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Philip Vandermerwe "Whitecell" (Oxford, UK)

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The Compatibility Gene
The Compatibility Gene
Price: £4.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read, 6 July 2014
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I really enjoyed this. It is both accurate and accessible, a difficult compromise in a book about immunology. It is also very interesting and often very funny.


The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
Price: £8.03

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Its premise is that the increasing size of government is inherently bad because governments are inherently bad, 2 July 2014
As one might expect from writers associated with the Economist this is a heavily biased anti-government tract. Its premise is that the increasing size of government is inherently bad because governments are inherently bad. There is one tiny problem with this view. Government size correlates very well with increased prosperity and human wealth-being. The reasons for this are quite obvious. Governments can and do provide public goods such as health care, education, security, defence and transport infrastructure more efficiently than the private sector. In addition governments reduce inequality by redistributing income and providing a safety net. You can tell they are desperate to justify their criticism of government when they argue that government are 'broke' and therefore unsustainable. Given that the state is the monopoly provider of base money (currency and reserves) it is ridiculous to make this kind of solvency argument. It is particularly absurd to draw attention to the 'fiscal crises' that followed the global financial crisis as examples both of bad government and the need to reduce government size. The global financial crisis was the result of an out of control private financial sector which created far to much credit after it successfully freed itself from government control. The crises was solved by government stepping in using their power as ultimate creators of base money. However hysterical opposition to the resulting fiscal deficits and expanding central bank balance sheets has prevented governments from restoring growth. Indeed the deficits are being used to hit governments over the head and shrink them. Has there ever been an example of greater hypocrisy? This is why I stopped reading the Economist after 20 years. They are either idiots or deeply cynical, take your pick.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2014 11:02 PM BST


Anthill: A Novel
Anthill: A Novel
Price: £5.68

5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual novel, where Nature is the main love interest., 19 April 2014
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This review is from: Anthill: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
The writer manages to convey the very human emotion of biophilia, love of the natural world. It is one of our more neglected instincts. He does it without showing any of the ugly misanthropic tendencies so common amongst environmentalists. The type that deplore population and economic growth.


The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
Price: £6.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book about history that explains so much, 30 Mar 2014
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Although long, and at times repetitive, this book has a scope and coherence that makes it deeply satisfying. I would put it up ther with Guns, Germs, and Steel as the sort of book that helps explain WHY the world developed in the way that it did and HOW it came to exist as it does.


The Days of Abandonment
The Days of Abandonment
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frightening, 24 Mar 2013
A painful account of the devastating effect of having a partner leave you. It is a cold and bleak vision of near disintegration of one's personality that can occur when someone that you trust so deeply betrays you. Deeply personal, honest and frank, I can understand why the author wishes to remain anonymous after revealing so much of herself.


Why The West Rules--For Now
Why The West Rules--For Now
Price: £6.17

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant achievement, 29 May 2011
Reading this book that has increased my understanding of the past more than any other single book I have read. It is an amazing scholarly achievement but is also very easy to read. The author is an archaeologist but in fact the book draws on many sorts of knowledge. He is essentially tries to explain the course of human civilisation from end of the last ice age until now. It is compelling. In doing so he explains why the west, namely civilisations west of central Asia, developed first and maintained the lead except for around 500 CE to 1650 CE, when the east was ahead. But more important than this comparison is the trajectory of development, which is the same in East and west, and is a remarkable story. Particularly interesting are the periods when things went backwards, and why. It ties all the threads of the past together into one grand narrative of civilisation. Wonderful.


Lifting the Latch: A Life on the Land - Based on the Life of Mont Abbott of Enstone, Oxfordshire
Lifting the Latch: A Life on the Land - Based on the Life of Mont Abbott of Enstone, Oxfordshire
by Sheila Stewart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.21

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem, 8 May 2011
This is a moving book about a wonderful, albeit ordinary man. Sheila Stewart demonstrates the immense value of oral history in providing real insight into the recent past. It opens of a vista of a rural life so different from today in good and bad ways. It was very tough, leading to heartbreaking tragedy in the case of Mont Abbott. His resilience, decency and humor shine through, making this a thoroughly rewarding read.


The Invention of the Jewish People
The Invention of the Jewish People
by Shlomo Sand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.80

10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 31 Dec 2009
Anyone with an interest in the history of the Jews and the conflict in Palestine will find this book utterly fascinating. I would urge all Jews to read it so that they can attain a clearer understanding of their history.

One compelling point that he makes is that Palestinians 'Arabs' are likely to be descended from the original Jewish inhabitants. Apparently some Zionist leaders, including Ben-Gurion, initially recognized this, and it was hoped that this ethnic kinship would facilitate acceptance of Jewish immigrants.
It was not to be...

One word of advice. There are two rather dull chapters on histiography and the concepts of race, nationhood, and ethnicity.

Dont let these put you off. Skip to the meaty bits first.


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