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The War of the Worlds (Aladdin Classics)
The War of the Worlds (Aladdin Classics)
by H G Wells
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only the movie was as good..., 9 Feb. 2008
I bought this book after watching the most recent movie adaptation with Tom Cruise (actually it wasn't that bad, but as is often the case the book is better). The first time I read it I was probably about 10 years old, so I wanted to have a re-read. I'd forgotten how truly excellent a work it is. What I like most about it is actually the fact that it is so dated, the futuristic alien machines trampling across the South Coast would probably last all of 20 seconds against a couple of modern tanks and the panic stricken inabitants of Woking flee in horse and trap. But to my mind that gives it a certain charm, and setting the invasion in such a peaceful and familiar place makes the aliens seem all the more alien. As always with HG wells novels its also quite fun spotting the things about which he was particularly prescient, in this the martians, when confronted with artillery, simply gas it out of existence. Less than 20 years later human armies would be doing the same thing to each other. Above all though the book is well written and has an enthralling plot.

This particular edition also includes a section of commentary and a series of questions aimed at the school aged reader. (It's also extremely cheap which may have been the motivating factor in my initial decision to buy) Personally I enjoyed it just as much as an adult as I remember doing as a child and I'd recommend as a must read book to both.


Selected Writings from "Discourse on Method", "Meditations on the First Philosophy", and "The Principles of Philosophy": Selections from The Meditations and Other Works (Collector's Library)
Selected Writings from "Discourse on Method", "Meditations on the First Philosophy", and "The Principles of Philosophy": Selections from The Meditations and Other Works (Collector's Library)
by Rene Descartes
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neat and compact collection of 3 of Descartes most important works, 9 Feb. 2008
This book contains 'selected writings' from Discourse on Method, Meditations on the First Philosophy and the Principles of Philosophy. To what extent they are 'selected' and therefore not the whole works I'm not certain, it rather iritatingly doesn't explain anywhere in the book itself. I will check by comparing them to another edition at some point, but it loses a star anyway for not being clear.

Other than that I entirely recommend the book, it's quite small (about A6 size) but hardback as well which is nice. Despite being small it also contains a nice concise introduction to Descartes life and works. I hardly feel I need to review the actual work of Descartes (indeed I hardly feel qualified to review Descartes work). But it's probably worth explaining that 'Discourse' is his attempt to reach fundamental philosophical truths and leads to the statement 'cogito ergo sum', 'I think therefore I am'. 'Meditations' expands this and also gives an ontological argument for the existence of god. 'Principles' as the name suggests is a succession of principles which Descartes believes should be applied by the philosopher.

Perhaps most importantly for me, the language used is easy to understand, I can't stand it when translators make books intentionally and unnecessarily obtuse. Definitely suitable for someone who wants an introduction to some of this great philosopher's thinking.


China Inc.: The Relentless Rise of the Next Great Superpower
China Inc.: The Relentless Rise of the Next Great Superpower
by Ted C. Fishman
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting intro to the new China, 6 Feb. 2008
Ted Fishmans book approaches the task of describing the "relentless rise" of China from a number of angles. He initially outlines a brief history of the nations progress from a command economy the size of Belgium's to one of the world's largest. He then moves on to a succession of fascinating facts and annecdotes covering topics as diverse as the chinese sex industry and VW car assembly lines. The authors respect for and understanding of China is clear and as such it makes for an interesting read. He makes clear that there is a bigger picture than the simple growth of an underdeveloped nation, China is merely regaining the ground lost over the Mao years and doing so it's own way.

The book dissapointed slightly on two counts, I had expected something a little more in depth, the book is definitely one of journalism and not economics. The author has an irritating habit of referring far too much to America and ignoring China's true global effect. Perhaps he felt that an American readership wouldn't be interested if he didn't keep pointing out how China affects them directly. Nonetheless the book does a sterling job overall of introducing some of the many issues, both internal and external, that the rise of China has created.


The Undercover Economist
The Undercover Economist
by Tim Harford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent work of popular economics., 2 Feb. 2008
Popular economics seems to be the growth market in publishing these days as various microeconomists set out to prove that economics isn't just about inflation and interest rates. Harford is one of the best of the bunch. His approach is to take a variety of simple issues and problems (like why coffee bar are so expensive) and then explain it from an economic perspective. In a sense then the examples are less interesting than the crack dealers and sumo wrestlers in freakonomics but I actually prefer the book because it shows us how to think about the kind of stuff we meet on the street every day. It also sticks firmly to the realms of what is microeconomics rather than straying into the world of interesting statistics as some books tend to do. Even if you are studying economics at an undergrad level I'd recommend it, it will inject life into what can sometimes be a dull subject.


Acer Aspire 7720Z Notebook Laptop, Dual Core T2310 1.46GHz, 17" TFT, 2048MB RAM, 160GB Hard-drive, DVD±RW, GL960 Graphics, WiFi, Vista Home Premium
Acer Aspire 7720Z Notebook Laptop, Dual Core T2310 1.46GHz, 17" TFT, 2048MB RAM, 160GB Hard-drive, DVD±RW, GL960 Graphics, WiFi, Vista Home Premium

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seems like a bargain so far..., 1 Feb. 2008
I bought this recently for use at university, so far it seems to be fine, the screen is large and clear and the webcam works suprisingly well. The performance is not quite as stella as the spec would suggest, as far as basic tasks goes my desktop at home (which runs xp)is faster and has only half the ram and a single core processor. Basically though that's down to vista, microsoft seem to think that exchanging 500mb of ram for the capacity to stick a large novelty clock on your background is a good trade. They've also arbitrarily changed the way the basic menu systems work which will doubtless provide me with hours of fun relearning something I've happily done the same way on their past 12 years of operating systems. None the less I can't really blame that on the laptop and it's basically impossible to find a cheap laptop now without vista.

Actual gripes (as opposed to digressive rants about microsoft), well the inbuilt speakers are a bit tinny but I couldn't bring myself to knock a star off because after all who buys laptops for the inbuilt speakers. And Acer would have done their users a favour by preloading less crud. All in all minor quibbles considering that this is the best value for money laptop I could find on the market.


Thus Spake Zarathustra (Classics of World Literature)
Thus Spake Zarathustra (Classics of World Literature)
by Friedrich Nietzsche
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice book, pity I can't read it., 24 Jan. 2008
Before I start I should say that 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' is an excellent book. It sets forth the majority of Nietschze's views through the mouth of the prophet Zoroaster. The closest thing to a criticism I can levy is that his succeeding works like 'beyond good and evil' might be a bit more suitable if you're a philosophy student like me since they set forward his views a bit more bluntly (on the other hand why not read both). I would normally give it a happy five stars, however in this case I'm not reviewing just the book in general but rather this particular edition. The translator has littered the book with exagerated archaisms. What the intention of this was is a mystery to me but the effect is clear, the book is near to unreadable. Tacking -eth to the end of every verb and sprinkling in thous and thees isn't an improvement and I can hardly believe that it represents in any way the original German. Don't be tempted by the low price, you'll regret it.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2013 8:51 PM GMT


Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide
Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide
by Tracey Bowell
Edition: Paperback

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise, and easy to understand university critical thinking guide., 15 Jan. 2008
I suspect most of the purchasers of this book will be those for whom it's a course book recommended by your lecturers. However if you're wavering over committing the money or you just want an interesting critical thinking book which goes a bit beyond the A-level I have to say I'd recommend this. It's as concise as it needs to be, simple to understand and covers all the areas it should cover, what more can you ask from a textbook?


His Dark Materials Slipcase
His Dark Materials Slipcase
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic children's fantasy, 14 Jan. 2008
I read these books several years ago, when I was perhaps still young enough to be called a child and I found them enthralling. I would say that the basic test for children's fantasy is whether the Author manages to paint a world that you can actually lose yourself in and I think Pullman rivals C.S Lewis in this regard. The first book is admittedly the most enjoyable I think simply because it's the one in which we are introduced to the parallel universe which Lyra inhabits. However they're all well written, and the others are no less imaginative.

Some people are put off by Pullman's clear atheism. The books see Lyra battling against first the Magisterium (which seems suspiciously like the catholic church) and the series climaxes with an all out war against God. However I don't think that the clear Christian theme of C.S Lewis' work has detracted from any childs enjoyment of the Narnia series and I don't see why Pullman's atheism should from this. Furthermore what comes through above anything else is the value of freedom of thought and compassion and I don't think those are values anyone could complain about teaching to kids. The book also addresses themes which some might consider 'adult', theres a fair old sprinkling of death and a couple of gay angels for instance, but I've never seen the value of closeting children away from that kind of stuff anyway. All in all a worthy gift for children, young adults and adults alike.


More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
by Steven E. Landsburg
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More counterintuitive economics from Landsburg, 13 Jan. 2008
Following on from 'the armchair economist' Steven Landsburg has released this book. It's in a similar vein to 'Freakonomics' and the 'Undercover Economist' so if you enjoyed those you'll probably like this (but I'm sure Amazon has probably already worked that out and told you). Landsburg tends to more closely focus on what could be termed 'traditional economics' supply demand etc than Freakonomics, but he takes the same counterintuitive lines of argument which have you gripped by the frustration of being certain his conclusion should be wrong but knowing that his logic is right. There are occasional lapses where you see an underlying falacy poking through but they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. After all, thinking that some of the arguments are disprovable and trying to do so is probably half the fun. Would recommend to any Economics students or armchair economists as proof that there is indeed more to the dismal science than meets the eye.


Teach Yourself Quick Fix German Grammar Second Edition (TYQG)
Teach Yourself Quick Fix German Grammar Second Edition (TYQG)
by Susan Ashworth-Fielder
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fairly comprehensive and easy to use, 12 Jan. 2008
I bought this book for assistance with a part time German course at university. It has basically been invaluable. There are a decent selection of exercises and simple explanations of grammar rules, it's far easier to refer to than any textbook or dictionary I've thus far used. I'd remind any prospective buyer however that it is 'quick fix', you may need a more advanced or in depth book if you want to conduct more in depth German study.


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