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Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea (Vintage)
Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea (Vintage)
von Gary Kinder
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen 3 books in 1, 24. April 2000
Really three books in one; the harrowing, white- knuckle, real-life adventure of a prolonged shipwreck; the agonisingly meticulous search for the remains; the multi-million dollar rescue ... each one different, but inextricably entwined with the others. Without the clues from the diaries and memoirs of survivors, plus ships' logs, and the tenacious convictions of the salvor, this story would never have unfolded. As it is, the first third of the book had me on the edge of my seat for hours - what a tension-filled ride that was! I can recommend the book on the strength of that story alone and give it 5 stars.
What follows is less nail-biting, but nontheless exciting, as the clues unfold from information gleaned from all over the US, patched together by a man with a single-minded ambition to recover the richest prize ever recovered from the sea.
The fact that it lay in 8,000 feet of water takes up the final third of the book with the almost insuperable technical difficulties, but we are still left hanging, for we don't yet know the full value of the prize. The meticulous recovery methods employed ensured that the treasure was in pristine condition - other quick and dirty methods would have been much cheaper and faster, but would have transformed the coins from 'gem' quality to 'fine' or less, depriving them of a another 2 or 3 times their worth, in a collectors' market. This market has probably still not been fully exploited, so there may still be millions waiting to be recouped ... and they deserve it!
A bonus is that the story of the ill-fated Captain Herndon's previous trip down the Amazon is to be released later this year (July 2000); 'Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon' written by the same Gary Kinder, promises to be another spellbinding tale.
More like this, please!


Captain James Cook: A Biography
Captain James Cook: A Biography
von Richard Hough
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 18,60

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating insight of a great man, 24. April 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Captain James Cook: A Biography (Taschenbuch)
I was prompted to buy this book after reading 'Endeavour' by Peter Aughton (available from amazon.co.uk) which painted a completely different picture of Cook to what I imagined. After reading 'Captain James Cook' I now realise how the misconception arose - on his last and most famous voyage, he presents a Mr.Hyde personality, completely out of keeping with his previous Dr.Jekyll style of running his ship and dealing with the natives he meets - little wonder the Hawaiians took revenge (in the worst possible way). Interesting too, is the side-study of Bligh, who was already showing signs of despotism and seems to have fostered Cook's decline into cruelty, autocratic rule over his crew and excessively harsh treatment of the natives.
The author poses the possibility that a medical condition precipitated this sudden change of character, but it may also have been early senility, Altzheimer's or dementia brought on by stress - who knows?
The book is full of interesting clips from various people's logs, which show other views of life under Cook's leadership. The main thrust of the book is not that Cook was in the right place at the right time, but that he made such a consummate job of ensuring that the surveys were carried out in a methodical manner, with a healthy crew and sound ship. After all, it was HIS decision on what type of ship to use, what food to keep the crew healthy, how to deal with the natives and his diplomacy that ensured that the first 2 voyages were such a resounding success.
All this is in sharp contrast to the last voyage, where he allowed the shipyard to take liberties with the refitting of his ships, the lack of diplomacy, his cruelty to the natives and his lack of patience with his crew. This only serves to reinforce what an extraordinary leader he had been.
A splendid read which has furthered my interest in history and exploration - more like this please!


Monitor
Monitor
von James T. de Kay
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen History, grippingly told..., 31. März 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Monitor (Taschenbuch)
An enthralling tale of the most famous vessel in American history and the man behind its inception, told with verve and a style that kept me up way into the night - finishing the book in 2 sittings.
Finely researched details and verbatim accounts of proceedings give a fascinating insight into the chain of events which drag our designer hero into the Civil War as the pivotal figure in the defeat of the South. It also shows the idiocy and lack of informed decision-making, as well as the intelligence which pervaded the Armed Services chain of command (probably to this day).
The actual battle is a bit of a let-down after the big build-up in the race to complete the Monitor's construction in time to challenge the Merrimac's dominance of the war. It serves to show how small things can turn the tide of events against all the odds (see also Battling the Elements : Weather and Terrain in the Conduct of War) - in this case neither of the two combatants were badly damaged, yet the South suffered a crushing blow, purely from the knowledge that there was a better power afloat, and the Merrimac was scuttled by her own crew.
If you are interested in History, Industrial Archaeology or Military Strategy, don't miss this one!


River Out Of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (Science Masters Series)
River Out Of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (Science Masters Series)
von Richard Dawkins
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,60

5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen ACTG for the layman, 27. März 2000
A book essentially dealing with genes (a favourite subject of the author) and how scientists can use DNA 'fingerprinting' to delve deeper and deeper into the past to discover life's origins and branching points.
It dispels some myths & misconceptions about how evolution works and also raises some rather novel issues (I thought) about heredity - took me a bit of time to get my head round the argument here!
Although I found this book enlightening (as all Mr Dawkins' books are), I found myself a tad overwhelmed by the economics brought in to play to explain the apparent inconsistencies in populations of male & female in certain species, and also I found the discourse on bees a little more laboured than usual.
Nonetheless, a very thought-provoking and interesting read for those who wish to know more about life, the universe & everything (42).


Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
von Richard Dawkins
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 11,60

6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Mind-expanding, 27. März 2000
Not many people have the gift of taking some common event and deconstructing it to the nth degree, while making it all seem quite normal. As in his other books (Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, etc.) Mr. Dawkins makes your mind boggle at the way nature use very simple (?) building blocks to fashion something extraordinary ... like us. You are set back on your heels when you realise that your body is largely composed of modified bacteria, without which we could not exist. He goes on to expound on how we see and from there how our brain interprets the world, comparing it to Virtual Reality (no comparison!) - anyone who has experienced any form of VR will understand the immense computing power it takes to present even a half-decent rendition, but the brain does this continuously AND has time to dream, imagine, remember past events and places all in real-time - I doubt if enough teraflops of computer power exist in the world even now to do that.
The main thrust of the book is the poetry of science; how, by understanding more about the way the universe works, we can appreciate the wonder of it all the better - open our minds to something more beautiful than just the outward appearance of a beautiful object - even make us see the beauty in some not-so- pleasant sights!
In this book he uses well thought-out, easy-to-grasp concepts to explode myths, de-bunk charlatans, and de-mystify magic (a little TOO vitriolic at times, I fear!) - all with the intention of opening our minds to the concept of evolution (specifically Darwinism). He takes us from rainbows to barcodes to DNA in easy stages, explaining in graphic (but never tedious) detail just how nature can (and will) evolve all its wonders.
Sometimes I had to put the book on one side just to let the enormity of it all sink in. I still find it hard to grasp the vastness of time it required for nature to accomplish all that it has - yes, I can imagine a thousand years; a million? ... I'm struggling now; a billion? ... overload! But that's what you need to do to come to grips with the evolutionary process. I suspect it's this lack of comprehension / imagination that is behind the beliefs of many Creationists, or maybe a refusal to accept that evolution can happen without some 'intervention'. Having laid myself open to attack, I can only recommend that you read what Mr. Dawkins has to say and make up your own mind who has the right of it.


Moab Is My Washpot: An Autobiography
Moab Is My Washpot: An Autobiography
von Stephen Fry
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Fry's English Delight, 27. März 2000
Not many people would be so comfortable with themselves as to lay their life bare, warts and all, as Mr. Fry does in this biography. Some people reading the passages about boarding school may think that this sort of thing only goes on in the imagination of pretentious sensation-mongers ... I can assure the reader that it does NOT! It is all TRUE! - been there, done it (well, apart from THAT bit) - this is a graphic, poetic, comic account of an extrovert's formative years. Made me laugh, made me want to cry, some of the reminiscences hit so close to home; this is a deep insight into what makes one of Britain's funniest men who he is. Highly recommended.


Under the Tuscan Sun, Film Tie-In
Under the Tuscan Sun, Film Tie-In
von Frances Mayes
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Grub, Grubbing & Grubbiness, 23. Januar 2000
My goodness - she does eat a lot! And she does go on a bit too long about the Etrucans in the middle of the book ... and (as others have commented) she is a little 'wordy'. But apart from that, she certainly conjures up the lifestyle, the countryside & the FEEL of Italy - sorry, the feel of TUSCANY - quite unlike other parts of Italy. At times I could almost smell the air filled with the scent of hay, peaches & herbs. We have relatives there with friends who renovated an old house - she could have been describing their place, on the same hillside! If you haven't been to Tuscany, this will make you wish to be there ...


West with the Night
West with the Night
von Beryl Markham
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen Beautiful prose, 5. Januar 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: West with the Night (Taschenbuch)
I picked this up in a garage sale, purely on the strength of the cover picture - it seemed like that face had seen and done a lot - which turns out to be absolutely true! More like poetry than prose, some of her descriptive passages have to be read more than once, just to let the feelings soak into your system. Ms Markham's early life is told in a matter-of-fact way, which takes it for granted that, when at 17, your father decides to leave Africa for Peru, you jump on your horse and head North, with no food, one change of underwear, little education, but a deep knowledge of horses and expect to land on your feet. Which is exactly what she does, co-incidentally meeting many yet-to-be-famous people on the way. Hunter; horse-trainer; aeronaut; most people would be happy to excel in any one of these professions, but Beryl does it all with surpassing ease. Her style is self-effacing and matter-of-fact; you would imagine that being 'moderately eaten' by a lion would warrant more than a couple of paragraphs, but it only gets included here, I suspect, on the strength of Bishon Singh's wonderful rhetoric in describing the event. She also has a knack of striking up instant and longlasting relationships with people from every race, creed and social status - I don't believe she even saw those differences; be he a Murani warrior or a colonial Governor, they both get treated to the same open-minded friendship. A book to read & read again.


Flight of Passage: A True Story
Flight of Passage: A True Story
von Rinker Buck
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,30

5.0 von 5 Sternen Strained relations, 5. Januar 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Flight of Passage: A True Story (Taschenbuch)
Not so much a story about 2 mid-teenagers flying from coast to coast across America, but more the story of strained relations between brothers and between father and sons. It took over 25 years for Rinker Buck to get all this organised in his head, then put it on paper, but it was worth waiting for. What we get is the straight story, from his point of view, of the preparations and the journey, the turnaround in relations between him and brother Kern, and the two of them dealing with the expectations of a larger-than-life father who, perhaps secretly, wished to relive fame through the exploits of his sons. Told against the backdrop of ariel incidents, we find that the ebullient schoolboy prankster has to take (literally) a back seat to his shy, reclusive older brother, who suddenly comes out of his shell. It never descends into maudlin, or goes over-the-top, it is a straight from the shoulder account of the trip and the souring and cementing of relationships - a damn fine read.


Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History
Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History
von Giles Milton
  Gebundene Ausgabe

5.0 von 5 Sternen Brilliant!, 31. Dezember 1999
When I was a lad at school, History was as dry as the paper it was written on - memorising numbers and names for no reason that I could discern. The books gave no insight, the teachers did their best, but it had no bearing on 'today'. This book is full of dates and names (the lifeblood of History), but every page is alive with the souls of those people who made History. Ostensibly the story of Nathaniel Courthope & nutmeg, we are halfway through the book before we meet him, all the previous pages are background build-up, in graphic detail, of what made the spice islands and in particular Run, such a focus of attention for the whole world. We are taken on a whirlwind journey across the centuries and round the globe, each chapter heralding the next with a snippet of information, like dangling bait, so one is eagerly waiting for the next chapter to unfold. This is not just a compilation of events and dates, the meticulous background research that went into this must have taken years; Giles Milton has studied every scrap of available material, in umpteen languges, specifically to flesh out the bones of what could have been another dusty tome. The heroes and villains of the piece are REAL people in this book, people you want to meet (or avoid!) and they are brought to life by the fluid style of Mr. Milton's prose - it drags you along with it, urging you to read faster and faster, ultimately having to stop for lack of mental breath - then off into the fray again. I cannot praise this too highly - a revelation for those who thought that history is bunk!


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