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T. Brearley (Devon, England)

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Britain's Cold War Fighters
Britain's Cold War Fighters
by Tim McLelland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

10 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not well written, 28 Dec. 2013
Not finished the book yet but that process is only going to be made harder by writing this bad:

"This seminal leap in technology was applicable to the design of fast and long-range, nuclear-armed bombers such as the Valiant, Victor and Vulcan. There is no doubt that once the prospect of jet power was accepted as a viable concept, it was primarily applied to the design of potential fighter aircraft. This is hardly surprising as the jet engine delivered incredible speed. However, British aircraft designers believed that although fighters should possess agility and a capability to fly as high and as far as possible, the most important criterion for any new fighter was that of speed."

- Can you have a 'seminal' leap?
- Are the first two sentences connected in any way?
- Ok, potential fighter aircraft. What about actual fighters? Them too?
- Another sentence beginning 'this'. Excellent.
- However? Do you mean 'And'?
- Why was speed more important than agility or altitude? We're never told. Obviously not interesting or relevant to the history of jet fighters.

Was this book edited at all? Hmm.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2015 9:47 AM BST

Amiens 1918: The Black Day of the German Army (Campaign)
Amiens 1918: The Black Day of the German Army (Campaign)
by Alistair McCluskey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Little analysis or overview, 13 July 2010
While this book conscientiously lists which units saw action where on each day of the battle, I was frustrated by the lack of a unifying overview or a proper attempt to deal with events thematically or indeed to examine the significance of the battle in the wider context of WWI.

As a result this reader found the book tended to become repetitive and beg questions rather than answer them. It does have some splendid photographs and maps though.

Possibly aimed primarily at the wargaming fraternity?

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
by Sam Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Ending I Expected, 21 Nov. 2009
Having come to Sam Harris via clips on Youtube, I already had considerable respect for the man and a feel for his take on spirituality. However, had I not had the benefit of this background I would have been rather disappointed and bemused by "The End of Faith"!

For starters the book itself is only 227 pages long and the remaining 110 pages are end notes, bibliography and index. It feels rather like the publisher padding out the book to fit the 'normal' size for a paperback.

Then, while Sam Harris's invective against religion is entertaining, thoughtful and well written, we encounter chapters advocating on the one hand the torture of criminal suspects by the state and on the other buddhist meditation! The reader is left wishing for a better tie-in of these topics to the attack on organised religion which started the book.

Harris also appears rather lazy in his advocacy of contemplative medititation. "Almost every problem we have can be ascribed to the fact that human beings are utterly beguiled by their feelings of separateness." (p.214) Oh really? And, "It would seem that a spirituality which undermined such dualism, through the mere contemplation of consciousness, could not help but improve our situation." Well the same could be said for all kinds of wacky peaceful organised religions. Wouldn't embracing a rational humanist ethos be a more certain route to improving the world and enriching the lives of its inhabitants than another experiment with mysticism?

Not the end of faith I was expecting.

Waiting For The Barbarians
Waiting For The Barbarians
by J.M. Coetzee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

14 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, 4 Dec. 2007
Like the hero of this tale, I am going to swim against the tide of opinion, and say that I was seriously unimpressed with this book. The theme is what? That men act from mixed motives? That terrible acts can be committed in the name of 'civilization'? That what unites us as human beings is more important than what divides us? That finding meaning to life is elusive? That torture is bad? These are all propositions it is hard to disagree with.

For me Coetze fails to make any of these issues fresh or compelling, and even though life in a frontier town on the 'edge of empire' is imaginatively (and in places beautifully) brought to life, the conceit of a timeless, placeless setting for the novel ultimately grates on the reader. More serious defects are the author's lengthy and repepetitive descriptions of the Magistrate's sexual meanderings and of sadistic torture meted out by the sinister Third Bureau. Does Coetze think, that by dwelling on sex and violence he will show us what a 'serious' writer he is? Such 'shocking' (ie. dull and rather embarassing) content merely seems slightly dated - a product of the 1960's or 70's when Coetze was no doubt learning his craft (he was born in 1940).

Overall, an unsatisfy and enigmatic book, which if it does have an important message has either hidden it far too well or not at all.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2014 7:37 PM GMT

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