Books

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lomuamart
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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:33 pm

I've never read any Potter so her style was new to me.
Maybe both books are a bit overlong at 500 odd pages but I whizzed through them.
Heaven forbid that I download some Harry Flipping Potter. If that happens, I'll burn the Kindle!!

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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:58 pm

I'm more of a fiction buff but have recently finished an excellent "biography" called "A Spy Among Friends" by Ben Macintyre. It's about Kim Philby and whilst there's masses of literature out there about the man,this book approaches the subject from a different perspective, namely his relationship with two close friends and how he deceived them. Nicholas Elliott (who rose to some prominence in MI6) and James Angleton (also senior in the CIA).
Philby duped them both perfectly. They were all a bunch of piss heads in those days and everything Elliott and Angleton told Philby went straight back to the NKVD/KGB. It's impossible to know how many people died in Russia, the Eastern Bloc and countries such as Albania due to Philby but the consensus is in the high hundreds and possibly over a thousand.
How he managed to keep his nerve through decades of spying at an extraordinary level even after the defections of Burgess and Maclean defies belief. Almost every operation the UK or the US launched against Russia in those days was foiled before it began. Philby, in his position at MI6 and his time as liason in Washington between MI6 and the CIA, was one of the few people who was party to all these intrigues. Yet he still got away with it.
One good reason for this was the make ups of MI5, who were convinced he was the third man, and MI6. The former recruited mainly from the police (including Special Branch) and the armed forces and were seen as middle to lower class folk. MI6 used the old boy network from Eton, Oxbridge and the "right" gentlemens' clubs. They were seen as definitely upper class, even aristocracy. Despite MI5 knocking on Philby's door for years and interrogating him more then once, no-one in MI6 could believe that someone of his background would ever betray his country, service or friends. So, he just got away with it.
I also found the end of it all fascinating. This was Philby's eventual defection to the USSR from Beirut. He'd been interrogated again there, this time by his friend Elliott from MI6 - MI5 and the CIA were kept out of the loop. MI6 had finally got irrefutable proof that Philby was the third man and he was offered immunity from prosecution in return for a full confession. At this stage, Philby buckled and MI6 got a partial confession from him.
Then, whether by an immense blunder by MI6 or by design, the door was left wide open for Philby to defect and he ran - easily. No-one knows the whole circumstances behind his defection but the author leaves the reader in no doubt which of the scenarios above he believes is the true version of events
Sorry to have gone on a bit about this book and I hope I havn't given too much away but it's a great read and gives us a good understanding of Philby and how he managed to carry everything off so successfully wearing "two heads". He betrayed everyone, especially his close friends and wives.
There's also an afterword by John le Carre who know Philby quite well during his intelligence days.

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Re: Books

Post by caller » Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:59 pm

Yes, that's a book I want to read and it was also the basis of a drama-documentary recently. Of course, there's still the 5th man....
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Re: Books

Post by STEVE G » Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:40 pm

"A Spy Among Friends" by Ben Macintyre.
I'll give that a read Lomu, I enjoy this kind of thing and it's only 51p for Kindle which seems a bargain.

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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:37 pm

Hope you enjoy it. I certainly did and rattled through it in just over a day. The ebook version, if the same as I have, seems long at over 500 pages but once you cut off le Carre's afterword and all the notes (masses), the book itself is just over 300 pages

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Re: Books

Post by sandman67 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:02 am

Some history books Ive just finished reading over the last month.....ah one pleasure of being back in Blighty is real paper books again.

Autumn In The Heavenly Kingdom by Stephen Platt
A considerable weighty tome on the barely covered (outside academia) TaiPing Uprising in the mid 1800s in China where the meteoric rise of a crazed quasi-Christian cult sparked off China's worst civil war, one that rattled on for over a decade and saw over 20 million victims, both military and civilian. Eventually western powers were dragged into the conflict resulting in a three way fight between the TaiPing rebels, the ruling Manchu Quing dynasty, and the western powers of the British Empire and America in the middle fighting both sides.
Its a pretty academic work, despite trying hard to be a narrative history, and a bit dry to boot. Its also a little frustrating as it just seems to loose steam and skip over the final days of the uprising, fast forwarding to the after effects and its modern memorialisation by the modern PRC as a proto-socialist uprising against the imperial powers. Its a shame its dry, as it makes reading through it a bit of a bind...shame as its one of very few works on this fascinating bit of history.

and still in the eternal empire.....

The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston
A much better narrative history of one of my favorite bits of history which does a much better job of tracking the causes, the full colour of the events, the aftermath and its effects into the modern period. Diana does a much better job of engaging the reader, and focuses on three main strands - the machinations of the Imperial Court, the besieged Legation District and its melting pot of nationalities facing what seem insurmountable odds with stiff upper lips all round, and the somewhat incompetent multinational taskforce sent to save the day. The serious and thorough research is laid out logically and with enough dashes of colour, derring do and grusome orribleness detailed to keep things trotting along nicely. It works all the way, and is a really engaging and educating read.

and finally we move to the 1800s Jewel In The Crown....India

Thug by Mike Dash
Since seeing The Deceivers as a teen Ive always been fascinated by the murderous exploits of the Thugee stranglers that spread terror through India in the early 1800s when thanks to the investigations and policing of the East India Company men like William Sleeman the movement was first brought into the light. Mike's book is an excellent primer for anyone with an interest in the early days of Indian rule, and like the book on the Boxers an excellent narrative history of the policing action to take down the Thuggee, delving deeper into their early history and the careers of men like Sleeman. Mike also explains how many of the myths around the Thuggee actually result from EIC black propaganda used to scare unwilling local chiefs into co-operating, propaganda that still colours our understanding of what Thuggee actually was. A ripping read, and top class narrative history thats an essential source for anyone interested in that period of history.

Got all of them off Amazon at cut rate second hand copies. Well worth it.

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Re: Books

Post by STEVE G » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:46 pm

lomuamart wrote:Hope you enjoy it. I certainly did and rattled through it in just over a day. The ebook version, if the same as I have, seems long at over 500 pages but once you cut off le Carre's afterword and all the notes (masses), the book itself is just over 300 pages
Yes, it was a great read, very entertaining. I've now moved onto "Kim Philby: The Unknown Story of the KGB's Master-Spy" by Tim Milne who knew Philby as a youngster and later in MI6. This is what I really like about using the Kindle, once you get interested in a topic you can obtain books on a subject from different angles with great ease, before you could only do that if you were living in a city back home with a large book shop on your door step.

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Re: Books

Post by sateeb » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:53 pm

There is a fantastic 2 part BBC Documentary I am watching called "Kim Philby: His Most Intimate Betrayal.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3645874/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

I think I downloaded it from PirateBay
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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:09 am

Thanks people. I'll definitely look for the book and documentary.
Something to look forward to!!

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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:56 am

Chromeman wrote:While we are on the topic of Norwegian crime fiction, you should also check out the books by Karin Fossum, Anne Holt and Gunnar Staalesen.
I've meant to reply to your suggestions for ages.
As I've said before, Jo Nesbo is excellent but I read his latest, "The Son" and wasn't impressed. No Harry Hole, no character - IMHO. I've still got a few more Harry Hole to read and I'm looking forward to them.
I've tried two Karin Fossum and they just didn't do it for me - unfortunately. Got a few others to try though.
On the subject of detective stuff, Stuart McBride does some decent stuff. All set in Aberdeen. "Granite City" is a damn good read but it deals with some disturbing issues.
Peter James also does good stuff, set in Brighton.
To touch on female authors, I though Liane Mariarty with "Big Little Lies" was excellent and I've read Suzanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" a good few times.
After I've finished Peter James' book, I think I'll revisit "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold". Might just watch Richard Burton in the lead role as well!!

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Re: Books

Post by migrant » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:07 pm

James Lee Burke writes a few different series, all superb IMHO.

The best is his Dave Robichoux series about a recovered alcoholic detective.

Burke has won a number of awards here in the states, his style, and prose, is fantastic!
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Re: Books

Post by dtaai-maai » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:00 am


Australian author Richard Flanagan has won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for his wartime novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

"It's a remarkable love story as well as story about human suffering and comradeship," said AC Grayling, chair of the judges.

Flanagan's novel is set during the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War Two.
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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:44 am

I've just finished reading this year's Man Booker winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Thought it was exceptional. Essentially, it's part love story and part account of Australian troops captured in SE Asia during WW2 and forced to work on The Death Railway from a POW camp in Thailand.
Both parts of the story are well intertwined and basically the Australian characters' lives are described pre-war in the first sections (the love element), moving on to the POW camp (which is harrowing to say the least) and then finally to post-war where the central characters' lives are detailed both in Aus and Japan through to their deaths. I'm sure I'll read it again at some point.
Another, lighter and comical read is Lamb: The Gospel According to Bif, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. This had me in stitches although I'll say at the outset that a religious person might find it a tad sacrilegious. "Heaven" has decided that the bible as it stands today only describes Jesus's life in adulthood through the standard gospels. So, an angel is sent to earth, in the present day, together with a resurrected childhood pal of Jesus. It's the friend's job to write about the early days.
What follows is a riotous, extremely funny description of these times and it takes the two friends on various journeys to find and be tutored by the Three Wise Men in far flung parts of the world. The remainder of the book follows Jesus and Bif through the more standard Bible stories but always told from Bif's point of view which is hilarious.
I'd certainly recommend both of the above.

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Re: Books

Post by dtaai-maai » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:29 am

I'd like to reread Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series, starting with 'To Your Scattered Bodies Go'.

Does anyone have an electronic version they care to share? Or a download source?
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Re: Books

Post by lomuamart » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:43 am

Looks like you can get that series on Kickasstorents, DM.
If you havn't used the above, just do the same as for PB but download the torrent, not the large box that says download.
It's got 7 books in the series including the one you mention, is in epub format and size 3.02 MB. Not many seeders as is quite often the case with Kickass but you'll get the torrent eventually.
EDIT, PB had a torrent with shed loads of his books but no good unless you read Spanish!!

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