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    The Rough Guide to London (Rough Guide London)
    by Rob Humphreys
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 March, 1999)
    list price: $17.95
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    Editorial Review

    As a 10-year London veteran, London: The Rough Guide author Rob Humphreys offers the ultimate insider's view into how to get under the skin of the city he calls home. In addition to the detail-heavy "basics" like getting there, visas, money, and phones, this guide's specialty areas offer something for everyone including lesbian and gay London; classical music, opera, and dance; theater, cabaret, and cinema; galleries; shops and markets; sport; festivals and special events; kids' London; and an essential directory listing everything from lost luggage contact numbers to dentists.

    Museums are delved into, often with room-by-room coverage, so you can pick your "must-sees" and better plan your visit. Italicized margin notes offer useful information including the nearest tube (subway) or train stations, where to get tickets, opening hours, and other helpful tidbits like "the river walk may not be accessible during very high tides." London's food has come a long way from shepherd's pie, and a restaurant directory boasts everything from Tex-Mex to a vegetarian's delight: lentil pizza.

    To help you put it all into perspective, the back of the book offers an architectural chronology accompanied by main historical events, plus an enticing list of films and books that lend insight into the real London. ... Read more

    Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very thorough and comprehensive but also very long.
    Rough guides, in general, are the BEST. However, I feel that although this book would be extremely useful for someone moving to London or currently living in London who wants to get to know it in EXTREME depth, it is WAY WAY WAY too long (672 pages) for the casual visitor who may be spending just a few days there. It would take you more time to go through the book (even just skimming) than doing the actual sightseeing itself. You are better off getting the RG to England or Britain, both of which have very extensive information on London but information which can be digested on a short visit. The London guide is simply too long for a book on just ONE city - even if that city is London.

    .....

    2-0 out of 5 stars ridicuolously slanted polemic against parts of london
    The Rough guide to london is the most biased guide book i haveever read. I really don't understand why one would put a political bias in a guide book - but Rob Humphreys seems obsessed with both bashing the Rich and the British Conservative party a as well as gossipping about peoples sex lives. Such things have no place in a guide book.I would suggest you look at the Lonely Planet Guide which is much much better.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A very readable in-depth guide.
    I visited London for the first time in March 2000. I selected this guidebook based on favorable experiences with other books from this series.London is a huge, complex city that can overwhelm a first time traveller.This book made it very easy to to find my way around. I don't expect anytravel book to be completely accurate in describing accomodations,restaurants and other commercial venues in a fast-changing urbanenvironment. However, I found this one to be right about 98% percent of thetime.

    Some nice features of this book were detailed sections onactivities for children, and better than average information forgay/lesbian and disabled travellers.Another real bonus is the suggestedreading section at the back of the book. I found some very worthwhile booksthere that I have beenreading as background for my next London trip. ... Read more

    Isbn: 185828404X
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Great Britain - General    2. Europe - Gt. Britain/London    3. Guidebooks    4. London (England)    5. Reference - Guides (General)    6. Travel    7. Travel - Foreign    8. Travel Guides    9. England    10. London, Greater London    11. Travel & holiday guides   


    The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain (Oxford Illustrated Histories)
    by Kenneth O. Morgan
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 November, 2000)
    list price: $26.50 -- our price: $17.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (5)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Sketchy
    The book shown above is the hardcover edition. It's also published, without illustrations, in five paperback volumes. I read only THE TUDORS AND STUARTS, which had no illustrations other than two or three maps and graphs. The first half of the book, about the Tudors, was written by one man, and the second half, about the Stuarts, by another. The volume was short, only 142 pages.

    This is my favorite period of British history and the one with which I am most familiar, but still, I found the text confusing. I think there were several misplaced lines of type in the second half. Maybe a writer can't do much in 70 pages to elucidate a period, and probably the illustrations would have distracted from the sketchy text. The writing was not lively.

    The very last section is called "Intellectual and Religious Life," but it was mostly about religious life. Literature is almost totally ignored throughout the volume. Pepys is never mentioned.

    There is no index. Perhaps the complete, one-volume version has an index, and the publisher didn't want to go to the trouble of compiling indexes for the individual volumes. Still, a history book without an index is unthinkable.

    On the whole, the book was disappointing.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Mismash of uneven writing
    I'm a half-educated American, with the vaguest notions of British history. I bought this book hoping to be able to understand the story of the British Isles, in a more or less clear outline. That didn't happen: after 200 pages, I tossed the book, wondering just who it was written for. Here's why I tossed it:

    (1) It doesn't have an author. Instead, it has a bunch of authors, each apparently assigned a certain portion of British history to cover. The problem is that none of the authors seem to have consulted each other, nor did the editor seem to edit. On every other page, you see a fact or definition repeated (by a previous author), or a topic referenced (but uncovered by a previous author). History is a messy thing, but it has to be organized to be learned, and any hope of presenting material in terms of themes or movements is lost, because styles and approaches switch radically from author to author, from clear and sparse, to confusing and overly-detailed.

    (2) It should have an author. This sounds like point (1), but hear me out: the editor, Mr. Morgan, claims that writing grand history, spanning the length of the British past, just can't be written anymore. It is better, rather, to have specialists write about their specialities. Sounds good in theory, but is just abominable when placed next to comprehensive histories written by single authors. Toynbee and Trevleyan wrote such history earlier. And J. Roberts writes such history now, particularly his History of Europe, and History of the World, two models of lucid historical writing that make this disjointed compilation look like an ill-considered mishmash.

    (3) It should have an audience. Or at least a different audience: the average intelligent reader wants a clean, interesting exposition of the important events and currents of the past. While some chapters achieve that, the most seem to be written not to the Average Reader, but to the Rival Colleague. And so we see a few facts casually presented, and then a sudden digression into some piece of scholarly minutae that leaves the reader (me, that is) pexplexed.

    (4) It should teach historical knowledge, not assume it. This is one of those histories that assumes from the onset that you know all the relevant history. That might be OK for a narrow scholarly article, but it's an awful presumption for a comprehensive history. I read dozens of pages discussing the 'Domesday Book,' its importance, and its effects. The authors never thought to enlighten the ignorant, and explain what this Domesday Book was (an very old tax survey). Things like this litter every page.

    From previous reading, I've learned that good history can be written. From reading this, I've learned that very bad history can be written, too.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Mismash of uneven writing
    I'm a half-educated American, with the vaguest notions of British history.I bought this book hoping to be able to understand the story of the British Isles, in a more or less clear outline.That didn't happen: after 200 pages, I tossed the book, wondering just who it was written for.Here's why I tossed it:

    (1) It doesn't have an author.Instead, it has a bunch of authors, each apparently assigned a certain portion of British history to cover.The problem is that none of the authors seem to have consulted each other, nor did the editor seem to edit.On every other page, you see a fact or definition repeated (by a previous author), or a topic referenced (but uncovered by a previous author).History is a messy thing, but it has to be organized to be learned, and any hope of presenting material in terms of themes or movements is lost, because styles and approaches switch radically from author to author, from clear and sparse, to confusing and overly-detailed.

    (2) It should have an author.This sounds like point (1), but hear me out: the editor, Mr. Morgan, claims that writing grand history, spanning the length of the British past, just can't be written anymore.It is better, rather, to have specialists write about their specialities.Sounds good in theory, but is just abominable when placed next to comprehensive histories written by single authors.Toynbee and Trevleyan wrote such history earlier.And J. Roberts writes such history now, particularly his History of Europe, and History of the World, two models of lucid historical writing that make this disjointed compilation look like an ill-considered mishmash.

    (3) It should have an audience.Or at least a different audience: the average intelligent reader wants a clean, interesting exposition of the important events and currents of the past.While some chapters achieve that, the most seem to be written not to the Average Reader, but to the Rival Colleague.And so we see a few facts casually presented, and then a sudden digression into some piece of scholarly minutae that leaves the reader (me, that is) pexplexed.

    (4) It should teach historical knowledge, not assume it.This is one of those histories that assumes from the onset that you know all the relevant history.That might be OK for a narrow scholarly article, but it's an awful presumption for a comprehensive history.I read dozens of pages discussing the 'Domesday Book,' its importance, and its effects.The authors never thought to enlighten the ignorant, and explain what this Domesday Book was (an very old tax survey).Things like this litter every page.

    From previous reading, I've learned that good history can be written.From reading this, I've learned that very bad history can be written, too. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0192893262
    Sales Rank: 42663
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Great Britain - General    2. Great Britain    3. Great Britain - History    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Reference    8. BCE to c 500 CE    9. British & Irish history    10. Modern period, c 1500 onwards    11. United Kingdom, Great Britain    12. c 1000 CE to c 1500    13. c 500 CE to c 1000 CE   


    $17.49

    Labour in Power, 1945-1951
    by Kenneth O. Morgan
    Paperback (01 October, 1985)
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $35.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Isbn: 0192851500
    Sales Rank: 1448200
    Subjects:  1. 1945-1964    2. Business / Economics / Finance    3. Economic policy    4. Europe - Great Britain - General    5. General    6. Great Britain    7. Politics and government    8. Social policy    9. Attlee, C. R   


    $35.00

    Shakespeare's Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485
    by John Julius Norwich
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (13 March, 2001)
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.88
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    If Shakespeare's complicated portrayal of the teeming womb of royal kings (Richard II) of England in his history plays has always confused you, then John Julius Norwich's Shakespeare's Kings is one solution to your problems. WatchingHenry IV as a young boy, Norwich asked, where did history stop and drama begin? It is this question that Shakespeare's Kings seeks to answer, as it chronicles the historical events of the reigns of the monarchs of England dramatized in Shakespeare's plays. Beginning withEdward III, Norwich details the turbulent reign of Richard II, the rise of Henry IV, and the triumphs of Henry V, the disastrous reign ofHenry VI, the Wars of the Roses, the evil ofRichard III, and the painful birth of the Tudor monarchy.

    Norwich sheds interesting light on what Shakespeare did with his sources (particularlyHolinshed), as he provides chapters that detail the history of a particular monarch, which is then tested against Shakespeare's play of that particular king. This throws up some interesting points, such as the fact that the great nationalist John of Gaunt in Richard II was actually a deeply unpopular, patrician figure. The book also contains some wonderful illustrations and excellent tables of family trees, maps and an appendix that offers the entirety of Edward III, only recently (and still controversially) accepted into the canon by Shakespeare scholars.

    However, the general reader should also treat Norwich's claim to historical objectivity with some caution. Shakespeare's Kings is almost completely ignorant of recent critical and historical studies of Shakespeare and historical studies of the monarchs under consideration. Norwich argues that Shakespeare would never have claimed historical accuracy--and to establish just how close he came has been one of the principal purposes of this book--because he was a dramatist, not a historian. But this obscures the extent to which history and literature are invariably entwined and nowhere more so than in Shakespeare. But there's the rub. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

    Reviews (15)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading
    John Julius Norwich is a historian and a lover of Shakespeare.His book, SHAKESPEARE'S KINGS is a well-matched marriage of his passions.Essentially, he recounts the history behind "the histories," Shakespeare's plays about the kings who ruled the medieval era, from 1337, the beginning of the 100 Years War with France, through 1485, the end of the War of the Roses and, effectively, the end of medieval monarchy.

    Norwich takes each monarch and tells his story, then revisits how Shakespeare told the life.Yes, there are variances: Shakespeare had some misleading references, sometimes misread, and, for the sake of dramatic effect or clarity, often conflated events and characters.Norwich has not come to chastise him, however. Inaccuracies aside, he says more than once, Shakespeare got it right, nailing the mood and impact of the humans and their acts upon their environment and history, and making art in the process.

    As someone coming to the book from the literature side, I found the historical passages rendered in fluid prose and an articulate, fair voice disgorging an unrelenting pageant of gory warfare and tragic choices. England and France must have stunk of blood and rotting corpses the entire epoch. From Edward III to Richard III, it is a 150 year nose-dive propelled by ambition, aggression, greed and often hate.Henry V is a passing reprieve in the middle, but that competent leader was often given to cruel excesses.Norwich captures every hairpin turn in the thicket of court intrigues and military battles, a difficult achievement given the constant changing of loyalties and the lengthy cast, many with similar names and most of them brothers and cousins.Fortunately, Norwich includes family trees and a time line for reference.He gives us much to think about, and brings a fresh appreciation of Shakespeare.

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing History, but Not to be Confused With the Plays
    This book tells the story - long, confusing, but connected - of the English kings of the late Middle Ages, from the downfall and death of Edward II in 1327 and the accession of his son Edward III. His successor Richard II was deposed and killed by the Lancastrian Henry IV. Then followed his son Henry V and a great time for England against France in their ongoing Hundred-Years War. His son Henry VI was so ineffectual he set off the long bizarre dynastic scuffle called the Wars of the Roses, from which the Yorkist Edward IV finally emerged. He had his own middle brother, George, killed, but his youngest brother, the infamous Richard of Gloucester, slaughtered his way to the throne, holding it for a tenuous two years as Richard III, until the resurgent Lancastrians finally got rid of him and the whole bloody Middle Ages, and put Henry VII (the first Tudor) on the throne in 1485 - the first decent ruler poor England had seen in a century and a half.

    This was the period that Shakespeare chose for his history plays. To the Elizabethans these events were still reasonably current (as our Civil War is to us), and yet enough removed - and of a different dynasty - to be safe in the playing. (Not quite: Elizabeth's (former) favorite Essex paid for a special performance of Richard II, which concerns the deposing of a legitimate monarch, and soon after he was proclaimed a traitor.) The politically savvy playwright wanted to walk the fine line between telling the ripping good yarn of these brutal yet colorful fellows, while somehow not tarnishing the gloss of the monarchy itself.

    But Shakespeare was no historian. He has modified the story to suit political and dramatic exigencies, and often, it appears, by mistake. The dynastic interweavings are confusing, and his sources had gaps and contradictions, so sometimes he misplaces characters and events. More often, though, he has to tell a long story in a short time, and give it some push. Thus the compression and conflation of events, the exaggeration of character.

    Ok, so maybe watching the plays is not the best way to learn English history. Certainly, Norwich brings this home. He gently but relentlessly documents Will's departures from the actual history, and they are legion. Every once in a while, in this book, he devotes a chapter to the particularplay that "covers" the material he has discussed to that point. Basically, each of these chapters goes through the play at hand - I Henry IV, say - and shows how it deviates from or hews to the truth. After a few of these chapters, I just skipped them: the tale Norwich tells in his history sections is great fun, but the Shakespeare chapters simply drive home the point that the plays are at best approximations to the actual. Fair enough: I'm convinced. I still want to watch the plays: they contain cultural and emotional truth after all, besides being, many of them, great plays.

    So, read this book for the history, rather than the Shakespeare criticism. And though the plays are not good history, reading a good popular history is not irrelevant to enjoying them: after all, they were written for a public that already had a better than nodding acquaintance with the events they portray. And so should you.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Dramatists should not try to be historians
    I was prepared to like this book, and really had no problems with the earlier chapters.However, the latter sections concerning the wars of the roses, and Richard III in particular, are nonsense from a historical perspective.Norwich must have flipped through a few scholarly works and decided that including footnotes and cititions would be adequate.The problem is that he tends to ignore the credibility of the sources he cites, perhaps feeling that anybody living within a couple of hundred years of the events in question would be a credible and objective source.In the case of Richard the 3rd, many other people have made the same mistakes (i.e. taking Thomas More and John Morton as reliable sources of information).However, most of these people don't embarrass themselves by writing a book that uses such sources and citiations.

    Looks like Poor Richard is never going to get a break! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0743200314
    Subjects:  1. Historical drama, English    2. History    3. History and criticism    4. History: American    5. Kings and rulers in literature    6. Medieval    7. Middle Ages in literature    8. Plays / Drama    9. Shakespeare    10. History / Medieval   


    $10.88

    84, Charing Cross Road
    by HeleneHanff
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1990)
    list price: $13.00 -- our price: $10.40
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    84, Charing Cross Road is a charming record of bibliophilia, cultural difference, and imaginative sympathy. For 20 years, an outspoken New York writer and a rather more restrained London bookseller carried on an increasingly touching correspondence. In her first letter to Marks & Co., Helene Hanff encloses a wish list, but warns, "The phrase 'antiquarian booksellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive." Twenty days later, on October 25, 1949, a correspondent identified only as FPD let Hanff know that works by Hazlitt and Robert Louis Stevenson would be coming under separate cover. When they arrive, Hanff is ecstatic--but unsure she'll ever conquer "bilingual arithmetic." By early December 1949, Hanff is suddenly worried that the six-pound ham she's sent off to augment British rations will arrive in a kosher office. But only when FPD turns out to have an actual name, Frank Doel, does the real fun begin.

    Two years later, Hanff is outraged that Marks & Co. has dared to send an abridged Pepys diary. "i enclose two limp singles, i will make do with this thing till you find me a real Pepys. THEN i will rip up this ersatz book, page by page, AND WRAP THINGS IN IT." Nonetheless, her postscript asks whether they want fresh or powdered eggs for Christmas. Soon they're sharing news of Frank's family and Hanff's career. No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969, the firm's secretary informed her that Frank Doel had died. In the collection's penultimate entry, Helene Hanff urges a tourist friend, "If you happen to pass by 84, Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me. I owe it so much." ... Read more

    Reviews (71)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wit, charm, and genuine friendship
    After meaning to read this classic for ages, yesterday I came across the cassette version at the library. Put it on this afternoon and never turned it off. Charing Cross is a delightful memoir, and this reading of it is all the more so as each correspondent's letters are read by a different narrator, all of them wonderful. The quintessential postwar (WW II) New Yorker meets the quintessential Londoner in this series of letters brimming with warmth, wit, and humor. Surprisingly, Helene Hanff did not develop her passion for good literature through conventional educational experience, but via an encounter with A. Quiller-Couch in a library. She would have made a fantastic English lit professor. (The reader of her letters reminds me of Debra Winger in Shadowlands). Frank Doel, his family and co-workers bring the 50's and 60's with all England's deprivation alive, and respond to Helene's heartfelt American generosity in kind. Wish I had read this gem long ago; just glad I've done so at last. Will now begin a search formy own print copy, hopefully, in an "antique" edition.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming cult classic
    "84 Charing Cross Road" is a series of letters charting the twenty-year correspondence between a would-be playwright in NY and Frank Doel, a London antiquarian bookseller.From such a modest premise, Helene Hanff has created something with an almost unique charm which continues to endure as a successful book, play and film.

    To me the great joy of Hanff is her style.She is wonderfully conversational, humorous and self-depreciating.She describes her life - learning ancient Greek or watching endless English films - with panache.However, in truth very little happens in these pages.Rather, it is the gently teasing nature of her relationship with Doel which shines out, the feistiness of the young American lady chaffing against the more reserved nature of the quiet, polite English gent, as they read their way through the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

    On her death, the London Times said tartly, "Seldom has a writer sailed to literary fame in so slender a craft."It is true that 84 CXR is a very slim tome.Yet it is one that bears much re-reading, as it seems that somewhere between the lines there lie more than a few life-lessons for us all.

    Pilgrims to the real-life 84 Charing Cross Road will be sad to find that it no longer exists as such.Look out for an "All Bar One" outlet however and a dull, bronze plaque commemorating the bookstore.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pour l'amour des livres...
    Je me suis fait prendre par ce petit livre! Je l'ai juste feuilleté un peu. Après quelques pages, j'étais accro et je ne pouvais plus le lâcher. Je l'ai donc lu en moins de 2 heures.

    J'ai adoré cet échange de lettres entre deux passionnés des livres qui finissent par devenir amis sans s'être jamais rencontrés. C'est touchant, humain, parfois drôle mais toujours passionnant. C'est aussi très intéressant de voir les messages devenir de moins en moins professionnels et de plus en plus personnels à mesure que l'amitié grandit.

    Un très belle lecture et un gros coup de coeur! À lire sans faute! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140143505
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. American - General    3. Authors, American    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Biography/Autobiography    6. Correspondence    7. Doel, Frank    8. Hanff, Helene    9. Literary    10. Biography & Autobiography / General   


    $10.40

    Five Days in London May 1940
    by John Lukacs
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (10 September, 1999)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $19.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    In his six-volume history of World War II,Winston Churchill deemed the year 1942 as "the hinge of fate," the year in which the German and Japanese armies began to be turned back.John Lukacs suggests that the last days of May 1940 were more important still in turning the tide of war in democracy's favor, for it was in those few days that Churchill convinced his cabinet that Britain should fight on, alone, if need be, against Adolf Hitler's regime. Even as a quarter of a million British troops were being evacuated from Dunkirk, Churchill struggled to reverse the British government's policy of appeasement. In this, he faced opposition from several quarters, including prominent figures within his own Conservative Party. Writing with evident admiration for Churchill--who, he points out, was not well liked, and who had been prime minister for only two weeks when war broke out--Lukacs gives his readers a fly-on-the-wall view of the heated conferences between such well-known participants as Harold Nicholson, Lord Halifax, Neville Chamberlain, and Alexander Cadogan.

    "Churchill understood something that not many people understand even now," Lukacs writes in the closing pages of his book. "The greatest threat to Western civilization was not Communism. It was National Socialism. The greatest and most dynamic power in the world was not Soviet Russia. It was the Third Reich of Germany. The greatest revolutionary of the twentieth century was not Lenin or Stalin. It was Hitler." By convincing his government that his view was correct, Churchill afforded Western civilization a slim chance at survival--no small achievement, and one well worth honoring with this fine study. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

    Reviews (53)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Don't read this - it's boring
    DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. I went in with high expectations: I'd never read Lukacs, but my understanding was that his reputation was good. At a minimum, he's published a lot.Moreover, I liked the idea of an events-oriented narrative confined to a short, narrow time frame.What should have been high drama, however, was almost painful to finish. Plainly put, the book is boring.


    As for (somewhat) related works: I'm not familiar with Churchill and this period, although I've read a bit of his memoirs and found them pretty good.A recent World War II read that I thought deserved its Pulitzer was Rick Atkinson's An Army at Dawn.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Story
    This book is hard to put down. I have read it twice and will, no doubt, read it again.

    It is the story of a 5 day period when freedom hung in the balance. In May, 1940, as France was collapsing, British leaders were debating whether Britain would fight on or sue for peace. Winston Churchill, the newly installed prime minister wanted to fight on, but forces within the government and within the Conservative party wanted to treat with Hitler. Politically, Churchill's position was shaky. In the end, he prevailed, but he would probably have agreed with Wellington that it was a near run thing.

    Lukacs writes beautifully. His treatment of the players in the 20th Century's most critical drama is fair and understanding. Anyone who is interested in the Second World War should read this book. Anyone who values freedom must read it. Had Britain made peace with Hitler, there would have been no Normandy invasion and Europe would not be free today. How close we came to the abyss is both frightening and educational.

    3-0 out of 5 stars 5 star subject 2 star treatment
    A fascinating period in history that begs for a page turning dramatic rendering is here so turgidly presented that it is difficult to stay awake while reading this. The facts are here but the writing is awful. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0300080301
    Subjects:  1. 1936-1945    2. 20th Century Diplomatic History    3. Diplomatic history    4. Europe - Great Britain - General    5. Great Britain    6. History - General History    7. History: World    8. International Relations - General    9. Military - World War II    10. Political History    11. Political Science    12. Politics and government    13. World War II - Europe    14. World War, 1939-1945    15. Churchill, Winston    16. Halifax, Edward Frederick Lindley Wood    17. History / Military / World War II    18. Military leadership   


    $19.95

    Georgiana : Duchess of Devonshire (Modern Library (Paperback))
    by AMANDA FOREMAN
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (16 January, 2001)
    list price: $15.95 -- our price: $10.85
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Editorial Review

    Georgiana Spencer was, in a sense, an 18th-century It Girl. She came from one of England's richest and most landed families (the late Princess Diana was a Spencer too) and married into another. She was beautiful, sensitive, and extravagant--drugs, drink, high-profile love affairs, and even gambling counted among her favorite leisure-time activities. Nonetheless, she quickly moved from a world dominated by social parties to one focused on political parties. The duchess was an intimate of ministers and princes, and she canvassed assiduously for the Whig cause, most famously in the Westminster election of 1784. By turns she was caricatured and fawned on by the press, and she provided the inspiration for the character of Lady Teazle in Richard Sheridan's famous play The School for Scandal. But her weaknesses marked the last part of her life. By 1784, for one, Georgiana owed "many, many, many thousands," and her creditors dogged her until her death.

    Biographer Amanda Foreman describes astutely the mess that surrounded the personal relationships of the aristocratic subculture (Georgiana and the duke engaged for many years in a ménage à trois with Lady Elizabeth Fraser, who inveigled her way into the duke's bed and the duchess's heart). Foreman is, by her own admission, a little in love with her subject, which can lead to occasional lapses of perspective, but generally it adds zest to a narrative built on, rather than burdened by, scholarship, that is at once accessible and learned. An impressive debut, in every sense. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

    Reviews (47)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Difficult Read
    With all the "sexy" things that happened to the subject, this could have been much more interesting. Perhaps the author was showing restraint in not ascribing perceived emotions, reactions, etc. Foreman's research is amazing and she deserves credit for her hard work. However, the book is somewhat dry and hard to follow; I was skimming it toward the end.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating portrayal of a spirited woman
    Foreman really draws the reader into the interesting life of Georgiana, one of the most influential women in 18thC society.This is a very well-written portrait and makes for great reading. It contained a bit more about the politics of the time than is of interest to me, but for those interested in such things I imagine all of that was entirely riveting.I was most interested in Georgiana the woman and what motivated her, and here Foreman did not disappoint.An excellent biography and an eye-opening look in to the 18th Century.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another Brilliant, if Histrionic, Spencer Girl
    The selling point of Amanda Foreman's hugely successful "Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire" was that she hailed from the same family as Princess Diana, and that she too was beautiful, blonde and bulimic.This connection probably gave Foreman an early boost in the book sales department, but what clinched this book's bestseller status was the compelling narrative of Georgiana's life:born into one of England's most ancient and preeminent landed families, she was then married off into one of its richest: to this day, the Cavendishes (i.e, the Dukes of Devonshire) overshadow virtually all but the Royal Family in terms of inherited wealth.Georgiana, however, is a perfect specimen of the educated woman in the Age of Reason: she dabbled in politics, geology, literature gambling, adultery and Continental travel - visiting Gibbon in Geneva and then becoming fast friends with Marie Antoinette.High points of her political achievements include a political alliance with Charles James Fox, and a masterful electoral campaign, on his behalf, for the seat of Westminster.The sadder aspects of her life can be found in her unstable relationship with her own husband, her doomed relationships with other men, a strange love triangle with her live-in friend Elizabeth and a series of health crises that robbed her of her looks.One of the best biographies of the late 18th century. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0375753834
    Subjects:  1. 1757-1806    2. Biography    3. Biography & Autobiography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Biography/Autobiography    6. Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer    7. Devonshire, William Cavendish,    8. Duchess of,    9. Duke of,    10. Great Britain    11. Historical - British    12. Nobility    13. Political    14. Royalty    15. Women    16. Women politicians    17. Biography & Autobiography / Royalty    18. Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer Cavendish    19. Devonshire, William Cavendish    20. Marriage   


    $10.85

    David Copperfield (Penguin Classics)
    by CharlesDickens, JeremyTambling, Hablot K. Browne
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1997)
    list price: $7.95
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    Editorial Review

    Beginning in 1854 up through to his death in 1870, Charles Dickens abridged and adapted many of his more popular works and performed them as staged readings. This version, each page illustrated with lovely watercolor paintings, is a beautiful example of one of these adaptations.

    Because it is quite seriously abridged, the story concentrates primarily on the extended family of Mr. Peggotty: his orphaned nephew, Ham; his adopted niece, Little Emily; and Mrs. Gummidge, self-described as "a lone lorn creetur and everythink went contrairy with her." When Little Emily runs away with Copperfield's former schoolmate, leaving Mr. Peggotty completely brokenhearted, the whole family is thrown into turmoil. But Dickens weaves some comic relief throughout the story with the introduction of Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, and David's love for his pretty, silly "child-wife," Dora.Dark nights, mysterious locations, and the final destructive storm provide classic Dickensian drama. Although this is not David Copperfield in its entirety, it is a great introduction to the world and the language of Charles Dickens. ... Read more

    Reviews (100)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Novel I Have Ever Read
    I have always liked Dickens -- I used to say that A Tale of Two Cities was my favorite -- but this work is truly extraordinary.Like all of Dickens' novels, this one contains an amazing number of complex and colorful characters.The novel is in the first person, with the voice looking back as an older man at the entirety of his life.What struck me most about the book was Dickens' ability to write in a way that simultaneously captured both the emotions of a child as the young Davy experienced these events and those of the man who was looking back on them.With magnificent characters, an interesting plot, and a clear theme, this is truly a masterpiece.

    4-0 out of 5 stars parts are conspicuously missing
    I really wanted to love this book, a colorful and affecting summonsing-up of life's bittersweet pageant, but I have to agree with many of the critics, pace Collins, that it cannot rightly be considered one of Dickens's "best works," owing to certain artistic shortcomings.

    Chief among these (as laid out ad nauseam by Monod, Needham, etc.) is that at no point does David tell us what Dora was like in the sack.

    I mean, here's he's got this incompetent "child-wife" who cannot cook, keep house, or even keep the accounts in order.She's basically ruining his life.So was this defect compensated for by an exhausting and innovative performance in the boudoir?

    Indeed, it's a "vital and obvious question" (Tillotson's phrase), which Dickens, inexplicably, never addresses satisfactorily:the reader is simply left to wonder.

    As a result of this regrettable oversight (or failing), I am forced to agree with Alfred Kazin, when he notes archly that Dickens's unfortunate decision to give this "burning issue" the short shrift "seriously hobbles the merit of an otherwise promising tale."

    4-0 out of 5 stars Charles Dickens Own Tale
    David Copperfield has ever remained a Best Read and it reflects Charles Dicken's own Life. It's a simply great story, romantic but also realistic and believable. It excites all emotions, from rib tickling laughter to tears of pity. Most of the qualities like modesty, frankness, trustworthiness, honesty, goodwill are the ones we admire and his frailties are understandable and endearing.

    If Charles Dickens was alive, he would be pleased to know that a story which shows, "the principle of Good surviving through adverse circumstance" has remained so popular. Charles Dickens Books are great Picks especially to gift to kids in February as Charles Dickens Birthday falls on 7th Feb. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140434941
    Subjects:  1. Boys    2. Classics    3. England    4. Fiction    5. Literature - Classics / Criticism    6. Literature: Classics    7. Orphans    8. Young men    9. 19th century fiction    10. Classic fiction    11. Fiction / General    12. Reading Group Guide   


    Churchill: A Life
    by Martin Gilbert
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1992)
    list price: $24.00 -- our price: $16.32
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    Editorial Review

    It is impossible to understand the Second World War without understanding Winston Churchill, the bold British Prime Minister who showed himself to be one of the greatest statesmen any nation has ever known. This lengthy biography is a single-volume abridgment of a massive, eight-volume work that took a quarter-century to write. It covers Churchill's entire life, highlighting not only his exploits during the Second World War, but also his early belief in technology and how it would revolutionize warfare in the 20th century. Churchill learned how to fly a plane before the First World War, and was also involved in the development of both the tank and anti-aircraft defense. But he truly showed his unmatched mettle during his country's darkest moments: "His finest hour was the leadership of Britain when it was most isolated, most threatened, and most weak; when his own courage, determination, and belief in democracy became at one with the nation," writes Gilbert. There are several wonderful books available on Churchill, but this is probably the best place to start. ... Read more

    Reviews (37)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of knowledge about Churchill
    This book is a fantastic, concise volume of the complete life of Winston Churchill.It shows all of the struggles that he had to deal with along with the achievements that he embraced during his career and personal life.Gilbert does not leave anything out of this book, whether it be positive or negative.Usually I don't recall hearing bad things about his career, such as the ill fated Dardanelles plan in World War I.But this book holds nothing back, this also helps in highlighting some of the great things that he has done, most obviously leading England through some of the toughest days of the Second World War.Another thing that it shows is how stubborn America was in entering into the war and going along with some of Churchill's plans that might have shortened the war.Gilbert also exposes some not so wonderful things about Roosevelt and Truman.They did some foolish things as well and they did not take some wise pieces of advice that Churchill gave.In the end of this book, it became increasingly somber as I read about the deteriorating health of the great man and ultimately his death.I could not believe how tough memebers of his own government would be sometimes yelling for his retirement during the middle of his speeches.It was very disheartening and annoying at the same time.This is still an excellent book that makes me appreciate Churchill all the more to see what he had to deal with and how he perservered.

    1-0 out of 5 stars save your money
    I guess the price Gilbert paid for 'total' access was 'total' Churchillian myth building.Glosses over ANYTHING negative--refusing to even acknowledge the subject's alcoholism.A giant of a man, no doubt, but all men have faults and it is not a good biography that glosses over them.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Get a life!
    This is biogrpahy at its worst. Uncritical, subjective and poorly written, the book has conveniently glossed over Churchill's many blunders in politics, his unstable personality, his sexual perversion and his character faults.

    The voters told Chutchill, depsite what his admiring biographers wrote, what they thought of him by giving him the boot. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0805023968
    Subjects:  1. 1874-1965    2. Biography    3. Biography / Autobiography    4. Biography/Autobiography    5. Churchill, Winston,    6. Europe - Great Britain - General    7. Great Britain    8. Historical - British    9. Political    10. Prime ministers    11. Sir,   


    $16.32

    Way We Live Now, The (Penguin Classics)
    by AnthonyTrollope, FrankKermode
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 1995)
    list price: $13.00 -- our price: $9.75
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    Editorial Review

    Trollope's 1875 tale of a great financier's fraudulent machinations in the railway business, and his daughter's ill-use at the hands of a grasping lover (for whom she steals funds in order to elope) is a classic in the literature of money and a ripping good read as well. ... Read more

    Reviews (15)

    5-0 out of 5 stars If you liked Edith Wharton's "Custom of the Country"
    If you liked Edith Wharton's "Custom of the Country" & Thackery's "Vanity Fair", this is a version of such. More political & less entertaining. I'm a fan of Trollope's
    oeuvre but books specified above are better. But it's worth owning & reading!

    5-0 out of 5 stars It is "The Way We Live Now"
    Though written in the 19th century, "The Way We Live Now" is very relevant at the beginning of the 21st.

    The book concerns the activities of a fradulent financier who is making his way in London society. He preys on the weaker elements-in the form of dissolute young lords-as he climbs to greater heights in the social world. At the fringe of this social world, one also encounters people just trying to get by--the wife of a dead peer turning out hackneyed prose for example--as they cling to the appearances of respectability.

    Trollope's description of this world in many ways evokes the Internet bubble of the late 1990's. You see the same types of behavior and meet the same types of characters in this world.

    In this novel, Trollope has also created two very strong and memorable female characters. Hetta is the daughter of the "lady turned writer" and the sister of a very dissipated peer. Yet she somehow has a sterling character though less than sterling judgement in her suitors. Marie, the daughter of the shady financier Melmotte, is even more fascinating. At the start of the novel, she appears to be a weak little thing who is basically being auctioned off to the bidder with the most prestigious social credentials. However, after a disappointment in love, she finds the strength within herself to beat her father at his own game. Trollope develops characters so fully and with such depth that you feel as if they are living and breathing in front of you.

    I would recommend this book to lovers of serious literature everywhere. Yes, at times the language is dated and there are some horrifying anti-Semitic passages. But the book is a fully realized portrait of a society that still has relevance to readers today.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best book for an intro to Trollope
    I would beg to differ with the reviewers who discourage those unfamiliar with Trollope from starting with this book.Because of its modern theme and relevance to our age this should be the first on any new Trollope reader's list.Even the casual Jew-hatred of the English upper class portrayed by Trollope has been in the news within the last year or two (at embassy parties in London). ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140433929
    Subjects:  1. General    2. Literature - Classics / Criticism    3. Literature: Classics    4. 19th century fiction    5. Classic fiction    6. Fiction / General   


    $9.75

    The Strange Death of Liberal England
    by George Dangerfield
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 July, 1997)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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    Reviews (8)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Historical writing at its most energetic and flamboyant
    Three movements killed the sweeping middle-class consensus of the Victorian Era, writes George Dangerfield in The Strange Death of Liberal England, his landmark study of English public life immediately before World War I.Irish home rule, the increasing militancy of women's suffrage activists, and a devastating spate of work stoppages -- those three cankers festering for years on the British body politic -- posed grave threats to the civil order.Add to the mix an obstructionist House of Lords and a pack of Tories scheming to topple the Liberal majority, and only the Great War could save the country from a Constitutional tragi-comedy of its own making.

    Dangerfield distills a historical period of dizzying complexity into a compelling account of the English Liberal Party's slow death spiral, and his rhetorical flamboyance makes it all very entertaining.H.H. Asquith and his fellow leaders of the Liberal government never managed to broker significant compromises between competing radical factions.The striking workers and the suffragettes gnashed at them from the left; the Peerage and the Ulster Unionists, Protestants in Northern Ireland who feared being overrun by a Catholic majority under Irish home rule, spat at them from the right.WW I provided a temporary reprieve from constitutional crisis, but the ensuing peace brought a fundamental political reorganization that Dangerfield chronicles with verve and vigor.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic but Slanted Account
    This book is the classic account of Edwardian Britain and is on the suggested reading list of the Institute for Edwardian Studies...It was written by a contemporary journalist and is a great read.However, it focuses a great deal on the political side and lacks objectivity.An excellent counter-weight to Dangerfield is David Powell, The Edwardian Crisis.This is a first-rate academic revision to what Dangerfield and past scholars have written about the Edwardian period, but it is not really for those new to the subject.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Mysogyny = History?
    While the book makes highly entertaining reading, it is dangerous in its glibness. Dangerfield�s account is often referred to as a fundamental source for the women�s suffrage movement in Britain, but his manipulation and outright suppression of facts willfully twists the contributions of the Pankhursts, radical feminists whose thinking was far in advance of its time. One often has difficulty identifying which he hated most: the incompetence of the Liberal Party or the women fighting for political recognition. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0804729301
    Sales Rank: 278480
    Subjects:  1. 1910-1936    2. 20th century    3. Europe - Great Britain - General    4. Great Britain    5. Great Britain - History - 20th Century    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History: World    9. Liberal Party (Great Britain)    10. Liberalism    11. Political History    12. Politics and government   


    $13.57

    Vanity Fair (English Library)
    by William Makepeace Thackeray
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 February, 1969)
    list price: $9.95 -- our price: $9.95
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    Reviews (52)

    5-0 out of 5 stars All's fair in love and "Vanity"
    Greed, gold-digging and deception sit at the heart of "Vanity Fair." It's no joke that it's subtitled "a novel without a hero" -- William Makepeace Thackeray mercilessly skewered the pretentions and flaws of the upper class all throughout it. The result is a gloriously witty social satire.

    It opens with two young women departing from a ladies' academy: dull, sweet Amelia (rich) and fiery sharp-witted Rebecca (poor). Becky Sharp is a relentless social climber, and her first effort to rise "above her station" is by trying to get Amelia's brother to marry her -- an effort thwarted by Amelia's fiancee. So instead she gets married to another family's second son, Rawdon Crawley.

    Unfortunately, both young couples quickly get disinherited and George is killed. But Becky is determined to live the good life she has worked and married for -- she obtains jewels and money from admiring gentlemen, disrupting her marriage. But a little thing like a tarnished reputation isn't enough to keep Becky down...

    "Vanity Fair" is actually a lot more complex than that, with dozens of little subplots and complicated character relationships. Reading it a few times is necessary to really absorb all of it, since it is not just a look at the two women in the middle of the book, but at the upper (and sometimes lower) social strata of the nineteenth century.

    The main flaw of the book is perhaps that it sprawls too much -- there's always a lot of stuff going on, not to mention a huge cast of characters, and Thackeray sometimes drops the ball when it comes to the supporting characters and their little plots. It takes a lot of patience to absorb all of this. However... it's worth it.

    Like most nineteenth-century writers, Thackeray had a very dense, formal writing style -- but once you get used to it, his writing becomes insanely funny. Witticisms and quips litter the pages, even if you don't pick them all up at once. At first Thackeray seems incredibly cynical (Becky's little schemes almost always pay off), but taken as a social satire, it's easier to understand why he was so cynical about the society of the time.

    Becky Sharp is the quintessential anti-heroine -- she's very greedy and cold, yet she's also so smart and determined that it's hard not to have a grudging liking for her. Certainly life hasn't been fair for her. Next to Becky, a goody-goody character like Amelia is pretty boring, and even the unsubtle George can't measure up to Becky.

    To sum up "Vanity Fair": think a period soap opera with a heavy dose of social commentary. In other words, it doesn't get much better than this, Thackeray's masterpiece.

    5-0 out of 5 stars All's "Fair" in love and vanity
    Greed, gold-digging and deception sit at the heart of "Vanity Fair." It's no joke that it's subtitled "a novel without a hero" -- William Makepeace Thackeray mercilessly skewered the pretentions and flaws of the upper class all throughout it. The result is a gloriously witty social satire.

    It opens with two young women departing from a ladies' academy: dull, sweet Amelia (rich) and fiery sharp-witted Rebecca (poor). Becky Sharp is a relentless social climber, and her first effort to rise "above her station" is by trying to get Amelia's brother to marry her -- an effort thwarted by Amelia's fiancee. So instead she gets married to another family's second son, Rawdon Crawley.

    Unfortunately, both young couples quickly get disinherited and George is killed. But Becky is determined to live the good life she has worked and married for -- she obtains jewels and money from admiring gentlemen, disrupting her marriage. But a little thing like a tarnished reputation isn't enough to keep Becky down...

    "Vanity Fair" is actually a lot more complex than that, with dozens of little subplots and complicated character relationships. Reading it a few times is necessary to really absorb all of it, since it is not just a look at the two women in the middle of the book, but at the upper (and sometimes lower) social strata of the nineteenth century.

    The main flaw of the book is perhaps that it sprawls too much -- there's always a lot of stuff going on, not to mention a huge cast of characters, and Thackeray sometimes drops the ball when it comes to the supporting characters and their little plots. It takes a lot of patience to absorb all of this. However... it's worth it.

    Like most nineteenth-century writers, Thackeray had a very dense, formal writing style -- but once you get used to it, his writing becomes insanely funny. Witticisms and quips litter the pages, even if you don't pick them all up at once. At first Thackeray seems incredibly cynical (Becky's little schemes almost always pay off), but taken as a social satire, it's easier to understand why he was so cynical about the society of the time.

    Becky Sharp is the quintessential anti-heroine -- she's very greedy and cold, yet she's also so smart and determined that it's hard not to have a grudging liking for her. Certainly life hasn't been fair for her. Next to Becky, a goody-goody character like Amelia is pretty boring, and even the unsubtle George can't measure up to Becky.

    To sum up "Vanity Fair": think a period soap opera with a heavy dose of social commentary. In other words, it doesn't get much better than this, Thackeray's masterpiece.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Once you get into it you'll enjoy it.
    Vanity Fair is not a book for the casual reader. It will probably always be neglected in schools and will be unread by those without patience. However, if you are willing to devote yourself to reading this long novel, it is well worth it.

    The main characters that the story centers around are Becky and Amelia, two girls who are polar opposites, yet their lives intertwine in fascinating ways. In many ways they are caricatures, but the book is long enough to give them complexity and in the end you have two unexpectedly interesting and multifaceted characters. Of course they are not the only characters, there are probably 500 more of various importance. Some readers may have difficulty keeping track of them all, especially when several have the same last name. However, Thackeray manages to keep focus through all the characters and it ends up that there are only about a dozen major characters, all very well developed.

    The story itself is concerned mainly with the relationships and wealth of Amelia and Becky, but there are as many subplots as there are characters. Occasionally the story becomes stagnant, but there are enough stories and settings that I never became bored. The influence of the Napoleonic Wars is much stronger in Vanity Fair than in any of Austen's novels, which creates some interesting settings such as the battle of Waterloo, as battle that has a profound influence on the story. There is plenty of humor in the story as well and also Thackeray's famous societal commentary. This makes having notes in the book important, as there are references to events, places, languages, and things that a modern reader would normally not be familiar with.

    This is a long book and the beginning isn't much fun to read, but it is interesting and insightful once you get into it. The setting might be over a hundred years ago, but the people in it are not outdated and their motivations and characters will seem familiar to the modern reader. Whether or not someone would like this novel comes down to if one can get past the length, archaic language, obscure references, and number of stories and characters. It certainly took me awhile and I almost stopped reading it, but I came to care for the characters enough that I began enjoying it. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140430350
    Sales Rank: 697803
    Subjects:  1. British    2. Classics    3. Europe    4. Female friendship    5. Fiction    6. Literature - Classics / Criticism    7. Literature: Classics    8. Waterloo, Battle of, Waterloo,    9. Waterloo, Battle of, Waterloo, Belgium, 1815    10. 19th century fiction   


    $9.95

    Possession : A Romance
    by A.S. BYATT
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1991)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $11.20
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    Editorial Review

    "Literary critics make natural detectives," says Maud Bailey, heroine ofa mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters, and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: Randolph Ash, a literary great long assumed to be a devoted and faithful husband, and Christabel La Motte, a lesser-known "fairy poetess" and chaste spinster. At first, Roland and Maud's discovery threatens only to alter the direction of their research, but as they unearth the truth about the long-forgotten romance, their involvement becomes increasingly urgent and personal. Desperately concealing their purpose from competing researchers, they embark on a journey that pulls each of them from solitude and loneliness, challenges the most basic assumptions they hold about themselves, and uncovers their unique entitlement to the secret of Ash and La Motte's passion.

    Winner of the 1990 Booker Prize--the U.K.'s highest literary award--Possession is a gripping and compulsively readable novel. A.S. Byatt exquisitely renders a setting rich in detail and texture. Her lush imagery weaves together the dual worlds that appear throughout the novel--the worlds of the mind and the senses, of male and female, of darkness and light, of truth and imagination--into an enchanted and unforgettable tale of love and intrigue. --Lisa Whipple ... Read more

    Reviews (188)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Addictive and Scholarly
    I never thought Possession would be the gripping, breathtaking novel it is when I first started reading it. After zipping through the first half , however, I began to realize Possession was more than just a romance, or just a critique on Victorian literature. The story is about two Victorian researchers, Maud and Roland who stumble upon a letter written by reputed Victorian Poet Ash, an uncontroversial figure believed to have led a smooth, rather bland, life. What follows is a series of inter-related clues that lead the two researchers into an unsolved literary mystery, which points on to a romantic relationship between Ash and a lesser known poet Christabel. The plot is taut and beautifully balanced and goes on to discuss the sexual-mores of the Victorians; their suppressions; their cravings.

    The way the incidents fall in to place, perfectly, makes the story rather improbable at times, but the beauty of the whole novel is in its stunning imagery and the way the romance between the two Victorian poets blends with that of the two scholars who try to unravel the mysterious relationship between them. The balanced, masterly ending, unlike many books of today, is a real treat. The first half may not be very interesting, but once you cross the first half, the book is simply addictive.

    5-0 out of 5 stars SEE THE FILM TOO
    Great book. Did you know that there was a movie made of this book ?It is also called "Possession".It is available on DVD. It was the only time I have sat in a theater ,totally undone,helplessly crying my eyes out and sobbing. It will MOVE you. The movie was so beautifully done,so incredibly romantic and heartbreakingly, hauntingly beautiful.And if any part of it reminds you,like it did me, of any person or past relationship then you will REALLY need a box of tissue and a good rest afterwards. It's worth it but you will not be the same afterwards. Poetic beyond anything I've ever seen.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Literature with a Capital "L"
    It should be shouted from all the rooftops in the land that A.S. Byatt is an author of true insight and genius. She manages to create the present, the past, and the all the characters therein AND their poems and letters, each with a distinctive voice. Sure, the plot seems to stop dead at points where pages of someone's epic poem are inserted, but read them, they are SO worth it! (And they provide powerful insight into the character's mind and prowess as an author.) ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679735909
    Subjects:  1. Collectors and collecting    2. England    3. Fiction    4. Fiction - General    5. Literary    6. Literary historians    7. Manuscripts    8. Poets    9. Romance - General    10. Fiction / Literary    11. Reading Group Guide   


    $11.20

    How Parliament Works
    by Paul Silk, R. H. Walters
    Paperback (01 June, 1998)
    list price: $27.99 -- our price: $27.99
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    Isbn: 0582327458
    Sales Rank: 371037
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Great Britain - General    2. General    3. Government - Comparative    4. Government - Legislative Branch    5. Governmental Structures    6. Great Britain    7. Great Britain.    8. Parliament    9. Political Science    10. Politics - Current Events    11. Politics/International Relations   


    $27.99

    Notes from a Small Island
    by Bill Bryson
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 1997)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $11.20
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    Editorial Review

    Reacting to an itch common to Midwesterners since there's been a Midwest from which to escape, writer Bill Bryson moved from Iowa to Britain in 1973. Working for such places as Times of London, among others, he has lived quite happily there ever since. Now Bryson has decided his native country needs him--but first, he's going on a roundabout jaunt on the island he loves.

    Britain fascinates Americans: it's familiar, yet alien; the same in some ways, yet so different. Bryson does an excellent job of showing his adopted home to a Yank audience, but you never get the feeling that Bryson is too much of an outsider to know the true nature of the country. Notes from a Small Island strikes a nice balance: the writing is American-silly with a British range of vocabulary. Bryson's marvelous ear is also in evidence: "... I noted the names of the little villages we passed through--Pinhead, West Stuttering, Bakelite, Ham Hocks, Sheepshanks ..." If you're an Anglophile, you'll devour Notes from a Small Island. ... Read more

    Reviews (232)

    5-0 out of 5 stars For Those With A Sense of Humor
    Please, babies, if you are a humorless malcontent do not under any circumstances read this book! It is not for you! In fact, do not read any of Bill's books as they are all written for people who like to laugh and have fun in life.

    Have a wonderful day, all...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wish I could give Bill Bryson more than 5 stars...
    ...for his writing in all of his books is truly worth it.Of all his books, this is my favorite.His writing is smooth and easy...and just downright hysterical.The only books I've ever read that I actually laugh out loud.While his writing is in the form (mostly) of travel essays, he could easily have been a comedian.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Bryson the Hypocrite
    In NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, Bryson would have the reader believe that he can see Britain through an objective, insightful critical eye, albeit leavened with his own brand of humor. The book turns on Bryson's ability to contrast the United States with its - as he characterizes it - more provincial, stuffy and stick in the mud cousin Great Britain.

    Well, Great Britain has gotten its own back, and the English everywhere are having the last laugh as Bryson, that archetypal Midwestern American, is now turning his back on his native country to flatter and kiss up to that self-same small island.

    In a Sunday Times interview on April 17, 2005 Bryson has the following to say: "The [British] ability to criticise is based on insight; with Americans, there is a total lack of insight." Seems like a harsh thing to say about your own career, Bill, built as it is on criticizing other cultures, but hey, if you think so then who I am to defend to your books?

    Bryson then indulges in shameless pandering to his adopted home, claiming that part of the reason why he is seeking UK citizenship is to escape American death duties. Um, Bill? American taxes have loophole and shelters. Any good estate planner can tell you how to plan your will accordingly. British taxes have no escape from Her Majesty's Government taking its enormous cut. (I know, I'm paying them myself right now as a UK-based employee.) Most people with estates to shelter move AWAY from the UK, dear Bill, not to it. If Bryson really thinks that British death duties will be more fair to his wife than the US version, then I pity Mrs. Bryson. Deeply,

    Bill's eagerness to kiss British posterior includes slamming US universities: he claims they're more interested in providing country club amenities than education & they cost too much. Bill obviously hasn't a) set foot in a US university classroom or even read the various annual US college rankings or B) heard of public state universities nor financial aid.

    He also targets US customer service, claiming that because poor little him can't check into his US hotel room before the stated check-in time, therefore the vaunted American service with a smile is "baloney if you ask for something unexpected." I'm truly sorry, Bill, that your hotel was unable to produce enough cleaning staff to ensure that hundreds of rooms are simultaneously cleaned instantaneously - and I'm sure it had nothing to do with others asking for unexpected late check-outs - and I'm even more sorry that this experience moved you "almost to tears." Poor baby, you have such a hard life as a travel writer! But just imagine how moved I was when it took over a week for power to be restored to a London flat for which we pay above Upper East Side Manhattan prices. Sorry, Bill, but it's Britain where customer service truly is an oxymoron.

    Bryson also attacks the US lack of heritage, basing it on his philistine friends who pull down an 1806 house to build a new one. So obviously, all Americans must share the same attitude. For someone who has made his living writing travel books, Bill is very ignorant of the revival movement that's been fashionable for decades in city centers such as San Diego and Baltimore, where heritage buildings are restored and refurbished for modern needs.

    Bill also has a problem with the American idea that everyone who wants a college degree should get one, regardless of their ultimate profession. "Everyone in Ameican, even policemen, go to university now." He fears that this egalitarian ideal will sully Britain; that sending everyone to university regardless of need or academic attainment will destroy the great generalist British education. Right, because if you just a civil servant serving the public, what need do you really have to read Chaucer and Shakespeare? No need to waste an education on those inferiors who are just going to go around apprehending criminals and making the streets safe for the intellectuals. Although, really, one could say the same for pontificating travel writers who feel the need to puff up their hosts, as Bill has obviously lost any critical reasoning and logical deduction skills he ever learned.

    Bill ends his interview by saying "If you want to get rid of me, you are going to have to kick me out." Please, Britain, keep him. Pretty please? ... Read more

    Isbn: 0380727501
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Bryson, Bill    3. Civilization    4. Description and travel    5. England    6. Essays & Travelogues    7. Europe - Gt. Britain/England    8. Form - Essays    9. Journeys    10. Topic - Political    11. Travel    12. Travel - General    13. Travel / General   


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