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Old 05 June 2015, 16:30   #1
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Post Short review of Petro's book

So after having it bought a while ago I decided to actually read it yesterday as I knew I would have some time to kill while waiting for an appointment.

Now I was somewhat "preconditioned" having read the other 2 Amiga books (C= on the Edge & The Future was here) so I think this one should fit in nicely, assuming there would be more details from a European point of view while the 2 others are more US oriented.

I actually read it in 3 hours! It is only about 140 pages, not too dense, and with the many pictures it makes it an easy read. So it is definitely a book that "hooks on you", but for me it was not always for the right reasons.

First impression: it is written very "casual", you really notice the way sentences are formulated and what kind of details get attention and what not, that this was done during brainstorming sessions between Petro and the actual ghostwriter who is not a professional writer but an Amiga fan.

Petro sounds like a very sensitive person, who pays attention to the “human aspect” throughout his personal and professional career. He certainly doesn’t look like a hardass as some were described in the On The Edge book.

Sometimes there’s too much personal detail which is not really of value to the Amiga reader, but then the book is a personal story how he lived throughout the years of mostly C=. So do not expect the kind of detail (or technical at all) as with On The Edge, this is more from a hi level, accountant point of view, which still reveals some detail on how things went accounting-wise (but not exec wise).

But the book is in German only for a good reason: it talks most of the time just about C= Germany, ok, the most important one outside the US, but still, virtually no info on what was going on elsewhere. So do not expect Dave Haynie to be mentioned anywhere! And despite being very German oriented, no word on Phase5 or Village Tronic either. Instead he seems really proud of his Walker, which for me is just another failed prototype of not much interest.

What bothered me is that the story often skips a few years ahead, then back, then forward again, which made it hard to follow sometimes. Some years are skipped altogether (late 80s).

And interesting to know Samsung was interested in taking over the CD32 and Dell wanted to buy the C= property for twice the price Escom bought it. Too bad that did not happen, things may have been different

Overall the book is rather a sad story (at least it made me feel like after reading it), it paints especially a story of the downfall of C= lived by those who had no control over what was coming, and how the dead horse was beaten fruitlessly several times to find a way to save it.

There is not really a “blame this or that” storyline, although there is some thin veiled criticism to certain US guys taking bad decisions (esp the IBM PC jr guy who decided to make the A600 or the Gateway2000 fiasco), but strikingly enough there is no real finger pointing going on. (ok, maybe the Dutch guy who was in charge of the C= NL bankruptcy touched a nerve!)

Also revealing was his recollection of Mehdi Ali, where even Petro admits he is often regarded as the master of disaster in the whole C= saga. From the book you do get the impression Mehdi was not such a stupid guy after all, who did pay attention to things (but most likely not the technical ones!), but as Petro always had a good relationship with Mehdi, he may explain things a bit more rosy than they actually were.

The book also reveals where he got those NOS A1200s, which is at least something I was looking for! However it was a bit amateurish the way it was done. Petro sounds like he had little financial margin (should have crowdfunded it IMHO), but with his position at C= I wonder where all the money went, I thought guys like that have a few million to spare after such a career, unless C= outside US was really paying bad, which I doubt.

Other things:
- the pictures do not always show up on the page where they are relevant
- some typos, should not happen in books
- very good quality of pages, binding and pictures
- legal error of Petro: he mentions he put his house and belongings on the name of his kids to avoid being totally ruined in case he was ordered to pay the many many millions of dollars he was sued for (he got unscathed away from all that mess). I do not know the exact term in English (latin: ACTIO PAULIANA), but in case his assets were seized, legally all assets will be seized who belonged to you WHEN THE INFRACTION OCCURRED. In other words, if you cause a road accident and you know it’s gonna cost you millions, you quickly put all your belongings onto your childrens names; the judge is not stupid, he will seize everything you had at the moment of the accident even if it means taking it out of your childrens’ hands!.
- the layout sometimes is confusing, maybe because some words are missing (?)
- Some of the documents at the end are rather irrelevant (some letters are just about parking spots at C= or interview letters)
- took me half a page to realize the epilogue was written by the writer (his personal take on Amiga) and not by Petro, but it was nowhere mentioned

I'd give it a 6/10, while the On The Edge gets a firm 10/10 and Future was here would get a 7/10 (as too technie for the non techie folks). This is a very personal story from Petro, and although he spills some interesting details, there is a lot of stuff that many will skip fast through, hungry for Amiga details. Hence why I read it in 3 hours, I was constantly chasing through the sentences looking for those details. Not too bad, but lack of information and the rather short length of the book cost it a few points for me. Still interesting for Germans to read, for Americans or even UK, not much you will find

I hope you enjoyed my short review
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Old 05 June 2015, 17:01   #2
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Thanks for the review. Still thinking about buying a copy at Amiga30 if Petro will bring some copies.

And you convinced to also get On The Edge and not just the upcoming Amiga Years. Hopefully there's a nice combination award in the upcoming kickstarter.

Last edited by spudje; 05 June 2015 at 17:10.
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Old 07 June 2015, 05:20   #3
B14ck W01f
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*sigh* Another Amiga book?
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