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Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland)

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Chiang Kai Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost
Chiang Kai Shek: China's Generalissimo and the Nation He Lost
by Jonathan Fenby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A good book on Chinese history as well as the man., 30 Oct. 2014
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I have been reading up on World War 2 in China and this book comes with my best recommendations. Fenby gives a very good background to events leading up to the War with Japan and clarifies a number of important parts of Chinese history and is unafraid to tackle legends in a clear way.

In fact I found that he explains a number of things that before didn't make much sense to me.

Even though the subject is Chiang Kai Shek it is also every bit the history of China and Chiang Kai Shek is clearly one of the big three men to influence the history of China, the other two are Mao and Sun Yat-sen. I should add I found that this book does a good job of telling Sun Yat-sen's story as well and explains the events leading up to Mao's and the communist victory in 1949.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the subject of the histroy of China and found it very useful. In fact I found it more useful in this regard than Rana Mitters book China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival as it explains underlying causes much more clearly.

For the military side I should point out Harmsens book Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze which so far is one of the best books on the fighting of the period.

Rising Sun, Russia's Wars with Japan and Finland 1939-1940 (Flames of War)
Rising Sun, Russia's Wars with Japan and Finland 1939-1940 (Flames of War)
by Peter Simunovich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beginning, 4 Sept. 2013
Flames of War
Having been a wargamer now for over 25 years the table top game Flames of War has taken me by surprise and outclasses all other games in the field. Of course it helps that I am also an armchair general with great interest in military history. The better you know the history the more fun the game is and the better you know the game the more sense military history becomes. For newcomers this book is not a complete game in itself, the game is played with minatures and you will need the core rulebook Flames of War - but if minature wargaming is your thing - then this is the best game I have played.

But Flames of War isn't just for history buffs, it is a detailed table top game in itself. Game play is tactical and competitive and the scale 1:100 allows it to become realistic. In fact game play is simple but yields realistic results and anything that makes sense is built into the system. As a game it stands out but with its ties in World War 2 it is fantastic.

Rising Sun
Enter the East and the start of World War 2. Until now Flames of War has been rooted in the European conflict and North Africa. Here we get to see the Far East for the first time. The setting is the much less know battles between Soviet Russia and Imperial Japan in the months before the start of open war in Europe. The Japanese are introduced for the first time and as can be espected they come with a ruleset that makes them fanatical. The Soviet Red Army is troubled but has great amounts of hardware and numbers to compensate. In addition to Battles of Khalkhin Gol or the Nomonhan, 1939 battles we also have the complete lists for the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union - The Hundred Day Winter War: Finland's Gallant Stand Against the Soviet Army (Modern War Studies).

Both of these conflicts are very interesting and I am thankful to see them released with a full scale of models. Hopefully this is just the beginning of the development of the Pacfic theater of operations and I for one would like to see the Chinese - Japanese conflict as well with it origins even futher back. I think that Flames of War has done the different fractions justice and these are very important points of conflict.

On the downside these are very specific wars and may not have the appeal for all gamers or those whos knowledge of World War 2 is primarily based on the USA or western allies. But for those who want to fight out the opening battles of the Second World War, this addition is gold.

Side Effects [DVD] (2003)
Side Effects [DVD] (2003)
Dvd ~ Jude Law
Price: £2.48

3.0 out of 5 stars There is a thriller there but boy, it takes a long time to begin, 27 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Side Effects [DVD] (2003) (DVD)
...and even after it starts it takes its time.

An odd film that skids the surface of medicine and the problems of drugs. Take one drug to one problem and it leads to another problem. Then we have a thriller when a discredited doctor starts to see a different picture. Is he being paranoid? Is his own downfall making him clutch to straws. Then there is the patient and double victim of a terrible crime. It is a fresh prespective to see a thriller from someone else than a cop, lawyer or news reporter. It could have been a brilliant film. The problem was with the pace of the story. Slow it was but the worst part was that the introduction took up the first 50 minutes of the film, that is to say before it became a thriller. The story before that is of a seriously depressed woman coping with her life. Even once the thriller begins it is slow. There is a lot of good elements in there but it lacks the pace to make it engaging.

White Tiger [DVD]
White Tiger [DVD]
Dvd ~ Karen Shakhnazarov
Price: £4.24

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WW2 action with a strong Russian flavor, 15 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: White Tiger [DVD] (DVD)
***The film is in Russian (and German) with subtitles. While this is my preferred option it might discourage some.

As for the film it is massive. It is an action film in the same way as Inglourious Basterds [DVD] (2009). Great attention is put into uniforms and sets so they are authentic. But it is the tanks that stand out, the Russians have considerable amount of WW2 hardware in usable condition and they use it well. You get scenes with several T-34 driving about and for anyone interested in WW2 then just this is a reason to see the film.

The story is an action story with an element of the supernatural. Unlike Fortress of War [DVD] which is based on real events (and IMHO a better film) then this is complete fiction. Still like Inglourious Basterds it is good fun and very well done, right up to the end. You see during the last 20 minutes the film takes a very unexpected turn that is completely alien to western viewers. In fact my responce was "Where did the movie go?". The change is surreal and doesn't fit. To overcome this I actually suggest you watch the film with a group and just have fun at the end, in a way that a group can but single persons cannot.

A special note to Flames of War FWBX03 Open Fire! Starter Box wargamers and probably WW2 wargamers in general. This film is excellent fun for a gaming group to watch together and since it isn't too serious I even suggest you call in situations and rules. Like, failed firepower text, armour fail, concealed. It is good fun. For none wargamers but those interested in WW2 films then this is a welcome addition!

Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze
Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze
by Peter Harmsen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, 14 Aug. 2013
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Finally there is a good book on World War 2 in China.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been much literature to expand on the eastern front in Europe as our attention here in the West has understandably been on the exploits of the Western powers against Germany and to a lesser extent Japan and Italy. But until now the conflict of Japan and China has been a dark black hole outside China and even there it has just recently emerged as a serious study since the efforts of Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists was downplayed after the communist victory at the end of 1949.

This book goes a long way. It tells of the start of the official war between the Nationalist and Japan. Ironically assisted by German advisors Chiang Kai-Shek decided to bring Japan to war on his terms, not in north China, still controled by warlords and hardly under unified China but to the international city of Shanghai. It gives good insight into the difficulties of the Chinese Army and the brutal conflict that followed. As for the battle there is a detailed narrative and good account, much more than in almost any other book you will find. At the same time you are given an account of the bigger picture and the aftermath.

The book includes good maps and interesting photos.

This is an excellent start into the most neglected part of World War 2 and hopefully a begining of a new area.

Operation Bluecoat (Battleground Europe)
Operation Bluecoat (Battleground Europe)
by Ian Daglish
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and suprisingly insightful, 14 Aug. 2013
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There are many books and tv shows that focus on the Battle for Normandy. Many do not realise that it took the Allies almost 2 months to breakout from the beaches. One of the less known operations is Bluecoat. It was a British operation that was far from successful. It became one of many battles of attrition that wore down the Germans at considerable cost to the allies. In fact it was the kind of fluid engagment that Montgomery tried to avoid and was ill suited to command, favoring set piece battles. So any opportunity was lost. It also saw the Western Front debut of the Jagpanther which was yet one German heavy fighting vehicle (a tank-hunter rather than a tank) the Allies had to deal with and one that even the heavily armoured Churchill tank had no defence against.

The part that made this book stand out is that it blends in personal experience into the narrative. For me this makes a huge difference from reading unit actions to actually having a feel for what it was actually like on ground level.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in military history or wargamers.

The Frozen Ground [DVD]
The Frozen Ground [DVD]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by Wowudo
Price: £2.97

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Se7en this is not, but it is far more realistic., 14 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The Frozen Ground [DVD] (DVD)
Closely based on the real serial killer Robert Hansen this is not an action film but a suspence thriller. Thought provoking it tells the stroy very well and down to small details. Cage is unusual in the role of Jack Halcombe (a character based on the case's detective Glenn Flothe) as a tired detective that starts to puzzle the pieces together in a much larger puzzle than he suspects at the start. Many of the victims (but not all) were prostitutes that no one missed or really cared for. In the rare occasion that they did escape who would take their word against a respectable family man. Cusack's preformance as Robert Hansen is very good. Not the evil in flesh like Hannibal Lecter, he is very evil in his own right and you get to see his real evil behind the front he presents to the world and even a glimpse of terror his wife is forced to live with.

So don't buy this expecting an Cage action flick or Seven. But rather a well told story of real crime.

Aftershock [DVD]
Aftershock [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jingchu Zhang
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic filmmaking., 14 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Aftershock [DVD] (DVD)
***This movie is in Chinese with sub-titles. I for one am glad as that is my prefered way to watch movies. However since a few here have rated this film poorly based on this alone, I think it should be mentioned.

For those who are not turned away from the film for this reason then this is a Tour de Force film. Starting with the Tangshan earthquake of 1976 the story takes you on an emotional rollercoaster where you not only see China and its change through 30 years but are offered a glimpse of Chinese everyday life and family relations which to me were different and enlightening. For those with interest in disasters and survivors guilt that too is very well done.

The director Xiaogang Feng is easily becoming one of China's greatest directors and with his films you cannot go wrong. I also recommend his movie Assembly [2007] [DVD] and soon to be released for Europe Back to 1942 [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC].

This is a film that cannot fail to touch you deeply and every human emotion is well thought and played out. Easily a 5 star movie and not for the faint of heart.

Silent Hill: Revelation [DVD]
Silent Hill: Revelation [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sean Bean
Price: £5.00

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not live up to the original (2 D), 4 Feb. 2013
Silent Hill [DVD] was original when it was first released. Sinister and nightmarish all the way through but held a story that you wanted to follow to the end.

This second instalment has little of what made the first good. It has some good settings but these are just a spill over form the original. Then it has a few cheap scares but never does it become sinister or really suspenseful. The main problem is that there is hardly any story to back it up and what there is so so much less than before.

Admittedly I watched it in 2D at home, but I don't think that 3D would have done much for the story.

Overall it adds almost nothing to the original and is very little rewarding to watch. You might as well give it a miss.

The Secret In Their Eyes [DVD]
The Secret In Their Eyes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Javier Godino
Price: £4.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb filmaking, 5 Dec. 2012
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It won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2010 and it is well deserved.

the story build up, told in two time periods is excellent. The two main characters played by Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil are very good and with a special mention for their excellent make up, you can see them as young and older and the transformation is good.

The basic story is a thriller, a crime committed in the past and never properly closed. This is set in Argentina's troubled times when the secret police is a law unto itself. An innocent victim and deep hurts for the one left alive. The court investigator is left with the unfinished case, the one he cannot leave behind. He decides to write a novel and in doing so starts to do research that will lead him on a different path. Personal relationships and humour also form part of the story and the whole is very strong.

A good example of great film making.

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