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Norberto Amaral (Aveiro, Portugal)

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I Served the King of England (Picador Books)
I Served the King of England (Picador Books)
by Bohumil Hrabal
Edition: Paperback

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best book I ever read, 24 Feb. 2003
Having been offered this book I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea who the author was or what the book was about. The only thing I knew was that the setting was Prague, a city I visited in the summer of 2002, when the Vltava burst its banks and flooded the city.
As it's written in the first person at first I thought it was a non-fictional book. It had all the markings of a biography.
Still, there were times when, as the author writes, "the unlikely becomes true" and after a few of those strange events I decided, rightly, that this work is fictional. The magic was still there, though.
This is a story about a boy, Ditie, who starts selling hotdogs at the Prague train station in-between wars, when Prague's bourgeoisie is at its height, through when he becomes table waiter at several hotels, then a millionaire through chance, until finally he is mending a road somewhere in Bohemia in the middle of winter, victim of the Communist regime.
The narrative flows quickly but full of intricate detail; funny yet tragic at times; childish yet aware. It is as matter of factly as possible and pages go on before a paragraph ends and another starts. Yet the book is far from boring and Ditie's adventures and misadventures kept me entertained for days.
What seems to be so wonderful is how all his life he hardly ever seems to be in control, how fledging everything is, success and failure. Ditie endures hardship with hardly a wince though. That's the lesson I learned.

The New Rulers of the World
The New Rulers of the World
by John Pilger
Edition: Hardcover

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The facts, the figures, the arguments, 24 Feb. 2003
This book is a gem: straight to the point, full of facts, figures and arguments for those who dislike the US and UK's foreign policies but don't quite have the facts straight.
There are five chapters, on subjects ranging from Suharto's corrupt and corrupting regime in Indonesia to Iraq and the effect of the embargo on the livelihood of the Iraqis. The last chapter, which I haven't read yet, is about the current state of affairs of the aboriginal people in Australia.
Pilger's style is the most straight-forward possible. There are no philosophical diatribes, no mumbo-jumbo, no in-your-face rage, just fact after fact of careful investigation, whether backed up by other publications or by himself on the spot in Iraq, apparently freely, without a 'minder'.
A particular highlight are the insights into an interview with James Rubin. It really shows how self-decepted he is and, if he represents the mainstream in the US government, how self-decepted the US government is. Quite shocking to know that these guys actually believe in what they do and have absolutely no idea of the toll their policies are taking on the people who they are saying they are protecting. What a bunch of hypocrites!
What I like most about this book is that anyone can read it. In targeting for no specific reader Pilger has made it readable by *all* readers. Not being elitist makes it even more appealing to 'Joe Bloggs'.
It's only a shame that the book is too small. But I guess Pilger wanted to get his point across with a few but strong facts and therefore hit the spot.

Bill Bryson's African Diary
Bill Bryson's African Diary
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover

26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bryson's Worst Book To Date, 22 Jan. 2003
I have read all but one of Bryson's books ('Mother Tongue' is waiting on the shelf but not for long) and loved them all, in hardly differing degrees.
However this book was all but a complete disappointment. For one, there's size: it matters! It was only when I received the book that I realised how SMALL it is! Small not only on size but also on ideas, jokes and depth of information.
Oh don't get me wrong, you do get a couple of Bryson's usual funny rantings, this time about criminality and violence in Kenya and flying on small tourist planes. But it's far, very far from his other adventures and misfortunes in 'Neither Here Nor There', "Notes from a Big Country', etc.
All in all, I feel very let down by the book in all aspects. Would I buy it again? Well, you got me there: yes I would...

The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding
The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding
by Laura Ries
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, not simplistic, 9 Nov. 2002
This is one of the simplest yet most important books I read on branding. Al and Laura Ries outline 22 short rules for success in branding - or failure, if you go against them.
Some of these rules are very obvious, such as The Law of Credentials and The Law of the Name. Others are not and will you will have to take the odd deep breath and ask yourself if that really was what the authors meant. Once you think it, though, it all makes perfect sense and you're already on the next chapter.
The authors didn't even have to drown the reader with useless, obscure case studies, when examples of brands everyone knows about are so plentiful. The language is simple and relaxed and so very effective.
So, if you're not hoping for a treaty on marketing this is the right book for you. It doesn't matter if you're a student, a seasoned marketer or a consumer who wants to know what some people are doing to consumers' minds: you will find this highly informative, blunt, enlightening and very fun to read.

A Rush Of Blood To The Head
A Rush Of Blood To The Head
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.81

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can music get any better?, 29 Sept. 2002
I only bought the CD the other day and have been listening to it without intertuption ever since. The songs are perfect and little more can I say but simply to tell you to buy the CD and listen for yourself.
Today I recorded the album on one side of a 90 minute tape so I can listen to it on the car. I had to cut out two songs so the others could fit in the tape and had a really hard time deciding which.
It simply isn't fair playing G-d with Coldplay's new album. I simply couldn't choose two 'weaker' songs so I threw a coin in the air.

Iceland: The Rough Guide (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
Iceland: The Rough Guide (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
by David Leffman
Edition: Paperback

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't keep up with the standard other RGs have set, 6 Mar. 2002
This guide came out just before I set out to Iceland, and thank G-d for that because I wouldn't know what to do without it. As usual, RGs are the best guides around, beating the competition hands down. (In this case I only found another guide to Iceland and it was very good - Insight to Iceland. It's full of great pictures and has a lot of information, though not as much as the RG).
Almost all of the information you'd need to travel around the country is there. Unfortunately, some of it is completely incorrect. For example, I found it quite disconcerting to be effortlessly driving through some roads that it said would be muddy even in the height of Summer. Or to be paying (much) higher prices for some attractions than stated in the guide.
This guide is good and though not to the RG standard I've been used to, it is still better than the competition. But the authors must do better to fix these minor, obvious, mistakes...

C++: How to Program
C++: How to Program
by Harvey M. Deitel
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding introductory text (about first edition), 14 Mar. 2001
This review is from: C++: How to Program (Paperback)
I bought the first edition of this book in University in 95 and I still use it sometimes as a reference book.
It is an absolutely outstanding introduction to C++, with very wide and relatively deep coverage of the core language. The code examples are illustrate the points very well and there is minimal clutter
Those who don't have C programming skills will find that isn't a problem, as the book puts you right there in the middle of C++. It's only a shame that some of the C functions (such as streams, files, etc) are not given any space. In real situations (such as legacy systems) C functions are sometimes found insterspersed in C++ code and this book won't help you with that, so beware!

Java: How to Program (with CD-ROM)
Java: How to Program (with CD-ROM)
by Paul J. Deitel
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A complete introduction - shame about the text, 14 Mar. 2001
I already had the C++ How to Program book from a few years back and when I decided to learn Java it was quite natural to get this book.
The code examples are great, the breadth (not depth) of coverage is outstanding (try and find any Java other book that covers as many subjects as this one!).
Sadly, nothing at all about the Enterprise Edition but then, this is supposed to be a University text book, although because it now takes graphics and colour a bit more into consideration, it seems to say that it's ok for professionals to buy it.
There is only one reason why I'm not giving it 5 stars, and that's the text. Sorry guys, the text is too compact and unnecessarily complex. This is even more so in the explanations of the code. You have to keep all your wits about you when reading the text otherwise you fall asleep. Maybe more whitespace should be used. Or maybe uni students are too used to this sort of bad practise and won't mind.
If you can stand boring text and code explanations and want a single book to introduce you to Java, this is it.

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