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Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother Hardcover – 5 Aug 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head; First edition edition (5 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847921310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847921314
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 659,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and the prize-winning author of fourteen books, which have been translated into twenty languages. They include The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age; Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution; Landscape and Memory; Rembrandt's Eyes; the History of Britain trilogy and Rough Crossings, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written widely on music, art, politics and food for the Guardian, Vogue and the New Yorker. His award-winning television work as writer and presenter for the BBC stretches over two decades and includes the fifteen-part A History of Britain and the eight-part, Emmy-winning Power of Art. The American Future: A History appeared on BBC2 in autumn 2008.

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Review

"A succinct stylist, Schama is a master of metaphor, the apt, adjectival phrase, rhetoric and irony, even Joycean parody...This sparkling, effervescent collection bridges the gap between scholarly and popular writing...It is excellent holiday reading: dip into this between the sea and the bar and you will find a subtle and amusing companion." (Richard Ormrod The Spectator)

"An enticing collection of pieces old and new, a bedside book of rich insights." (Peter Preston The Observer)

"It really is very good...witty, learned, informative and clarifying." (Nicholas Lezard Evening Standard)

"His eloquence is on magnificent display in this new book: a delightful collection of journalistic essays...The length of his book, overflowing with purple prose (though very rarely at the cost of substance), demonstrates that, often, Schama does not know when to stop. But in this case, maybe that is not such a bad thing" (James Grant Independent on Sunday)

"Wilfully miscellaneous...addictively readable... [Schama] is clever, versatile and extremely likeable" (Financial Times)

Book Description

The world, in all its diversity, seen through the eyes of one of its most original inhabitants - Simon Schama.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As is often - if lately in his more 'engagé' books not always - the case, the learned professor in these short if sometimes fluffy journalistic 'set pieces' is fun to read; and his knowledge, style and wit make for an easy informative experience at the same time. It's like having an erudite after dinner speaker at one's call and beck - without having to dine first. I could have done perhaps without the confused and confusing preface, which is none of the above.
Pity the binding of this paperback edition is not up to its content: cover cracks when reaching the first quarter of the book, page layout is too close for comfort to the binding, and other such niceties.
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By Hande Z TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Simon Schama writes history books that are so engaging and absorbing that anyone reading them cannot help thinking that history is fun. "Scribble, Scribble, Scribble" is a collection of Schama's miscellaneous writings. He onced worked as a journalist and had written for newspapers even in 2009 as some of the essays in this book indicate. The range of subjects covered are varied from an account of travelling on board the Queen Mary 2 luxury liner, to why Amricans are unloved in Europe. He wrote that Rudyard Kipling who was touring Yellowstone in 1889 "was bewildered by the patriotic hyperbole that seemed to come so naturally to the citizens of the United States." He moved on to talk warmly about great cities - Amsterdam and Washington DC.

The more serious topics included remembrance of 9/11 a year on, and Omaha Beach from which an example of his brilliant prose can be read: "So, when you are all losing your cornflakes on the unedifying news of the day, just hold that imperishable event close, honour the wrinkles that were once just twenty-year-olds trying to make it to the end of the beach and, while they were at it, made the world a better place."

The biographical scratches in this boook included Winston Churchill, Barack Obama, Isaiah Berlin, Charlotte Rampling, and Richard Avedon, of whom Schama began with a pertinent and charming line, "Was there ever such a pretty wart? There it sits beside the noble nose, the solitary imperfection in Richard Avedon's impossibly beautiful portrait head of Barack Obama".

Schama's obvious love of fine food is reflected in his essays on this subject - "What is the single, best word to describe the pleasure of a great bolognese sauce?" Well, that is what makes "Scribble, Scribble, Scribble" so mouth-watering.
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By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
As historian, art critic, political commentator, essayist, biographer, and amateur cook, Simon Schama can be interesting on any number of topics. The essays in this volume are mostly from the past ten years, but there are a few from as early as 1979. They first appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. Some of the pieces appeared as chapters in anthologies, or as essays for theater programs and exhibition catalogs. Some were speeches he gave.

Schama is above all a historian, so I shouldn't have been surprised to find his historical essays a little too scholarly for my short attention span. On the other hand, I enjoyed many of the pieces on movies and art. It was fun reading how director Martin Scorcese caught him off guard by citing Kind Hearts and Coronets as an inspiration for Goodfellas. Then Schama had to scramble to give himself a crash course in horror film history when Scorcese described his other inspirations over the years.

One thought-provoking essay was about Richard Avedon's photographs. Although the book includes some illustrations to go with the art essays, Schama talked about several photographs that weren't included. His descriptions were so vivid that I had to find the images online to see for myself. They really were fascinating, and now I have become an Avedon fan, thanks to Schama.

Schama mentioned a few times in his food essays that he used Julia Child's book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I just read a book of letters between Child and her friend and editor, Avis DeVoto (
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By RR Waller TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having recently attended a lecture he gave on the Festival of Britain and having been an avid follower of his television programmes (historical and political)over the years, I enjoyed this book for its range of subjects, each handled with the same knowledge and enthusiasm. Like many other writers these days, he obviously and sensibly retains copyright of articles he writes and combining them in an anthology like this provides additional revenue.
He has a great depth of knowledge on a wide range of subjects - an enthusiastic polymath; coupled with his flair for language, his passionate nature and his willingness to share his ideas, the mixture is intoxicating. With topics like Travelling, Testing Democracy, Performing, Picturing and Cooking all written with the same passionate expertise and enthusiasm, and each with five or more essays in it, the range is obviously far-reaching. In one, he comments on the McCain election camp for its churlishness (78) when they were derogatory about Obama's oratory and returns to a familiar and similar subject later observing: "Obama can play heart and he can play head". A supporter of President Obama,he followed the election campaign with the historian's eye. If history and art are insufficient, the gourmet cook even provides recipes and advice for the kitchen. Watch out Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein - Schama's in the kitchen.
As adept an art critic and art historian as "ordinary historian", his essay on Turner makes fascinating reading ending with this comment on the sunrise/sunset in Turner's 1838 painting with the catchy title: "The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up" - "That's the wonderful thing about being British: you can never really tell which is which".
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