From Dictatorship to Democracy

Gene Sharp (1993)

A how-to manual for passive resistance to a dictatorship. It’s a believable presentation, perhaps a little too dry and deterministic in its suggestions about how to collapse a dictatorship’s will to rule, but a book that feels amazingly and unfortunately relevant at the moment.

3/5. Finished Saturday 1 August, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)


Kim Stanley Robinson (2015)

It’s unusual to find a negative take on the idea of generation starships. Most authors like the idea; Robinson isn’t one of them, and indeed makes a strong argument that the whole notion of planetary colonisation is flawed. It’s argued so well that’s it’s hard to refute.

The book is excellently written as well as being closely argued: good characters and social interactions, and a sensible and believable plot. My only criticism would be that it’s one chapter too long: the final beach scene doesn’t add anything, in my opinion, and I’m hard-pushed to understand why it’s there at all.

4/5. Finished Wednesday 29 July, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)


W. Somerset Maugham (1927)

Better thought of as a sequence of related short stories rather than a novel, and more Leslie Charteris than Ian Fleming. If you can get past the casual racism (completely normal for the time) then it’s an interesting take on the life of an intelligence operative.

3/5. Finished Saturday 25 July, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Duke’s Cut: Bridgewater Canal

Cyril J Wood (2009)

A companion to the author’s work on the Manchester Ship Canal. This one is a bit lighter on the process of actually digging the canal, perhaps because it’s older and perhaps because there’s little more to say than that it was in fact dug, by hand.

3/5. Finished Saturday 25 July, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Crusaders: An Epic History Of The Wars For The Holy Lands

Dan Jones (2019)

A fantastic narrative history, far broader in scope than might be expected from the sub-title, covering the extended campaigns in Spain and the Baltic as well as the familiar Latin Crusader States. That does make the coverage a little lighter, but Jones has covered much of the same ground form a different perspective in the (equally excellent) The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors.

5/5. Finished Thursday 23 July, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)