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Several things go into making this such a good read: 1. Davies obviously planned the book very carefully, something which immediately gains the reader's respect. The choice of Calder Valley (out of 650 possible places) in particular was spot-on. 2. Davies doesn't hide the fact that he's a socialist and therefore not an impartial observer. This is good because it gives an emotional energy to the text and an edge to the reporting. 3. Although this is a subjective account Davies's approach is human and sympathetic: he responds to the people rather than to their politics. Although he finds one or two of the characters exasperating he rarely resorts to sarcasm. 4. The novelistic style Davies adopts means that full attention is given to character and plot development, and to description of the area, and the book appeals because it is so clearly about people first and about politics second. 5. Davies used a dictaphone to record his characters' outpourings and his transcriptions of these are not only believable but give an insight into the way Yorkshire people think and speak. 6. Davies is a thoughtful, intelligent, and good writer. There is never a dull moment.
I would hold this book up as a model for anyone putting their mind to writing a work of popular non-fiction. And with an American election just gone and a British one looming, the political and social aspects are still relevant. And finally, Christine McCafferty ("a well-built woman of fifty with straight, short blonde hair, an attentive, piercing blue gaze and an unashamedly loud laugh; a talkative, friendly, basically ordinary person who wanted this England to change") is as good a hero as you'll find anywhere.
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If one short, sweet, book can not only explain the rules of football, but also its history, and what it's like to be an ordinary fan - then this is the book for you.
Everything you need to understand football is in this book.
This book successfully weaves a general description of the game, a review of all Word Cups prior to US 94, and the author's own passion for his local team - Wrexham, a Third Division Welsh club struggling to gain promotion to the Second Division in 1993. Pete Davies mixes these themes together masterfully. Despite these three unique threads, the book never seems jumbled or hodge-podge.
Through Davies' sections on the history and nuances of the game, you'll develop a keen appreciation for why certain teams/countries deploy different playing styles and alignments without feeling overwhelmed by jargon and technical detail. In the overview of the World Cups, you'll understand how world dominance has inexorably tilted from its initial power base in the UK to the far reaches of Europe and - especially - South America. And in detailing his long-time affair with Wrexham, you'll begin to comprehend the deep-seated passion for the simplest of games which, unfortunately, has still not quite resonated here in the States.
Despite the fact that the material is now seven years old (Mr. Davies - an updated version in preparation for WC 2002 would be fantastic!), I wholeheartedly endorse this book as a comprehensive and engaging introduction to 'The Beautiful Game.'
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A lion's share of author Pete Davies's narrative involves the stories of the forecasters and storm chasers who track these meteorlogical beasts. And while their stories are somtimes interesting, they don't have the same power as the descriptions of the hurricaines themselves. Overall however, "Inside the Hurricane" is a decent book for weather-philes.
The author concentrates on the Hurricane Research Division (HRD), the scientists who try to learn more on these powerful storms, and who fly into them for first-hand scientific observation,and the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the people responsible for making the forecasts as to where these dangerous storms will go. This is interesting stuff, especially when the scientists fly into the storms.
Unfortunately, it seems that that the author simply took info off his tape recorder and stuck it into the book, beacause a lot of the heavy science conversations which are included in this book do not have enough explanation or context.
This book is also hindered by certain editorial decisions. This book suffers from the lack of maps showing the tracks of the hurricanes the author discusses, especially because the author spends a great deal of time discussing the meandering nature of the hurricanes.
The book also contains some minor errors, some of which can be chalked up to the author not being a native American (e.g., describing as one of the highest points in Florida as "Disney's Magic Mountain", when everyone knows that he meant Disney's Space Mountain.) While these minor errors do not really detract from this book, and the above-average number of typos is not much of a problem, the real problem comes from the feel that there are times when this author does not go into needed detail. For example, the author talks about the rapid intensification of Hurricanes Opal and Camille, but while the author examined the rapid intensification of Opal, he made no such prior mention of Camille.
The author fails to provide detail in other areas. While expalantions are provided for some criticism of the media, we really don't know why the huuricane jocks at HRD are so critical of the Weather Channel's staff, especially weatherman Jim Cantori. This book has a slap-dash feel.
However, the descriptions of the hurricanes themselves surpass the author's limitations in other areas of writing. As a native of New Orleans, I've seen my share of hurricanes. One of my earliest memories is of Hurricane Betsy. I lost family in Hurricane Camille. I was one of the tens of thousands of people who evacuted, with my family, from 1998's Hurricane Georges, which was a near miss. I've done research on hurricanes for school, so I have a bit more scientific and personal knowledge than the general public. There are flaws in this book, but the postives far out weigh the negatives.
The author has not written the perfect book on hurricanes, but he is to be commended for spelling out the dangers these massive storms pose, for pointing out the lack of funding which goes into hurricane research, and for his skill in relating the tragedy which is inflicted on hurricane victims, especially the devastation of Hounduras.
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Author Pete Davies does a decent job of resurrecting the memory of The First Transcontinental Motor Train. He describes the trip in detail and recounts the contribution of its most colorful participants, including a young lieutenant colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower. The event was a spectacle all along the route, and even generated controversy between communities either included or left off the right of way. For most of the journey, the convoy followed the "Lincoln Highway," a privately funded project that was the first bicoastal road, but in 1919 in many places was actually little more than a line on the map.
As a work of history, "American Road" completes its mission well enough. Author Davies is a decent storyteller and he does a good job of setting the historical context and showing how the event was crucial to the development of America's national road system. The book's main drawback is that Davies chose to focus much of his attention on the relatively unintersting local political controversies along the route and not enough on the stories of individual soldiers in the convoy. Even the colorful "Ike" gets only a scant few pages of coverage in total. Also underutilized is the author's accounts of what the route looks like today, which are sprinkled in here and there without much rhyme or reason. On the plus side, the book contains a generous helping of photographs and a helpful route map on the inside covers.
Overall, a decent historical work that serves to rekindle the memory of the dawn of the American motor age.
Davies' research is top-notch; he relies on primary sources including journals and newspaper accounts written at the time of the events.
The book is a great chronicle of early 20th Century Americana from a social perspective, including the trials and tribulations faced by the individuals during the cross-country journey.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the formation of modern America's motor age, but if you're only interested in understanding the Army's piece in this, you should consider skipping this book, because it doesn't do much with the military piece, despite the fact that the U.S. Army was responsible for the motorcade.
And it's all because the automobile came along and people needed passable roads on which to drive them. The Trans-Continental Convoy held up an unavoidable magnifying glass for the citizens (and politicians) of the US so they would not need to ask, "What's wrong with our roads?" It became crystal clear. If you wanted your town and state to develop, you'd better get on the Good Roads bandwagon.
This book was particularly interesting to me because my father drove these trucks during World War One from the automotive centers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana to Baltimore, using the Lincoln Highway. From Baltimore they were shipped overseas. In one of his letters, he remarked that it had been raining for three days straight, but they got by fairly well because most roads were gravel.
Although I'm sure the eastern most portions of the Lincoln Highway were probably in better repair than the western parts, The American Road gave me a good picture of what my father was up against.
The next time you drive down the Interstate, you can thank the foresight of some people in Detroit, the keen observation of a young Lt. Col. Dwight Eisenhower, and the sheer grit of the Convoy drivers, for showing the nation what had to be done.
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It is interesting to note that his depiction of the men investigating the 1918 virus is universally glowing and complimentary, while his depiction of the women involved is either flat or entirely vilifying. His depiction of Kirsty Duncan seems particularly vitriolic, and one has to wonder if he was taking some cold shoulder just a touch too personally.
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The question that remains:
What is the matter with Cultural Studies?
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