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Having read a few reviews about this book it is clear that people either love it or hate it. I have to say that I sit between the lovers and the haters with this book.
Having just finished Engima and been hugely disappointed I was a bit pensive about picking up this book. However, once I got going I found that I was enjoying it. The characters have a lot more depth to them than in Enigma and the pace, though mostly set around Martha's Vinyard in America, is quite quick.
So, I enjoyed the book, but I only give it three stars because of the plot. Whilst Fatherland and Engima were entirely believeable plots, owing to the level of research involved, The Ghost has a simply ridiculous plot about the CIA and the British Government and war crimes.
However, even though this book does have a ridiculous plot, I did enjoy it. It didn't really take much concentration to keep up with the plot and the characters have a bit of an edge to them that keeps you intersted as well.
Overall then, a decent read if you take the plot with a large pinch of salt.
Having read Fatherland and been impressed with the depth of characters and research I avidly bought Engima, Harris' second book, anticipating the same level of detailed research, intensity and suspense. However, I was left feeling disappointed.
The book is clearly well researched and gets across the feelings of paranoia present at Bletchley Park in the Second World War. However, the characters are not as deep as in Fatherland. The Plot in the book seems to chug along at the same pace and never seems to have the intensity and suspense that Fatherland had. When the book gets to its peak I felt a little cheated that I had read so much for such a weak ending.
Overall, a clearly well researched book, but lacking in depth or suspense. If you have read Fatherland, do not expect a similar read.
The Odessa File
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Having read The Day of the Jackal I was well aware of the quality that Frederick Forsyth is capable of producing.
This book follows the attempts of a freelance journalist, Phillip Miller, in his attempts to find an SS war criminal, who was responsible for the deaths of thousands in Eastern Europe, who had fled after the Second World War with the help of the former-SS organisation - the Odessa - in order to avoid being tried for his crimes.
Phillip Miller gets involved in the chase for this SS was criminal through the uneventful suicide of a middle-aged man in Hamburg who, apart from a diary that is give to Miller by a police friend, had left few possessions. The diary turns out to be an account of his days in the Riga Ghetto, which was commanded by the very same SS Captain he then sets out to find, as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Germany.
The motive for Miller going after the SS war criminal are never mentioned until later in the book so for a large portion of the book you are left to wander what his motivations are - is it for the money a big scoop would bring? Is it for moral reasons?
The book itself is, as with every book written by Forsyth, well researched and written. I never felt that the book was simply a contrived movement from A to B to C, but moved in the same way that a true piece of investigative journalism would do - moving from one clue to the next and so on. It really did keep me gripped from start to finish.
Overall, an excellently researched book that keeps the suspense, wondering and tension going until the very end.
The plot of this book revolves around an alternative 1960s where Germany won the Second World War through some sort of appeasement with the UK and USA and carved out a large European Empire for its people.
It all starts with a straighforward murder on the banks of a Berlin river that a Detective, Xavier March, needs to investigate. From there it all spirals out of control into a gripping thriller focussing on what would have been, in an alternate history, the final solution for European Jews.
This book should be read. The plot is second to none and at no point do you think that this couldn't happen. The research and thinking that went in to writing this book is phenomenal.
However, I only give it four stars because of the relatively weak ending. The book races through at a blistering pace and all the way you are kept involved. The ending however, appears to just happen. This may have been the way it meant to be, so that the reader can come up with their own idea of what happened, but for me it didn't work as well as it could have done.
Overall then a very good, impecably researched book, but a pity about the ending.
12 New from
Having read a few books now on the Cold War I have always been left to piece the puzzle together myself as the chapters jumped frm crisis to crisis rather than follow a chronological order. This book does things as they should be done - it tells the story as the events happened: in chronological order.
The book came with some serious pedigree as one of the authors is the producer of the classic World at War series and having read the book you come away feeling as well informed as you did having watched the World at War series. Nothing is left to chance. The authors make the events very interesting and even have little snippets of information that need to be included but would disrupt the flow of the book in boxes, such as background informaton on Kruschev, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the AK-47 etc.
Overall, a very good read that comes highly recommended. The only slight negative is that, as with most books on the Cold War, they take an American viewpoint on more than one occasion and often leave out other players in the Cold War, e.g. Britian.
State of Fear
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This book really does look at the issue of global warming in an action-packed way. The book is set to the background of an upcoming conference held by an evnironmental charity on abrupt global warming and follows the lives of a series of individuals who are connected to this charity as their lives are literally turned upside-down by a series of connected events.
It should be noted that if you are a firm believer in the process of human-induced climate change then this book might not be for you. The premise for the book is to fight against the scare-mongering that is advocated by some environmentalists. In order to do this, you may think that the book may be dry and uneventful. However, it really is action-packed from the offing and the science is very readable and the footnotes given with references can easily be ingnored without spoiling the flow of the book.
I really would recommend this book. I took it on holiday and read it in a day by the pool. It really is gripping, highly addictive and thoroughly readable.
The Cold War
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Having read this book recently the main thing that I can take away from the experience is not having learnt an awful lot more than I already knew about the Cold War.
Whilst it is said by the author in the introduction that this book will be a whistle-stop tour of the Cold War I feel that this is where it lets itself down.
Also, being from Britian, I wanted to find out about what role we had in the Cold War. Sadly, as this book is written by an American, we Brits are often overlooked and as a result are mentioned flitingly throughout the book. Which was a disappointment.
Overall, if you are looking for a book about the Cold War that is brief and will not get bogged down in detail, then this is the book for you. If you want something more than a whistle-stop tour of the Cold War, then this book is not for you and should be avoided.
Chinese Food Made Easy
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I agree with the other reviews. This is a fantastic cook book!
The recipies are fresh and exciting, the ingredients are easy to source and the steps for each recipy are easy to follow and few in number.
I cooked the Chow Mein last night and was very impressed. Every other time I have ever cooked a Chow Mein it has been bland and oily. This really was a treat, so much so that I won't be going to the Chinese take-away to get my Chow Mein anymore.
If you buy this book you will not be disappointed. It really is that good!
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I could not put this book down! It really is that good!
I was a bit sceptical given the other books that have been written by Stephen Baxter as I really do not like science fiction books, but this book is in no way a typical science fiction book.
The book follows the lives of four hostages who have been detained by a group of fundamentalists in a civil war in Spain. On being rescued they all return to the UK during a flooding event that overtops the Thames Barrier. However, the flooding doesn't stop there and sea levels keep rising.
A fantastic book. Well-developed and believable characters, a good bit of science thrown in and an ever-thickening plot. I really couldn't put this book down. If you buy it you won't be disappointed!
I also hear there is a sequal on the way. I can't wait!
Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
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I first heard of this book whilst watching an episode of Top Gear that had Sir Ranulph Fiennes as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Through listening to what he had to say I thought this would be an interesting read and went ahead and bought it.
This book really is one adventure after another and time after time demonstrates not only the limits that the human body can be pushed to but the love one person can have for another. It is little wonder that Sir Ranulph has been used as a motivation speaker as his experiences and determination are something that are beyond imagination.
A highly recommended read! Insightful, funny and inspiring!