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Ivan Kinsman "Ivan Kinsman" (Poland)
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Napoleon the Great
Napoleon the Great
Price: £9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, thoroughly-researched biography, 16 May 2017
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Roberts has conducted extensive research for this biography that, in particular, incorporates original documentation from the period in order to ensure the validity of his viewpoint on Napoleon's thinking and actions.

Bonaparte is a fascinating character - a man of the Enlightenment who took advantage of the opportunities open to him and who created order from disorder when he became First Consul. The biographer does full justice to his protagonist, providing very full details of the major battles he fought and the administrative reforms he put in place.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Price: £5.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I knew nothing about this book until I was recommended it by Amazon, 27 April 2017
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I knew nothing about this book until I was recommended it by Amazon.

It is, in fact, a real eye opener and incredibly thoughtful about the evolution of mankind from when we descended as man apes from out of the trees to modern day civilisation and beyond. Harari has been very clever in connecting the various stages of mankind as well as interweaving different traits into this history such as culuture, religion (digresses rather too much here), sociology, economics and politics.

Rather than repeat probably what many other reviewers have said, I was interested to find out more about the author and here are some excerpts from an article featuring an interview with him in the Financial Times with John Reed, the FT's Jerusalem Bureau Chief (5 Sept. 2014):

"Sapiens had its origins in a course on world history that Harari, a lecturer at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, first taught a decade ago with other junior colleagues because no tenured professor wanted to take it on. Four publishers rejected the book – history doesn’t sell well in Israel – but a fifth took a chance; Sapiens, originally titled A Brief History of Mankind, shot to the top of the nonfiction bestseller list, and remains there three years after its original publication in 2011. It is being translated into 28 languages – from Finnish to Chinese – and the English edition came out this week."

"The book is, at its heart, an extended thesis about what has made humans such a successful species. In Harari’s view, at the dawn of history homo sapiens shared, along with Neanderthals and other early humans, some winning attributes – a big brain, the ability to walk upright – but they sat somewhere in the middle of the food chain, and were no shoo-in to become masters of the world. If you think of the viewpoint of a cow or a chicken, it was a terrible mistake. What allowed humans to become history’s most successful species, he argues, was our ability to construct and unify small groups behind certain 'fictions' – everything from national legends and organised religion to modern value systems like human rights, and the modern limited liability company with thousands of employees and vast credit lines at its command. Any band of Neanderthals, Harari suggests, can raise a few dozen people for a hunt but humans can tell the stories needed to ensure co-operation in groups of 150 or more – numbers large enough to organise mass hunting using prepared traps, raise modern armies, or subdue the natural world."

"Sapiens takes readers up to the present day when, Harari says, human beings can manipulate DNA, connect human brains to computers, and override the rules of natural selection to the point of becoming gods themselves. 'If you think what the three main problems of humankind were for thousands of years, they were always the same: starvation – lack of food; epidemics and plagues, and wars,' he says. 'Over the past 60 years we didn’t eliminate them completely, of course, but in all three categories we are now in the best position in years.' War, he says, is receding as the world moves from economies based on material wealth to those based on knowledge: China would never invade Silicon Valley, as there is no silicon there."


El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels
El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels
Price: £7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very well researched book into the history ..., 17 April 2017
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This is a very well researched book into the history and rise of the drugs cartels in Latin America, depicting the small beginnings but then the increased traffic of hard drugs into the US and the vast amounts of money that are made on the back of it.

What really struck me was the amount of corruption in the government, police forces etc., particularly in Mexico, that aids and abets this illegal trade. The drugs cartels are able to offer huge bribes to state officials to ensure they turn a blind eye to their trade (this is still going on, as evidenced by the recent arrests of two former Mexican state governors [April 2017]. Also of note are the dangers besetting the journalists who try to report on the activities of the cartels, which often ends in their gruesome murders. Grillo acknowledges that he couldn't have written his book without the assistance of some intrepid Latin American reporters.

So long as drugs remain illegal, the cartels will continue to exist - the same as probibition and the bootleggers. It seems that legalisation, in particular of marijuana, is the way forward, and this seems to be on the rise as trying to combat illegal drug trafficking by force only leads to a vicious upwards spiral in violence.


1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow
1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow
Price: £7.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant at describing the atrocious horrors of the Napoleonic campaign ..., 1 April 2017
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Absolutely brilliant at describing the atrocious horrors of the Napoleonic campaign in Russia in terms of the vast loss of life in terms of men and horses.

Zamojski does a very good job at exposing how far Napoleon's decision-making powers were on the wain at the outset of this campaign. The Emperor had lost that energy and decisiveness that had so characterised his earlier campaigns and this was to have fateful consequences for the Grande Armee. On reaching Moscow, having encountered no significant opposition, he seemed to sink into a state of inactivity - unsure of what his next move should be. Unfortunately for those under him, this was to lead to a disastrous state of affairs, particularly in terms of the lack of winter clothing for his troops, provisions and fodder for both the men and horses on the journey back, and the incorrect timing of the retreat from the Russian capital.

Living in Poland as an Englishman, the book brings to the reader the true epic scale of this European conflict that dragged in most of the major powers. Napoleon's attitude to Poland was a particularly treacherous one; he was quite happy to use the superb Polish soldiers to fight in his army without granting them any major concessions in terms of restoring their nationhood since he was still hoping to appease Tsar Alexander, despite his war against him. At the end of the book, the Emperor is exposed as an unforgiving taskmaster who ruthlessly abandoned his army for the sake of his own political convenience.


Kindle E-Reader, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi (Black) - Includes Special Offers
Kindle E-Reader, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi (Black) - Includes Special Offers
Price: £59.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly happy with my Kindle E-Reader although I find the quality ..., 20 Mar. 2017
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Fairly happy with my Kindle E-Reader although I find the quality i.e. weight is on the light side compared to my old Kindle Paperwhite - which I think I now should have spent the extra money on as it has in-built light etc.
However, for an e-reader this does the job - functionality is good. I may buy the optional light as think this will be better on the eyes. Need to check out the price.
So, for budget go for this but if you want to splash out, Paperwhite definitely the better option.


Evita - Original London Cast Recording
Evita - Original London Cast Recording
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £5.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic. Best musical there has ever been, 16 Feb. 2017
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Fantastic. Best musical there has ever been. Lyrics are amazing - totally get a feeling of Evita and Juan Person's lives!


Dictator: (Cicero Trilogy 3)
Dictator: (Cicero Trilogy 3)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant ending to the Trilogy, 4 Jan. 2017
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This is a well-paced action packed thriller that describes Cicero's role in the final days of the Republic. Cicero does his best to maintain the balance of power but is ultimately betrayed by forces beyond his control. Harris has conducted immaculate research into the final days of the great orator's career and his desperate efforts to stave off the enemies of the Senate who seek its downfall.


Take A Girl Like You (Penguin Modern Classics)
Take A Girl Like You (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars which is a very good reproduction of the story (although in the novel Jenny ..., 9 May 2016
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I was first drawn to reading this novel after seeing the film, which is a very good reproduction of the story (although in the novel Jenny Bunn has black hair and in the film she is a blond).
Amis's novel reads well with his usual verve and he offers some penetrating insights into the mind of a young woman who has to decide who will be her partner and possibly eventual husband. I believe, from reading his biography, that Amis gleaned a lot of this information by conversations with his female friends, when he would ask them penetrating questions about what how a woman would feel and react in a given situation. The book also offers a good take on how moral attitudes were changing in Britain at the time, particularly amongst young women who no longer needed to remain 'virgins' given the increasingly widespread availability of sexual contraceptives. This is Jenny's dilemma as she moves down from a more conservative and old-fashioned north to the south of England.
So, all-in-all a good read and one definitely worth recommending.


Lucky Jim (Penguin Decades)
Lucky Jim (Penguin Decades)
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a great humourous classic, 30 April 2016
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Lucky Jim is still a classic and had me bursting out laughing in parts. Apart from the rather dull conversations between Jim and Margaret about theur feelings towards each other, the plot moves along well and there is always something happening to keep the reader engrossed. Amis' portrayals of Professor Welch and his son Bertrand are comic masterpieces.


Amazon Fire Case (7" Tablet, 5th Generation - 2015 release), Black
Amazon Fire Case (7" Tablet, 5th Generation - 2015 release), Black
Price: £15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Tough but overpriced, 3 Mar. 2016
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The case us good and tough with a snug fit but far too expensive at £19 ... it is just a shaped piece of plastic after all.


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