Review: Citizen Clem, John Bew

Rating: 5 out of 5

I had barely no impression of Mr Attlee before I started this book — neither did I know much about Mr John Bew though his biography of Castlereagh has been in my “To Read” list since perhaps mid-2012. What I can say after finishing this biography is that Mr Attlee probably ranks amongst the top PMs to have ever governed in the United Kingdom while Mr Bew’s style of biography is superb, with just enough humanity to make the people live the pages they are written on.

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Review: The Templars, Dan Jones

Rating: 4 out of 5

I have liked the idea of the Knights Templar from my early youth as probably many a lad interested in (military) history does/did. Not only is theirs a story filled with excitement; victories followed by defeats, and vice versa, but there’s also a very definite end-point, organised by the French King in his quest for money. This is a neater story — at least compared to the other well-known military orders — and therefore makes itself slightly more suitable to be treated as a continuous narrative. I think Mr Dan Jones delivers on this promise, but he could have done more.

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Review: Hamilton the Musical

Rating: 5 out of 5

Absolutely loved it — but to be clear, I haven’t seen it but just listened to it. There is so much to enjoy in the rich world it creates though of course some ahistorical notes also creep in. I feel, however, that any deviations from the truth as we know it are thoroughly warranted by the virtue of making another Founding Father accessible to the modern public.  Continue reading “Review: Hamilton the Musical”

Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, Brian Kilmeade

Rating: 1/2/3 out of 5

I am quite officially in very two different minds about this book. I read this and the numerous comments other people have thrown at this book wasn’t something I even noticed. This probably comes about from me trying to discover as much about the naval adventure herein as possible — the open American patriotism and hostile comments towards others meant very little to me. But, in what is perhaps the best way for me to describe it, this book isn’t written like a narrative history – it is a newsreel-style series of chapters which are designed to shock and horrorify the (American) reader. There is very little of “good” historiography in this, and if someone was actually looking to read more about the Barbary Wars I would recommend them to look for a better title.  Continue reading “Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, Brian Kilmeade”

Review: The Elusive Mr Pond, Barry Gough

Rating: 2 out of 5

Oh Peter, Oh Peter Pond, what a figure you are… Mr Gough’s work makes you sound like a misunderstood choir boy who never meant anyone any harm while the entire rest of the world was out to get you — while another book that covered some of your exploits noted you as the voyageur dangereux, whose companions and associates suffered accidents perhaps a bit too often.  Continue reading “Review: The Elusive Mr Pond, Barry Gough”

Review: Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari

Rating: 5 out of 5

This is a thorough look into the ideas and institutions that have built modern humanity with plentiful examples to illustrate the author’s point. In many a case, I felt that Mr Harari made a very good point but the illustrating examples were subpar; as such, this was a better theoretical link between ideas than a source for the discussions that the author recommends as part of understanding ourselves and our future. Continue reading “Review: Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari”

Review: The Rothschilds, Virginia Cowles

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is a brief glance at the Rothschild family bringing them up to date, or at least as up to date as they were about fifty years ago. I found the book essentially a work of praise for the family, and while I have no ideological qualm about them, I do doubt any “biography” that spans about two hundred years and does no find a single thing that could be criticised. Continue reading “Review: The Rothschilds, Virginia Cowles”

Review: A History of Canada in Ten Maps, Adam Shoalts

Rating: 4 out of 5

I enjoyed this throughout though it kind of also missed out on what it said it would be. The stories presented — about the explorers and voyageurs — were well worth the space on the paper, but throughout the entire book the maps were more of a secondary thought. This could have been ‘A History of Canada in Ten Episodes’ and the difference would have been immaterial.  Continue reading “Review: A History of Canada in Ten Maps, Adam Shoalts”

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