Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The battle of Gettysburg is one of the decisive battles of the American Civil War. The Confederate forces led by General Lee had marched into Union territory and were threatening Baltimore and Pennsylvania. They would be brought to battle by the Army of the Potomac led by General Meade at a small town called Gettysburg.
Stephen Sears’ book Gettysburg is a detailed look at this important battle and the events leading up to it and after it. Sears describes the three days of hard fighting that took place and the mistakes made by both sides in the heat of battle. The one thing that stands out after reading this account is the amount of times important decisions had to be made with no were near complete information. Many times both sides had no real idea were the enemy forces were located, or if they were fighting how much of the enemy was engaged. The overall impression is of a group of people playing Marco Polo as they stumble around in the dark, and if they collide a battle starts.
Gettysburg is an absorbing read, Sears’ attention to detail comes through in the narrative and I found myself not wanting to put this book down. I feel I know a lot more about this important and bloody battle.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Great Patriotic War

The Soviet Union's war with Nazi Germany is probably the most brutal and costly war the world has seen. Both sides committed vicious acts in order to win in a war were surrender was not an option. Chris Bellamy chronicles this struggle in Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War. With access to the Soviet archives that were opened after the collapse of the USSR, Bellamy is able to bring new light onto this conflict. This is also more than just a military history, it is also a social and political history. Bellamy covers topics as diverse as why the Soviet Union didn't collapse economically in 1942, the role of women in the USSR army, atomic bomb research and diplomatic battles with Great Britain.
It's good to read such a comprehensive study of the country that suffered the longest and did the most to win the Second World War. Bellamy has an easy reading style and this makes this interesting book fly by. Well worth reading.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs

Chuck Klosterman is a man with his finger on the pulse of Pop Culture. He shows this in his collection of essays Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. This collection shows how he is able to write intelligently on just about anything that takes his fancy, especially if it relates to his understanding of culture, which is pretty much everything.
In this book you will read essays on Billy Joel, Luke Skywalker as a Gen Xer, Soccer, a Guns 'n' Roses tribute band, TV programs, The Sims, Pamela Anderson and many other things. All the essays are written in Klosterman's witty style, and his intelligence leaps of the page. What is also amazing is his depth of Pop Culture knowledge and his ability to link it to all aspects of his life.

This collection is well worth reading. Klosterman can make you laugh, and he can make you think and sometimes both at the same time. But best of all Klosterman can entertain, and that is the best attribute an essayist can have.


Ah, the sweet lure of loot. More and more loot. I'm addicted to the need to get another item. Whatever will the game give me next. Will this revolver fire bullets that electrocute my enemies, or will this rifle fire rockets. The possibilities are endless.
Welcome to the game Borderlands, which takes place on the planet of Pandora (a real box of tricks it is to.) Drawn to the planet, like many before you, by rumours of a mysterious 'vault' that grants untold power you discover that the planet is a haven for bandits and deadly wildlife. You quickly begin to fight for your life and progress through this strange world. Killing enemies, or finding loot caches, gives you access to guns and this is one of the games highlights. The random generator means that there are literally thousands of combinations of weapons to discover. From pistols to shotguns and all the way up to rocket launchers.

Gameplay is standard FPS with a RPG engine running underneath it. The story and characters are fun in a wild-west-in-space kind of way. It's a little stereotypical but in the end they're just window dressing and the gameplay's the thing.

The cell-shaded look is also a highlight. Brought about by the artists working on the game getting sick of the generic look it originally had and leading a revolt. Well done, it looks so much better know and the looks suits the gameplay as well.

Overall this is a fun package with many hours of grinding to get through. But enough from me I've got some loot to find.