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Customer Reviews: 35
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Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II
Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II
by Belton Y. Cooper
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
81 used & new from $3.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting view of support troops in WWII, miles away from the cover's claim as "one of the finest WWII memoirs ever written", June 26, 2016
An interesting account of the logistical challenges behind maintaining an armored division in combat and a refreshingly critical view of the Sherman tank. Also a rare view of the life of support troops in WWII. The writing is pedestrian and includes a lot of repetition. Which makes the callout on the cover that this is "without a doubt ... one of the finest WWII memoirs ever written" breath-takingly preposterous. I assume this was the first and only WWII memoir that the reviewer at Publishers Weekly has ever read. So, all respect to Belton Cooper for his important and thankless role in the war, but shame on Random House for trying to market this as something comparable to "With the Old Breed" by E.B. Sledge or "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer.


The Photography Book: 2nd Edition
The Photography Book: 2nd Edition
by Ian Jeffrey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $41.46
84 used & new from $20.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic photos, too bad about the idiotic text., December 26, 2015
A wonderful collection of photographs accompanied by a text of pseudo-academic mumbo jumbo. Really, the text is complete nonsense. But the photos are fantastic, covering a broad selection of styles, eras and techniques. They speak for themselves.


Badge 149: Shots Fired!
Badge 149: Shots Fired!
by Gary P. Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.95
38 used & new from $9.60

1.0 out of 5 stars In desperate need of an editor, or why self-publishing is not necessarily a good thing., October 28, 2015
Beware of self-published books. This one--as so often the case--is riddled with typos, terrible spelling, cliches and endless exclamation marks, which, alas, do not make the stories any more exciting. Car chases go on forever, turning left on Street X, then right on Street Y, then left again, faster, slower, more exclamation marks, round in circles, both cops and bad guys blazing away with their guns from speeding cars with apparently no concern for innocent passers-by. Really, this book makes even big city police look like a bunch of amateurs and bumbling morons. Please, Amazon, put a special badge on self-published books so that we can assess the risks a bit better, and judge whether the price is really worth it.


The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau
The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau
by Alex Kershaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.61
82 used & new from $6.61

3.0 out of 5 stars Both mediocre and strangely compelling, April 23, 2015
I'm still not sure what to make of this book. Kershaw's portrait of Felix Sparks swings between depicting him on the one hand as a fierce, tough-talking warrior who doesn't puts his men's welfare above all else, and on the other almost as a country bumpkin who doesn't really understand how he ended up in command of all these men, nor what exactly to do when things go wrong. The stories of how he lost first a company and then a whole battalion seem to just happen, without him knowing why. When he sets out to try and save them, it seems like he just gets into a jeep or tank and takes off, without any clear plan and, eventually, no real hope of being successful. So the story is a bit choppy in the telling and, contrary to the reviews from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other papers, the battlefield narrative is not particularly gripping, certainly nothing to be compared with, for example, John McManus' "Big Red One" or Lyn Macdonald's "Passchendaele."

But what turns out to be strangely compelling is the way the book shows how often even seasoned veterans broke down in the face of having to advance yet again. There isn't a lot of steely determination here; it's mainly men being kicked into action against their will, crying, disobeying orders, and bursting into rages with ugly consequences. Basically, men doing just what you'd expect under such extreme circumstances. The book is therefore unusually human in its depictions of men in battle, so unlike the Band of Brothers style narrative of "we had a job to do and we damn well did it." Yes, these men did it, but it was messy, chaotic and desperate.


Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
by Christopher Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.93
62 used & new from $9.93

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, certainly not "sparkling.", February 3, 2015
Certainly praiseworthy but the superlatives seem hardly warranted. Especially in the first 180 pages or so, the writing is pretty uneven, split between numbing academic blah blah that requires some in-depth prior understanding of Prussian and European history, happily interrupted by more lively passages on interesting people and events. The whole section on Frederick the Great, for example, is a lot of fun, while the sections on the earlier stages of the Hohenzollern dynasty (i.e., the first 180 pages) are not particularly thrilling. Overall, the writing is too academic to be awarded accolades like "sparkling" or "sprightly," in my view, unless the reviewers are academics themselves and unused to clear and compelling prose. In the end, I was hoping for something that would connect me to all of the stereotypes we associate with Prussia and the Prussian personality, but this book didn't do it for me.


Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations
Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations
by Norman Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.00
71 used & new from $7.72

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Being "little known" doesn't mean "interesting", January 13, 2015
The reason there is so little written about these vanished kingdoms is simple ... most of them aren't very interesting. While there are some real gems in here, they are outweighed by long shopping lists of kings, dukes and miscellaneous other rulers with little or no color or background on who they were or what they accomplished ("King A begat Prince B who begat Duke C," etc.). This is perhaps one of Davies' points, that history is written by the winners and survivors. That means there isn't a lot of information on many of these lost realms. But that doesn't make them interesting.


Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way across Europe
Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc--the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way across Europe
by Patrick K. O'Donnell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.00
99 used & new from $0.89

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Among the weaker contributions to the history of D-Day., December 11, 2014
Not very compelling, given the extraordinary events O'Donnel is describing. This is partly because of his choppy writing style, which makes it difficult to follow the combat scenes. Many of the quotes from participants are simply dull ... no fault of theirs but they just detract from what might otherwise have been a more interesting narrative. It's also because many of the events described are really about massive foul-ups that these brave men had to deal with ... there were no guns at the top of the Pointe du Hoc cliffs and there were no plans by the Germans to use the guns they eventually found (hard to understand how this mission changed the outcome of the D-Day battle), they suffered plenty of friendly fire casualties, seem to have regularly discovered that there were in fact no enemy where they were expecting them (e.g., Brest), and spent long weeks guarding prisoners of war. There's very little context to explain how the actions of the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc fit in with the rest of D-Day. All in all, not particularly well written and certainly nothing at all to compare with other D-Day accounts, such as the fine account of the Big Red One at Omaha Beach by John McManus, "The Dead and Those About to Die."


Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind
Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A breakthrough in evolutionary thinking? Um ... that would be a "no", October 22, 2013
I think you have to take quite a few of Varki's basic ideas for granted (i.e., they're unsubstantiated) to buy his argument. I'm not sure why the fear of dying would lessen reproductive success. He uses the example of a male lion who risks being killed by a rival if it dares to muscle in on his harem. If it understood the risks involved, he says, it wouldn't even try. Maybe, but while mating in humans may be a risky business, I don't think being ripped to pieces by a rival male is typically one of them. And the fact that I know that I am going to die some day ... and even obsess about it from time to time ... hasn't prevented me from having a family. So what exactly am I denying? Is he suggesting that "denial" includes a conception of death that is not realistic enough to scare me from having children? Finally, I find his Theory of Mind to be pretty unhelpful ... at least, it's not very well explained and the whole question about whether dogs or elephants or crows understand what is happening when their fellow dogs, elephants, and crows are dying is kind of interesting but ... what does it mean? The question why the evolution of consciousness/awareness/Theory of Mind is so rare in the world (maybe even in the universe) is indeed fascinating, and Varki does a pretty good job asking some of these questions, but the answers feel unnecessarily complicated and based on some ideas that you just have to accept.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2014 1:21 AM PDT


Netatmo Weather Station for Smartphone
Netatmo Weather Station for Smartphone
Offered by PrimeDeals Online
Price: $148.50
8 used & new from $109.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice looking app, but wireless connectivity seems limited, December 26, 2012
The set-up didn't run smoothly since the device seemed to require a much stronger wireless signal than the rest of my devices. I had to set it up directly beside my wireless router. Since I live in a home with concrete interior walls, it actually doesn't work for me although, as I said, all my other devices work fine. And when your set-up doesn't run as planned, the absence of a easy-to-find users manual is annoying. A cool app, but disappointed that I can't use it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 8, 2013 10:16 AM PST


Canon PIXMA MX870 Wireless Office All-in-One Printer (4206B002)
Canon PIXMA MX870 Wireless Office All-in-One Printer (4206B002)
Offered by Shopping_Service_onLine
Price: $649.99
10 used & new from $174.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Two repairs required in one year, July 8, 2012
I bought this printer a year ago and have had the same problem occur twice in that time. Actually, I'm not even sure what the problem is, other than that the printer makes a terrible grinding noise and comes to a screeching halt. The first time it seemed to be an issue with the ink cartridges not being properly aligned (I had read about this online when trying unsuccessfully to trouble shoot this on my own). The second time it was apparently a paper feed problem. The first repair was covered under the original warranty but the second one isn't, so it's off to the dump with this expensive boo-boo. I actually intended to use it as a photo printer but found that printing photos in the form of photo books, using for example the built-in photo book function in iPhoto, is much more satisfactory. So all I really need is a basic printer for everyday use. You may want to think about this before buying a photo quality printer ... will you really use it for that?


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