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Exploring the world of the Vikings / Richard Hall.
Author: Hall, R. A. (Richard Andrew), 1949-
Publisher: London : Thames & Hudson, 2007.
Review by: Vehyn  on: 19/03/2019 12:33:04 PM
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Informative. Information is backed by visual evidence and linked in various sources. Great beginner book of blanket understanding.
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Time reborn : from the crisis in physics to the future of the universe / Lee Smolin.
Author: Smolin, Lee, 1955-
Publisher: London : Allen Lane, 2013.
Review by: JollyApollo  on: 11/03/2019 1:26:40 PM
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An important book for cosmology physics and science. I believe the brilliance and foresight of this book will only be widely realized over the next decade or two.
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And yet-- : essays / Christopher Hitchens.
Author: Hitchens, Christopher, author.
Publisher: Crows Nest, N.S.W. Allen & Unwin, 2015. -- ©2015
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:26:56 PM
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This book is a collection of Hitchenss published essays that were written in the decade prior to his death. While some are of less relevant as the years and events have passed since they were written they all reflect his sharp intellect and insight. But what I most valued reading this book was that in an essay on George Orwell he mentioned The Road to Wigan Pier in which Orwell described the lives of coal miners in northern England during the 1930s and my grandfather and his father were coal miners in northern England before and during this time.
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The book smugglers of Timbuktu : the quest for this storied city and the race to save its treasures / Charlie English.
Author: English, Charlie, author.
Publisher: London William Collins, 2017.
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:24:59 PM
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Readers will probably remember the crisis - Ansar Dine Boko Haram and al Qaeda took control of Timbuktu and reportedly threatened to destroy the many and some large collections of ancient manuscripts most several hundred years old and urgent action was needed to evacuate them for safekeeping in cities still controlled by the Malian government.

This book documents the occupation and manuevacuation interleaved with chapters presenting the history of Timbuktu and expeditions by Europeans to visit the city not all successful in the 18th and 19th centuries. As history these chapters made an interesting read and those covering the evacuation conveyed a sense of urgency which was clearly present amongst those involved. However late in the book it was revealed that the threat may not have been as significant as first presented with hints that the crisis was manufactured to obtain funding from Western bodies to move the manuscripts or perhaps boxes that were presumed to contain them. Furthermore while interesting in its own right the book began to unravel towards the end suggesting a rush to meet a publishing deadline with an implied acknowledgement the author may have been hoodwinked by the Timbuktu resident who appeared to be the sole source for most of the accounts of the manuscripts relocation and that some serious inventorial investigation not to mention serious scholarship remains to be done.

Having read Ibn Warraqs Defending the West A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism after The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu but before writing this review Warraqs very thorough analysis of traditions within and the West of rationalism universalism and self-criticism in comparison to the lands of Islam and in particular the complete absence of any tradition of self-criticism within the traditions of Islam it would appear quite likely that this collection of manuscripts how extensive it might be will remain in warehouses and family houses untranslated uncatalogued and unanalysed for decades perhaps centuries to come.
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The secret / Rhonda Byrne.
Author: Byrne, Rhonda, author. -- Byrne, Rhonda. Secret gratitude book. 2007.
Publisher: London : Simon & Schuster, 2006. -- ©2006
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:22:38 PM
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The core motif of the book is that positive thinking will bring results and the more positive the thought the greater the results. Interspersed with quotes from like-minded writers and public speakers the book covers such topics as money relationships and health the book teaches how the application of positive thinking will bring success to the area of ones life in question. This is all well and good and while I did enjoy the book in particularly its succinctness it completely ignored that there just might be other factors standing in the way of the success one seeks that all the positive thinking in the world might alleviate but not eliminate.
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The honorary consul.
Author: Greene, Graham, 1904-1991.
Publisher: London : Bodley Head, [1973]
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:18:49 PM
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I bought this book for some light reading whilst working in Saudi Arabia where I wouldn't have access to a bookshop for some time and wasn't disappointed. Greene paints the picture of a bungled kidnapping of the honorary consult in Buenos Aires and the tension doesn't relax. Greene also only partially describes the backstories to the characters such that this ambiguity adds to the tension of the present.
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The honorary consul / Graham Greene with an introduction by Mark Bosco.
Author: Greene, Graham, 1904-1991, author. -- Bosco, Mark, writer of introduction.
Publisher: New York Penguin Books, 2008. -- ©1973
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:17:59 PM
Member Rating:
I bought this book for some light reading whilst working in Saudi Arabia where I wouldn't have access to a bookshop for some time and wasn't disappointed. Greene paints the picture of a bungled kidnapping of the honorary consult in Buenos Aires and the tension doesn't relax. Greene also only partially describes the backstories to the characters such that this ambiguity adds to the tension of the present.
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Slaughterhouse-five, or, The children's crusade : a duty-dance with death / by Kurt Vonnegut.
Author: Vonnegut, Kurt, author.
Publisher: New York Dell, 1991. -- ©1969
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:08:48 PM
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I read this book in one day on a train from NYC to Niagara Falls Ontario having remembered seeing the film taken from it some 30 years prior and some of the plots were as strange as I recalled. It is partly an anti-war book and by taking a very unusual perspective is cannily effective. Yet at the same time its a sci-fi fantasy book. Its one of those books that belongs in the 1000 books everyone should read lists but one thats best borrowed from the library as one read is enough.
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On Chesil Beach / Ian McEwan.
Author: McEwan, Ian, author.
Publisher: London : Vintage, 2018. -- ©2007
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 8:06:54 PM
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This was an enjoyable read although it could have been ended a few pages after the scene on the beach instead of a chapter after.
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The songs of distant earth.
Author: Clarke, Arthur C. (Arthur Charles), 1917-2008, author.
Publisher: London : Voyager, 1998.
Review by: Coates, Stephen Mr  on: 10/03/2019 7:58:06 PM
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This takes place on a planet inhabited by humans that is visited by a spaceship which had fled a planet earth approaching destruction as the sun goes nova which needs water. The interactions are peaceful and interesting and two snippets stick in my mind one being that each person has a score or position on a sexuality scale from 100 hetro to 100 homosexual which I find matches human existence better than the dichotomous assignments generally made and that each women was allowed two birth. For scifi fans this ones a timeless classic.
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