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Book reviews for "Lycett,_Andrew" sorted by average review score:

Rudyard Kipling
Published in Hardcover by Trafalgar Square ()
Author: Andrew Lycett
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A superb and stimulating biography! Read and Enjoy!
Even after being held spellbound by every page of this fascinating and enjoyable biography, the reader may still find large areas of Kipling's personality an enigma. Other than Hardy, it is difficult to think of another English writer who combined such facility in writing poetry as well as fiction, nor one who can so transfix the reader with such deadly accuracy of phrase and immediacy of description. And yet, and yet...... while Hardy largely dealt with one corner of Britain, at one specific period, and nevertheless achieved a timeless universality worthy of his own beloved Greek dramatists, Kipling, who drew on the whole world and the whole span of human history for his themes, ultimately became a prisoner of the prejudices and even hatreds of his own time. It is this failure, no less than the dreadful personal tragedies that marred Kipling's middle and later years, that is the core of this fine book. As perhaps no other great writer, Kipling recognised, as Orwell so correctly identified, that it is not enough to be a critic, and that the world is only moved forward by those who act. The author describes very well how it was this positive aspect of the Imperial Dream that so fascinated and inspired Kipling. The tragedy was however that this man of such broad vision and talents, and whose genius had so much of the timeless and universal, should, apparently willingly, have allowed himself to be taken over by, and identified with, some of the meaner-minded aspects of that same phenomenon. One gains an impression of a man of considerable personal charm, decency and kindness who nevertheless shrank back from the challenge of true greatness. In the process he managed to identify himself with some very ignoble sentiments and causes (he seems to have disliked just about every racial or religious group at some stage or other) and to write about his targets in terms that were offensive and hateful even in his own time. This factor may well be the crucial one in ensuring that, though the best of Kipling is superb, much of the rest is dross.

It is hard to praise this biography enough. Not only does it flow with all the pace of a well-written novel, but it conveys all the detail required to portray a rich and complex world without ever overwhelming the reader. One is amazed by the social linkages - for Kipling seemed to know everybody, both passively through his inherited family network, as well as actively through his courting of the great and (often not so) good. Kipling's writings are discussed in relation to his life in enough of detail to return one to the originals or to vow to read what one has hitherto missed. I forged through this biography with Kipling's Collected Verse by my side and found items that I had previously ignored illuminated splendidly by the author's placement of them in context.

In summary: a marvellous read, whether you already know Kipling or not. If you don't, it will send you scurrying to his writings.

Rudyard Kipling: Part One
Published in Audio Cassette by Blackstone Audiobooks (2000)
Authors: Andrew Lycett and Frederick Davidson
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Brilliant biography of great poet
Kipling’s words give the key to understanding his real, but sadly limited, achievements. He was capable of an extraordinarily sensitive empathy with people, especially with those who did the work of the Empire, the doctors, engineers and administrators. But his political sympathies constrained his emotional sympathies. His love for the Empire was twisted in with a most unintelligent hero-worship of the scoundrels who ran it, and with hatred for those who opposed it.

His works reflect this ambiguity. Many of his writings are excellent, for instance the Jungle Book, some of his stories and many of his poems. Lycett has presented an amazingly detailed portrait of Kipling’s adopted class and milieu. But he lacks a novelist’s imagination and ease with language; the biography often just lists Kipling’s possessions, travels, guests and friends. In reflection of Kipling, he smothers his finer understandings in a blanket of conventions. We still need Angus Wilson’s fine book, ‘The strange ride of Rudyard Kipling’, to see the full peculiarity of Kipling’s career.

The Garden at Highgrove
Published in Hardcover by St. Martin's Press (2001)
Authors: H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, Candida Lycett Green, Andrew Kawsin, Christopher Simon Sykes, H R H Charles the Prince of Wales, and Charles
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An inspiration and a teaching tool
If The Prince's 1993 book "Highgrove: An Experiment in Organic Gardening and Farming" was a manifesto disguised as a picture book, this title is, comfortingly, just what it appears to be: a guided tour of The Prince of Wales' very impressive gardens at his country seat, Highgrove.

Of course, there is still a strong bit of advocacy for an organic approach to gardening. But here, it doesn't edge into discussions of European agricultural policy or the historic despoiling of the British countryside. Instead, explanations of the organic method are an underlying, but essential, part of telling the garden's story

The narrative of how the garden has developed over two decades is an interesting one, and any gardener will enjoy and be inspired by the beautiful photography. And although few of us are able to garden on the Prince's scale, there is still an awful lot in here we can learn from, adapt to our own uses, or blatantly poach -- from simple decorating and arranging ideas to complex schemes of crop rotation or building construction. Helpfully, Highgrove's head gardener, David Howard, includes a chapter explaining how the transition from traditional gardening to organic approaches began, and some of the key techniques he employs and lessons he's learned. This is followed by six entire pages of listings of various types of plants cultivated in the different gardens and illustrated in each chapter. This, especially, may prove to be a handy resource for many readers.

If there's one noticeable drawback to this book, it's that there's no overall map or diagram showing where the various gardens are in relation to one another and the house. All I can think is that (assuming there is a reason for not including one) this may be for security purposes -- though that seems unlikely given the number of photographs already included. But after taking an otherwise thorough tour through the kitchen garden, the walled garden, the box garden, the fountain garden, across the terrace, past the sanctuary, under the rose arch, down the thyme walk (my favorite), along the serpentine hedge ... and all the rest, it would have been nice to have a comprehensive view of how it all fits together.

After having read the earlier title about this garden, it was nice to return six or seven years later (in publishing time) and see how it's all progressing. As the quote on the back cover says, "The Prince of Wales has created at Highgrove one of the most admired gardens in the country," and from philosophy to planning to execution, it's a garden that through this book, we can learn things from or, if we prefer, simply sit back and enjoy.

Beautiful tour of Prince Charles Highgrove home gardens
I got this book earlier this year from Amazon U.K., wasn't out here yet, and really liked it. For your money you get a fairly recent photo tour of the grounds at Highrove, Prince Charles country home. There are a lot of pictures of plant life, details of some of the buildings and even some examples of outdoor sculpture. You even learn of a treehouse built for young Princes William & Harry as well as a garden seat given as a wedding present to the Prince and Princess of Wales (nice to know that the Princess hasn't been completely cleared away), two of many details that I haven't seen on television or read in some book or magazine article. I consider the book to be worth owning (just don't expect much gardening information), I just wish there could be a book tour of the interior of the house and other buildings to go with it.

Read and convert
To see a garden of this scale and design run completely organically is one the best arguments for the banishment of chemical garden practices around.
This book is a great addition to any garden library, and if you do not already garden organically this may be the book that will convert you. That is assuming you have not read A Silent Spring.
Also makes a handsome gift, dispite all the photos of Prince Charles looking very County.

Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond
Published in Audio Cassette by Blackstone Audiobooks (1998)
Authors: Andrew Lycett and Robert Whitfield
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Poor writing manages to make an interesting life boring
This book covers an interesting life story and has great detail, but unfortunately much of that detail has nothing to do with Mr. Fleming's life, instead focusing on the bloodlines of every British person he ever met. A typical sentence would read "While at the party Ian met John Blankenship of Eddileshile, who would later become the Duke of Ipswitch and marry the Dutchess of Flem, whose mother, the Dame of Foppishnich, once had lunch with Sir Henry Handllberg" - and NONE of these people would have had anything to do with the story, the party, or Ian Flemming. It is as if a Flemming biography was inadvertantly been mixed with a "Complete Peerage of the Brittish Isles" and they went ahead and published it anyway. If you must, get the print version, so you can skim over the irrelevant stuff that pops up every other sentence - if you listen to the Audible audio version (like I did) you will find it had to follow and boring to boot.

Nicely done
In a fashion, Mr. Lycett's biography is as detailed as Carlos Baker's biography of Ernest Hemingway. Nearly every movement of Ian Fleming's adulthood is covered. What is revealed is not a pleasant personality. Ian Fleming was a selfish, egocentric fellow who was very much a rake and a cad, especially in the years before World War Two. Scion of a wealthy family, he was a true-to-life example of England's decadent ruling class as much as the Marchmont family was in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.(Interestingly, Fleming's wife, Ann, was friends with Waugh though Waugh did not know Fleming very well when Brideshead was written). Lycett paints an unflattering portrait of this ruling class. The ruling circle which Fleming was part specialized in divorce, arrogance, selfishness, the lapping up of assorted luxuries. They lacked fidelity and self-discipline. It is also noteworthy that in the middle of the Depression, Fleming was so set in society that he seemed to be able to vacation at a whim and not lose his job. Fleming would have died a spoiled cad if not for the discipline of war, in which he served well as an intelligence officer. Egocentric as always, Fleming later claimed to have drawn up the blueprint for the American O.S.S., later known as the C.I.A.. During the war, Fleming fell in love with Jamaica. This love led eventually to Fleming's routine of writing a James Bond novel each winter at his place, Goldeneye, in Jamaica during his ordinarilly 2-3 month winter vacations. The James Bond pop phenomenon was slow to take off and by the time that it did, Ian Fleming's health was in severe decline due to years of a diet of cigarettes, large amounts of alcohol and greasy foods. The Bond novels will never be known as great literature but they are tersely written in fine, spare prose. The plots are usually ridiculous but, after all, they were to be fun books, not serious literature. Sadism is laced within many for Fleming was a sexual sadist. What is most fascinating about the biography is the chummy relationships within the British ruling class where Fleming would have the homosexual Noel Coward as his best man, rent Goldeneye to Prime Minister Eden after the Suez fiasco and Fleming's wife, Ann, would carry on an affair with Labor Party boss Hugh Gaitskill with Fleming's acceptance.

This was a throroughly delightful and interesting read.
Lycett gives great insight into Fleming's character and also the world he lived and wrote in. Also, this book gives a great overview of World War II and the Cold War. I highly recommend this book to Bond fans and anyone else who enjoys reading about exciting persons, such as Fleming.

Qaddafi and the Libyan Revolution
Published in Hardcover by Little Brown & Company (1987)
Authors: David Blundy and Andrew Lycett
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A history of the Qaddafi and the Libyan Revolution.
First off, this is one of the rare books which shows the Libyan leader and what he stands for. It was written in 1987, and does not take into account Libya's role in destroying Pan Am 103. Desite being somewhat dated, Qaddafi's biography is depicted here. For those who want to know why the world should be careful of this dictator, this is the book which shows the terrorism, murder, and cruel behavior of Qaddafi. From the murder of dissidents and a police woman in London, to the bombing of a Berlin disco, the authors depict the nature of Qaddafi and his regime. He has much in common with Saddam Hussein, even though Qaddafi hates him.
I found the life of Qaddafi interesting. He sometimes defies description. He is a womanizer, but believes in Islam. There are many contradictions in his character. Nevertheless, he is a threat to the United States and western nations.

Barrack-Room Ballads
Published in Paperback by New American Library Trade (03 June, 2003)
Authors: Rudyard Kipling, Andrew Lycett, and Caroline Knapp
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Brilliant Gardens: A Celebration of English Gardening
Published in Paperback by Chatto & Windus (1989)
Authors: Candida Lycett Green, Andrew Lawson, and Candida Lycett-Green
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From Diamond Skulls to Golden Handcuffs
Published in Paperback by Robert Hale Ltd (2001)
Author: Andrew Lycett
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The Garden at Highgrove
Published in Hardcover by Orion Publishing Co (12 October, 2000)
Authors: HRH Prince Charles, Candida Lycett Green, Andrew Lawson, Christopher Simon Sykes, and HRH The Prince of Wales
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Ian Fleming
Published in Hardcover by Trafalgar Square ()
Author: Andrew Lycett
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