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Julius Seize-Her!

Page: 1
by Andrew Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foreboding, 26 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Pure (Paperback)
I agree with the general sentiments offered by other reviewers in terms of the exquisitely crafted prose. However, exquisitely crafted prose can be disappointing after a while, when you realise it is a veil drawn over a lacklustre story. That is not the case here. The real strength here is in the structure and atmosphere, the psychological depth and, above all, the dark sense of foreboding, personal and historical, which Andrew Miller conjures up. This is not a clever-clever book which wears thin; it's intelligent and rings out authentically, in a dark and spellbinding way. And that is a feat generally far beyond mere prose stylists.

Life: Keith Richards
Life: Keith Richards
Price: £5.99

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What A LIFE, 14 Dec. 2011
Life is the best rock biography I have ever read (though it is not a genre I often indulge since it is mostly moderate talents with big heads blowing their predictable trumpets). The quality of the writing is actually poor, sort of speech rhythms, but that's fine since you just hear Keef's voice drawling at you in its charming, amiable way.

His life is full of surprises; being unwittingly used as getaway driver for a jewellery heist when the Stones were already big, delicate and understanding about the women who mattered, badly bullied at school, great, bizarre drug stories (which could so easily have been a tedious staple in lesser hands) and always the wry observer of the wild world he moved through.

Perhaps predictably, what endears the most is the artist in the man. He loves the music. He is as big a fan as any hormonal teenager. It even starts to seem odd that the (brilliant, wonderful) Stones should be such a success since what we have here is a man who adores other musicians.

Despite his laconic swagger on stage, there is none of the expected arrogance. He spent days on end learning tiny little variations on chords just to play London pubs - that was the horizon of his initial vision of the Stones.

In the end this is a life-affirming book, brimming with artistic passion and never taking the pop world seriously. Like all great artists, Keef comes across as a true one-off, and a pleasure to listen to.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2013 9:06 PM GMT

Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
by Anne Applebaum
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading, 21 Nov. 2011
This is spellbinding, essential history; meticulous research, measured writing and full of unforgettable, chilling details, such as the eight year old girl in a camp boasting about how she can satisfy an entire team of tree-fellers.

It is the prolonged, casual nature of the horror which stands out; a sort of wearying, leaden evil resting comfortably on the stout shoulders of human gullibility.

It is also striking for the way Soviet evil contrasted with the empty fire and brimstone of Nazi ravings. The obvious stupidity and self-destructive violence of Nazism is absent here. The Soviet system was carefully built to last - and did last longer than Nazism. It was a grander and more efficient deceit.

And it lingers on. The Soviet system is still viewed by the chattering class dilettanti with an ambivalence it simply does not merit. Applebaum had trouble getting this masterpiece published because it states the bald, ugly truth about the Soviet system. This is all the more reason to read it of course.

It is a perfect starting point for anyone with an interest not only in history but also the tragic possibilities afforded to powermongers once you have a fully politicised population. It is more approachable than Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago (superb though that it is). As a follow-up - because this stuff is gripping, both intellectually and in a grim, horror movie way - I would recommend Mochulsky's autobiographical Gulag Boss, which in some ways is even more revealing and scary.

The Wehrmacht In Russia (World War Two from Primary Sources)
The Wehrmacht In Russia (World War Two from Primary Sources)

4.0 out of 5 stars Iluminating, 19 Nov. 2011
This is a rarity, a reasonably sympathetic study of the Wehrmacht in Russia, yet it's in good taste, never for a moment condoning Hitler's ludicrous philosophy nor excusing any atrocities on either side. A nice, low-key, thoroughly researched counterbalance to the many books from the other sides. As with so many good history books, it's the anecdotes and quotes from the men who were there which linger in the mind, undermining previous perceptions.

Mao: The Unknown Story
Mao: The Unknown Story
by Jon Halliday
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a hullabaloo, 16 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Mao: The Unknown Story (Paperback)
The reviews of this book are riveting, an impassioned snapshot of the political debate of the last 100 years. Let me just clear it all up: Mao was awful and the authors of this book have written an OPENLY biased, highly entertaining biography. There. Glad that's sorted.

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