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Cromlechi "A Reader from Wales" (Wales)

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Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour
Boomerang: The Meltdown Tour
Price: £5.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening and fun, 20 Nov. 2012
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I thought this was a very entertaining read. It gives a good overall picture of the dire state of the finances in some Western countries. Some of the corruption and greed is sickening and in the case of banking the way money is squandered almost surreal. The chapter about California was particularly enlightening about Arnold Schwarzenegger who turns out to be one of the good guys who tried to buck the system of self interest at the expense of the majority. The chapter on Iceland was perhaps the most memorable. How they went from an island of fishermen to world bankers is quite extraordinary. If you want a book that will arm you with amusing anecdotes and give you at least an idea of what's going wrong financially then this is highly recommended. The sad think is this story is still developing and after reading this book I can only see things getting a lot worse.


Monrovia Mon Amour: A Visit to Liberia
Monrovia Mon Amour: A Visit to Liberia
Price: £3.48

5.0 out of 5 stars A legless piano, 14 Oct. 2012
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As always the doctor casts a clinical and fresh eye on things that makes it difficult to disagree with his findings. It's extremely well written:

"One of them, a man is his early thirties, had a broad scar across his face, the result of some fearful gash, and eyes as dull as stones. When he spoke, no expression invaded his voice, he was neither friendly nor unfriendly, only indifferent to the very depths of his being. For him, all the world was an abattoir."

The depths of the tragedy is summed up for the doctor by the surgical like amputation of a piano, something other westerners found impossible to be concerned about when so many people had been killed. But the doctor is good at showing how misplaced many western imperatives and ideas are when projected onto the African situation.

At the end of this essay I felt I understood a little better the western misunderstanding of Africa. It was also a wonderfully entertaining journey to a country founded by ex slaves with western ideals that has descended into barbarity and played host to the clash of two world views. There are a number of memorable encounters with psychopaths and eccentrics as well as the ordinary everyday people who still manage to get on with their lives and hope for a better future.


Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.00

4.0 out of 5 stars I don't think he knows himself, 15 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
A sometimes fascinating memoir of the life of Christopher Hitchens. One problem is that he's had such an eventful life that some things I hoped to find out more about are simply ignored altogether. I suspect he doesn't mention Galloway for example because he doesn't want to give him publicity or importance by mentioning him. I think this book really needs to be read in conjunction with his essays and other books to get a true picture of the scope of this man. I can't help feeling at the end that this great orator who sounds so certain in the media actually doesn't really know what he is or what he believes. Which is refreshing in one way but disappointing in another. If anything I think he's a Jew or sees himself that way, at least semi consciously, not in the orthodox sense but in the intellectual and cultural sense. That was the conclusion I came to anyway. The world is certainly a duller place without him.


Sins of South Beach
Sins of South Beach
Price: £8.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Confessional, 6 Aug. 2011
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I was in South Beach for two nights kicking off a holiday around Florida. I saw this book in Walgreens. There was a stand with a number of signed copies. My partner bought a copy and I downloaded the Kindle version. I'd already found Miami and South Beach in particular an intriguing place. The Art Deco buildings around South Beach are at once incongruous, sinister and beautiful. The whole place feels a little contrived and people seem like extras in a film set where something is going to happen, soon. There are tramps openly searching rubbish bins and obscenely fit, body beautiful, types posing in skin tight sportswear: "so beautiful they are ugly" I think Stephen Fry described the people of this place and "giant parrots that promise so much and deliver so little." For whatever reason I never saw the parrots. And, let's be honest things have happened in this place but nowhere near to the degree that I suspected. Before arriving my only image of Miami was memories from the TV series Miami Vice and of course the film Scarface. I had some vague idea that this was going to be a very glamorous and exciting place. On the ground it felt edgy. I am not superstitious or generally metaphysically inclined but I didn't feel altogether comfortable in my surroundings. I do not as a rule feel comfortable in the American landscape anyway. I feel dwarfed by the size of everything, especially the roads. But in South Beach I felt I could sense something sinister, make of that what you will. And this brings me to the book. I downloaded with the intention of educating myself. Despite a busy schedule I read the book in a matter of days. Did the book dispel my fears? Did it hell! What a ride. I won't summarise the book, read it for yourself. But take my word for it the book grips you and sometimes it's hard to believe the journey this man has gone through. There are many times when you disagree with his decisions but you cannot fault his honesty in telling it all, good and bad, for this I admire him. By the end of the book I almost felt like I knew him. Many things are read "between the lines". Sometimes you sense the things that cannot be said even now but are in some ways clear anyway and sometimes you feel the naiveté and raw ambition of this man's character leading him into a very dark place and wish you could give him a shake. This is no black and white tale of good versus evil. This is a real person full of faults, demons and, perhaps like all politicians, a big narcissistic ego to satisfy. He did good, a lot of good and he did a bit of bad too. One thing I can say with certainty is we do not have politicians like this in the UK. Just a taster, this man is a heavyweight boxer, vigilante cleaner of the streets, a hugely successful politician and someone who has had to endure numerous tragedies. To top it all he has had the company of many beautiful women (to put it politely)and fought the FBI in court in what I believe is a very harsh justice system. He's a man's man with a tremendously interesting life story. PS there are also some nasty villains too, you would not want to meet in a dark alley or a boardroom. Would definitely recommend.
I'd love to have lunch with Alex one day and ask him lots of questions. At the end of the book not only did I feel I knew him but that I also liked him. Maybe the fellow Catholic in me recognises a genuine confession and a beautiful epiphany when he sees one. Hope the rest of his life is as full but maybe a little less interesting, for his sake.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2014 11:11 PM BST


The Spectator
The Spectator
Price: £2.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always thought provoking, 21 May 2011
This review is from: The Spectator (Kindle Edition)
I love my subscription to the Spectator. It's a perfect magazine for the Kindle, easy to navigate and nice size chunks of reading matter. I normally read from cover to the start of the 'Life' or 'Arts' section by then a new one has arrived. In my busy life this is better than a newspaper and the quality of the journalism is second to none. I used to read the print version now and again, but with the Kindle it's so much more convenient and I look forward to every new edition straight to my hands. What more could you ask for.


Our Man in Orlando (Monday Books)
Our Man in Orlando (Monday Books)
by Hugh Hunter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sobering for a potential visitor, 16 May 2011
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As someone about to go to Florida I thought the book was very enlightening and entertaining. The book is made up of a serious of interesting anecdotes interspersed with personal experiences of foreign office politics and his love life. It's a, for the most part, light and fun read and a little bit voyeuristic at times (there for the grace of God go I). My only criticism is that the author comes across as a little smug and self righteous. At one point when he spoke of his humanitarian integrity and his fight against the evil system I thought he was somewhat naive. He obviously reveled in his job and perhaps began to take himself too seriously. If I was in prison I would not have wanted his amateur legal advice (if it was me I would do this)nor do I think it professional for him to have done this on a number of occasions. Do not get me wrong I am no Pharisee but these people were facing serious life altering decisions and he was brave to advise them in the absence of professional advice given the gravity of the potential outcomes. All in all a really good, interesting and informative book. Recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2011 10:16 AM BST


The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy
The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy
by Michael Foley
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, 6 April 2011
Very enjoyable, literate and humorous account of modern living. Covers everything from the work place to the living room. Through recognition there seems to be some hope of salvation. For example the act of consuming can take hold so badly we become a 'collector' to give it legitimacy or buy a second home so we can start all over again (filling it with consumer items). Open plan offices offer no escape and there is the continual push for change over achievement and entitlement over responsibility. Everything is anticipated rather than present. Achievement is always around some corner. Having read John Gray (Straw Dogs etc.) and Theodore Dalrymple (Life at the Bottom etc.) this offers a refreshing and somewhat alternative view of modern life probably closer to Dalrymple than Gray, in fact he offers a good critique of Gray. The references are varied, everything from Buddhism to science and Greeks to Jesus. I particularly enjoyed the interpretation of the Gospel, the reference to modern day Pharisees(I recognise a few of them!). In the end I felt it articulated what I already felt but good if for that alone. However, it was also a humorous and enjoyable read too. Look forward to more offerings from this author.


52 Pickup
52 Pickup
by Elmore Leonard
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Plot and prose perfect, 5 May 2010
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This review is from: 52 Pickup (Mass Market Paperback)
Nothing pretentious just a great little crimer thriller, pitched plot and prose perfect. Kept me turning the pages until the explosive finale. Vintage Dutch.


Lustrum
Lustrum
by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first one, 27 April 2010
This review is from: Lustrum (Paperback)
I have been eagerly looking forward to this book ever since I finished the first one (Imperium). The book is engrossing enough with enough of a plot to keep you going most of the time, although it feels at times disjointed. Having said that it lacks something. I think Cicero is portrayed as a very weak character in this book in comparison to the first one. Some of the other characters are only sketches and don't really come to life. The women are largely plot fillers and unimpressive. You don't get the sense of something exotic that you do with Graves. It's a bit of a theatre and hammy. Having said that it's a good enough book it just didn't grip me like the first one for whatever reason.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2013 2:23 PM BST


Big Bang: The Most Important Scientific Discovery of All Time and Why You Need to Know About It
Big Bang: The Most Important Scientific Discovery of All Time and Why You Need to Know About It
by Simon Singh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining though out, never flags, 8 Oct. 2009
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This is one of the most gripping books I have read. The story spans generations from the time of the ancient Greeks and is filled with fascinating human stories and amazing scientific facts. Presented in a way that a layman can understand the book leaves you with a sense of awe and admiration for the power of human science in uncovering the mystery of the very beginning of time and space. Having read the book I fee I have increased my knowledge of the world tenfold, there's not many books you could say that about.


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