The SMB Book thread

its well over 20 years since i read it - from memory it was of its time... not a lot had been written first hand so well by someone within the SAS with such a high profile tour... as monumental cock-ups go its a decent account, but suspect its dated somewhat in the intervening years.
And half of it appears to have been made up.
 
Rosy & John by Pierre Lemaitre

I think this is the third of the four Camille Verhoeven books from the author. The order goes a bit awry in terms of translation into English though. Regardless, it could easily be read as a one off. It's pretty short (almost a long short story). Essentially, bombs are being placed around Paris, the bomber has a personal motive, not terrotism. Camille must deal with the bomber to stop the bombs from happrning. Enjoyable, and at time gripping but, as alluded to quite slight. 7/10
 
1984, George Orwell (obviously) - 3/10
I took a rare break from non-fiction to read what I think is only my 3rd fiction in the last 10 years (Animal Farm and Dune being the other 2). I wasn't going to give this a score out of 10 since it's "a classic", but in the end I did because it actually annoyed me. You're probably thinking that the 3 is a typo, but I genuinely disliked this book. It's badly written, and terribly structured - out of nowhere Orwell crudely plonks his manifesto slap bang in the middle of the book in a massive chapter that is about 10 times longer than any other chapter. I also read that he "stole" the idea from an older Russian novel called "We" - though I don't know if that is a fair accusation or not.The most enjoyable part is coming across Orwellisms that have since entered our vocabulary.


How to be Right in a World Gone Wrong, James O'Brien - 6/10

As you'd expect from a "Pop-Politics" book, it's a fairly easy and fast paced read, but don't expect incredibly deep political argumentation - a lot of it is "this caller on my radio station said X and so I said Y", but overall it was quite a interesting and some decent points were raised.

China's Asian Dream, Tom Millar - 6/10
A decent look into China's "Belt and Road" initiative and their attempts to buy influence amongst their neighbours. Some attempts more successful than others. On the subject of China's foreign policy, I thought Asian Waters and Destined for War were better, but this is a decent addition and covers an area that the others didn't go into in much depth.

The Big Miss, Hank Haney - 3/10

Tiger Woods' former coach is whiny and rather pathetic, and has a serious inferiority complex in relation to Butch Harmon.

Natives, Akala - 7/10
British rapper (writer, poet, public speaker etc) has written a pretty good book on race (and class) in the UK. Interweaving a mini-biography of his life growing up mixed-race in the UK and using it to highlight the many issues facing the UK and it's non-white community, and its working classes.

A Line in the Sand, james Barr - 6/10
A really interesting book, that is a bit tortuously written at times, and also somewhat biased. Basically it's a look at how Britain and France, engaged in eternal competition, fucked up the middle east in the first half of the 20th century despite being wartime allies (twice). Aside from fucking up the middle east, the biggest take away from this is that Britain/France managed to win 2 world wars in spite of each other, rather than because of their alliance. My major criticism is that Barr (British) seems to come down hard on France while skimming over similar acts by Britain. And it inevitably becomes a bit dry.
 
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Lexingtongue

Striker
1984, George Orwell (obviously) - 3/10
I took a rare break from non-fiction to read what I think is only my 3rd fiction in the last 10 years (Animal Farm and Dune being the other 2). I wasn't going to give this a score out of 10 since it's "a classic", but in the end I did because it actually annoyed me. You're probably thinking that the 3 is a typo, but I genuinely disliked this book. It's badly written, and terribly structured - out of nowhere Orwell crudely plonks his manifesto slap bang in the middle of the book in a massive chapter that is about 10 times longer than any other chapter. I also read that he "stole" the idea from an older Russian novel called "We" - though I don't know if that is a fair accusation or not.The most enjoyable part is coming across Orwellisms that have since entered our vocabulary.


How to be Right in a World Gone Wrong, James O'Brien - 6/10

As you'd expect from a "Pop-Politics" book, it's a fairly easy and fast paced read, but don't expect incredibly deep political argumentation - a lot of it is "this caller on my radio station said X and so I said Y", but overall it was quite a interesting and some decent points were raised.

China's Asian Dream, Tom Millar - 6/10
A decent look into China's "Belt and Road" initiative and their attempts to buy influence amongst their neighbours. Some attempts more successful than others. On the subject of China's foreign policy, I thought Asian Waters and Destined for War were better, but this is a decent addition and covers an area that the others didn't go into in much depth.

The Big Miss, Hank Haney - 3/10

Tiger Woods' former coach is whiny and rather pathetic, and has a serious inferiority complex in relation to Butch Harmon.

Natives, Akala - 7/10
British rapper (writer, poet, public speaker etc) has written a pretty good book on race (and class) in the UK. Interweaving a mini-biography of his life growing up mixed-race in the UK and using it to highlight the many issues facing the UK and it's non-white community, and its working classes.

A Line in the Sand, james Barr - 6/10
A really interesting book, that is a bit tortuously written at times, and also somewhat biased. Basically it's a look at how Britain and France, engaged in eternal competition, fucked up the middle east in the first half of the 20th century despite being wartime allies (twice). Aside from fucking up the middle east, the biggest take away from this is that Britain/France managed to win 2 world wars in spite of each other, rather than because of their alliance. My major criticism is that Barr (British) seems to come down hard on France while skimming over similar acts by Britain. And it inevitably becomes a bit dry.
The manifesto is dry as sticks. I'm not ashamed to admit that I skipped a portion of it.
 
The manifesto is dry as sticks. I'm not ashamed to admit that I skipped a portion of it.
I also want plots and backstories to be woven into the overall story, and told cleverly over the course of the book (or film). There's nothing worse than when a character literally just explains everything, and the manifesto basically does this.
 

Monty Pigeon

Striker
1984, George Orwell (obviously) - 3/10
I took a rare break from non-fiction to read what I think is only my 3rd fiction in the last 10 years (Animal Farm and Dune being the other 2). I wasn't going to give this a score out of 10 since it's "a classic", but in the end I did because it actually annoyed me. You're probably thinking that the 3 is a typo, but I genuinely disliked this book. It's badly written, and terribly structured - out of nowhere Orwell crudely plonks his manifesto slap bang in the middle of the book in a massive chapter that is about 10 times longer than any other chapter. I also read that he "stole" the idea from an older Russian novel called "We" - though I don't know if that is a fair accusation or not.The most enjoyable part is coming across Orwellisms that have since entered our vocabulary.
There are certainly strong similarities. Although the author of We, Yevgeny Zamyatin, was from the USSR, the book itself is said to have been inspired by the time he spent in the Northeast supervising the construction of icebreakers. There was a Radio 4 documentary about it a few years back.
 
There are certainly strong similarities. Although the author of We, Yevgeny Zamyatin, was from the USSR, the book itself is said to have been inspired by the time he spent in the Northeast supervising the construction of icebreakers. There was a Radio 4 documentary about it a few years back.
Lived on Sanderson Road in jesmond. I've got it but haven't started it
 
Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence - 9/10

So I have had this book for over 10 years and never read it. I think I bought it after getting Lawrence of Arabia on BluRay as a student. But after reading Line in the Sand, where Lawrence appears regularly, and because I went to Jordan for 2 weeks at the beginning of this month, I decided to dig it out and read it on my travels. It's a long book, and obviously I was quite busy exploring Wadi Rum and Petra, so I didn't finish it until this morning. Genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it though. I thought I might struggle with the early 20th century prose, and admittedly Lawrence's flowery writing (the introduction tells me it's called "Modernist") does require you to read passages over 3 or 4 times to truly understand what he is getting at, but he manages to combine some quite poetic writing with the thrill of a guerilla campaign in the desert.
 

The Exile

Striker
Just finished the Dark Eden trilogy by Chris Beckett. Tremendous series of books. The basic premise is two people have been left abandoned on a planet where the only light is from bioluminescence and an entire culture springs from these two, with religion, stories and a belief that Earth will come and take them home. The book starts about 150 years on and the stories are twisted, the people are inbred and trouble is brewing.
 

Lexingtongue

Striker
Just finished the Dark Eden trilogy by Chris Beckett. Tremendous series of books. The basic premise is two people have been left abandoned on a planet where the only light is from bioluminescence and an entire culture springs from these two, with religion, stories and a belief that Earth will come and take them home. The book starts about 150 years on and the stories are twisted, the people are inbred and trouble is brewing.
Got its own vernacular, hasn't it? Puts me right off books, that.
 

riffraff

Striker
Naked Came The Manatee by Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard, James W Hall plus ten. 7/10.

Weird novelty Florida based eco charity raising crime fiction in which 13 crime writers and journos (inc 2 Pulitzer Prize winners) take a chapter each relay race style to tell a tale of murder n mayhem in Miami. Apparently they were given no indication of where the previous baton holders expected the tale to go so there’s obviously a few meandering sections but they were pulled together in the stand out chapter by Elmore Leonard ( obviously) near the end.
Castro, Jimmy Carter, exiled Cubans etc etc feature.
None of ems best work I’d imagine but as it’s for charity...
 

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