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Book reviews for "Batchelor,_John" sorted by average review score:

Soul of the Sword : An Illustrated History of Weaponry and Warfare from Prehistory to the Present
Published in Hardcover by Free Press (September, 2002)
Authors: Robert O'Connell and John Batchelor
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O'Connell strikes gold again
Dr. Robert O'Connell, author of Of Arms and Men (1989), has written another excellent book on the history of weapons and warfare with Soul of the Sword. Running to nearly 400 pages, it covers all the major weapon developments on land, sea, and air from the spear to nuclear weapons. All the great classics are here, such as the Trireme, the Gladius, Composite bows, Wheel lock pistols, the Brown Bess .78 caliber flintlock, Ships-of-the-line, Enfield 1853 rifle, Dreadnoughts, Gatling guns, the Sopwith Camel, the Flak 88mm, the T-34, V series rockets - and much more. Very detailed illustrations are also included. A nice touch are the occasional vignettes that accompany the main text, describing little known battles, incidents, or weapons that are of special historical significance, neatly summarized on a page or less. For example, who has heard of the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 with a fleet of ironclads 250 years before the Monitor and CSS Virginia fought in the Chesapeake Bay? Or the fact that the Ferguson breech loading flintlock proved itself ready for battle when the British used 100 of them at Brandywine Creek in 1777 but was never widely adopted?

As with Of Arms and Men, O'Connell is concerned with the heavy influence that culture has exercised on weapon design and employment. He points out numerous historical cases where a new deadly weapon was invented only to be suppressed or discouraged by the reigning military establishment (Spencer repeating rifles, explosive-filled shells before 1850, etc).

The only minor distractions are the lack of full-page color pictures for this illustrated volume and O'Connell's tendency to come up with cute chapter titles that do not help the reader know where he is chronologically.

In short, this volume will make a nice companion to the other classic works I am proud to display on my library shelf devoted to the general history of weapons and warfare - Brodie's From Crossbow to H-Bomb, Dupuy's The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare, Van Creveld's Technology and War, and O'Connell's own Of Arms and Men.

Excellent writing, rewarding reading!
This highly readable, impeccably researched, well-balanced book is a prime example of what an informed, imaginative author can do with a well-worn subject. Do we really need another illustrated history of weaponry? I would have said no--until I encountered Robert O'Connell's superb book (with well-done illustrations by John Batchelor). O'Connell is something of a renaissance man, a respected defense analyst, a historian, a critically praised novelist...and perhaps that's the key to this book's humaneness, despite the subject. O'Connell never forgets that even the most unusual or most effective weapons are wielded by human beings, against human beings. This isn't simply a book about the machinery of war. It is about devices created by human beings for ferocious human purposes. Laced with anecdotes as entertaining as they are illuminating, this book has equal value for old-hand military historians and interested novices. A fine gift, too, for the "family warrior," military veteran or just that splenetic armchair general who needs to be placated at Christmas (so the rest of us can get on with our celebrations). This is in no way intended as a condescending remark--on the contrary, it is a mark of the author's great skill and talent that he has produced such a handsome book, and one as interesting to a four-star general as to a general reader. Extremely well done, and highly recommended. Also, because of its lucid style, this book would be suitable for a wide range of age groups, from bright teenagers to cranky old professors. First-rate and flawless.

Punctuated Evolution of Weaponry
This is a big, sweeping treatment which integrates advances in weapons and warfare with their political and socioeconomic interactions and ramifications on the scale of world history. And it is brilliantly conceptualized: walled cities become necessary when militant shepherds learned to ride; walled cities, European countries for two hundred years after 1648, and the nations of the world after WWII needed only limited war to maintain the balance of power between them; dictatorships had to tear down city walls and employ mercenaries to control their subjects; small family-owned farms in Greece could produce hoplite phalanxes which were lethal to cavalry and ideal for weekend soldiers, but vulnerable to the Roman short sword; naval warfare appeared on a massive scale with the Phoenician introduction of the triple-levelled galley; guns were manufactured on a massive scale only when they came to need little training to use and less marching because of the construction of railroads; and so on. The story is amazingly detailed and full of fascinating examples: France was able to end the Hundred Years War by liberating seventy castles in little more than a year by the introduction of siege guns; wage inflation in the 16th century forced navies to man their galleys with slaves and prisoners; in 1592 the invading Japanese were defeated by the Korean navy with ships with gun-ports and armored with metal plates. I marvel at O'Connell's masterful grasp of the subject.

A Century of Triumph: The History of Aviation
Published in Hardcover by Free Press (29 October, 2002)
Authors: Christopher Chant and John Batchelor
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Stellar illustrations, great overview of aviation
This book is well produced, lavishly illustrated, and full of interesting facts touching on the highlights of aviation's first century, from daring or crazy men strapping wings to their arms and launching off hills, to the stealth fighter, Mach 3 jets, and beyond.
The illustrations are marvels in themselves, and depict aircraft in stunning detail. The "peel away" graphics showing the inner construction of some aircraft are particularly well done and interesting.
This is a lavish book, and of top quality. It would be a perfect book or gift for a person that has an interest in aviation, and military aviation history in particular. It's extensive without being overly dry or laden with dense text.
I particularly enjoyed the extensive coverage of World War One aircraft from all of the combatant countries.
It lays out the design advances in a logical order so the reader can follow the historical development of the airplane from pre-Wright Bros. to current military and commercial jets.

Also, I particularly enjoyed the many odd-ball aircraft that are illustrated and captioned. It shows the mind boggling array of ideas and designs that have been tried at one time or another.

A great book for an adult, or even for a child interested in planes, though the text level is perhaps better suited for post-elementary age.

All in all, a very well designed, written, and illustrated book sure to be enjoyed by any fan of planes, jets, or aviation in general.

a coffee-table book for your library
I don't often praise big, handsome, expensive books that were so obviously designed for Christmas giving. But here's an exception. Chant is a British writer who's done lots of good aviation histories, for Osprey and such, so he knows what he's writing about. Batchelor is a marvelous artist, whether he's painting combat scenes or doing meticulous "x-ray" drawings of a plane's inner workings. What they've created here is a reference book for the aviation library--one that just happens to be a nice coffee-table display as well. It really is "a history of aviation," as the sub-title promises. Five stars! -- Dan Ford

Richard's New Bicycle Book
Published in Paperback by Ballantine Books (Trd Pap) (June, 1987)
Authors: Richard Ballantine, John Batchelor, Peter Williams, and Richard Ballentine
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Richard Ballantine: Cycling's Friendly Fanatic
I've been a cyclist for about twenty five years and in that time I've managed to accumulate a library of books on cycling. Books on everything from custom frames to offroad riding technique. But by far the most enjoyable to read has been this and several others by Mr.Ballantine. Many of the newer cycling books have a compulsive, competitive tone to them, as if the authors assumed the reader was bent on entering the Tour de France. In contrast, Dick Ballantine infuses the reader with his sense of joy and enthusiasm about the pure act of riding and the pure form of the diamond frame bicycle, a design that has accomodated over a hundred years worth of cyclists. But he also manages to cover practical matters--everything from hub overhauls to recumbents. The first chapter is entitled
Get A Bike! Since I first started reading Mr.Ballantine, I've "gotten" five and partly due to him, I've loved them all.

Best character/diversity/art bicycle book...
This book should have never been let go out of print. R's 'Ultimate' book does not replace it. This book has much writing of great character and insight. It covers the whole rainbow of cycling with proper respect and depth, with particular nods to velomobiles, trikes, recumbents and folders. This edition also has the finest assortment of B&W bike sketch art ever published, with superb highlights by the incomparable PAT.

American Falls
Published in Hardcover by W. W. Norton & Company (September, 1985)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Civil War fiction at its finest
Batchelor mixes fact and fiction to amazing effect in this unfairly forgotten novel of Civil War intrigue. The two protagonists -- one, a Northern-born Confederate intelligence officer ordered to burn down Manhattan; the other, a Union cavalry major assigned to Lafayette Baker's Secret Service -- circle one another in ever-tightening spirals as the 1864 election approaches with Lincoln's election -- and Union victory -- still quite doubtful.

There really was an almost-successful Confederate plot to burn down Manhattan, and so terrorize the North into voting not for Lincoln (and total war), but for Gen. George B. McClellan (who ran on the promise to sue for peace if elected). And after reading an obscure article in Civil War Times magazine, I learned that Batchelor's Confederate spymaster was a real person -- the man whose identity the rebel agents took to their graves. What Batchelor does with this raw material is construct an 1864 of holodeck-like reality, and immerse the reader in it to a greater depth and intensity than Shaara in Killer Angels or Frazier in Cold Mountain. His reconstruction of Washington, D.C., New-York, and the Niagara Falls of the title (whence the rebel terrorists entered the country from Canada) is detailed in the extreme.

Overlaid upon this framework is an intricately plotted story that includes hefty dollops of spycraft, intrigue, love and betrayal, loyalty and regret, and spot-on period dialogue.

Like Forsythe's assassination attempt in The Day of the Jackal, the historical outcome of the Confederate plan is predetermined -- but you'd never guess that from the page-turning narrative. You're in late 1864, things are desperate for both North and South, and it seems as though the plot is foolproof and the participants more real than yourself. If you can find and read this gem of historical/cultural/military/spy fiction, you'll never want it to end.

North American Lighthouses Coloring Book
Published in Paperback by Dover Pubns (March, 1995)
Authors: John Batchelor and John Barchelor
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Another fine coloring book from Dover.
A beautiful addition to this particular series of Dover coloring books. Older children who love the ocean or ships will delight in it. Adults will learn something, too. Highly recommended.

Bob Rixon, a poet from New Jersey

Real Guide to Grad School, 2001-2002: The Humanities
Published in Paperback by Contentville Press (August, 2001)
Authors: Edward Batchelder , John Palattella, and Edward Batchelor
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helpful and refreshingly honest
I highly recommend this guide for anyone considering graduate school in the humanities. These people are really good at digging in and giving us the real dirt, which is not only good to know, but fun to read.

Walking the Cat by Tommy " Tip" Paine: Gordon Liddy Is My Muse II
Published in Hardcover by Linden Pr (April, 1991)
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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The narrator's off-beat view of the world is wonderful. It's great that the mistakes made in this twisting investigation are pointed out by the narrator himself. The vivid portraits given by the narrator of the characters involved in the mystery are wonderful. I enjoyed every minute of this book.

Victory: An Island Tale (World's Classics)
Published in Paperback by Oxford University Press (March, 1996)
Authors: Joseph Conrad, John Batchelor, and Tony Tanner
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Trust in Life
Axel Heyst, the protagonist in Conrad's novel, Victory, makes a final statement to Davidson, a fellow seaman, just before he dies: "...woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love--and to put its trust in life!" This statement coming from a man whose whole life has been lived in isolation is remarkable. His father taught him that life was a Great Joke, that it was an illusion; that the best way to survive was to drift oneself into oblivion. But he found love in the person of Lena and it changed his perspective on living and was responsible for his change of heart as represented in the above-quoted statement. It's too bad that the novel could not have had a happy ending, but Conrad's view of the world probably would not permit it. I found the novel engrossing, somewhat melodramatic, yet vintage Conrad in its depiction of good and evil battling each other on the island of Samburan.

One of Conrad's best novels, if not one of his best known.
Victory is the story of a man named Heyst who leads an isolated life in the South Pacific. However, he is drawn out of his isolation when he brings a woman to his island home. A chance encounter between a dishonest German who dislikes Heyst and two criminals sets up the dramatic ending. Conrad's style is as fluid as in his better known books, such as Lord Jim, and it is amazing that someone could write English so well who did not learn it until later in life and who always spoke it with a heavy Polish accent. Victory is similar to Conrad's other works in that the plot flirts with melodrama, but always is rooted in realism. Those who read the book will find the title apt.

My favorite Conrad novel!
Victory is the best of the handful of Conrad novels I have read (for reference sake, the others are Lord Jim, The Secret Agent, Heart of Darkness, and Nostromo). For one thing, the other novels were much heavier in their narrative and descriptive content. As a result, I often suffered from mental imagery overload when plodding through a page-long paragraph. Victory has more dialogue, making it an easier read. Conrad's characters are always great, and the ones in this book are no exception. I also really liked the correlation between these characters and their environment. Heyst living in a serene yet isolated island matched his aloofness perfectly. As the book reaches its climax and tensions reach a boiling point, Conrad adds to this tension in godlike fashion, as the storm evinces the internal and external struggles occurring in Heyst. Of course, Conrad don't write no happy tales (sic), but in the end, I think that the title Victory was still very appropriate. This was an excellent read and one of the best novels I have read in a long time.

Animal Farm
Published in Hardcover by Harcourt (December, 1990)
Authors: George Orwell, Joy Batchelor, and John Halas
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A Satirical Fable
Animal Farm is the story of a revolution gone sour. Animalism, Orwell's take on Communism, is an illusion used by the pigs as a means of satisfying their lust for power. At the beginning of the book, Mr. Jones, the master of the farm, is irresponsible toward his animals, so old Major, a white boar, informs the other animals of the need to form a rebellion against Mr. Jones and the human race. The other animals embrace the idea of a revolution and develop a scheme to overthrow Mr. Jones. After the revolution is complete, the animals feel an immediate freedom, a set of commandments is developed for the new "Animal Farm," and they all begin working together for a common good. However, it does not take long for the new society to begin to corrupt. The satisfaction of removing Mr. Jones from the farm prevents the animals from noticing the politics still going on within the farm. The animals are convinced by those in power that their memory of the original utopia and commandments are false. So long as the animals cannot remember the past, because it is being continually altered, they will have no control over the present and future. George Orwell is making a great political statement in Animal Farm with specific emphasis on mass rebellion. It personifies Karl Marx's ideas for communism and illustrates what can happen after a revolution with specific attention to the fact that every society is political and contains "pigs" who will always grab for power. This satirical fable leaves the reader with a better understanding of communism and the anatomy of political revolution in any culture.

A lesson on equality and lies (and excess commentary)
The story Animal Farm is something that every person in the entire world should read. This simple tale of a group of animals, neglected, abused, enslaved, and put down, rising up against their hateful masters with the hopes of creating an egalitarian society was meant as a commentary on the state of the Soviet Union. The depiction created of a Communist society from its conception to its death is one of tyranny, deceit, distrust, and rivalry that destroys the pure intentions of the original revolutionaries. Though the depth of the underlying political commentary may be lost on people with no interest in the operation of the economy or the government, Animal Farm is a very accessible story with easy to understand lessons in morality, fairness, and honesty.

One note on the additional "filler" information added to this edition, it is both poorly written and uninteresting. While the life of George Orwell is interesting and something worth learning about, especially if you have aspirations towards being a socialist, the author of this section does such a poor job that reading tax codes in IRS publications is more interesting.

In summary, buy this book, read it, lend it to someone else, read it again, lend it to more people, read it again, and dream of a world of egalitarian communism. Or you can just read the story, enjoy the struggles and triumphs of the heroic animals, despise the greedy pigs, and share the experience with someone else.

Animal Farm
George Orwell's Animal Farm is a superb animation of the Russian Revolutioon. The book is amusing and interesting; it includes a comic element as it synonymously demonstrates the evolution from the proletariat revolution to a totalitarian government led by the swine of the society. Orwell successfully simplified the not-so-simple theory of class stratification and Karl Marx's proposed solution of communism. Orwell's method of conveyance is incredibly inventive. He uses satire in the form of a fairy tale to share his indignation for ideological doctrines that would, if allowed, lead to the eventual destruction of a society. Each character in the story is representative of someone who was involved in the Russian Revolution. Old Major is Marx, and inspires the proletariat revolution by motivating the over-worked animals and educating them on the ways of the human beings, who represent the bourgeoisie. Orwell's creativity convinces the reader that the animals on the farm are intellectual beings, revolting against the tyranny of the humans. Animal Farm offers itself as an example of a responsible criticism of Marxism. The story gives us a peek at the Utopian vision, and then offers a long look at what results from using a Marxist approach at achieving it. I strongly reccomend this book, as it is entertaining and educational. Orwell succeeded in creating a fairy tale that evokes both sadness and laughter, while causing us to feel sympathy and even empathy for the working class animals. The book escapes complexity, but its message does not.

The further adventures of Halley's Comet
Published in Unknown Binding by Congdon & Lattes : distributed by St. Martin's Press ()
Author: John Calvin Batchelor
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Young men on the fast track to making big bucks by murder.
I enjoyed this book and the television movie. These young men, led by Joe Hunt, wanted to live the good life. They wanted to make huge sums of money, drive flashy, fast cars, go out with debutantes and girls of high society and live the good life. They thought they could accomplish this by becoming whiz kid stock market investors. This plan went did not succeed. Instead of making money for themselves and their clients, they lost it. All of it. As a result they resorted to murder. They killed the father of one of their kiddie group and another person who had tricked them by making them think they had successfully invested a large sum of money, only to find out it was a phony investment scheme on paper. The murder of this man was to cover the extortion of a million plus dollars from him and payback for tricking them.

Halley's Comet Revisited
Is it just me? I read this book and it's about a rich aristocratic family launching a probe at Halley's Comet in order to set a precedent in laws of ownership of objects in space (so they can then claim the planets without ever visiting them). Nothing in there about making money on the stock exchange or patricide. I know it sounds like I'm knocking the previous reviews but hey guys, that's not the same book!

incredible story...and it's true!! keeps you reading.
i have read this book 2x. when i saw the movie i had to get the book, which came out after the movie. what spoiled rich kids will do for money! what joe hunt will do for power and control. it was quite a story... and it was told well! a page turner.

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