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Simon C McCrum (Jakarta, Indonesia)

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Russia's War (Allen Lane History)
Russia's War (Allen Lane History)
by R. J. Overy
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A monumental book on a monumental struggle, 18 Jan. 2000
Richard Overy's book on the war on the Eastern Front is a towering achievement. Using previously unreleased archives and papers Overy challenges many widely held opinions and beliefs and convincingly alters conventional thinking on a number of issues. The book is extremely well written and very hard to put down.
It all starts with the rise of Stalin, the desperate famines of the early 30's and the vicious purges of the military, Jewish communities, intellectuals and others. It details the crushing defeats of the opening German assaults, the 900 day siege of Leningrad and the cauldron of Stalingrad. The book follows the fortunes of the Russian army right to the surrender and fall of Berlin. The book ends with the post-war arguing between the Allies, Stalin's death, and the 'iron curtain' falling across Europe.
Anyone with an interest in this period, or even on modern-day Europe, must read this book, it is excellent.


Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination
Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination
by Brian Keenan
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story of friendship, poetry and yaks., 18 Jan. 2000
It must be very difficult for two authors to write a book, alternating short paragraphs with each other. It must be doubly difficult if the two authors are so different and have such different styles. Yet, despite these obstacles (maybe because of them?), this book works so very well. I really enjoyed it.
Keenan is the more erudite of the two, making their incredible journey along the length of Chile, following his spirits of Neruda and O'Higgins, and his paragraphs are filled with the poetry of the former and the life and times of the latter. McCarthy on the other hand writes in a delightfully laconic way, and seems to effortless glide through this journey. Keenan's route is the more tortured.
What is clear though is that these two very different people are still extremely close and have a friendship the strength and depth of which few of us will ever experience. Their joy in each other's company is very evident, despite the hardships of the journey and the minor bickering that inevitably accompanies any prolonged time spent together.
This book is a testament to friendship, to realising dreams, to leaving behind (as much as would ever be possible) a terrifying ordeal and to hope for the future.


The Snakebite Survivors' Club
The Snakebite Survivors' Club
by Jeremy Seal
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 3 Jan. 2000
I bought this book solely on the strength of the author's first book, A Fez of the Heart, which I really enjoyed. The idea of this book did not appeal at all, the title very nearly put me off but I decided to persevere. I am very glad I did.
The author's travels takes him to the US, India, Australia and Africa in search, quite loosely to be honest, of snakebite survivors but probably more to confront his own absolute dread of snakes.
Every part of the story is interwoven with incredible tales of snakes and snakebites and it makes a fascinating, enthralling and very interesting (or should that be arresting?) read. I enjoy Seal's writing style very much and I really hope this book achieves the success it deserves.


Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits: Adventures of an Under-Age Journalist
Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits: Adventures of an Under-Age Journalist
by Tarquin Hall
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, 3 Jan. 2000
This book, which charts the erratic course of a young man trying to break into journalism, is very entertaining, insightful and hard to believe that it was written by someone so young.
The author's journeys take him from being a bell-boy at a very smart New York Hotel, to being a cowboy in Texas, to some very desolate and grim parts of Africa and into Afghanistan.
I really enjoyed this lively tale and would readily recommend this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 22, 2012 4:44 PM GMT


Military Memoirs: Letters Home From The Crimea: Young Cavalryman's Crimea Campaign
Military Memoirs: Letters Home From The Crimea: Young Cavalryman's Crimea Campaign
by Philip Warner
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating Insight, 3 Jan. 2000
This book, compiled of the letters written home by a young Cavalry officer to his family over a two year period whilst campaigning in the Crimea, gives the most fascinating insight into this campaign and into life in general in the British Army at that time.


Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings
Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings
by Jonathan Raban
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 3 Jan. 2000
I am a big fan of Raban and this book does not disappoint. Raban maintains the extremely high standards of narrative that we have come to expect.
This is an enthralling account of a trip from Seattle to Alaska up the 'inside passage'. Raban carefully leads us up the coast and entertains with stories on the history of the area, the indigenous peoples and the experiences of the European 'explorers'.
On a personal note this trip is bitter-sweet for Raban and the ending lingers with you long after you have finished reading.


A Ride to Khiva: Travels and Adventures in Central Asia
A Ride to Khiva: Travels and Adventures in Central Asia
by Fred Burnaby
Edition: Paperback

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of the "Great Game" era, 15 Nov. 1999
This is a reprint of a classic account of a dangerous journey undertaken in 1875, at a time when Russian expansionism in Central Asia was ringing alarm bells in India.
It was feared that the Russians were forging a route to the north-west frontier of Britain's jewel in the Imperial Crown, India, and that their ultimate goal was to wrest control of that great country from Britain. This was the 'Great Game' that Kipling made 'famous' and involved in this game are many tales of derring-do, adventure, tragedy and immense bravery.
One of these tales is this book which recounts a journey taken by a lone Britsih Army Captain, during his annual leave from St Petersburg, through the Central Russian States and down to the most recent Russian acquisitions of Central Asia.
Burnaby travelled the middle of winter and managed to get much further than it was originally thought he would. For anyone interested in this period this book is a must.


Clear Waters Rising: A Mountain Walk Across Europe
Clear Waters Rising: A Mountain Walk Across Europe
by Nicholas Crane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An immense achievement, 15 Nov. 1999
When I was 17 I walked the Pennine Way in the UK. This 280 mile walk took me 14 days and I still regard it as one of my life's achievements. However, Mr Crane's fantastic book put my paltry effort firmly in the shade with his 10,000kms walk across the most strenous and difficult terrain Europe has to offer.
This book is filled with interesting observations, is very well researched and describes with great humour and gentleness the lands and the peoples encountered on this odyssey.
A great read and very highly recommended.


Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia
Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia
by Tony Horwitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 12 Oct. 1999
I thought this book a very good read with some very interesting and insightful observations. I would, however, agree with the previous reviewer that some knowledge of the lands and the peoples of the Middle East would be helpful.
Thew author has a fine eye for the quirky and humourous and this book is a great read because of it.


Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage: The True Story of Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage: The True Story of Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic
by Alfred Lansing
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Incredible, 12 Oct. 1999
There is not much I can add about this amazing story that has not already been said, but perhaps it is enough to state that this, along with 'The Worst Journey in the World' are the two best books ever written on survival against all the odds.
This book is quite fantastic and thoroughly deserves all the success that this reprint is enjoying.


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