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William Cohen (London)
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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: £19.00

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.


Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room [DVD]
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alex Gibney
Price: £9.03

3.0 out of 5 stars A good overview, but only a book can get to grips with the intrigues, 3 Dec. 2014
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I watched this after reading 'Conspiracy of Fools' by Kurt Eichenwald. I wanted to see what the characters looked and sounded like. Skilling definitely sounded impressive, but as it turned out, managed to inspire misguided confidence.

I was a bit disappointed because it brought home to me the difference between books and films. Books can carry huge amounts of information, films only skim the surface. Watching this felt like reading the summary on the back of a book jacket.

Andy Fastow features a lot in the book, but he's only a minor character in the film. They focus more on the traders in the film with the recordings of the telephone calls that revealed their sharp practices.

Bethany McLean, the journalist who exposed the Enron hype, features heavily in this film. She's an inspiring figure.

I'm glad I read the book first.


Weapons of Mass Diplomacy
Weapons of Mass Diplomacy
by Abel Lanzac
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A Comic Book for Speechwriters, 26 Nov. 2014
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I've never bought or read a bande dessinnée before, but having watched the film, Quai D'Orsay, I was inspired to buy the book.

It was a fun experience I had no difficulty racing through the pages. I thought the authors managed to include lots of amusing lines and observations on the life led by top officials in the French foreign office. It's rather a poignant story about how France opposed the Iraq War, and at the same time a good insight into the problems faced by speechwriters.


Quai d'Orsay
Quai d'Orsay
Dvd ~ Thierry Lhermitte
Offered by LUDIBAY
Price: £12.56

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film about Speechwriting, 18 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Quai d'Orsay (DVD)
This is droll film examining the trials and tribulations of a French speechwriter. In fact it goes into almost all the intellectual, moral and practical problems faced by political speechwriters.

A boss obsessed with three-part lists (legitimacy, unity and efficiency), ministerial advisors putting their oar in, a leak to a journalist sabotaging the whole process, it's all extremely authentic.

It's funny, and at the same time it says something about how Government ministers and civil servants can be heroic. The minister is based on Dominique de Villepin and his efforts to dissuade the Americans from going to war in Iraq.

As a speechwriter myself, I was rather surprised that a mainstream film could be devoted to the irritations and obstacles to creating the perfect speech. Only the French could justify it. I enjoyed it immensely!


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