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Commentaires écrits par
Ned Middleton (British professional underwater photo-journalist & author)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Top dive sites of the world
Top dive sites of the world
by Jack Jackson
Edition: Hardcover
11 used & new from CDN$ 23.53

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Devoid of serious research and lacking vital information., Nov. 6 2015
The title of any non-fiction work is usually an indication of the content making “Top Dive Sites of the World” a very big statement indeed. Of course, any personal selection is always subjective - my list will be different from yours and neither of us is either right or wrong - it is simply a matter of personal choice and or own experiences. Nevertheless, the content must always live up to the title.

This book is divided into 7 general areas of the World in the following order; Caribbean, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific and Pacific. Just as soon as we enter the Caribbean, however, we find one of the world's most outstanding diving destinations is not included at all. Not only is Belize (home of the world's second largest Barrier Reef ‘and’ the Great Blue Hole) not even mentioned, the country itself does not even appear on the map! The Atlantic Ocean is reduced to Scapa Flow and the Canary Islands which, to all serious divers, is akin to reducing the complete works of Jacques Cousteau to one sheet of A4 in large print! The Mediterranean is confined to Sardinia - with that most excellent diving destination Malta also excluded from the map.

Whereas the Red Sea does (very predictably!) includes mention of the Thistlegorm (and whole books have been written about that particular wreck!) details are far too sparse. Sadly, the Rosalie Moller, which many experienced divers regard as a far better wreck, is another which is overlooked – although, by now, we have begun to get used to such disappointments.

Little purpose is served in continuing to stress what is missing from the remainder of the book except to say too many of the world's acknowledged “Top” dive sites and destinations are excluded and all divers who study the content will begin to challenge that title. Perhaps “My favourite dives from around the World” would have been more honest.

In addition the text which is included reduces each subject to such bare bones a qualified anthropologist would be hard-pressed to determine the species. As an example, the section on Scapa Flow reveals nothing whatsoever about any specific shipwreck - and those wrecks are the ONLY reason why divers go there! Instead we find a very brief overview - just as we find a very brief everything else.

In summary, therefore, a good book for those who like to look at pretty pictures but a work devoid of serious research and lacking vital information.

NM

One of Our Submarines (Pen & Sword Military Classics) by Young, Edward New Edition (2004)
One of Our Submarines (Pen & Sword Military Classics) by Young, Edward New Edition (2004)
10 used & new from CDN$ 40.65

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excitement on almost every page., Nov. 6 2015
Edward Young was the wartime commander of HMS Storm - a British S Type Submarine. Speaking as one who has visited one of that vessel's many sister ships (HMS Stubborn - deliberately sunk off Malta in 1946 as an Asdic target), I know a little (albeit very little) of the excitement these ships are able to generate. This book vividly brings to life the work and experiences of those who took part in WW2 in such craft and it is the very combination of that war, that type of submarine and the daily events of routine, danger, deprivation and even fun, which is something at which we who enjoy the freedom for which they fought can only marvel.

This is a well written book which tells a story. Though centred on the wartime life of the author, it is not a book which is just about him and his ship. It is about the people and the events which he encountered along the way. Theirs is a story which forms part, perhaps only a small part, of the huge jigsaw which was World War Two. Nevertheless, their contribution still remains a vital part of the overall war effort made all the more interesting by the way in which it is told.

At over 300 pages of well written dialogue with the addition of just the right amount of photographic plates and maps, this book represents real value for money and reads better than any novel.

NM

One of Our Submarines (Pen & Sword Military Classics) of Young, Edward New Edition on 30 September 2004
One of Our Submarines (Pen & Sword Military Classics) of Young, Edward New Edition on 30 September 2004
10 used & new from CDN$ 25.69

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excitement on almost every page., Nov. 6 2015
Edward Young was the wartime commander of HMS Storm - a British S Type Submarine. Speaking as one who has visited one of that vessel's many sister ships (HMS Stubborn - deliberately sunk off Malta in 1946 as an Asdic target), I know a little (albeit very little) of the excitement these ships are able to generate. This book vividly brings to life the work and experiences of those who took part in WW2 in such craft and it is the very combination of that war, that type of submarine and the daily events of routine, danger, deprivation and even fun, which is something at which we who enjoy the freedom for which they fought can only marvel.

This is a well written book which tells a story. Though centred on the wartime life of the author, it is not a book which is just about him and his ship. It is about the people and the events which he encountered along the way. Theirs is a story which forms part, perhaps only a small part, of the huge jigsaw which was World War Two. Nevertheless, their contribution still remains a vital part of the overall war effort made all the more interesting by the way in which it is told.

At over 300 pages of well written dialogue with the addition of just the right amount of photographic plates and maps, this book represents real value for money and reads better than any novel.

NM

Aden Insurgency: The Savage War in Yeman 1962-67
Aden Insurgency: The Savage War in Yeman 1962-67
Prix : CDN$ 9.09

4.0 étoiles sur 5 A worthwhile account of an almost forgotten conflict., Nov. 6 2015
As British influence and colonial power throughout the Middle East diminished in the 1960s, the strategic military base of Aden soon became a battle ground at the centre of a bloody war that no side could possibly win outright.

Jonathan Walker is a member of the British Commission for Military History and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for First World War Studies who has a number of acclaimed works to his credit. He is, therefore, well qualified to write a book about Britain’s last colonial conflict and, all things considered, appears to have produced a most thorough job of work.

Commencing with an all-important explanation of the Kingdom of Sheba, the author steers the reader quite expertly through the cause, condition and eventual outcome of the conflict in a book containing almost 300 pages of narrative plus those equally important explanations and further detail found in the appendices at the end.

Personally, I was just as pleased to find a full and frank account of that well known, though often misunderstood and misquoted, contribution made by Lt. Colonel Colin Mitchell and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as I was to discover some of the horrific injuries and assassinations visited upon British civilian staff and their families.

The text is supported with a carefully chosen and relevant selection of photographs found together in the middle of the book and, altogether, this product should please most readers for its factual accuracy and clarity of delivery.

NM
British army major (retired)

US Standard-type Battleships 1941-45 (1): Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Mexico Classes
US Standard-type Battleships 1941-45 (1): Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Mexico Classes
by Mark Stille
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 25.00
32 used & new from CDN$ 8.22

2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Full marks., May 7 2015
Once again, established author, maritime historian and US Navy Commander retired!, Mark Stille has produced a product to delight readers from all backgrounds. Known for his prodigious output, this remains all the more remarkable once we consider the amount of detailed information provided in the relatively small space of 48 pages. Whereas much larger books on this subject will exist, I find Stille's series of "expanded overviews" of different ship types contain almost all the information I am seeking. Little wonder they are so popular!

All things considered, this work provides people with a detailed knowledge of the subject with all the facts and figures they might require `at a glance' whilst also providing an excellent introduction for those with little or no knowledge at all. Add to that the additional elements of; an easily readable style of writing, an excellent selection of photographs and some of the best descriptive artwork we are ever likely to find and there is no alternative to full marks.

The book commences with an Introduction entitled; The Impact of Naval Treaties on USN Battleship Development. This provides the political background to Battleship design and weapons limitations at the time. The book is then divided into two sections: American Battleship Design Developments (Interwar reconstruction of American Battleships, American Battleship weapons and USN Battleship radar) and The Battleship Classes (Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico). The work then concludes with; Analysis & Conclusion, Bibliography and Index.

Put another way, Stille begins by expertly setting the scene by describing the international treaty limitations and the US response in terms of strategy, design and reconstruction. This is amply supported by historic B&W photographs showing individual ships and weapons systems. The main `meal' is of course the class-by-class description where nothing seems to have been omitted and is again fully supported by a series of carefully selected photographs in which the reader's attention is drawn to specific features. These are images of the highest possible quality.

My final comments, however, are reserved for the outstanding artistic illustrations which fall into three broad categories; Pages 15 and 33 show two starboard-side profiles (full vessel and waterline) of the Nevada and New Mexico class respectively. Pages 25 and 37 each show two slightly differing waterline starboard-side profiles of the Pennsylvania class and New Mexico class (later in WW2). Secondly, page 21 shows an artist's impression of the USS Nevada under fire at sea and page 41 shows the Kamikaze strike on USS New Mexico off Luzon in January 1945.

The most remarkable illustration, however, is found across pages 28-29 and shows a three-quarter starboard profile of the legendary USS Arizona complete with cutaway view of No 2 Gun turret from top to bottom and the adjacent powder and shell magazines. Every time I see one of these particular images I always marvel at the artist's understanding of ships, naval architecture and perspective. It really is an excellent image - spoiled only by the central crease of the book.

In conclusion, from expert to novice, I doubt anyone will be disappointed in this work. Do enjoy.

NM

Testimony to Courage: The History of the Ulster Defence Regiment 1969-1992
Testimony to Courage: The History of the Ulster Defence Regiment 1969-1992
Prix : CDN$ 8.26

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 As seen through the rosiest of spectacles., April 15 2015
As a regular soldier in the British army, my own association with the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) amounted to 6 years. As a corporal in the RAPC, my first experience came in 1972 when I became responsible for the pay of the full-time soldiers of 3, 4 and 5 UDR. On promotion I was then posted to 3 UDR in Ballykinler as Pay Sergeant. Ordinarily, in those days, a battalion of the size of 3 UDR (approx. 500 all ranks) would have had a small RAPC team comprising; Paymaster (Major or Captain), WO2, Sergeant and 3 or 4 corporals. On this occasion, however, I was `it' and the author of this book was Bn Adjutant. In 1982, on promotion to WO2, I was posted to 11 UDR for another tour of 2 years - the post of `Pay Sergeant' having been upgraded in the meantime.

The biggest problem the UDR ever had was that each of the 11 battalions was commanded by second-rate officers of whom it was frequently said; "but for the UDR they would never have been promoted to Lt Colonel." Second-choice coupled with a two year operational tour of duty showed many were not up to the mark. Such was their own personal disregard for the UDR most (if not all) reverted to their own parent regiment once their command was over - and that never happened elsewhere!

Nowadays, my work involves considerable research, research and yet more research into the intricacies of maritime history. As such, I am able to recognise works where such attention to detail falls short of the mark and commend those who fulfil the required obligations. In this instance, there is no doubt Potter has undertaken considerable and far-reaching investigations into a regiment which remained the largest in the British army from 1970-1992. Sadly, however, he has `glossed over' certain unsavoury incidents and avoided others altogether. Indeed he even commends certain officers by name when he knows they really should have faced a court-martial!

On the one hand, therefore, for those who want to know something about the UDR in terms of its organisation (11 battalions, `Administrative' Headquarters (not a command HQ!), male and female members, full-time cadre, part-time members, individual locations etc), many of the highs and lows and, of course, those who were killed - these are all explained in excellent fashion. In so doing I recognise the effort which has gone into the work and, ordinarily would award a full 5 Star rating.

From my own personal experience, however, I can say without fear of contradiction, that the inherent dishonesty that was part and parcel of the UDR is not mentioned. I fully realise some of the more unsavoury incidents will not sit well with former members - but any `supposed' history of a British army regiment must always include that which we have come to describe as the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and, in this sanitised work the `Ugly' is skilfully avoided altogether.

Whereas many regular soldiers drew parallels with `Dad's Army' throughout the regiment's existence, it must be said had it not been for the UDR all regular soldiers would have had to complete far more tours in Northern Ireland than they did... For all the invaluable, hard and dangerous work undertaken by ordinary citizens in the most difficult conditions imaginable, it is very wrong to suggest the UDR was `always' as good, loyal, proper and efficient as is depicted through the rosiest of spectacles used throughout this book. It is precisely because a certain number of individuals were permitted to `feast off the fat of the conflict' by incompetent senior officers (including those brigadiers who still claim to have commanded the regiment when they did no such thing!) that all the aforementioned dangerous and difficult work undertaken by the vast majority of those honest Part-Time soldiers becomes all the more valuable.

Not even the great Winston Churchill was a saint and, from my perspective at least, it is easy to see why the MOD does not accept this book as the official history of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Sadly too much is missing for it to be recognised as even an unofficial history.

NM
British army major (retired)

Medal Yearbook 2015
Medal Yearbook 2015
by John Mussell
Edition: Paperback

5.0 étoiles sur 5 A lot more book for a little more cash!, Feb. 23 2015
This review is from: Medal Yearbook 2015 (Paperback)
Being ex-military, I have had an abiding interest in British medals for many years and, more recently have written for television on military subjects. In spite of all the information so readily available, it remains quite remarkable how TV and films seem to think that any ‘coloured patch’ which looks like a medal ribbon will add authenticity to whatever character is being portrayed in instances of fact and fiction, when a copy of this book would save much heartache.

This work has been published every year for over 20 years and although I do not need to purchase the latest copy every year, my own rather dog-eared copy eventually had to be replaced. What a surprise! Several years on and the book is half as thick again (another 100 pages), has all the latest information and is only £2 more expensive! In other words, a lot more book for a little more cash which contains almost everything you might want to know about British and Commonwealth honours, awards and medals in general. Whereas there are several pages of colour advertisements it must be understood that collectors and historians are the main market for this work and need such information. Nevertheless, those advertisements are not allowed to interfere with the natural flow of the work itself.

Prior to getting down to the specific detail of honours, awards and medals, the book commences with some fascinating sections; Foreword, Market highlights, New world record, Guide to prices, most recent Operational honours, Wearing awards, Order of Wear (not quite as confusing at it may seem), Collecting ribbons and, finally Miniature medals and decorations. The main information is then divided into; Orders of Knighthood, Decorations, Mentions and Commendation, Campaign Medals (in order of date instituted), Long and Meritorious service medals, Coronation and Jubilee medals, Miscellaneous medals, Foreign medals found in British groups, Medals of the Irish Republic, Awards of the British Commonwealth (in order; Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa) and Unofficial medals. The work then concludes with; Abbreviations and initials, Current regiments, Research/Books for the collector, Societies, Professional directory (Auctioneers, Dealers, Booksellers and Fairs), Museums and collections, Medal Ribbons in colour and Index.

The colour plates showing all the medals ribbons are something I frequently find myself studying whenever I see someone wearing a ribbon I do not imediately recognise. Having found the appropriate ribbon I then match the corresponding number with the appropriate medal – all of which are found in numerical order, before studying the detail.

This is easily the best book on the subject and, having spoken with the publishers on a couple of occasions, I know they are constantly seeking to update and improve the work. By comparison to the ever-growing content, I have very few observations to make; The South African ‘Order of Mendi for Bravery’ is not mentioned and separate (specific!) dates for qualification for each NATO and UN medal should be clearly defined in precisely the same way as, for example, the War Medal 1939-45 which is explained as; “28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.”

Altogether an excellent work worth its 5 Star rating and, therefore, is fully recommended.

NM
British army major (retired)

The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard: An Unforgettable Underwater Tour by the World's Leading Deep-Sea Explorer
The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard: An Unforgettable Underwater Tour by the World's Leading Deep-Sea Explorer
by Robert D. Ballard
Edition: Hardcover
10 used & new from CDN$ 30.28

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Resting on his laurels?, Jan. 28 2015
Like ‘almost’ everyone else in the world, I had never previously heard of Dr. Robert Ballard until; he famously discovered the Titanic in September 1985 - yes, almost 30 years ago already. Whereas I may not be in the same league, I have also been researching and writing about shipwrecks for a great many years and have even won awards for my books. In addition to his Titanic book, I have also carefully studied and reviewed his works on; Finding the Bismarck, the Lusitania, Lost Ships of Guadalcanal (all thoroughly recommended!) and others.

An avid reader of books about ships and shipwrecks, I had great expectations from this work only to be extremely disappointed. Firstly, the content is a mishmash of information already published in other books which means there is nothing new at all. The best analogy I can draw is with a pop group who re-release and re-release the same 20 tracks - 16 at a time, on several very different long-playing records (LPs) - such as ‘the hits’ and ‘the best of’ and other compilations.

My next criticism is reserved for the quality of manufacture. It is appalling! This is a big thick book approx 11 x 11 inches and about one inch thick - and only 256 pages. The paper used is a fine card and is so thick every THREE sheets (measuring approx 22 in x 11 in) are individually stitched to provide 6 leaves and 12 pages. Multiply that by 21 and it is not long before this over-complicated manufacturing process starts to fall apart. Ordinarily, a book as thick as this one would have twice as many pages because a finer paper was used along with a more modern binding system.

Whereas, I personally believe the quality of writing has deteriorated since Rick Archbold appeared as co-author, it would also appear Dr. Ballard may now be resting on his laurels and content to re-release old information in a new format. I never thought this man would ever disappoint me.

All that said, if you are new to the works of Dr. Ballard, this book will give you an insight into several of his accomplishments - before it falls apart!

NM

The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard: An Unforgettable Underwater Tour by the World's Leading Deep-Sea Explorer
The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard: An Unforgettable Underwater Tour by the World's Leading Deep-Sea Explorer
by Robert D. Ballard
Edition: Hardcover
4 used & new from CDN$ 0.49

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Resting on his laurels?, Jan. 28 2015
Like ‘almost’ everyone else in the world, I had never previously heard of Dr. Robert Ballard until; he famously discovered the Titanic in September 1985 - yes, almost 30 years ago already. Whereas I may not be in the same league, I have also been researching and writing about shipwrecks for a great many years and have even won awards for my books. In addition to his Titanic book, I have also carefully studied and reviewed his works on; Finding the Bismarck, the Lusitania, Lost Ships of Guadalcanal (all thoroughly recommended!) and others.

An avid reader of books about ships and shipwrecks, I had great expectations from this work only to be extremely disappointed. Firstly, the content is a mishmash of information already published in other books which means there is nothing new at all. The best analogy I can draw is with a pop group who re-release and re-release the same 20 tracks - 16 at a time, on several very different long-playing records (LPs) - such as ‘the hits’ and ‘the best of’ and other compilations.

My next criticism is reserved for the quality of manufacture. It is appalling! This is a big thick book approx 11 x 11 inches and about one inch thick - and only 256 pages. The paper used is a fine card and is so thick every THREE sheets (measuring approx 22 in x 11 in) are individually stitched to provide 6 leaves and 12 pages. Multiply that by 21 and it is not long before this over-complicated manufacturing process starts to fall apart. Ordinarily, a book as thick as this one would have twice as many pages because a finer paper was used along with a more modern binding system.

Whereas, I personally believe the quality of writing has deteriorated since Rick Archbold appeared as co-author, it would also appear Dr. Ballard may now be resting on his laurels and content to re-release old information in a new format. I never thought this man would ever disappoint me.

All that said, if you are new to the works of Dr. Ballard, this book will give you an insight into several of his accomplishments - before it falls apart!

NM

The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard: An Unforgettable Underwater Tour by the World's Leading Deep-Sea E: Written by Robert D. Ballard, 2005 Edition, Publisher: Thunder Bay Pr [Hardcover]
The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard: An Unforgettable Underwater Tour by the World's Leading Deep-Sea E: Written by Robert D. Ballard, 2005 Edition, Publisher: Thunder Bay Pr [Hardcover]
by Robert D. Ballard
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 70.74

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Resting on his laurels?, Jan. 28 2015
Like ‘almost’ everyone else in the world, I had never previously heard of Dr. Robert Ballard until; he famously discovered the Titanic in September 1985 - yes, almost 30 years ago already. Whereas I may not be in the same league, I have also been researching and writing about shipwrecks for a great many years and have even won awards for my books. In addition to his Titanic book, I have also carefully studied and reviewed his works on; Finding the Bismarck, the Lusitania, Lost Ships of Guadalcanal (all thoroughly recommended!) and others.

An avid reader of books about ships and shipwrecks, I had great expectations from this work only to be extremely disappointed. Firstly, the content is a mishmash of information already published in other books which means there is nothing new at all. The best analogy I can draw is with a pop group who re-release and re-release the same 20 tracks - 16 at a time, on several very different long-playing records (LPs) - such as ‘the hits’ and ‘the best of’ and other compilations.

My next criticism is reserved for the quality of manufacture. It is appalling! This is a big thick book approx 11 x 11 inches and about one inch thick - and only 256 pages. The paper used is a fine card and is so thick every THREE sheets (measuring approx 22 in x 11 in) are individually stitched to provide 6 leaves and 12 pages. Multiply that by 21 and it is not long before this over-complicated manufacturing process starts to fall apart. Ordinarily, a book as thick as this one would have twice as many pages because a finer paper was used along with a more modern binding system.

Whereas, I personally believe the quality of writing has deteriorated since Rick Archbold appeared as co-author, it would also appear Dr. Ballard may now be resting on his laurels and content to re-release old information in a new format. I never thought this man would ever disappoint me.

All that said, if you are new to the works of Dr. Ballard, this book will give you an insight into several of his accomplishments - before it falls apart!

NM

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