Review: The Great Swindle, Virginia Cowles

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is a very technical history of the South Sea Crash. As we are dealing with coverage of an economic event, this means that a lot of this text relates to economics though fairly basic ones. Even so, however, I did not find the author’s descriptions of the main characters in the story and the way the manipulated the marked to have been particularly helpful to understanding, and this is my main reason for the low rating.

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Ülevaade: Eesti feldmarssalid, Andres Adamson

Hinnang: 3/5

Võttes raamatu algselt kätte, oli mul tunne, et tegu võiks olla lühidalt hariva looga, mis heidab pilgu Eestimaal (ja Liivi- ja Kuramaal) sündinud, elanud või surnud väejuhtidele. Eks tegelikult raamatul ka selline eesmärk on ning ta seda mõneti saavutab — mis minu jaoks rikkus korralikult lugemiskogemust oli autori pidev sõbramehelik stiil, mis ei lasknud nautida ülevaatlikku teksti, vaid pani pigem mõtisklema sellise kirjutamisstiili üle.

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Review: The Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan

Rating: 2 out of 5

I found that I had a problem with this book. We have a British author who wants to re-centre the world, and yet the book he writes is more Anglo-American than many others. Not only this, the author does not even do courtesy to the Spanish and Portuguese, noting that in those languages the people “call” themselves by other names as if the English version was what the people would have recognised at the time. This hypocrisy surrounds this entire work, though it is not without a saving grace (which I will get to).  Continue reading “Review: The Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan”

Review: Everest 1953, Mick Conefrey

Rating: 4 out of 5

The story of the ascent of Everest gripped my interest in several ways – firstly, the narrative here begins more than two year before the event and comes in slowly, describing what had to be done before the ’53 expedition could happen; secondly, and more importantly, the book highlighted the importance of teamwork in challenging environments. I was also unaware of the ascent’s Coronation Day significance, but when it was revealed I was speechless. That moment, whether in London or anywhere in the Commonwealth, must have been spectacular… Continue reading “Review: Everest 1953, Mick Conefrey”

Review: Strategy, Lawrence Freedman

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is so broad… The author talks about military, political, and economic strategy, with the one guiding principle across all of these being that as soon as someone thinks they’ve come up with the next “last” strategy, it is clear they’ve managed to think up something applicable only in one very specific general setting. The repetition of this scheme across all the people the author mentions gets tedious. Towards the end, however, this is broken up more and more frequently by actually interesting examples (but the book itself starts veering towards what Kahneman has already written). Continue reading “Review: Strategy, Lawrence Freedman”

Review: Genghis Khan, Jack Weatherford

Rating: 5 out of 5

I really enjoyed this, mostly due to Mr Weatherford’s perspective in putting himself in the shoes of the people he is describing. Too many historians never give credence to the actual difficulties which would have been in the minds of the people they are describing due to their distance from what they are describing. The author’s description of why the visit to the Khan’s original homeland was helpful is, in that way, an eye-opener and one which should be emulated. Continue reading “Review: Genghis Khan, Jack Weatherford”

Review: Offa and the Mercian Wars, Chris Peers

Rating: 2 out of 5

This is in general an alright book, but entirely misleading in its title or content. Offa features in the introduction and then skips back in for about ten-twenty pages in the middle of the book, after which the author goes back to describing a general history of Mercia — more on this below. The book also comes across not knowing where it wants to lie on the scholarly spectrum with plenty of references to academic work and minimal evaluation of these.

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Review: Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow

Rating: 5 out of 5

Hamilton, the arch-Federalist, is a typically maligned fellow in the history of these United States as it probably would have been called in his day. Mr Chernow has tried his best to bring him to life (and light) as well as to correct historical injustices, and in addition to the principal subject the reader is also treated to the story of his wife, Eliza, as well as the Federalist party though not in as many words. What we also see in these pages is the effort the author devoted to figuring out the motives of the various characters in the early republic as well as trying to objectively assess their contributions, and this makes for some very good reading.

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