autobiographies don't think about why they are the way they are but Hussain goes beyond this: he knows just how much the drive from his father made him the cricketer he became, mainly for good but also slightly for ill. He was almost too competitive, too afraid of failure. He contrasts himself with the more "natural" cricketers, like Gough and Flintoff, half envying them, half knowing that it just didn't fit with his personality.
When someone is genuinely honest with the reader, as Hussain is, you can't help but warm to him, however much he points up his weaknesses.
Atherton and Thorpe come out particularly well from this book as people he really cherished as companions and colleagues. Less favourably written up are Steve Waugh and Mike Gatting. But it's all balanced.
A terrific book. Up there with Atherton's.

The Chosen (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Chosen (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Chaim Potok
Edition: Paperback

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story that sheds light on orthodox Judaism, 16 Nov. 2004
In this tale of two New York Jewish boys growing up in the 40s, Chaim Potok weaves a whole analysis of the path of Judaism in the 20th Century.
The first chapter describes a schoolboy baseball game, which is disarmingly gripping. (I've rarely been more eager to find out who won.) It quickly moves on to deeper things, though, as the game sets the protagonist, Reuven, off on a journey as he gets to befriend a Hasidic contemporary of his: he has to try to understand an even stricter interpretation of Judaism than his own.
Potok does not just tell a beautiful story. He also manages to get the reader to empathise with something as potentially alienating as Hasidism. As a Christian, I for one feel as if I now understand my Jewish friends a little better, both those who choose to follow their faith strictly and those who prefer a more liberal approach. The chapters in which the boys tussle with the Talmud are brilliantly vivid and really make one feel something of what it is like to give oneself over to this sacred text.
Being set in the 1940s, he also has much to say about the creation of the state of Israel and why that hit home so sharply in New York then.
This era is as beautifully recreated as the friendship between Reuven and Danny. Fascinatingly, women hardly feature in this book. The key relationships are between the boys and their fathers, and their relationship with each other: a kind of minor David and Jonathan.
A lovely, vivid, enlightening read.

Reflections - Carly Simon's Greatest Hits
Reflections - Carly Simon's Greatest Hits
Offered by nagiry
Price: £14.50

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I am new to Carly Simon but this is fabulous, 16 Nov. 2004
The only songs I knew prior to buying this were "You're So Vain" and "Nobody Does It Better" so I didn't know quite what I was letting myself in for.
I've been playing it for over a month now and it still stands out. What surprises me is the consistency. Even the recent stuff stands a lot of listening, helped by lovely melodies and some brilliantly sharp lyrics. (Normally, ageing rock stars seem to fade in quality when they get older.)
I am not sure there are that many other classics on this - "Let the River Run", I suppose, "Jesse" and maybe "Coming Round Again" - but equally every song is enjoyable to listen to, and bears repetition.
Mostly, she writes about love and relationships, on which she's intriguingly ambiguous: the songs where she's swept up with sheer lust are balanced by the songs where she's wearied and angry about how things have happened. A lot of them really resonate.
The more I listen to it, the more I realise how untypical "Nobody Does It Better" is: it's the only track on the album not written by her. Much as I love it, its whole tone is more jokey than the other stuff, which is often quite raw.
The other reviews I read on this seem to point you away from this collection, but I wouldn't say so at all: I think it's brilliant. You won't regret buying it.

by Catherine R. Puglisi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.95

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeously illustrated, with balanced, insightful narrative, 23 May 2004
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This review is from: Caravaggio (Paperback)
Caravaggio's pictures are lavishly illustrated here, but Puglisi gives you more for your money than just paintings. All the key sources (Baglione etc.) are given in full at the back, and her narrative covers both Caravaggio's pictures as well as his life with sensitivity and insight.
Studying Caravaggio, I read a variety of books, but this was the best by a mile. Very, very good value too.
"M" gives you polemic, albeit entertaining polemic.
This gives you sense and the evidence is before your eyes.

Testament Of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925 (Virago classic non-fiction)
Testament Of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925 (Virago classic non-fiction)
by Mark Bostridge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic: shattering at times, always enlightening, 23 May 2004
Vera Brittain's account was written in the early 1930s, as she tried to make sense of the extraordinary bereavement that affected those of her generation who survived the First World War.
Growing up in provincial Edwardian England, a fascinating piece of writing in itself, she falls in love with one of her brothers's friends in 1914. The romance is going well, until the outbreak of war sweeps in to disrupt her life. Suddenly the love of her life, as well as her brother and some other close friends, are all in the trenches, trying to live out the noble heroic dream on behalf of King and Country.
Unable to support directly, she joins the nursing corps as a volunteer but there is no consolation for her as first her fiance, then her friends and finally her brother die.
Her account of desolation when she receives the news each time is traumatising and shows a side of life you don't get from the war poems: the horror of war not from the front line, but from the perspective of almost continuous bereavement, among people who feel helpless and increasingly angry with the world. Her perspectives on daily life in London in the war years are as insightful as the descriptions of nursing in Malta and France, where she spent the bulk of her time. Certain details, such as the atmosphere behind the lines as the British wilt before the Ludendorff offensive, but are rallied by a missive from Field Marshall Haig will interest even those who know a lot about the history of it.
Yet it is the human story which is most powerful.
This is a brutally honest book, and she does not paint herself without warts: she is obsessive about academic study, has a mental breakdown after the war and doesn't make it easy on anyone courting her thereafter. Yet Brittain's problems outside the war, of a woman trying to combine a career with marriage, anticipate the great feminist struggles of the 20th and 21st centuries. Indeed, her honesty gives the book a raw truth.
Yet this is not just her story. As she herself writes, this is the story of a generation whose men were wiped out in battle and whose women were shattered by bereavement.
The book continues after the war following her work with the League of Nations until 1925 and this has only limited interest today: the really timeless passages come from earlier on. Profoundly affecting and profoundly insightful, in beautiful prose, this deserves its classic status.

Ministry in Three Dimensions: A Theological Foundation for Local Church Leadership
Ministry in Three Dimensions: A Theological Foundation for Local Church Leadership
by Steven J. L. Croft
Edition: Paperback

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced view of how being a priest actually plays out, 13 May 2004
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I write as an ordinand who was given this by my DDO during pre-selection conference interviews, and it is the book whose ideas I still consider the most now I am actually in training.
Croft takes the threefold order (Bishop, Priest, Deacon) and illustrates how these titles all actually invoke qualities (strategic oversight, leadership, service) that are all to some extent relevant to each of these positions.
While I am broadly liberal of centre, I feel that Croft's ideas would be valuable to most considering training or in training. Croft is also endearingly honest about the failure of his attempt to "manage" his church rather than be its pastor in his own time in ministry (he is now teaching at theological college).
And his appendix on types of church, from family and personality centred to organisation centred and cell grouped is very good.

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