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The Guns of Victory: A Soldier's Eye View, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, 1944-45
The Guns of Victory: A Soldier's Eye View, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, 1944-45
by George Blackburn
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 7.78

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War as front-line soldiers know it -- bloody hell, Jan. 8 2002
The Canadians have driven the opposing German forces into the Falaise Pocket, where they were destroyed, and they have secured their sector of France. This we read about in "The Guns of Normandy" by Blackburn (which I reviewed).
Even though in this book we move to new battlefields, I wondered what more George Blackburn could have to say about his war. Plenty, I discovered. He was a young newspaper reporter when he enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1939. He never stopped thinking like a reporter, always somehow managed to take notes, and preserve them. We are fortunate he lived through his battlefield experiences, are more fortunate still that he wrote of them with such brilliant detail. He reveals over and over a truly human mixture of compassion - Gunner Hardtack was a hen that miraculously survived the destruction of a farm to be adopted by B Troop as a mascot -- and detachment - what can you do for the thousands of dead all around you, all the time?
Captain Blackburn, commander of Able Troop, 2nd Battery, 4th Field Battalion, spends much of his combat time as a Forward Observation Officer, or FOO. So they can to accurately call down fire from a 4-gun troop, a 24-gun regiment, the 72 guns of the division, or even the 216 guns of 2nd Canadian Corps, FOOs lived at the front. When the action is the hottest, FOOs must be at the front of the front to order artillery fire precisely where it is needed. A FOO is often observing from a place where he can be spotted, or deduced to be there through common sense by those being shelled. The Canadians lost a lot of FOOs.
An incident in the book: Blackburn is FOOing from a towering windmill in Groesbeek, The Netherlands. It is a commodious structure, high and offering a broad view of the front from the fan window. Footsteps on the stairs, and a Canadian general appears. Blackburn diplomatically keeps shooing him back from the fan window to keep him from being visible to some German peering through binocs. Another general joins them. The two comment on such a fine observation post, an OP without peer in Groesbeek, and wonder why Fritz has left it alone. Blackburn offers the opinion that the Germans must believe that no one in his right mind would dare occupy such an obvious OP. Ahem, yes, and the generals depart.
"The Guns of Victory" takes up where "The Guns of Normandy" left off, and we're in furious combat most of the time. That courageous and enterprising Commander of D-Company, Major Bob Suckling, repeatedly earns our admiration: In one of many of his hair-raising escapades his infantry company is under a furious counter attack, and via field phone he's calling down fire dangerously close to his own position. "Can you bring your shells a bit closer?" he asks the battery commander. Another heavy barrage of 120 rounds of 25-pounders and Suckling reports, "You're right on." Then there is silence from his end, a long and ominous silence. Did we shell Suckling? the fire controller wonders. Further calls fail to draw any response until Suckling's drawl comes over the line to report, "The Heinies seem to have pulled back." The Gunners would learn later that a German had poked his head in the door of Suckling's OP house. After taking time out to pistol the enemy soldier Suckling came back on the air. So many of the soldiers and officers I had come to like got killed along the way. I worried that every next page might report that Suckling "got it" until the end of the book. Thank goodness there was no such report.
This is a splendid narrative, one that would make a fine novelist proud.
The book has some good photos, a fine index. Footnotes appear on the relevant pages, not as endnotes that require endless flipping back and forth.

The Guns of Normandy: A Soldier's Eye View, France 1944
The Guns of Normandy: A Soldier's Eye View, France 1944
by George Blackburn
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 5.96

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, gripping. Some of the bloodiest fighting in WWII, Jan. 7 2002
This is the story of barely two months of the eleven months of brutal combat seen by Canada's 4th Field artillery regiment, and of the infantry units 4th Field supported with astonishing firepower. After several years in England, 4th Field's combat role begins with the regiment's landing in Normandy twenty days after D-Day.
Canadian field artillery during WWII was the best in the world. The guns of every artillery unit in a given battlefield sector were laid out on a grid plan that allowed Forward Observation Officers to call in pinpoint fire from every other regiment as well as their own. The Germans, who considered their's the best, were astounded by the Canadians' ability to rain huge barrages down precisely on target. Post-war German accounts of the fighting here repeatedly mention the dreaded Canadian field artillery. When Canadian infantry companies were being overrun, they often took what cover they could find and called in artillery barrages on their own positions, catching the Germans out in the open and astounded that they would do it.
In some of the fiercest action of WWII the Canadian Army advanced only 30-some miles, but they slugged it out against some of Germany's toughest, most fanatical panzer divisions and battle-hardened infantry. Hitler had ordered them not to give up an inch of ground, and they tried desperately to obey. Nevertheless, the Canadian units drove them into the famous Falaise Pocket from which only remnants of crack German divisions escaped.
One reason why writings by men on these front lines is rare is that few lived to tell about it. Some of the Canadian outfits in this action suffered over 100% casualties. Some replacements who arrived at Blackburn's regiment one evening were wiped out the same night. It takes a man who was there to REALLY know what it's like to live in the same sopping-wet clothes, in mud-and-water-filled dugouts for weeks and weeks, rarely getting a warm meal, fighting today for ground they may have to give up tomorrow.
So much detail seeps from one's memory, and for those who try to keep notes, doing so is daunting in conditions where imagination is needed to even keep written target coordinates preserved long enough for them to be used by the gun crews. George Blackburn was a reporter before enlisting in the Canadian Army in 1939. He took notes during combat and somehow preserved them. And, he survived the war to use them. After the war he interviewed some of the men he writes about. He visited the battlefield almost thirty years later gathering more material. His life after the war included writing in several professional regimes. His skill at painting vivid recollections of minute-to-minute life on the battlefield is evident throughout this splendid work.
I like the author's way of arranging the book into short chapters, each of which is an episode in the whole campaign. I like his way of presenting his first-person narrative, using "you" for "I". It works very well: "For a moment your attention is drawn to an opening in the stone wall, where a giant German tank, which you believe is a Panther, points its long-barrelled gun right at you."
This book, and its companion "The Guns of Victory," (even better, if that's possible) are the best accounts of battlefield action I've read. Even that exemplary novelist and war historian Len Deighton, with his outstanding "Fighter" historical novel and "Bomber" true account (or was it the other way around?) doesn't measure up to this. Blackburn stands above Remarque ("All's Quiet on the Western Front") and Siegfried Knappe ("Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier")
Detail -- vivid, essential detail - provides a crucial underpinning of the gripping narrative. 4th Field's training in England allowed us to appreciate its excellence on the battlefield. I was honored to meet some of the men, like that gallant and resourceful Capt. Bill Waddell, for just one. From the descriptions of the bombings of Canadian forces by American and RAF bombers I have gained a new understanding of how devastating saturation bombing really is. Geez! For men who are already at the ragged edge of human endurance to suffer bombing by friendly air forces ...
We think of war as being conducted by infantry and tanks and planes - and of course generals in their comfy commands back there. There are many more. I was pleased to learn about the vast support network behind the troops in the thick of it. The Canadians fired more rounds per gun per day in this campaign than has ever been fired before - more rounds overall than during the Normandy beachhead. How does the ammo - MOUNTAINS of ammo -- the fuel, the food, the medical help get to the front? How do they even know where the front is from one day to the next? (Some didn't, like that intrepid motorcycle messenger.) And, of course, who carries the casualties from the front, and the replacements for them? (The dead usually had to be left where they fell: the overpowering stench of thousands of dead Canadians and Germans is always there.)
Footnotes, not so many as to inundate us, appear on the page, not as endnotes which keep readers flipping back and forth. The book has a fine index.

MY SILENT WAR
MY SILENT WAR
by Kim Philby
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
4 used & new from CDN$ 93.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Viewpoint vs. point of view, Aug. 23 2001
Kim Philby seems to have been motivated to betray his country and spy for Russia by a lifelong commitment to communism. And so his autobiography reeks with the conviction of a man who is certain in his own mind that his actions were honorable.
Robert Hanssen -- who would one day become an FBI agent -- was strongly influenced by Philby's book, and perhaps something else. He once said in a note to his Russian handlers, "I decided on this course when I was 14 years old. I'd read Philby's book." The two sentences may convey an ambiguous meaning Hanssen did not intend. At any rate, he read Philby's book at some time, but not before he was twenty-four.
Philby's strong convictions were transmitted to Hanssen by some influence that even Philby would probably not understand. How that influence stayed with Hanssen until he was 35 is even harder to grasp, for he detested communism. But he never wavered from "the course" he had decided on. It seems impossible that Hanssen's motivation was ideological, but rather a quest for the exciting and romantic life of the spy, as depicted by Philby. Hanssen must have found something attractive about spying besides the money, for he kept at it for fifteen years and continued even when he knew he was under suspicion.
I found it easy to look at Philby with as much understanding as Archie Bunker might -- a dirty rotten pinko commie. In Russia, however, Philby is a genuine hero. And somehow that's how I feel about Russians opposed to communism who spy for the U.S.

Jim the Boy: A Novel
Jim the Boy: A Novel
by Tony Earley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.89
67 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars My kind of story, June 25 2001
This review is from: Jim the Boy: A Novel (Hardcover)
For reasons I can't express, for I don't know the answer, almost every story I write has a boy of about ten as a central character. Maybe it's because pre-adolescent boys are not tangled up in romances. Maybe the fact that they are often brutally honest is something I admire. They tend to be curious to the point of being a pleasant nuisance.
Tony Earley's Jim is my kind of kid. I liked his uncles, too. Their adventures were an adventure for me.

Professor & The Madman
Professor & The Madman
by Simon Winchester
Edition: Paperback
118 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, positively amazing, June 25 2001
This review is from: Professor & The Madman (Paperback)
Vladimir Nabokov maintained that details are the heart of fiction. Other noted writers have expressed the same view, one that could be applied to all of literature.
Some readers don't like details. It is said over and over in reviews on the Amazon.com site. Given the chance, readers who loathe details would deny the pleasure to those of us who relish them. "The Professor and the Madman" is full of wonderful details. They make the story of the Oxford English Dictionary as compelling a tale as any mystery story.
Its first snappy title was: "A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philogical Society, edited by James A. H. Murray, LL.D, Sometime President of the Philogical Society, with the Assistance of Many Scholars and Men of Science."
(Don't ask me why "The Philogical Society" becomes "the Philogical Society" in the second use. An old head once noted that if there is only one error in a book it will be in the title or on the first page.)
The first "fascile" (which my dictionary does not define), the first section was published in 1884. It presented the words from "a" to "ant." In the U.S. it sold for $3.25, and I'd bet you could get that for a copy today.
Before reading this book I could look a word up in the dictionary and not ponder how it got there. No more, though. James Murray, who strove to define thirty-three words every day, describes how only one can give an editor a headache:
"Only those who have made the experiment know the bewilderment with which editor or sub-editor, after he has apportioned the quotations for such a word as "above" among 20, 30 or 40 groups, and furnished each of these with a provisional definition, spreads them out on a table or on the floor where he can obtain a general survey of the whole, and spends hour after hour in shifting them about like pieces on a chess-board, striving to find in the fragmentary evidence of an incomplete historical record, such a sequence of meanings as may form a logical chain of development. Sometimes the quest seems hopeless; recently, for example, the word "art" utterly baffled me for several days: something had to be done with it: something was done and put in type; but the renewed consideration of it in print, with the greater facility of reading and comparison which this afforded, led to the entire pulling to pieces and reconstruction of the edifice, extending to several columns of type."
About defining words author Simon Winchester says, "Defining words properly is a fine and peculiar craft. There are rules -- a word (to take a noun as an example) must first be defined according to the class of things to which it belongs (mammal, quadruped), and then differentiated from other members of that class (bovine, female). There must be no words in the definition that are more complicated or less likely to be known than the word being defined. The definition must say what something is, and not what it is not. If there is a range of meanings of any one word -- cow having a broad range of meanings, cower having essentially only one -- then they must be stated. And all the words in the definition must be found elsewhere in the dictionary. If the definer contrives to follow all these rules, stirs into the mix an ever-pressing need for concision and elegance and if he or she is true to the task, a proper definition will probably result."
One of the "Many Scholars and Men of Science" Dr. Murray referred to in the title of the first fascile was a Dr. William C. Minor, an American physician. He was formally honored by a mention in Volume 1; A-B, published in 1888. In 1890 Murray wrote, "The supreme position [among the thousands of contributors] is certainly held by Dr. W.C. Minor of Broadmoor . . . So enormous have been Dr. Minor's contributions during the past 17 or 18 years that we could easily illustrate the last 4 centuries [of literature] from his quotations alone." Broadmoor was an asylum for the criminally insane, and Dr. Minor was confined there.
About seventy years after what would become the OED was conceived, the first edition was published on the very last day of 1927: "Twelve mighty volumes; 414,825 words defined, 1,827,306 illustrative quotations used, to which Dr. Minor contributed scores of thousands." The total length of type -- 227,779,589 characters, every one hand set -- was 178 miles.
A grand achievement, one with incredible twists and turns. Sadly, neither Dr. Murray nor Dr. Minor lived to see it done. But I saw it from conception to completion through the eyes of Simon Winchester. For his splendid reconstruction of it I am grateful. Readers who don't like details might prefer to read the OED rather than the story of how it came to be.

The Eye of the Tiger
The Eye of the Tiger
by Wilbur A.;Smith, Wilbur Smith
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Everything one could ask for, until . . ., June 9 2001
Wilbur Smith is a master at taking action to the level of frenzy. If Pauline thought she was overwhelmed with perils, she ought to read "The Eye of the Tiger." More than once when I was wondering how Harry Fletcher would survive an ordeal I discovered that his troubles were only beginning. In an underwater adventure he had to do in a giant moray eel, fought off sharks followed by bigger and meaner sharks, encountered poisonous coral. He ran out of breathing air, got the bends. He was beset with bad girls, battled waves of bad guys followed by badder guys, and meaner ones yet were on the way. Traitors lurked within his ranks.
I found the story immensely entertaining. It has been a long time since I've been gripped so by a tale. I pursued it far into the night and finally had to make myself put it down.
The circumstances surrounding the sailing ship Dawn Light, and how it was discovered what she carried and where she went down, were particularly well crafted. Captivating.
Wilbur Smith dances dangerously close to the incredible time and again as he keeps his narrative running wildly along. Yet somehow he avoids that perilous step over the line of credibility.
At least he did so until the very end. There he didn't step across the line but pole-vaulted over it. My delight was shattered by that one sledgehammer blow when he anchored a central theme of the story in quicksand. The premise underlying Sherry North's (or whoever she was) motivation was totally at odds with international maritime laws regarding salvage of treasure. England had no jurisdiction over a century-old shipwreck half a world away. No English government agency would have behaved as Smith described. We were not offered the flimsiest reason or justification for England's interest, much less involvement. It pummeled common sense. Smith obviously has the talent for imagining a plausible foundation for that critical aspect of the story. Why didn't he?
There were other irritations, minor ones that would have gone unmentioned but for the colossal one. For instance, on his arrival in England Harry obtained a Benz from the Hertz depot. It continued as a Benz until midway through the episode, when it became a Chrysler. In the final scene, Harry narrates, "I settled into the seat of the Swissair 727 and fastened my seat belt." Then two paragraphs later, "As the Caravelle took off..."
The description on the back of this paperback edition begins, "For a thousand years, an unimaginable treasure has rested on the bottom of the Indian Ocean." It had been on the ocean floor a hundred years, not a thousand.

The Laughing Policeman
The Laughing Policeman
by Maj Sjowall
Edition: Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars I can't hope to find better mysteries, May 1 2001
This review is from: The Laughing Policeman (Paperback)
What is it that attracts readers to a volume by an unknown author who has had no publicity, only to discover some exquisite reading? My little library branch displayed among its new arrivals "Somewhere In France" by Gardiner. What led me to check it out I don't know. But I was glad I did.
In 1990 I was waiting to be checked out at a bookstore when my eye fell on Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander," displayed alongside his "Post Captain" on a shelf below the counter. I'm not a big fan of sea stories. Had never heard of O'Brian (and wouldn't hear a peep about him out of the reviewers for a year). But I bought the book for reasons I'll never fathom. Next day I returned in a great fever to get "Post Captain." Like a literary Johnny Appleseed, I have been turning friends on to O'Brian ever since.
In the early seventies I had never heard of the Swedish husband/wife writing team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo -- names that should have put me off. But some cosmic force compelled me to open their "Roseanna" and I was hooked. Still am.
For years, while re-reading their exquisite novels, I pondered what it is about them that is so satisfying to me. Their contempt for many police officers is one attraction. There are pilots who should never leave the ground, doctors who should never touch a patient, and so on. So it is not surprising there are police officers who belong in another line of work.
These novels describe fine detective work AND contemptible police work in delightful detail. It is often subtly hilarious if you are paying attention. In one of the stories a body was found in an enclosed snow-covered yard. A fine opportunity to examine clues, us armchair detectives note. Unfortunately, the two beat-cops who found the body idly strolled over every inch of the yard while waiting for the detectives to get to the scene.
There are reporters (probably a majority) who should be reading the news instead of trying to write it. Woven into these stories are scenes that describe the incompetence of members of the press - high-up detectives have a lot of intercourse with the press.
An example is offered in a press conference early in "The Laughing Policeman." A Stockholm bus is found with the driver and passengers dead. Among the passengers was a detective. One of Martin Beck's Homicide Division officers volunteered for the unpleasant task of conducting a press conference. The crime has only just occurred and little is yet known about it. Some of the questions are illustrative the Sjowall's and Wahloo's view of the press. (Sjowall was himself a reporter.) Some of the answers reveal the detectives' compulsion to play with their questioners. A few examples from a long conference:
Q: How many persons were in the bus?
A: Eight.
Q: Were they all dead?
A: Yes.
Q: Was their death caused by external violence?
A: Probably.
Q: Were there signs of shooting?
A: Yes.
Q: So all these people had been shot dead?
A: Probably.
Q: Are there any traces or clues that point to one particular person?
A: No.
Q: Were the murders committed by one and the same person?
A: Don't know.
Q: Is there anything to indicate that more than one person killed these eight people?
A: No.
Q: How could a single person kill eight people in a bus before anyone had time to resist?
A: Don't know.
Q: Was Inspector Stenstrom [the officer who was killed] one of the passengers in the bus?
A: He wasn't driving at any rate.
Superb writing. And the stories reek with credibility. The crimes are solved with dogged and sometimes brilliant detective work. Never by incredible coincidence. When there is a coincidence it is wholly credible - indeed, chance happenings often lead to the solutions of real crimes. Too often in real life, though, the coincidental discovery of evidence is ignored. Remember that the L.A. police spent months querying police departments nationwide about a .22 revolver that might have been used by the Charles Manson gang. The father and son who found the gun in Laurel Canyon and turned it in gave up after repeatedly reminding LAPD that they probably had the gun. They finally appealed to a TV reporter who woke the cops up by threatening to go public with the info. (Read "Helter Skelter.")
Judging by some comments below, as a Sjowall/Wahloo fan I'm in good company.
Warning: Those who read with their minds in Park won't fathom some of this. And if you are really hooked on a few of the hot crime writers of today that come to my mind, you might not like this realistic stuff.

Somewhere in France
Somewhere in France
by John Rolfe Gardiner
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from CDN$ 1.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Craftsmanlike writing; a fine story, May 1 2001
This review is from: Somewhere in France (Hardcover)
Somewhere in France, Gardiner
It was the World War, the Great War. U.S. Army Major William Lloyd, M.D., had given up his practice at Roosevelt Hospital in New York to do something important for his country. Now he was somewhere in France. That somewhere, which the mail censors faithfully blotted from his letters to a dysfunctional family back home, was Chaumont.
A passage: "On October 3, 1917, a few days before his American medical team arrived to join him in Chaumont, Major Lloyd entered the Hotel Rive Haute for a final inspection. As a roving officer of the Chief Surgeon's staff, he had requisitioned the building for Base Hospital 15 of the Allied Expeditionary Force. A few French casualties were temporarily in beds on the floor, attended by a single French doctor."
Base Hospital 15 would soon be doing a thriving business.
Another passage: "The first person Dr. Lloyd encountered was one on hands-and-knees, scrubbing the floor. "There was a powerful smell of ammonia around him. It was perfume to the Major's sense of hygiene. This, and the picture of the poor man at his thankless task, turned the officer's mood, filled him with pity and self-reproach. Good enough, he thought, the man must come with the building. I'll make a place for him in the table of organization. 'Well done. What's your name.' "
HER name was Jeanne Prie (when she wasn't Lucienne de Crouen) -- nurse. Dr. Lloyd made a place for her in his table of organization. She had chosen Jeanne after Jeanne d'Arc (no doubt out of admiration, not imitation, for Joan of Arc is inimitable). She proved to be a credible stand-in for Madame Marie Curie, working tirelessly to concoct vaccines against infections of unknown origins. Unintentionally, Lloyd would secure for himself a place in her life long after his table of organization ceased to exist.
An Irishman whose name won't come to mind said unlike a bird we can't, in a story, be in two places at the same time. He should read this, for we often find ourselves with one foot in Chaumont and the other in the family estate of Moriches on Long Island, and that accounts for some of the magic of this story. One element of our magic carpet is Gardiner's craftsmanlike way of putting us observers in one place then the other without our being conscious of our having been transported.
Another element is a flow of newsy letters between Lloyd and his wife, instinctively censored by both as they put the best faces on their theaters of operations. Dr. Lloyd's present persona is buttressed by a larger than life view of William Lloyd the schoolboy, resurrected by candid letters to his parents way back when.
Gardiner's writing style is as compelling as the story itself - something we hope (and deserve) to find often but don't, especially in current best-sellers. Part of his magic may be attributable to his having had a splendid editor. He offers a prefatory note of thanks to Knopf editor Ann Close, recognized as one of the best around today.
While reading this story I wondered how Gardiner came to conceive it. Lo and behold, at the back of the book is his answer to that very question. Very touching, too.

No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I was drawn offside, April 29 2001
I have noticed that particularly well-written stories attract more intelligent reviews than most of the best-selling trash. Not near as many reviews, of course, but much more literate. The same goes for videos. Quite a number of the reviews praising "Emma" are among the best I've seen on the Amazon site. Conversely, I found three outstanding negative reviews in which the reviewers stated their dislikes so compellingly that I've had to reconsider my perception of this movie.
For insight into what I mean, read the reviews below by dinkybob2, Anne Woodley, and Ken Groom. Woodley says, "I am a Janeite and I don't like to see people fiddling around with the divine Austen." Serious writers have been studying Jane Austen's works for 200 years. Patrick O'Brian said he unabashedly adopted elements of her style. (Which is, of course, why writers study other writers.) Woodley speaks for me, too, when she says, "The fact that Austen's perfect words have been read with great enjoyment for hundreds of years leaves me wondering why script writers are so determined to improve them..." It takes a mighty big ego for a screenwriter to presume to improve Jane Austen's use of dialog.
Dinkybob2 disliked the "laughability of the historical accuracy of this version of 'Emma'", and she explains why. Ken Groom expressed the same objection. Dinkybob2 objected to a passionate and graphic kiss between Emma and Mr. Knightly, and explains, "The Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle 'Pride and Prejudice' shows what I think is a lovely example of how people in love would've behaved together [in that period]." Many persons familiar with eighteenth-century social customs, as they were accurately described by Jane Austen, would agree.
Austen fans identify the characters she created down to the last detail, and their precisely-described conduct as well. Indeed, has any author ever excelled Jane Austen in characterization and scene descriptions? Both dinkybob2 and Anne Woodley suggest other screen adaptations of Jane Austen's books which they feel are superior to Emma, and they provide lucid reasons for their opinions.
This forum for customer comments presented by the Amazon site is one of its most valuable features. Contrasting viewpoints, when well expressed, are highly influential in my buying decisions.
Maybe I was misled into believing I enjoyed this film because the version produced by BBC was so gosh-awful. (I'm pleased that it isn't offered on the Amazon.com site.) Austen said Emma was "nearly" twenty-one. The actress who played Emma for BBC was at least 35 when the film was made, or looked it. Jane Austen would not have considered her "handsome," as she described the real Emma. BBC's Mr. Knightly was combative with Emma, not sensibly argumentative and genteel during their debates.
Among the grievous aspects of the BBC movie was that the screenwriter had the audacity to completely rewrite Austen's superb dialog between Emma and Mr. Knightly.
Most viewers who posted comments on this "Emma" liked the movie. Maybe you will too. But, then again, some four out of five readers out of over 1000 who commented on "Cold Mountain" were very positive in their reviews while I thought it was a piece of trash. (It was awarded the National Book Award, too.) So much for my likes and dislikes.

A Christmas Dozen: Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart
A Christmas Dozen: Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart
by Steve Burt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.29
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars I can recommend this collection, Feb. 22 2001
Simple little stories? Yes they are, which renders them understandable to any child. But that quality did not alienate me. Entertaining? Yes they are.
I particularly enjoyed "The Thumb Island Elephants." The accident that put the circus elephants in peril brought many people together in a way their social circumstances didn't. Somehow I got the distinctive feeling that there is a strong thread of truth in this story.
I can recommend this collection of stories. Put the volume in a place where you spend thoughtful moments and you might find yourself picking it up and enjoying the next in line of the dozen -- a few minutes well spent.

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