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40 Archives - Themself
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Tag archives for 40


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Book Review – To Reason Why, by Denis Forman

This is more than just an infantry officer's memoir. Denis Forman was closely involved in the Battle School movement that transformed the British Army's infantry training during the second world war. He then went on to serve alongside Lionel Wigram (the primary proponent and intellectual leader of the Battle School movement) in Italy. The story is as much about Lionel Wigram as it is about Denis Forman himself. However one of the stand out pieces for me is the honest treatment of how men deal with battle. The psychological impact and how unreliable things become is often not mentioned in most memoirs, there is an unspoken need not to embarrass anyone, or bring up things better left to lie. This book manages to discuss it without shaming anyone. Also, the appendices have copies of the reports into the lessons from…
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Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross – book review

This is the 10th of the 40 books I got for my birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and got through it faster than I expected. The review below contains spoilers (below the cut). This is a relatively hard SF book that explores ideas around a post-human robot civilisation with themes of slavery, corruption and what it is that makes tick. The plot that does this is like a corkscrew and at times it takes surprising directions. [DN: link to Charlie's blog post here. (more…)
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Black Watch by Tom Renouf – Book Review

This is a campaign history written by a veteran of 5th Bn Black Watch who later became the secretary of the Highland Division Association. Direct personal accounts, both from the author and other veterans, are used to tell the story of the 51st Highland Division in a very personal way. This book offers some new perspectives on the battles of the 51st, especially those in the final months of the war in which the author was personally involved. (more…)
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Stonemouth by Ian Banks – review

While there are familiar elements to the story, it being set in small town Scotland, it is a new tale from Ian Banks. The story is told in a first person point of view style, and on a first reading at least, realistically leaves some loose ends where the protagonist cannot be sure of who did what and why. Taking place over a long weekend the story unfolds with a mixture of narrative and flashbacks to explain the background relationships and the reasons why Stewart Gilmour ended up an exile from his home town. There is a believable cast of characters, they all seem real and with complex motivations, even the low-key gangster types. The underlying plot is one of relationships and how they interplay over time. It also covers some of the issues of the Scottish diaspora well, how…
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Fifty Books in 2012 – Progress Update 18% complete

You’ll perhaps recall that I set myself a target of reading all 40 books I was given for my birthday during the course of 2012. I then modified that target to also include some of the remaining books from Christmas and one or two other recent additions to the ‘to-read’ bookcase (which it most certainly is, the 40 birthday books take up a shelf on their own with a couple balanced on top). I’ve been slowed down recently trying to complete a couple of assignments for an OU course I’ve been studying (B628 Managing People and Organisations). I put in the last assignment on that on 29 th March, but won’t find out if I’ve passed for a few months yet (I’m not confident, I had a bout of illness that robbed me of a couple long days worth of…
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