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Crisdean "Crisdean" (Edinburgh, Scotland)

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Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment
Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment
Price: £18.95

4.0 out of 5 stars good and useful book for clarifying a confusing subject, 7 July 2014
a really useful and clear book! Found this book by chance while trying to write an O.U assginment on world financial governance and environmental management. This book helped a lot to clarify and logically arrange a whole lot of confusing information that I had to try and clarify and make sense of that the course had presented me with; this book did that. Only reason I did not give it 5 stars is that it would have been nice and useful to have a distinctive chapter on how things have changed specfically post the 2008 global financial crash

Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origins, Peoples and Disease
Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origins, Peoples and Disease
by Mark Jobling
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brillant and fascinating!!, 29 Oct. 2012
Having studied molecular genetics, though not on the reading list, this was a fascinating book. So often molecular genetics is taught as a pretty dry subject, and a bit difficult to place into real life. This (if you are that way inclined) has become probably my all time favourite book. I have to point out - if you have never studied any molecular genetics and feel put off from reading this book becuase of that, if you are serious about finding out about the subject and find the "popular" books on the subject limiting then don't be put off. Most academic books treating a specific area of a topic, tend to expect some background knowledge. This book however takes you from the very basics of molecular genetics - so you do not have to have a background in the subject before starting, you just need to be a bit persistant since it is an academic book so teaches about the very basics of molecular genetics at a level you would get at university - but it is worth it. So if you are undeciding because it is an academic book and you have no background knowledge but are keen enough to find out about molecular genetics and the origins and development of humans and their migrations and the origins, causes and effects of diseases on the human population - then I'd say - go for it!!! This is an absolutly fascinating book.

I would however love there to be an update of this book to include the recent findings that Homo Sapiens do in fact have Neanderthal and the recenlty discovered Denisovans, DNA in oure genome; this is a fascinating concept and a long debated issue (whether Homo Sapiens and Neandertals mated) has largely been answered.

If it was not such a big book, it would definetly have been bedtime reading for me - and there are not many academic books I'd say that about - unless I was having insomnia!!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2014 10:44 AM GMT

The Scots: A Genetic Journey
The Scots: A Genetic Journey
by Alistair Moffat and Jim Wilson
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars pretty awful!!!, 21 Aug. 2012
I found this book in a charity bookshop - and thank goodness I did not pay full price as it is pretty awful. I studied molecular genetics at university so have some knowledge of the field. Moffat makes wild assertions, which may sound convincing and impressive if you know nothing of the field, but those assertions are not backed up with relevant information (e.g. references). There really is too few samples as yet to make the broad claims that he does. I gave up about 1/3 of way through. The geneticist's name rang a bell and then it dawned on me - he had made the programme "Blood of the Vikings" with archaeologist Julian Richards where they purported to assess the percentage of Norse influence on the genetic inheritance in Scotland. They took a small number of samples from 5 places, 4 of these being sites of Norse settlement. They then extrapolated the results onto the whole of Scotland. This is BAD BAD science!! Apart from the small sample size, of course if you take samples from sites of Norse settlement you are more likely to get a higher Norse genetic register - but you CAN NOT extrapolate that to the whole population. Similar is being done here wild assertions from limited sampling. And guess what? Moffat and Wilson have set up a DNA testing unit where you too can send in your DNA sample and a nice cheque!!!! Wilson should be ashamed of himself in being part of such bad "science"!!!

Anyone reading this, take what it says with a very big pinch of salt. The numbers of samples we have are far too small as yet to make much of a broad picture maybe in the future - but not now!! And don't be bamboozled by the seemingly fancy science it is not - it is throwing a few mutations in and making wild claims.

It is badly written, badly referenced and bad science. Probably best thing I can do - or maybe worst thing - with my copy is to give it back to the charity shop.

And by careful were you are sending your cheques to!!!!

Moffat is not an historian nor a scientist yet he seems to cast himself in the roles, with this and his previous books. Yes, write on the subjects but don't try to make yourself out to be either if you aren't!!

Irish: The Remarkable Saga of a Nation and a City
Irish: The Remarkable Saga of a Nation and a City
by John Burrowes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant link in understanding the past of Irish/Scots fleeing from the famine, 8 Sept. 2011
From a child, hearing the pieces of the family's leaving (aka fleeing) Mayo in Ireland during the great famine, from my grandparents as a child, my grandfather being an ex-miner - left a vague understanding of events, this book was a pure jewel to find, to fill in many of the details.

Our family (myself and one of my sisters) trying to trace the family history - we have a knowledge of the horrors of the famine - then jump - miners in Lanarkshire via Glasgow. The in-between being a big gap. This book has certainly helps to fill a lot of the details in.

I know that as soon as my family know I have a copy - there will be a struggle as to who is going to read it next. Knowing this, I have ordered a second copy of it from the market page on amazon- to ensure that I'll be able to hold onto a copy.

Glasgow has such a strong Irish Catholic aspect, but few have a real understanding of it. So much is lost very quickly in folk memory - this book will help preserve that!

The only problem I have with the book is that it is giving very interesting and important information, but from an academic perspective, since he does not give references to his sources, very, very important in using any book for academic research, this limits it use. I know that most people may only be interested in the "story" - but academically it is if you can not refer to original sources, then you can not use it!

However, true jewel to find!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2012 8:29 PM BST

Blas na Gàidhlig: The Practical Guide to Scottish Gaelic Pronunciation
Blas na Gàidhlig: The Practical Guide to Scottish Gaelic Pronunciation
by Michael Bauer
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mu dheireadh thall! (about time!), 28 Aug. 2011
It is hard to over emphasis just how important this book is for the serious learning and teaching of Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic). Grammar is often seen to be the most difficult aspect by both learners and teachers, but they face it knowing its necessity. But the phonology of Gàidhlig is rarely if ever touched and if it is it is in the "X sound something like English X" mode, but it never really is. At best it gives a close approximation to the sound and in the end causes more confusion when learners try and use it with native speakers; phonology is really is the poor sister in the study of Gàidhlig, and generally most other languages.

Great strides have been made in the teaching and learning of the language over the last decade or so, fuelled by the commitment of individuals against a generalised official indifference or actual animosity to the language. This has formed a wealth of new teaching materials to the point where learners are actually faced with the choice of course they wish to follow; not so long ago they would have had very limited choice of finding a course at all! Books on grammar, dictionaries etc. now abound. But should a daring learner make an attempt at a book on the phonology of the language (which has been isolated to the advanced academic study of specific dialects) picking up a book and trying to understand the highly technological and "archane" language of phonology, they are more likely to baulk at the contents and rush back to a book on grammar for comfort!! There simply has not been any serious books on the sounds of the language for learners - until now! Blas na Gàidhlig fills that gap. I am certain it will forever go down as a mile stone in the teaching of Gàidhlig. It explains the production of the individual sounds clearly and gives practical and at time fun, exercises to learn how to produce the sounds. Gàidhlig has many sounds not found in English (the major language Gàidhlig is taught through) and the "sounds like English" is just not good enough, but in this book a learner can learn how to produce the words properly - and the book makes it interesting and fun to learn.

The price may be considered expensive, but what you get is truly a lot and in reality what you get makes the price cheap. The author has also kindly made the audio files available free on the internet embedded in pdf files. This hugely cuts down the cost of the book as any book with CD included raises the cost of that book enormously and would put it out of the reach of most people. I had trouble to play the embedded sounds using Adobe. But when trying it with Foxit (one of the programmes the author suggeststs) instead, a free pdf file reader, they played fine.

Similar books would be a great boon to the other Celtic languages. In Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) the closet I can think of is Mícheál Ó Siadhail's "Modern Irish: grammatical structure and dialectal variation". Whilst a highly important study it is certainly not learner friendly and is accessible only to academics in the subject. It would be great if a similar book was produced for Gaeilge.

All serious students must at least have access to this book. If you are wondering whether to get it or not, my suggestion is to get it. I hope the book goes through many editions, but its market base is small and once full then sales will most probably go down, resulting in it becoming much harder to acquire a copy, so maybe get it now while you can.

My only regret about the book is that it was not available when I was studying Gàidhlig!

Myths and Legends of the Celts (Penguin Reference)
Myths and Legends of the Celts (Penguin Reference)
by James MacKillop
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars extremely good analysis of "celtic" mythology and legends, 13 Aug. 2011
Whilst I'd agree witht he other reviewer to a degree, this is actually a very good introduction to the mythology of the "pan-celtic" traditions. It does veer between the academic (though understandable by the non-academic and those who are new to the subject) and popularist. I think the author has done a wonderful job of distilling a very difficlt field to cover. If anyone wants a good true explanation of this area - and not some airy-headed new age nonsense that has no validity - then this is a book that will give them a very good grounding (and quite a deep understanding - much more than most people who claim to represent this subject)in the field. It may at times seem a bit hard going - but persist! It is only hard going as he is presenting the evidence from a variety of sources and trying to bring them together - and this is not an easy thing to do in this field. It will serve you well! And when you visit that next "celtic" site or read that next "celtic" saga - you will have a far better understanding of where it fits in to the whole!!

If anyone wanted me to suggest a book to them to understand this subject - there is no other book that would come to my mind first before this one!

In Their Own Words: Famine in North Connacht 1845-1849
In Their Own Words: Famine in North Connacht 1845-1849
by Liam Swords
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars great rescource for contemporary documents on the unfolding of the famine in north Connacht, 24 July 2011
In trying to create an image of the situation of the famine in Mayo, to try and understand what my ancestors had to face, I came across this marvellous book. It is a mine of information that would be very hard to compile on your own, but it is also chilling as it is presented chronologically - and, though you are unlikely to read it from beginning to end but rather "dip into" it, you can get a sense of the chilling unfolding of the famine and the increasing desperation, official intransigence, the opportunism of some but also the heroic and compassionate acts of others.

My own family fled from Ballina. In one letter by a member of the society of friends (who I have to say showed huge compassion; just caring for others in great suffering) Hugh Conway, he describes going into the streets of Ballina to distribute aid and gives an account of what he witnessed. As my family fled from there, it makes me feel that I can almost touch them due to his account. He may very well have come across my ancestors, but even if not, his description would be the same for the conditions of my own family.

If you are interested in how the famine affected north Connaught, or are interested in the great famine in Ireland as a whole, I highly recommend this book. It could be seen as a "dreary collection of documents" but with a knowledge of what happened, it provides valuable information, especially for those whose own family lived in North Connacht during this terrible time, and if you are tracing your family history from here, it is an essential book to have on your bookshelf!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2015 2:37 AM BST

I Could Read The Sky
I Could Read The Sky
by Timothy O'Grady
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure lyrical beauty, 12 July 2011
This review is from: I Could Read The Sky (Paperback)
Some times in life you come across a "novel" that mereges into poetry (the other one I can think of is Lewis Grassic Gibbon's "Sunset Song" - and maybe you'd have to be Scottish to pick up that lyrical poetry in the sound of the language used. The other obvious one that comes to mind is Dylan Thomas's under Milkwood). This is one of those "novels". The photographs by Steve Pyke that are included are in themselves works of beauty and poetry. Without the photographs this book would be hugely evocative, imbuded with pathos, but the photographs enhance the written word, a reflection of each other.

Colloquial Irish: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
Colloquial Irish: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series)
by Thomas Ihde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good introduction to real Irish, 22 Jun. 2011
I disagree with the other reviwer that "learning Irish" is better. Learning Irish is very good - but heavy going - especially if you have no linguistic experience, Yes Colloquial Irish is shorter (noted by another reviewer) but it is good "bite" size normal spoken Irish using the Cois Fharraige (West of Galway city) dialect. I prefer to learn a dialect than "standardised school Irish". I'd have preferred to learn the Mayo dialect as that is area that family come from - but this is about as close a course I'll get. The colloquial series does always teach you the language as it is used. Having lived in Iceland where I learnt Icelandic, I was impressed by their Icelandic course. I speak Scottish Gaelic and so looked at their course on it - it is good (though weighed to Lewis dialect). Recently I went to Berlin and used colloquial German - and it the language and cultural tips made a huge difference. And it is the same with the Irish course; you get the language as spoken. If get to the end there is no reason why people can not then go onto more advanced courses (any chance of brining out a (further Colloquial Irish?). I also appreciated the section at the back explaining dialect variations of topics in each chapter.

Colloquial Irish is very good. Learning Irish is also good - but is extremely heavy going and would be off putting for many people. Colloquial Irish also introduces people to normal language situations - and does not set scenarios and language just in rural settings and talking about rural issues
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2015 2:40 AM BST

We Can't Even March Straight
We Can't Even March Straight
by Edmund Hall
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars touched the heart to read of others experiences, 14 Feb. 2011
though now dated - for very good reasons - this book both touched me as one of the anonymous numbers who had their lives ruined and shattered by being dismissed from the Royal navy, which I enjoyed being in and was in direct line for officer training from the ranks, for nothing else than their sexuality - this book always touched a cord.

I am writing a short university paper on changing attitudes in the British armed forces in relation to european identity and the european humand rights act - and so this book has resurfaced for me after many years of being in my collection of books. Reading it again brings up bitter memories but at the same time as sense of deep gratitude to the author Edmund Hall, for putting words to our plight and to our devestation. For most of us dismissed, we had no others to turn to for support at the times (early 80's) - and with the release of this book, there was some support that I was not alone.

As I said, it is now very dated - but dated for very good reasons, in that the law has changed; now the Royal Navy actively advertises in the gay press to enlist.

I have to say that whilst in the Navy (and can not speak for the army or air force) the gay people I knew all were counted as amongst the best in their area. It was a total wast of time and money for the services to dismiss them. As I was being put through professional training - it cost the Navy several 10's of thousands of pounds to train me - just to be thrown away because of my sexuality!

So I am grateful for this book - and for it being dated - a thing I thouht I'd never say about a book! But I am also grateful for the author writing it in the first place, and giving me a sense of "not being alone".

I never did join "rank outsiders" - the experience being just too painful and bitter. But am glad for those who did - and for those who dragged the MOD through the European courts and got some kind of justice but also meaning a gay man or woman can now be part of the forces and their rights as human beings be upheld - and not a thing to be dragged through the mud by the SIB!

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