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William Cohen (London)
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Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous
Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous
by Ernest Kurtz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.50

5.0 out of 5 stars AA as a revival of forgotten religious ideas, 15 May 2015
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Ernest Kurtz died earlier this year so it was a good time to pick up his book. I loved it. It's got so many interesting insights in to how AA was founded and how it works. It's also about how organisations evolve and change. Kurtz puts in lots of intelligent commentary on the intellectual and religious ideas that have shaped the organisation.

I'm not even an alcoholic and I found it fascinating!


Like Crazy [DVD]
Like Crazy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Felicity Jones
Price: £4.30

4.0 out of 5 stars The illusions of young love, 23 April 2015
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This review is from: Like Crazy [DVD] (DVD)
This film took a while to get going - the first 45 minutes just seemed like prosaic reality. Then when the relationship began to fall apart it became more engaging and by the end I felt it was a very moving film about falling in love with love, emotional 'baggage' and the delusions of young lovers. It's not really very romantic, it's acutely sad at times. My wife and I enjoyed it and we found the soundtrack quite melancholy. It's very art house, but we like that sort of thing.


The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
by David Hazony
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.84

4.0 out of 5 stars A Modern and Personal Perspective, 7 April 2015
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This is a very accessible commentary on the Ten Commandments. Mr Hazony writes well and gives useful insights into how the commandments remain relevant to contemporary society. Lines like 'Thou shalt not steal' actually might have meant 'kidnap a person' and we learn about the implications of this.

Hazony encourages us to embody the 'redemptive spirit' rather than striving for moral perfection. He points out unexpected truths like the fact that David's love for Bathsheba was an illicit love that brought division to his kingdom. Still, the fruit of their union was Solomon - one of the greatest leaders of Israel. I like these kinds of book because they make me more familiar with Bible stories, and give me ideas that enrich my spiritual life.


Moses as Political Leader
Moses as Political Leader
by Aaron Wildabsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership Wisdom, 24 Mar. 2015
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A wonderful book about Moses as a leader who had to deal with dictatorship, anarchy, equity and hierarchy. Wildavsky writes beautifully and explains how Moses managed the different parts of his political career. I was reading something on ConservativeHome the other day and I could immediately see the 'hierarchy' model in action, which Wildavsky describes.

Yoram Hazony writes the introduction and champions the idea that the Bible has plenty to teach us about political theory. I agree. Wildavsky tells us there is no perfect leadership system, but studying the life of Moses does help you see the challenges with clarity.


Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects
Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects
by Bill P.
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Some good insights here, 24 Mar. 2015
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I hoped it would be as brilliant as Shais Taub's God of Our Understanding - I don't think it is. 'Drop the Rock' is a great metaphor and I read the book and picked up some lessons. Useful, but not classic AA literature.


Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]
Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bradley Cooper
Price: £5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Film about Healing, 2 Mar. 2015
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Two dysfunctional characters run into each other. They connect, but they're so messed up, they can't escape their own obsessions. By learning to build a relationship with each other, they start to get better perspectives and more grounded expectations. The film creates a persuasive portrait of mental illness, and how it can be overcome. Dancing has a part to play - and I can vouch for how it can soothe fears and mend relationships.

Bradley Cooper is fun and Jennifer Lawrence is sexy. A life-affirming film.


Seen & Heard: Conversations and commentary on contemporary communication in politics,in the media and from around the world
Seen & Heard: Conversations and commentary on contemporary communication in politics,in the media and from around the world
by Max Atkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britain's Most Distinguished Political Communications Expert, 8 Jan. 2015
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Wry, witty and opinionated: Max Atkinson writes as well as the very best political commentators.

The first articles featured in this book were written in 2008. It seems that the rise of Obama inspired Dr Atkinson to analyse the rhetorical techniques which put the first black man in the White House.

Indeed the rise of Obama illustrated the effectiveness of many stylistic devices that Dr Atkinson identified during many years of academic research into why audiences applaud politicians.

From 2008 to 2014, author observed the key speeches being made around the world and he gave his own thumbs up or thumbs down.

He praised Joanna Lumley, David Cameron and regularly marvels at Obama.

He tells Melvyn Bragg off for speaking too quickly, he criticises Sky's Adam Boulton for umming and erring and he muses on whether Rowan Williams' awful sermons, including one example of a 147-word sentence, is part of a Papist plot, backed by Tony Blair, to discredit the Church of England.

Ayd Instone has done a great job putting together this anthology which is full of wisdom. If you're in the business of political communication, you'll find yourself thumbing through it on a regular basis.


Confessions of a Presidential Speechwriter
Confessions of a Presidential Speechwriter
Price: £18.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Memoirs of a Corporate/ Political Speechwriter, 4 Jan. 2015
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I'm a professional speechwriter working in the UK. I found this book was an inspiring model of how a speechwriting career can lead in several directions. Craig Smith had a career as a speechwriter, academic and administrator.

The story is also about how he lived as a closet gay man for many years working for the Republican party. He gives some good insights into what it was like to work for characters like Lee Iacocca, Gerald Ford, George Bush (snr) and Senator Packwood. He has some good yarns about the murk world of Washington politics, and he rubbed shoulders with some famous people like Michael Douglas.

It's quite geekish, and Smith can be a dry stick, but I got through it and enjoyed most of it.


'What Do You Care What Other People Think?': Further Adventures of a Curious Character
'What Do You Care What Other People Think?': Further Adventures of a Curious Character
by Richard P Feynman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational character, 31 Dec. 2014
I love Professor Feynman's joie de vivre, independent mind and genius for telling a good anecdote. Despite being a Nobel Prizewinner, he had no airs or graces.

He was happy to stay in sleazy hotels when he was attending very important conferences, his first romance was very sweet but had a sad end.His stint on the committee investigating the Challenger disaster turned up more than a few faulty O-rings.

I enjoyed this sequel even more than the first book. His spirit is uplifting and it shines through the pages.


Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.19

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Necessary Look at Unmentionable Problems, 8 Dec. 2014
This is a super book, which looks at 'assisted-living' programmes, the treatment of terminal diseases and the meaning of our mortality.
The first line is very striking: 'I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn't one of them.'

Dr Gawande is very honest and he admits the limits of the medical profession. The stories about individuals facing death are quite harrowing in places. As are the accounts of individuals struggling to cope with old people's homes. Gawande says some pertinent things about what life is about - like importing the chaos of animals into an old people's home - to show how the pursuit of safety and comfort is unsatisfying for many.

The author leavens his thesis with humour, like the chap who refused to move out of his house and was blown up by a volcanic explosion (which may well have been preferable to leaving all that he was familiar with behind). My mother was a spiritual healing practitioner, and I was struck by how Gawande can't really escape concluding that religion has something to contribute in this area, and the soullessness of some of the 'car mechanic' medicine he represents.


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