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G. K. Bain "Gordon Bain" (Sussex, England)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy this and you will probably regret it, 28 Sept. 2015
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Unfortunately I am unable to give this item a 'zero star' rating. I bought this as a 'cheaper' alternative to the Canon branded dummy battery. On its third use on my Canon 70D with a Powertraveller PowerGorilla battery pack it fried both of them and both are now unuseable. So saving £25 on a Chinese 'knock-off'' has actually cost me just under £1000 to replace camera and battery pack and obtain a proper Canon branded product.

I shall leave you all to decide on whether to buy one of these should they ever become available again on Amazon but don't say I didn't warn you.


Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World
Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World
by James Hamilton-Paterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't change a word of this book, 22 Nov. 2013
I was given a copy of Empire of the Clouds by a friend who was a Navy Commander flying helicopters and, latterly, Hunters and Canberras and the glorious aircraft of the Navy's Historic Flight before embarking on an airline job. Both of us are passionate about our country, its aviation heritage and our involvement in it; he urged me to read this book.

Even as a boy growing up in the 50s and 60s aviation played a large part in my life and it gave me a long and exceptionally rewarding career and pastime. I was only 5 years old when the infamous Sandys 1957 White Paper was published but by the time that the Wilson government came to power on the back of their promise to cancel not only the TSR2 but various other projects as well, I was becoming well aware of the incompetence and duplicity of politicians. We could have sold that aircraft to the USAF in the hundreds; quite possibly it would have been a bigger success than either the Canberra or the Harrier. But it was more important that the UK's aircraft industry should be decimated.

Because of the tiny-mindedness of our politicians we were without a proper aircraft carrier when this great country of mine was held to ransom in 1982; that decision to scrap Ark Royal and not to replace her with proper aircraft carriers led directly to the loss of many serving military staff, ships and equipment in the South Atlantic because we had inadequate fighter and airborne early warning cover; but we saved a few bob by scrapping the Ark Royal so that's ok then. The chances are that just the mere act of owning a proper aircraft carrier would have meant that the Falklands War would never have happened in the first place; it's called deterrence and is a basic principle of avoiding war, something which today's politicians refuse to understand.

James Hamilton-Paterson mentions the handing over of drawings and examples of Derwent and Nene engines to the Russians by Stafford Cripps, one of whose advisors, by the way, was Harold Wilson. Incompetence? Wishful thinking? Treason? You decide; I know where my opinion lies. Korean skies were soon filled with British engines. And we never made much capital out of selling our technology to the USA either considering how many of their jet fighters were powered by British engines or their US-built derivatives.

One thing that James Hamilton-Paterson does not cover was the chaotic, illogical and incompetent procurement decisions that led to our Navy and Air Force acquiring squadrons of the most expensive and slowest F-4 Phantoms as they had to be redesigned at great expense to accept the Rolls Royce Spey engine. That inglorious episode in itself would fill a couple of chapters in a book. That the Navy and Air Force used them well is irrelevant; it should never have happened. And, having paid way over the odds for them, they weren't there when we needed them in The Falklands!

Empire of the Clouds is a book that has lain unwritten in the back of my own mind for as many years as I can remember - probably since the Wilson days - but James Hamilton-Paterson has actually written it and, in my own experience, I can say that I would not alter a single word of what he has to say. I would only add extra chapters on the British car industry, motor cycle industry, the shipbuilding industry, the steel industry, the clothing industry - in fact just about all our industry except the coffee shop industry! Future Hitlers will shake when they try to attack us; but it will be because they have drunk too much caffeine!

The shame of it all is that this incompetence has not stopped. British Aerospace sold off the HS125 (sorry but I can't call it the BAe125 and it really ought to be the DH125) production to the USA because `it is not part of our core business' - one of the world's most successful biz-jets `is not part of our core business'! You couldn't make it up! Today we are still without an aircraft carrier, again because of political incompetence. It seems possible that both of our new carriers presently under construction may be cancelled or `mothballed' - same thing! We have spent a fortune on these two carriers already and yet again we are possibly going to cancel them because of indecision and incompetence, financial as well as political, on the part of our politicians. And, strangely, the Argentinians have been rattling their sabres again recently; better open up a couple of coffee shops in Port Stanley and Goose Green; that should frighten them off.

This country has been very poorly served by incompetent management, frightened of appallingly badly behaved unions and union members and last, but certainly not least, a continuous and, with the debatable exception of Margaret Thatcher, still continuing, (particularly so over the last 20 years) series of atrocious governments and politicians more interested in feathering their own nests and looking at the next election rather than making it a land fit for heroes.

Even if you have absolutely no interest in aviation you should read this book as it depicts the decline of our once great country at the hands of incompetents. If you buy this book, buy a box of paper tissues and weep for what ought to have been.


She Landed By Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: the 'real Charlotte Gray'
She Landed By Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: the 'real Charlotte Gray'
by Carole Seymour-Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it should have been, 31 July 2013
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Having read much of the literature on SOE over the last 40 years I was really keen to read this book on Pearl Witherington. Unfortunately it did not live up to the standard I have come to expect over the years from the likes of M.R.D. Foot.

I'm sorry to have to say that this is more akin to a novel than a serious biography although it does give a good basic outline of Pearl's life. Details of how she managed to gather and keep command of such a large Maquis group and also their operations are lacking or skimmed over. Whilst information is needed on other Circuits and their interaction with Pearl's Circuit there are far too many references to other aspects of SOE's war that have no relationship to what Pearl did. One example of this is Giskes's 'Operation Nordpol', the Abwehr operation against SOE's Dutch section; other than the fact that this operation was against SOE and Pearl was in SOE there is no connection, so it rather smacks of 'padding'.

Was it really necessary to include details of her sexual relationship with Henri? Wouldn't it have been better to give more information on her Circuit's operations against the Das Reich SS Panzers which was of far more importance to the outcome of the Battle for Normandy?

Pearl Witherington was an exceptionally brave SOE agent who had no illusions about what would happen to her if she was captured. She was (along with all other SOE agents) treated abominably by de Gaulle at the end of the war by being ordered to leave France within 48 hours. At least she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur. She was feisty enough to tell the British authorities what they could do with their civil MBE - 'there was nothing remotely "civil" about what I did.' She had to wait 60 years for her parachute 'wings' ... utterly deplorable

The Times quote states 'The truth is that Sebastian Faulk's novel...stands on its own, but so does She Landed by Moonlight, the long-awaited biography that Agent Pearl deserves. (The Times)' It's a good read but I feel that there is a much better biography yet to be written ... perhaps in that biography we might find that the authorities had awarded Pearl the Military Cross that she was recommended for, so richly deserved and was refused because she was a woman?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2014 10:47 PM GMT


Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War
Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War
by Paul Kennedy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity, 31 July 2013
I was somewhat disappointed with this book. I have the impression that the author does not really know his subject in the detail that is required as there are numerous factual errors such as those mentioned in other reviews (Spitfire night fighters, and four-engined Vickers Vimys being just a couple) but also the author refers to Tom Blakeslee; his name was Don Blakeslee and, as one of the most famous fighter pilots in the 8th Air Force, this does matter. In a short listing of Allied fighter pilots he includes Guy Gibson; Gibson was a bomber pilot - he led 617 Squadron in the Dambusters raid.

I do realise that it is utterly impossible to cover a conflict such as the Second World War in a book of this length but better accuracy with the facts could have made it so much better.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2013 10:59 PM BST


Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War, 1941-45
Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War, 1941-45
by Leo Marks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many typos, 27 Feb. 2011
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A good, if somewhat partisan, account of Leo Marks's time with SOE. It was slightly spoiled for me by there being just a little too much flippancy and sarcasm about others in SOE much of which, I hate to say, is probably deserved - with hindsight!

The biggest problem I have with the book is the number of typos. It looks as though the original manuscript was scanned with 'Optical Character Recognition' software after which the proof readers did a very poor job.

It's somewhat ironic that this should be the case considering Marks's continuing theme throughout the book about the number of 'indecipherables' received from SOE's agents.

This apart, the book gives an interesting insight to inadequately covered areas of SOE's (and other agencies'?) operations at a momentous period of history.


The Hornet's Sting: The amazing untold story of Britain's Second World War spy Thomas Sneum: The Amazing Untold Story of Second World War Spy Thomas Sneum
The Hornet's Sting: The amazing untold story of Britain's Second World War spy Thomas Sneum: The Amazing Untold Story of Second World War Spy Thomas Sneum
by Mark Ryan
Edition: Paperback

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong aircraft type, 6 Jan. 2011
I haven't read the book but I am aware of the basic story. My complaint is really about how much attention has been paid by the publisher. There are many Hornet Moths still flying in the UK. Current and period photographs are so easy to come by. Why, then, was the publisher so lax as to use an image of a Soviet Antonov 2 on the cover?

Details like this make me very suspicious of the validity of the rest of the book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2011 7:54 AM GMT


How to Cheat in Photoshop CS3: The art of creating photorealistic montages
How to Cheat in Photoshop CS3: The art of creating photorealistic montages
by Steve Caplin
Edition: Paperback

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Cheat in Photoshop, 19 Jun. 2007
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If you are an inexperienced Photoshop user BUY THIS BOOK. If you are an experienced Photoshop user BUY THIS BOOK.

I can honestly say that I learned more about day to day use of Photoshop from this one book than all the others combined.

Steve Caplin takes you through real world examples in very easy to understand steps and shows you techniques that you might never even have thought about.

Having read the book navigate your way to the "How to Cheat in Photoshop" website also run by Steve to find out more and join in the "Friday Challenge".

Come on in. The Photoshopped water is lovely!


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