Category Archives: Book review

‘Taken at the Flood’ a review

A review of Taken at the Flood The Roman Conquest of Greece by R Waterfield

I found this an enjoyable book, looking at how and why Rome conquered Greece back in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC

This is a in-depth look at the politics in Rome, Macedon and Greece which drove this conflict. It looks at Roman desire for influence, wealth and power as it came into conflict with other states and there desire for the same all wrapped up with a false idea of security.

In places it remined me of todays tensions, between the USA, Russia and China, each of them want security on their terms. Each of them want influence and power as well as wealth. This has been a constant throughout history and each time it ends in war between the conflicting factions.

It showed the brutality of Rome when states rebel against Roman control with whole cities destroyed and populations enslaved. It showed how Rome in particular fought wars to sustain it’s own population and allow the politicians to gain wealth and therefore power. It also of course eventually lead to Rome’s downfall when they ran out of nations to loot.

A good book well worth reading

A Review of ‘Will I be Fat in heaven?’

Will I be fat in heaven? and other curious question by J John

This is one of those interestingly funny and serious books. Funny in the way it looks at some serious questions and Serious in how it looks at some funny questions.

Will I be fat in heaven is a funny question but has a serious answer which opens up other types of questions.

This book is evangelist J John looking at some of the questions he has had to deal with from Christians and non-Christians and his thoughtful way of answering them. A 179 pages for 38 questions from Will I be fat in heaven to Why do there seem to be contradictions in the bible? Why does God allow evil to Isn’t Jesus just an imaginary friend? Along side many others.

I found this a really helpful book, even as a mature Christian, It asked me questions I hadn’t thought of and gave me a different eye on those I had thought about. I suspect this is a book which will be of interest to many people who struggle with why questions about Christianity, followers or not.

Well worth a read or just a dip and think coffee table book.

Review of ‘The History and Topography of Ireland’ by Gerald of Wales

A Penguin Classic with 136 pages of Gerald’s humorous and interesting background to Ireland written in the 12th century.

As with a lot of medieval writing it is full of strange stories, strange creatures and odd views. However if read with interest in how people saw other countries back in the day in is intreging.

It remined me that even today we can have odd ideas about other countries and people and we have access to much more information and ability to check things for ourselves.

A interesting medieval look at the history of Ireland even if not very accurate by todays standards.

Review of ‘The SS Officer’s Armchair’

This book by Daniel Lee is subtitled ‘Uncovering the Hidden Life of a Nazi’

This Christmas gift is a strange history book. It looks at the search for the history behind the documents hidden in a armchair by Robert Griesinger, lawyer, SS Officer and official in Nazi-occupied Prague.

I wondered as I started this book what is the point of this. However as I got into it the story became fascinating and absorbing. It all starts with some documents found in an armchair and Daniel

s search to find out how they got there and why. It slowly turned to who was this person and showed how even low level officials in Nazi Germany knew what was going on with killings and hatred of various people, Jews; Roma etc.

This book opens up the back history of Robert and how his family was already seeped in racist attitudes and anti Jewish thought. It show how many ‘Normal’ Germans were tied up with the views of the Nazi’s and used organisations like the SS to improve their job prospects. How Robert lived in circles where even before Hitler they were anti Jewish etc.

Mat who gave me the book thought it might make an interesting topic for a sermon in church. Not sure about that but it does show that the circles you move and live in will effect your worldview. As a Christian I try to move and live in God’s Kingdom which of course effects my worldview. However as both Jesus and the Apostles said I also need to live in and understand the world around me so that I can understand others lives and find points of contact to share the Love of God shown in Jesus with them.

Robert neither revelled in or hid his views but made use of them to gain promotions and status, to improve his families prospects. Of course he didn’t think of himself as evil nor did his family and friends.

This has real world aspects for us today with how those in favour of Brexit or not only saw there own benefits not any downside. Or how Boris J or Trump or Putin can have such control over there followers. If you believe something true or not and you only mix with those who agree with you then your worldview will get more and more pulled into that path with no way of seeing anything wrong with it.

A good thoughtful read, well worth it even if you are not into history.

Review of ‘A Christmas Compendium’ by J John

A Christmas Compendium Discover Christmas old and New

This a wonderful little book, a Christmas Gift, looking at many different things or activities of Christmas. From why the Robin appears so much to Tinsel, Bells and Figgy Pudding.

What are these things and why are they part of Christmas now or in the past.

In a 170 pages you will find out many interesting things about how and why we do certain things around Christmas.

J John puts all of the customs of Christmas into a proper light and I learnt much from reading this book

Worth a brose at the library or bookshop or just buying for children or adults who want to know Why.

Review of ‘The Crossbow’ by Mike Loades

A Christmas gift which I have read already. Stuart knows I like military history and weapons so this was a good choice

A short quick in-depth look at Crossbows ancient and Medieval, their construction, use and impact.

Mike is a well known expert in weapons of past times and is a expert at using them on foot or mounted.

This is a very informative book and well worth the read.

Thanks Stuart

Review of ‘Paul’ by Tom Wright

Paul a Biography is a deep book looking at the life and actions of the Apostle Paul

Paul brought the news of a new way of living to those who were not part of the Jewish community, not to found a new religion but to show how the faith of his fathers his people the Jews had been changed by encountering the risen Jesus. In this book Tom looks at how he did this and what he believed by looking at his letters.

It has taken me a while to read this book, its the type of book you read a bit and think about it before reading more. However it is a good read it made me think about how I encountered Jesus and how I am living that out. What it means to me to be a follower of Jesus of the living God the creator of all.

It was interesting to read about Pauls journeys in the right order and time line rather than just as letters in the bible. It is always good to put things in place and to understand the culture and timings around events.

This is well worth reading regardless of your faith or lack or such just to understand a pillar of the Christian Church. I am sure I will be coming back to it from time to time.

Review of Seapower States by A Lambert

Seapower States is a book about states whose whole culture is bound up in the sea. Many states have a navy but only a few where tired to the sea. The book looks at Athens, Carthage, Venice, Dutch and English. How these states grew into being a Seapower state and how they dealt with continental states who had sea power like Persia and Rome.

This was a good read even if it took a while to get my head around the core idea and how the author was integrating ideas. Seapower states are those who live by trade and the protection of trade routes, who are not big enough to deal with empires who have a big core land area with lots of resources. The book looked at how these Seapower states fell and how they held off bigger states. It finishes by looking at the USA navy and the challenge from Russia and China. None of these three are Seapower states although the USA is a sea power superpower because although it has a big navy its core is continental not sea based.

It got me to a point where I could see the USA, Russia and China’s navy’s in a different light.

As I said an interesting book and well worth reading.

Review of Perceforest

This is a review of two books ‘A Perceforest reader’ by Nigel Bryant and ‘Mythic Perceforest’ Roleplaying in a Land of High Chivalry and Wonder by MARK SHIRLEY which is a RPG setting using the Mythras rules

Having read the Role-Playing setting I got the reader as I was intrigued by the idea.

Perceforest is a 14th century book written in France as a pre Arthurian history/story. The whole idea is linking various folk tales, including the first written Sleeping Beauty story, and a history of Britain before Arthur. It includes Alexander the Great setting up the twin Kingdoms and helping get rid of evil knight magic users. Caesar comes along and overthrows the kingdoms and is then killed in Rome by the lance that killed the kings.

The reader is a book of short stories taken from the very big original by the author Nigel Bryant, he also translated the whole of the original. I enjoyed the reading and the shear amount of cleaver fantasy as we would see it but history? as the original writer would have seen it.

I can see why it has been turned into Role Play setting. However the setting is more than just the stories, it gives houses and knights and background to them and how to create characters. It gives magic and gods, talking animals and a living forest and how to adventure with them. The game looks great and I am looking forward to running it with my friends.

So for the first time I have not only bought a Role Play setting but I have then gone and bought a book it was mainly based on.

Even if you have no interest in Role Playing games it is worth getting the reader to see how 14th century French nobility saw the history of Britain pre Arthur.

A good read

Review of ‘Early India’

Early India From the Origins to AD1300 a Penguin History by Romila Thapar

I have been after some books on Indian history for some years as someone who likes history its an area I know little about

This is a chunky book at over 500 pages and I found I needed to read it a bit at a time to be able to digest it. It covers religion, governance, politics, social and economics for the area broken down into small time slots and areas.

I have enjoyed reading this book and another I had read previously, many years ago I did a lot of research on India in the time of the East India Company so it was nice to get to look at the times before.

It took me some time to read as I was also reading some Role Play books, preparing services and talk for church and coping with hospital and doctors appointments.

However it is worth a read if you have an interest in Indian history, I intend to keep an eye out for more books covering the military side more.