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Reviews Written by
G. Hendrie (Winchester, UK)

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The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars
Price: £5.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I didn't even bother, 22 Jun. 2017
I was at RMAS at the same time as the author, hence I felt this would be an enjoyable read despite the negative reviews. I picked up a copy in a local book shop and as one does, opened it randomly and began reading a page. Very quickly my mind was made up: not only was this a totally inaccurate - bordering on false - account of the 'choice of arm' and final commissioning process at Sandhurst, but he was casting aspersions on my particular Corps. Assuming the book would be equally flawed, I put it back on the shelf where it belonged.


The Science of the Tour de France: Training secrets of the world's best cyclists
The Science of the Tour de France: Training secrets of the world's best cyclists
Price: £10.04

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely interesting, 23 Feb. 2017
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The title is a little misleading. Thus is more about the science of road race cycling in general, albeit set within the context of the TdF. As such, it should appeal to all cycling fans as a genuinely interesting read on the science of the sport rather than simply the Tour de France. It's written in a free-flowing style which is easily accessible and references a number of leading personalities from the sport, adding credibility to the content.
My only criticism is that this will be quickly out of date given the speed with which science and technology in cycling is increasing: as at Feb 17, it remains just about current, but it'll be dated and less relevant in no time at all.


Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition
Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition
by Jim Lovell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.13

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight, 8 Dec. 2013
I got this after watching the film for what must have been the twentieth time and, thinking I knew the story inside-out, wondered what I was missing.

The book gives a lot of interesting background to Lovell's life and the early days of the Astronaut programme. The Apollo 1 Launchpad fire is covered in some detail as are a number of other fatal accidents. This isn't unnecessarily macabre, as understanding the human and technical failings is key to understanding the root cause of the Apollo 13 story and the subsequent NASA incidents.

There are a lot of 'characters' in the book as one would expect, however I didn't really feel we got to 'know' any of them at all, less perhaps the Lovell's. This is disappointing. I'd like to have learned more about Haise and Swiggert especially but apart from maybe one or two nuggets of info, very little of their character really comes through.

Overall, the story can get a bit dry in places and doesn't leave the reader feeling the same frenetic pace of activity that they will have enjoyed watching the film. Understandable, but for me, costs an otherwise detailed account a five star rating. Regardless, true fans of the film must read it and those who want an insight into how an organisation like NASA transforms itself 'in contact' in order to meet the aim is hugely interesting, although it is this latter point that I would have loved to read more of.


Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters
Price: £5.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A good primer, 30 Jun. 2013
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Before buying this book I had often heard people talking of strategy in such differing ways that made me wonder if I was missing the point or they were. After reading this I now feel that I truly understand what strategy is and - arguably more importanty - what isn't strategy.

The book is written in an accessible style and peppered with useful examples of both good and bad strategy (as the title would suggest!). Some of the ideas are so simple that you'll want to read them twice just to be sure you haven't missed the key point. In a time where it seems the engineering of increasingly complex 'things' (insert something appropriate from your own field of interest here) is seen as the way ahead (or to get ahead?), it's refreshing to know that there still exists a place for simplicity. The authors obvious passion for and knowledge of strategic planning and execition pores through the book and the chapter on nVidia is an excellent example he uses to demonstrate the 'pulling together' of each of the strands mentioned elsewhere in the book. Indeed, his previous employment history with the US Dept of Defence allows him to use some military examples which are both enlightening and of particular interest to current military practitioners and no doubt explains why the UK Chief of Defence Staff (CDS - Gen Richards) has this on his approved Reading List. I would however say that Rumelts attempts to suggest that the US led invasion of Iraq was an example of poor strategy because the US was somehow misled by its allies is, frankly preposterous. There are one or two similarly naive comments throughout the book which made me wince hence the 4*s, although to be honest, it probably deserves 5*s and I'm just trying to over complicate matters!

Overall, this is an excellent place to start for anyone who wants to know more about Strategy in a modern context. Another good read I would suggest to follow this is Execution to Die For by Graham Haines. It's one thing to formulate an all conquering strategic vision, but without skilful execution of that strategy, it'll amount to little more than a paper exercise. This disconnect between Strategy Planning and Execution of that vision is where future works should aim to focus.


Solvency II
Solvency II
by Gabrielle O'Donovan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £75.00

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is a Change Management book, 24 May 2013
This review is from: Solvency II (Hardcover)
Hideously overpriced for what it actually offers. This title could delete the term 'Solvency II' and insert probably 90% of Change Management initiatives and, less the very flimsy overview of the actual Solvency II regulations punctuated at infrequent intervals, remain almost unchanged. Frankly, I was shocked at the level of writing, which is basic and seemingly aimed at complete idiots, rather than someone charged with implementing one of the biggest regulatory changes to affect the insurance industry within the EU in history. A quote from page 104:

"The format chosen to present the (stakeholder communication) strategy document should suit the culture of the given organisation and, based on current industry trends, is most likely to be a Word document and/or powerpoint deck."

Now, I don't know about you, but my interest in this work is that I'm doing a Masters dissertation on Solvency II implementation and don't actually work in Insurance, however even I know that a strategy document is likely to be communicated to the remainder of the organisation using Word and/or powerpoint! So do I need a £75 book to tell me that? The further reminders to have 3 or 4 collective training days each year to prepare and to remember and cost the food and drink for it is mind blowing. It begs the question who does the author think she is targeting with this work? At times it reads like a poor, overweight undergraduate dissertation and certainly not the kind of thing that would be commensurate with the authors otherwise impressive CV.

The Executives guide to Solvency II is a far better offering (and less than half the price!) or you could simply read a generic Change Management textbook (look up Swanson and Swailes) and the Solvency II regulation itself to have a far better understanding as to how you should implement Solvency II than this book will give. What's that I hear? "but that flippant recommendation will add nothing to my understanding of standard or internal models; how I sculpt a compliant risk management culture in my organisation; what I need to know about the not insignificant data challenge or any of the other very complex issues currently causing insurers and national regulators alike huge headaches!" No, it won't, but neither will this book. To be fair, it doesn't say it will so my point is that this title really is simply a change management guide written loosely around the context of Solvency II.

That said, it still gets 2 stars because, despite the annoying pitch, it does do what it says on the tin, albeit in an often irritating, incredibly simplistic, inane fashion. If you have somehow managed to land a job where you have been tasked with implementing the Solvency II regulations and you're looking at this book as a start point, I'd suggest you resign now. In all seriousness though, this book is overpriced trivia that you could readily learn elsewhere. In terms of value, I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of this for a fiver from a second hand seller. I'd say that about the right price for it.

EDIT Dec 13: Just noticed the laughably unprofessional reply from the author herself to my review! Says it all really...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 16, 2013 4:33 PM BST


Beginners Guide To Stock Market Investing
Beginners Guide To Stock Market Investing
Price: £0.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dangerously poor, 15 Jan. 2012
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Frankly, this was 77p NOT well invested. Bought, downloaded, read, reviewed and deleted off my Kindle in about an hour.

If you think this is going to turn you into Warren Buffet overnight, then think again. I mean REALLY think again, because it won't even turn you into someone who knows where to start investing in UK markets, never mind suddenly packing in your boring 9-5 and becoming a home trader for a living.

Written for the US market, it is painfully wafer thin in both content and value. Littered with spelling, typographical and grammatical errors throughout, the Kindle edition started with page 1 showing 6% of the book already completed! With each page turn on my Kindle 4 (font set to the second smallest, Regular typeface, default words per line and medium line spacing) I was advancing the book by 4%. Even with my slow reading speed, easily distracted and in a room surrounded by my noisy kids and constantly moaning wife, I finished this in about 30 mins, which included re-reading some of the paragraphs and sentences as I couldn't quite believe the garbage I was reading. The author shares with us such gems as 'sell some of your stocks if you fear divorce, health problems or losing your job because you might need the cash', 'sell a portion of those stocks that are on the up and concentrate on the lesser performing ones' (crazy and the absolute opposite of the widely held strategy of reinforcing success) and my particular favourite 'don't invest when prices are overvalued' (if you can't work that one out for yourself, this book is a loooong way off what you need to get started).

I don't know how any of the other reviewers possibly made succesful investments based solely on the scant 'advice' this pamphlet dispenses. I REALLY don't. Having now read this, I can vouch for the other 1* review as the most valid thus far. Poorly written, lacking in content and giving you absolutely nothing that you cannot gain for free elsewhere on t'internet, this is one to be avoided.

I would suggest 'THE NAKED TRADER' as a better start point. I'm only half way through that one (I find the authors narrative style a little too irritating at times, overly personal even) and it goes into far more detail regarding research, analysis and strategy as well as the underlying knowledge required to implement it all.


Mountaincraft and Leadership
Mountaincraft and Leadership
by Eric Langmuir
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for any aspiring MLs, 5 Jan. 2011
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Make no mistake, this is THE book to go for if you are undertaking the Mountain Leader Training award.

As other reviewers have commented, it is no substitute for experience, however this will enable you to gain that necessary experience with far more confidence before you attempt the assesment or indeed lead groups of novices. I can't agree with the review which states that there is no mention of ropework; an entire chapter is dedicate to 'Security on steep ground' and covers all the ropework a Summer ML will need to know. In addition, it covers a whole lot more, including river crossings, nutrition, first aid including heat and cold injuries, mountain rescue, some excellent stuff on mountain weather as well as all the usual navigation, party leadership, campcraft etc. As a bonus, 'the Langmuir' also contains several chapters regarding some of the more essential winter skills, however I'd recommend the WINTER SKILLS - ESSENTIAL WALKING AND CLIMBING TECHNIQUES but Andy Cunningham and Allen Fyffe in addition if the Winter ML is your thing (but if it is, you're obviously already a Summer ML and have thus probably read the Langmuir already!).


Marathon Running: From Beginning to Elite
Marathon Running: From Beginning to Elite
by Richard Nerurkar
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough but perhaps not the best option for a beginner, 5 Jan. 2011
I bought this hoping to gain an insight into the fabled Marathon from one of GBs greatest.

Sadly, I found the book overly busy and seemed to cater more for the serious athlete than the overweight, infrequent runner like myself seeking inspiration and motivation. If you are a commited runner, perhaps at club level or better, I have no doubts this book will provide a valuable insight into training for and racing the Marathon. Regular recreational runners may be able to extract something out of it though you may need to augment the 12 week training plans to suit. If however you are an absolute beginner or a complete newbie to the distance (New Years resolution perhaps?!!) then perhaps THE NON-RUNNERS MARATHON TRAINER by David Whitsett may be a better option.

To conclude, a lot of info crammed into this which I felt would be of more value to the serious types more so than the beginner.


Iron Ambition: My Journey from Seat 2A to Ironman
Iron Ambition: My Journey from Seat 2A to Ironman
Price: £6.59

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter rubbish, 3 Dec. 2010
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I bought this in the Kindle version, my first and so far only Kindle download, hence I will say from the beginning that this MAY skew my opinion.

That said, this book is just not worth the effort it takes to try and read it. It adds very little by way of experience or useful advice unless you know nothing of Triathlon whatsoever (as in not even what one is!). It is almost impossible to keep track of any sense of time in the story telling as it seems to jump about so much. In addition, it seems to act as an advert for almost every high end gadget known to the triathlete (plus a fair few you probably didn't know existed!). The author even spends time telling us how he rebuilt his house to include an endless pool, a garage specifically for his umpteen bikes and even a utility room to house a washing machine that was solely for washing triathlon gear! The only other constant is the dearth of self-deprecating emails that are recollected by the author between himself and his coach. Really pointless and in some cases cringe worthy. In fact read something by the likes of Joe Friel et al and you'll possess more knowledge than anything imparted in these emails.

If you are looking for inspiration from this book when it comes to undertaking an Ironman triathlon or any kind of endurance test, I would seriously look elsewhere. The only relevance this has to your own endurance training is that it is an edurance event in itself to read! Seriously, you'll wish you were thrashing yourself up a hill somewhere as a more pleasurable alternative to reading this rubbish. It is so bad, that I didn't even bother to finish it.


Elite Performance: Cycling: Successful Sportives (Elite Performance)
Elite Performance: Cycling: Successful Sportives (Elite Performance)
by Garry Palmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for finding the motivation over winter, 13 Oct. 2008
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Many cycling books touch on the subject of Cyclo Sportives such as the increasingly popular L'Etape du Tour and some even go as far as to tell you how to to train for one. Unfortunately, this extends only to what amounts to lots of mileage, with no real reason as to why. Nor do they cover any of the specific points for the sportive newcomer to consider.

If you are absolutely BRAND NEW to cycling (ie you have only just bought the bike!) then something a bit more basic and straightforward such as the LANCE ARMSTRONG PERFORMANCE PLAN would be a better start. Once you've read that and gone out and done more than a 20 miler (both acievable on the same day!!) then you should take a look at this book.

It covers EVERYTHING the aspirant sportivist needs to know about training and preparing to put him (or her)self through the several hundred miles these events usually clock up. It includes training plans for the rookiw and advances cyclist alike which will prepare you over the winter months for the summer sportive season and also covers in great depth what you need to know about nutrition. In fact, few books I've read achieve this level of detail for this specific subject matter and its worth a read for this alone. It also covers the 'handy hints' a rookiw sportivist would need to know for his or her first sportive. All in all, its very thorough.

I would DEFINATELY recommend this book to anyone who is looking to enter this type of endurance event next summer (this is written as at Oct). It will supply you with the requisite motivation to get out and spend hours on end on your bike over the cold and wet winter months in order to ensure you are fit enough to enjoy your event.

That said, could I say anything negative about it? Well, YES, actually. The authors seem to have a professional sports coaching and fitness testing business which is repeatedly referred to throughout the text. Is this because they wish to merely substantiate their credentials or is it an effort to advertise themselves and thus the book serves as a marketing tool for the business? Either way, the necessary info and knowledge is all their and should not stop you from buying this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2009 10:54 PM BST


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