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Friday, March 24, 2017

Book 78

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers/Robbyn Swan was a book about the whole of 09/11, starting with the events of the day itself and going right back to the founding of Al-Qaeda in the wake of the Soviet-Afghanistan War. It covers everything in meticulous detail and is very tedious to read in places as there is just too much to take in. The best parts are the bits about the day itself (I have read a few books on this subject, but it still fascinates me) and the audacious actual plan to attack America in this way. It's a bit dated now, being written in 2010 when Obama was a new president (those were the days!). I award The Eleventh Day 6/10, well written but a bit boring for anyone but the most devoted students of the politics of Al-Qaeda.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Books 74 and 75

Book 74 The Third Reich in History and Memory by Richard J. Evans was a very thick book all about the Third Reich. It actually turned out to be a series of independently written essays by the author, who tended to verge into pedantry. The book was not particularly aimed at a lay audience but I managed to follow most of it. It was vaguely in chronological order although it tended to jump about a bit. The most interesting parts were predictably about Hitler and the insanity of WW2. There are of course parallels with our own times and the 1930s which saw a rise in populist leaders. Let's hope we don't end up with a similar outcome!

Book 75 Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate by Abdel Bari Atwan tries to untangle the mess that is ISIS and how it grew out of the conflicts in neighbouring Iraq and Syria. The situation on the ground is unbelievably complicated, it's a total mess with no solution, as we have seen in Western foreign polcy and attempted intervention in  the region over the last 15 years. I don't pretend to understand it all, but it's certainly one of the stories of the times we find ourselves and therefor well worth reading about. The author does seem to have a lid on it all and does not appear to sit in any one camp, at least to me.

There is one remaining bookcase to read in History, and I have chosen a book on 9/11.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vikings: A History

Book 73, A London Safari, turned out to have no interest at all from me, so I moved onto Book 74 Vikings: A History by Neil Oliver which was quite interesting. I then returned to Bookcase 73 to read The French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert. I hadn't realised how bloody and ruthless the French Revolution was. I knew it had taken a long time before a stable system formed, but hadn't quire realised the amount of collateral damage there was and deaths along the way! Next up I turn to Germany for my third History book (Book 75).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Book 72, Frankenstein, was a bit of a disappointment.

I found the story fairly basic, stretchy credibility (the monster just happens to stumble across and kill his creator's brother) and very waffily. The prose was so long-winded even by the standards of Victorian novels. Dracula, in comparison, I read a few years ago, and thought that was a good novel with lots of suspense and a story plot. Frankenstein scores 5 out of 10.

Next up I move to the History section of the library and the first book is a series of walks around London for an informal history of Haringey.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Book 71, The Emperor's Soul, was so poor I couldn't even really tell you what it was about.

I think it was about a person called a forger who could craft reality but reaching back in the past and changing the way something came about. I read a similar book called The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin many years ago, that was vastly superior though. The Emperor's Soul scored 1 out of 10.

I think I have finished the science fiction section but Bookcase 72 is unnamed and is right next to it; it's either science fiction, teenage or a miscellaneous selection of books. In any case I picked Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a classic which I have not read before. It definitely belongs in the science fiction/fantasy realm even if the library haven't placed it there.

I read Dracula a few year ago and was quite impressed with the original, even if it has spurned legions of dross.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin

Book 70, Tuf Voyaging, is a set of long stories roughly grouped together in a novel. Many of them were published separately in the 1980s.

I used to read lot of science fiction around the this material was first published, but I don't remember George R.R. Martin from then. He's become better known since then I believe. Anyway this book is not bad, it's about a trader Tuf who acquires an ancient spaceship which allows him to become an ecological engineer. It's a bit far fetched because Tuf, who previously knew nothing on the subject, becomes one of the most powerful and knowledgeable ecological engineers in the galaxy and goes around solving ecological problems around the different star systems.

Even though it's set far in the future the characters in the books still seem to use 1980s technology and the book is already quite dated. It's not a bad read though, the format means you can right almost endless stories set to the basic format of Tuf going somewhere, solving a problem, and then leaving. I give the book 6 out of 10.

Next up is the final science fiction book.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Visitors Book by Sophie Hannah

Book 69, The Visitors Book, is a fairly unchallenging set of ghost stories by Sophie Hannah.

I'd have probably thought this book was good when I was about 12 and first reading books from the adult library. The books I read in the Teenage section had more complex plots, although I suppose one has to allow for the fact that this is just a set of short stories. Whatever the case I can't see this sort of book ever likely to be on my bookcase! It gets 3 out of 10.

Next up I continue with Science Fiction, this time a book by George R.R. Martin, whose name I have seen on big blockbuster books, but know nothing about.

It's quite a long book so if I don't like it then I may ditch it and try and find something thinner just to get me through this section of the library which I am struggling with, it is fair to say.