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charlie

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Selfish Whining Monkeys: How we Ended Up Greedy, Narcissistic and Unhappy
Selfish Whining Monkeys: How we Ended Up Greedy, Narcissistic and Unhappy
Price: 7.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Is all change for the better?, 13 July 2014
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In terms of British cultural values and mores, societal changes of the past fifty years have seen the baby go out with the bathwater. Liddle focuses on the world of the blue-collar worker, narrowing a thesis that could have been more widely cast. Just as the hereditary authority of the Shop Steward was broken (nearly) by Margaret Thatcher, so (certainly) the ‘right’ of the Sloane Ranger to glide into top jobs has gone, simply because Daddy was at school with the Chairman. That is a change for the better; yet beneath the Sloane’s wah-wah voice and robust patrician conservatism was a “we” person, not the “me” person so prevalent today. Yes, the Sloane could patronise – feeling it his duty to guide, guard and, if necessary, order those behind him in the pecking order. But the Sloane was up before dawn to deliver Meals-on-Wheels and burnt the midnight oil baking cakes in aid of the church spire appeal – community-cohesive virtues overpaid footballers in their gated Sussex homes have yet to embrace. Incidentally, the Sloane didn’t blub in public or race to the Mall with teddy bears when Diana died; he never spat the phrase “I think it’s disgusting!” He had personal dignity, the stiff upper-lip – a joke commodity today.

I liked the maverick, volatile Liddle ever more as his book progressed – he’s got a good auto-critical sense (and his love for his late parents is charmingly evident). One caveat, it is unnecessary for a person of his brainpower, wide vocabulary and articulation to use the ‘F’ word quite so lavishly; given his premiss, there was no need to ram contemporary street cred down the reader’s throat.


The English: A Field Guide
The English: A Field Guide
Price: 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good (very good) in parts, 20 April 2014
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Whilst appreciating that a book like this has to be somewhat idiosyncratic, The English was a wee bit too random to fully engage me. That said, there are some truly wonderful laugh-out-loud cameos within it (such as the joys, or not, of staying in Blackpool and the elderly couple out for an evening of "dogging"). The author holds one's attention and his mildly deprecatory style has considerable charm. Certainly worth buying, if not your read-of-the-year.


White Van Diary
White Van Diary
Price: 1.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Having fun with the bloke next to at the pub, 30 Jan 2014
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This review is from: White Van Diary (Kindle Edition)
Great read (as is the author's other Kindle book: A Scally Tale) if you are into blokey-style sex with the lad next door/down the pub/on the bus/in the supermarket. Meaty, robust and surprisingly wholesome - a welcome British alternative to ridiculously unbelievable American High School porn tales.

In the same vein, check-out Paul Randalls two ebooks - A BUSY SUMMER and WOODLETHORPE


Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men
Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men
Price: 8.03

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy weather, 27 Jan 2014
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This was a good read, but without the romantic swell I had hoped for. Perhaps this wasn't the author's fault - the days of the Banana boat and of Humphrey Bogart have, of course, long gone. It all seems so clinical these days! Still, well done to Maersk Line for giving the author free rein (though I bet they were cheesed-off at the idle mistake of referring to portraits of the King and Queen of Denmark, when this should have been the reigning Queen and the Prince Consort).

An enjoyable, but not gripping, read.


The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes & Imperial Pretenders
The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes & Imperial Pretenders
Price: 5.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Shed-loads of detail!, 31 Dec 2013
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My goodness - what detail! With so much information the narrative almost grinds to a halt at times - but thank goodness the author has an easy writing style, contemporary and humorous. If he did not, I think I'd be screaming for mercy now as the avalanche of facts started to suffocate me.


Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Henry VIII, James IV and the battle for Renaissance Britain
Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513: Henry VIII, James IV and the battle for Renaissance Britain
Price: 6.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it to discover James IV, 18 Oct 2013
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I was ignorant as to the life and achievements of King James IV of Scotland and, in many ways, wished Fatal Rivalry had focused only on that. Some of the material was too tangential and at times the narrative drifted, unfocused. Flodden itself was almost an afterthought (despite being the subheading of the title). I appreciate the author was setting the context but, as I say, some of the detail included was too obscure. Still, a fascinating introduction to a King who really deserves a higher profile.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2013 9:40 PM GMT


Tudor: The Family Story
Tudor: The Family Story
Price: 4.68

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars concentrate when you read this, 29 Sep 2013
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Leanda de Lisle's great strength is in providing context. It's too easy, for example, to dismiss Mary I as embittered, sour and cruel for cruel's sake - thoroughly deserving her prefix "Bloody" Mary. The truth is to understand the times,the constant danger of being usurped,the fragility of the succession (for all the Tudors)and the religious settlement each wanted to pass on. This Ms de Lisle does superbly.

I have to say her book isn't a bedtime "dip in, dip out" read. Rather, it is for concentrated reading in a Library (say) or for a weekend with the phone off the hook. There are too many women called Margaret or Mary and constant referral to a family tree is an absolute necessity. So not a book to read on a Kindle!


Meeting the English
Meeting the English
Price: 3.59

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting and delightful, 12 May 2013
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Struan Robertson, our hero, is eyebrow-raisingly well-read and sage for an orphaned seventeen-year old lad brought up in the Scottish sticks. Meeting the English chronicles his first visit to London to look after an incapacitated famous playwright - but nothing really happens that can't be anticipated and there are no completely unforeseeable twists, layers or zigzags (and the ending is a bit "hey-ho"). So why five stars? Entirely for the wholly delightful and engaging character the author creates in Struan. Kate Clanchy draws the reader onto Struan's side on the first page and keeps us there; we are rooting for him, willing him to triumph over adversity. Meeting the English is a lovely read - highly recommended.


Skint:A Scally Tale
Skint:A Scally Tale
Price: 2.05

5.0 out of 5 stars British Boys, 1 April 2013
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Great read (as is the author's other Kindle book: White Van Diary) if you are into blokey-style sex with the lad next door/down the pub/on the bus/in the supermarket. Meaty, robust and surprisingly wholesome - a welcome British alternative to ridiculously unbelievable American High School porn tales.

In the same vein, check-out Paul Randalls' two ebooks - A BUSY SUMMER and WOODLETHORPE


Leaving the Atocha Station
Leaving the Atocha Station
by Ben Lerner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars intellectual arrogance behind a mask, 10 Mar 2013
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This is possibly the most depressing book I've read in many a year. The narrator, Adam Gordon, is self-important, intellectually arrogant and cold - if this is a roman à clef, I certainly hope I never run into the author, Ben Lerner. Yes, there is a fig-leaf of introspection and doubt employed - but it's the smallest leaf you can find. Poetry - immodestly described as "the most sacrosanct of arts" (sorry, Michelangelo) - is to the fore as Lerner marginalises nearly every discipline other novelists employ, such as a rich descriptive brush, a cocktail of interesting protagonists, or engaging dialogue. I can but wonder if this book found a publisher simply on account of Ben Lerner's reputation in his day-job as (guess what?) a poet. A final point; why does he bang on and on about smoking, whether cigarettes or spliffs? Is he so clever that the cancer risks, now well known, are of concern only to petite bourgeoisie dullards?


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