The Jersey

Some teams are able to dominate a sport, but it’s only for a brief period of time. But not in Rugby Union. Rugby Union is dominated by the All Blacks, who have a winning record against every other nation. Few get close and they have transcended the sport. But what is their secret? That’s what The Jersey looks to find out.

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Peter Bills has gained access to past and present players and coaches as he looks to establish why New Zealand are the dominant force in Rugby Union. The All Blacks is the pinnacle in New Zealand, but they have have a strong school system that feeds into the franchises. They also look to establish continuity in the coaching staff and anticipate where the game is going as opposed to reacting to where it is.

But Bills’ study contains words of warnings, especially over whether people will watch if the result is a foregone conclusion. This isn’t just an excellent Rugby or sport book, it’s an excellent book.

Rating (out of 5): *****

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Hello World

Algorithms. Not the most exciting of topics. What would be far better would be having an interesting chat over a coffee or a pint. But how about combining the two? An interesting chat about algorithms over a coffee or a pint. Surely not, I hear you cry. Enter Hello World by Dr. Hannah Fry.

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July Crisis

28th June 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is assassinated in Sarajevo by Gustavo Princip. One month later, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Within days, Europe is at war. The bloodiest war to date, with an estimated nine million soldiers killed over the course of the four year conflict. But what happened in the month between the assassination and the outbreak of war? Read the rest of the review

Don’t lean out the window! A European misadventure

Don’t lean out the window follows the authors, who are in a band, on their tour of Europe via the inter-rail tickets they have bought. Whilst they can travel where they want in Europe, it’s not all plain sailing, leading to the second part of the title. For example, their plan to finance the trip through busking is not always universally popular. However, they do encounter some incredibly generous people.

It’s an easy to read, humorous book. The narration switches between the authors, so I did have to check who was writing at times, but this is a small gripe for an enjoyable book.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Mind boggling book of over 5000 facts

There are indeed over 5000 facts in this book, with the facts ordered alphabetically (this makes ‘T’ a very long section due to the number that begin with ‘The’). There are plenty of interesting facts, but quite a few facts are repeated a few times, often under one another. Dipping in to the book will result in an interesting fact being found and is probably better than reading it from start to finish.

Rating (out of 5): ***

Viking Panzers: The German 5th SS Tank Regiment in the East in World War II

The book, as the title implies, follows the 5th SS Tank Regiment from 1942 until the end of the war. The book is made up of reports and diary entries from members of the regiment as well as maps and a narrative. The book can become hard to follow in places where it switches from one diary entry to another and it is not clear who it is from, but it offers an authoritative history of the regiment and flows from encounter to encounter seamlessly. Not a book that I would necessarily read again, but a different perspective to usual books about the war.

Rating (out of 5): ***