Last Book Read...

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  • PinewoodSpyPinewoodSpy Posts: 21MI6 Agent
    Ah I didnt say I didnt read them too LOL Just not as big a fan as my dad
  • HardyboyHardyboy Posts: 5,781Chief of Staff
    Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, by Neal Gabler. A massive biography of Uncle Walt that dispenses with some old myths (that his body is cryogenically frozen, that he had Nazi sympathies, etc.) and goes into tremendous detail on his cinematic and business achievements. It's also amazing to note how often Walt came close to financial disaster and personal failure, only to pull himself out from the depths. Well worth reading.
    Vox clamantis in deserto
  • PendragonPendragon ColoradoPosts: 2,640MI6 Agent
    The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my ipod. A most enjoyable listen indeed. Read by the wonderfully talented Mr. Stephen Fry.

    ~Pen -{
    Hey! Observer! You trying to get yourself Killed?

    mountainburdphotography.wordpress.com
  • TonyDPTonyDP Inside the MonolithPosts: 4,147MI6 Agent
    edited February 2008
    The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

    Even though I'm something of a sci-fi geek, I've never really read much of Bradbury beyond the occasional short story here or there. But based on my brother's recommendation, I decided to give this one a shot...

    The book is an anthology of short stories, loosely connected via the skin illustrations (never call them tattoos!) that cover titular character's body as each illustration has a story behind it.

    As is the case with most anthologies, there are hits and misses. Standouts include The Long Rain (about a group of astronauts stranded on Venus), The Exiles (a tale in the vein of Fahrenheit 451, but told from the perspective of the characters in the books that are burned), The Man (about a group of astronauts who land on an alien world only to witness the second coming), and a story that explains how the Illustrated Man got his illustrations.

    Unlike hard science writers such as Issac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, Bradbury could care less about the minuate of the scientific principles behind his stories; the rockets, aliens, rayguns and otherworldly settings are only facades which he uses to explore more human themes like isolation, faith, bigotry, revenge, love, etc.

    Several stories from the book were adapted for a movie also called The Illustrated Man. While entertaining, the movie had nowhere near the depth of the stories. Director Zack Snyder will supposedly be filming another version after he completes Watchmen.

    Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a bit and even decided to pick up The Martian Chronicles (another Bradbury anthology I'd never read). After that, I'll probably tackle one or two of his novels. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
  • spyseries_comspyseries_com Posts: 3MI6 Agent
    last book i read was The Ambler Warning by Robert Ludlum .. right now i am reading Consent To Kill by Vince Flynn
  • HardyboyHardyboy Posts: 5,781Chief of Staff
    edited March 2008
    Wanting to get a sense of Sebastian Faulks before the release of Devil May Care, I read On Green Dolphin Street, Faulks's novel about a British diplomat's wife who gets romatically involved with an American reporter during the 1960 presidential election. Faulks is quite a good stylist, who can craft a fine image and memorable turns of phrase; and he also has a good eye for detail, something that should come in handy in trying to write "as" Ian Fleming.

    As for the story, though. . .hmmm. I think Faulks is trying for Graham Greene or Somerset Maugham territory by setting a personal story against turbulent political events. It would seem he's concluding that in the period between the paranoia of the Cold War and the birth of the Swingin' Sixties, Britain ended its flirtation with America and retrenched in order to tend to its own wounds. Interesting stuff, but Faulks just doesn't reach the status of Greene or Maugham in this novel. In all honesty, I cannot remember the last time I was so thoroughly bored with and unengaged by a work of fiction. Despite Faulks's ambitions, the story never rises above a soap opera (can the well-heeled British diplomat's wife find love and happiness in the arms of a rough-around-the-edges American reporter?), and the book just goes on and on and on with nothing much of consequence happening. I guess if I really loved the characters I wouldn't have cared, but I found them an uninteresting lot--though I think Faulks did a nice job of painting the alcoholism of the diplomat.

    I guess this just ain't a novel for me. If love stories are your thing, you might like it. As for me, though, I'm kind of worried about what Devil May Care may be like.
    Vox clamantis in deserto
  • Dan SameDan Same Victoria, AustraliaPosts: 6,057MI6 Agent
    edited March 2008
    TonyDP wrote:
    The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
    I'm not a big sci-fi fan (unlike my father who who has probably read every sci-fi novel worth reading) but I adore Bradbury. I was introduced to him by my grade 6 teacher, and while I haven't read an emormous amount of Bradbury's work (like with many other writers, I own more of his stuff than I have actually read), I think he is a magnificent writer who gives me a tremendous amount of joy. His stories, some of which are more fantasy than sci-fi, are IMO absolutely superb (A Sound of Thunder is one of my favourite short stories), and I look forward to actually sitting down and reading all the stories that lack of discipline and misguided priorites have prevented me from doing thus far. :D He truly is a magnificent writer. {[]
    "He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. and then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory." Death of a Salesman
  • Lady RoseLady Rose London,UKPosts: 2,513MI6 Agent
    I've just finished two books ...

    Riders and Rivals both by Jilly Cooper.

    Good,harmless,filthy fun ;%
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    The Legend of the Holy Drinker by Joseph Roth

    Roth's last work, a beautifully understated novella, written in the final months of his life as his alcoholism brought him closer to death. Andreas, a drunken homeless exile in Paris, is lent 200 francs in return for a promise to repay the debt by leaving the same amount next to the statue of St Therese in a nearby cathedral. Andreas then encounters a series of what he considers to be miracles, as he meets old friends he thought gone forever and makes new acquaintances before finally being able to pay his debt.

    The Legend of the Holy Drinker was made into a film in 1988 by Ermanno Olmi, with Rutger Hauer giving the performance of his life as Andreas. Both book and film are highly recommended.
  • TylerTyler Posts: 185MI6 Agent
    Slash autobiography and The Prestige by Chris Nolan...both superb
    Never fear the event
  • Agent_MAgent_M lost in the speed forcePosts: 353MI6 Agent
    was that the adaption of the film The Prestige or the original book the film was based on? i've been trying to get hold of the original book since the film came out
    Purvis,Wade...........GRRRRRRRR!

    www.scottacademymartialarts.co.uk
  • TylerTyler Posts: 185MI6 Agent
    The original book by Nolan. Superb stuff and COMPLETELY different from the movie in many respects especially the ending which is very creepy. Highly recommend it to ya.
    Never fear the event
  • TonyDPTonyDP Inside the MonolithPosts: 4,147MI6 Agent
    edited March 2008
    The Firstborn by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter

    Ironically enough, I finished this book a day or so before Mr. Clarke passed away.

    Firstborn is the third book in Clarke and Baxter's Time Odyssey series (Time's Eye and Sunstorm being the first two books). The stories are set in what can best be described as 2001: A Space Odyssey's dark mirror universe. Whereas the Space Odyssey books dealt with mostly benevolent aliens guiding our species towards intelligence, the aliens in the Time Odyssey books are an ancient race greedily hoarding the universe's limited energy for themselves and systematically wiping out any intelligent species who might one day reach the stars. Instead of black monoliths their signature calling cards are reflective silver spheres.

    In the first book, Time's Eye, the aliens created a pocket universe which they populated with humans plucked from different points in history to study their interactions and behaviors. As such, you had characters as varied as Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan and future cosmonauts interacting with one another.

    By the second book, Sunstorm, the aliens had decided that Earth was threat and needed to be destroyed. The book tells the take of a massive solar flare that will destroy all life on the planet and mankind's efforts to avert the calamity.

    The Firstborn, the third book in the series, details the latest attempt to destroy Earth: a quantum bomb, a device thousands of years beyond our understanding, heading inexorably towards the planet. If it hits, the planet will be literally torn apart from the inside. Over the course of the book we learn more about the Firstborn and discover that Earth wasn't the first planet they targeted.

    Clarke was pushing 90 when this book was written so it's safe to say that Baxter did most of the work. Still, his writing style is very compatible with Clarke's and the book is filled with little homages and references to past Clarke novels.

    The book is a good read with lots of interesting characters and many of the staples of Clarke's past books such as space elevators, solar sails, HAL 9000 like artificial intelligences and the aforementioned ancient alien race. Baxter also peppers the narrative with many of his favorite themes including revisionist history. There are lots of references to the previous books in the series so anyone not familiar with them may be a bit confused at times.

    The book ends in something of a cliffhanger; and given Clarke's passing, it will be interesting to see if Baxter tackles future encounters with the Firstborn on his own.

    I enjoyed reading the Firstborn; the writing style harkens back to many of Clarke's novels and is far superior to all his other "collaborations" with other authors. If you're a fan of the authors or like sci-fi, you should check them out. But take them in order or you may get lost in the narrative.
  • 00-Agent00-Agent CaliforniaPosts: 451MI6 Agent
    Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile. After watching the movie (which was good) I decided to read the book. It tells the story of how Charlie Wilson used his influence to fund the Mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The book gives a little insight into how the US government is run and how a few committees and their members control vast amounts of money. It also raised questions in my mind about the latter consequences of funding the Mujahideen. All in all a very enjoyable read.
    "A blunt instrument wielded by a Government department. Hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic. He likes gambling, golf, fast motor cars. All his movements are relaxed and economical". Ian Fleming
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    City Sister Silver by Jachym Topol

    Bought this in a book shop in Prague. It's set in a futuristic version of the city that owes a debt to A Clockwork Orange. I didn't really take to it and eventually put it away.
  • PendragonPendragon ColoradoPosts: 2,640MI6 Agent
    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre

    not quite sure what I think about it...mainly 'cause my evil english professor spawn of hell made me read it...8-) I still like Bond waaaay better ^^

    ~Pen -{
    Hey! Observer! You trying to get yourself Killed?

    mountainburdphotography.wordpress.com
  • darenhatdarenhat The Old PuebloPosts: 2,029Quartermasters
    I never read any LeCarre, but after seeing 'The Russia House' with Sean Connery and Michelle Pfieffer, I vowed never to.
  • PendragonPendragon ColoradoPosts: 2,640MI6 Agent
    edited March 2008
    it's ok...yes, LeCarre writes from lots of experience, but it's not as exciting (IMO) as any other spy novels I've ever read...

    maybe I'm so down on this book 'cause the English prof is making me prove (in my paper) that LeCarre's novels are superior to Fleming's. I'm doing it just to avoid argument, but the whole concept of the paper now offends me since she changed my very pro Bond thesis. I was going to talk about the spy craze in the 60's ('cause we had to choose a 60's themed topic), and I was going to mainly talk about the Bond Novels, The movies, and how lots of the most famous Spy shows and such spawned off of them, and it was going to be a wonderfully exciting paper...*sigh*


    ~Pen -{
    Hey! Observer! You trying to get yourself Killed?

    mountainburdphotography.wordpress.com
  • PinewoodSpyPinewoodSpy Posts: 21MI6 Agent
    Jihad by Tom Carew - had this book for a while and decided to re-read it. Fairly boys own stuff (if you read any Chris Ryan or Andy Mcnab you'll know the type)
  • darenhatdarenhat The Old PuebloPosts: 2,029Quartermasters
    Finished off a couple of books...The Ezekiel Option by Joel Rosenberg. Kind of a Tom Clancy knockoff. The interesting thing about Rosenberg is that in the late 90's he wrote two novels, one pertaining to a terrorist attack on the Pentagon similiar to 9-11 and another regarding a US invasion of Iraq in a search for WMDs. This particular novel was about a new Russian regime teaming with Iran to destroy Israel. I guess we'll see if the author's Nostradamus streak continues. The other book was a Doc Savage pulp adventure: The Mystic Mullah. It was your typical Doc Savage fare, however it did have an interesting application of night vision technology that seemed somewhat ahead of its time for the 1930's.
  • highhopeshighhopes Posts: 1,358MI6 Agent
    Pendragon wrote:
    it's ok...yes, LeCarre writes from lots of experience, but it's not as exciting (IMO) as any other spy novels I've ever read...

    maybe I'm so down on this book 'cause the English prof is making me prove (in my paper) that LeCarre's novels are superior to Fleming's. I'm doing it just to avoid argument, but the whole concept of the paper now offends me since she changed my very pro Bond thesis.

    I don't blame you for being resentful. It's your paper, and you ought to be able to choose your own topic. Besides, Bond's deep connection to the '60s would have been pretty interesting. Besides, comparing LeCarre and Fleming is comparing apples and oranges, as you've already noticed.
  • Lady RoseLady Rose London,UKPosts: 2,513MI6 Agent
    I'm still on my Jilly Cooper fest ...

    Just finished Polo.

    Must say, Rupert Campbell Black is giving James Bond a run for his money these days ;%
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krystof Kieslowski

    Not particularly illuminating work on the films of the late, great Polish filmmaker. Better off watching the films or reading Faber & Faber's Kieslowski on Kieslowski.
  • HardyboyHardyboy Posts: 5,781Chief of Staff
    Greenmantle, John Buchan's second Richard Hannay novel (the first, of course, was The Thirty-Nine Steps). A cracking good read even after 92 years, and still fascinating today for a variety of reasons. Written and published during World War I, there's a strong propoganda element, but it also shows how thoroughly Buchan understood the Germans and Turks. While Buchan gleefully trumpets British superiority he also shows common people who are loyal to the enemy as noble, compassionate, and capable of being better than the "fanatics" who've driven them to war.

    Then there's the fact the novel is still strangely relevant. The plot concerns a German plan to put into the Middle East an Islamic prophet who will be capable of rallying Muslims into declaring Jihad on the Allied powers, destroying their influence in the East. It's remarkable that nearly a century later we are still concerned with Jihad and fears that Muslims can be easily stirred up.

    One of the main characters, Sandy Arbuthnot, by the bye, is modelled on Lawrence of Arabia, and he plays a major role in relating to the Islamic Turks. To say more would be to spoil things, though.

    Last, this is a book that Ian Fleming almost certainly read, and you can see the influence Buchan had on the creator of James Bond. Hannay really isn't a proto-Bond, since Hannay is not a professional spy and especially since he has practically no libido. But the novel is a globe-hopping adventure, and the main villain is huge, almost inhumanly strong, sadistic, and grotesque. Hannay also describes the villain's "feminine" private chambers, and you don't have to read far between the lines to realize that the villain is homosexual. There's even an American character who largely serves as comic relief but who is also brave and true-blue from start to finish, just like a certain Felix Leiter.

    All in all, a fun read--don't be scared by the "Classic" reputation!
    Vox clamantis in deserto
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,552Chief of Staff
    Greenmantle- Good Lord it must be 40 years since I read that (and the other Hannay books whose titles I forget: The Final Countdown? The Island Of Sheep? Mr Dauntless/Courageous/Braveheart/Daring?) Correct me, someone! I enjoyed them at the time but I don't think I'll be re-reading them.
  • darenhatdarenhat The Old PuebloPosts: 2,029Quartermasters
    edited April 2008
    Barbel wrote:
    Greenmantle- Good Lord it must be 40 years since I read that (and the other Hannay books whose titles I forget: The Final Countdown? The Island Of Sheep? Mr Dauntless/Courageous/Braveheart/Daring?) Correct me, someone! I enjoyed them at the time but I don't think I'll be re-reading them.

    I remember "The Thirty-Nine Steps" "Mr. Standfast" and "Greenmantle". There's a fourth one which escapes me at the moment.
  • HardyboyHardyboy Posts: 5,781Chief of Staff
    darenhat wrote:
    Barbel wrote:
    Greenmantle- Good Lord it must be 40 years since I read that (and the other Hannay books whose titles I forget: The Final Countdown? The Island Of Sheep? Mr Dauntless/Courageous/Braveheart/Daring?) Correct me, someone! I enjoyed them at the time but I don't think I'll be re-reading them.

    I remember "The Thirty-Nine Steps" "Mr. Standfast" and "Greenmantle". There's a fourth one which escapes me at the moment.

    And the answer is: The Three Hostages. There are also some short stories featuring Hannay.
    Vox clamantis in deserto
  • Lazenby880Lazenby880 LondonPosts: 525MI6 Agent
    I don't have much time to type up a proper review, so I will just present my rambling thoughts on James Leasor's Passport to Oblivion briefly. This is the novel filmed as Where the Spies Are with David Niven in the lead role as Dr Jason Love. In Tehran a spy, known as K, is taken and killed by the Opposition. The 'M' figure, MacGillivray, wants to send someone to find K. He doesn't trust any professional spies due the likes of Blake, so instead he goes for someone else. The person he chooses is the country doctor Jason Love, whom he knew very briefly from the Second World War. Love is understandably a bit surprised to be approached, although he is eventually convinced to go to Tehran.

    The novel twists and turns from there. The first thing to mention is that Leasor is a good writer. There is an authority in the writing and the chap can develop good prose and imbue the novel with a wonderful sense of place. It is also very entertaining; there is a joie-de-vivre here with a dash of humour. An example of the humour is when Love bribes an Iranian in a telegraph office. 'You're not a gambler?' Love asks. 'No, sir. It's against my religious principles'. Gambling is out, but bribery is okay.

    Sometimes the scales are tipped rather too much in the humour direction, so that it can be difficult to accept the more serious side to the novel. There is a very tense chase through the streets of Tehran by an Iranian mob, and Love gets taken by the Soviets which is quite dramatic, but the impact of this is lessened by the humorous tilt. Perhaps this is unfair, but I do prefer my spy novels a bit more serious. In fact the novel seems to quite explicitly be a Bond knock-off. Everything is defined by Bond, from the boss to the extensive gadgets. The gentleman amateur spy is a bit free-wheeler, although he does have an attack of doubt at times. In fact, to call it a Bond knock-off is a bit unfair on Fleming as it reads more like a well-written spoof. It is light-hearted, fun and not challenging. The only problem is that it is a bit vegetarian, and I like red meat.
  • John DrakeJohn Drake On assignmentPosts: 2,564MI6 Agent
    London in Cinema: The Cinematic City Since 1945 by Charlotte Brunsdon

    Academic study of how the city has been used in various films over the years. Interesting, but like most of these type of books, dryly written.
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,864Quartermasters
    "Nightmare In Pink," by John D. MacDonald

    The second book in MacDonald's brilliant Travis McGee series. Having read the first book some time ago (as a means of research) and now having read the second as a diversion, I am now very much officially in awe of the late Mr. MacDonald. Clearly, there are "Over 32 Million Travis McGee books in print!" for a reason.

    This is American genre fiction at its finest. I highly recommend these delicious mystery thrillers to anyone looking for a cracking good read.
    "Blood & Ashes"...AVAILABLE on Amazon.co.uk: Get 'Jaded': Blood & Ashes: The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
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