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Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom)
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Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets
Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets
Price: £10.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Invisible Hand Is Shown To Be Right After All., 30 Aug. 2015
It is refreshing to read a book about capitalism that is not a polemic, that is objective and well-researched. The very word capitalism causes convulsions among those of a particular ideological bent. There is much that is wrong with capitalism, as Plender shows, but no other system has ever been tried that has not resulted in the loss of liberty, dictatorship, and outright murder on a vast scale. Think Leninist and Stalinist Russia, Cuba, North Korea, East Germany and other former soviet satellite states, concrete hells, in eastern Europe.

It was the financial crisis of 2008 that provoked the question about the extent of the market orientation of capitalism. Ever since, the merits and defects of tthe system have been scrutinized, occasionally by one or two unscrupulous writers. The latter adamantly refuse to accept that the market-based system has raised millions out of poverty. This author has no doubts that it has. The system has transformed living standards around the world. China is a superb example of a country whose economy has grown at around nine or ten per cent a year since 1993. The number of very poor people has fallen dramatically since 1981. Capitalism is without doubt inherently unstable, as China' s current problems demonstrate. Booms and busts are endemic in the system. Schumpeter coined the phrase 'creative destruction' to describe the key dynamic of capitalism.

There are also serious questions that need to be asked about the ethical basis of the system. The financial crisis served to focus attention on extreme levels of inequality around the world. The gap between boardroom pay and shop floor has widened and caused widespread discontent, and so it ought. This aspect of capitalism is discussed and examined by the author in a very balanced and understanding manner.

John Plender's book is a splendid account of capitalism that recognizes its faults while acknowledging the enormous prosperity it has supported over recent years. Like democracy it has its flaws but they are far, far fewer than other economic systems. The author quotes not only the usual economic gurus but also Dickens, Blake and Goethe in support of his views. It is a delight to see gems of literature quoted as well as economic and sociological tracts. Marxists, those few that is who have read his many works, will know that he actually had an occasional good word to say for the capitalist system.

It was Adam Smith and much later Keynes who pointed out that ironically capitalism uses self-interest, not benevolence, to produce a system that works. It is a great pity that Smith is only known to most people through his Wealth of Nations book for his neglected work ' The Theory of Moral Sentiments' makes it clear that capitalism requires a moral dimension . Self-interest does not have to mean unbridled greed and lack of concern for the less fortunate in society.

Plender says no one is looking to North Korea for an alternative vision of the future (least we hope not).

This is a superb book written with clarity and verve and understanding. Those who wish to read a balanced and fair view of the capitalist system should read it.

Very highly recommended.

Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father
Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father
Price: £9.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Voyage Round My Father., 29 Aug. 2015
The history of literature, strangely English in particular, reveals that memoirs about ones parents are all too often tools for hatred and revenge. In this book the father is criticised by son Adam but gently. As Adam-Mars-Jones says: 'closure is for bin bags not people'. The book smacks more of an attempt at reconciliation rather than reprisal. The author writes: 'The Oedipal agenda doesn't lay itself out neatly...'. The focus of this book is the relationship between a gay man and a very prejudiced dad. When dad is a judge the relationship is fraught with the unexpected.

Father William could be a bit of a monster. He loved theatrical gestures inside and outside court. He had brilliant mind. As Judge, he administered many famous rulings, in cases that ranged from drink driving to the Moors murders to planting a bomb on a plane. The person responsible for planting the bomb got 45 years. A Jamaican couple were awarded damages for wicked behaviour by the police. His wife was very much alive to her husband's boorish behaviour and temper. After one argument with his son he even threatened to call the police rather than apologize to Adam.

Into this cauldron was added Adam's announcement that he was gay; dad was a virulent homophobe. William tried unsuccessfully to get his son to renounce his sexual preferences by forensic argument. The description of what took place is hilarious. Adam is witty and very sarcastic about his father. He does not try to hide his father's bigotry.

This is a humorous, and moving account of a leading judge, warts and all, who could be infuriating and cruel outside his court. But as his son says, he was never dull. The ironies of family life are highlighted. The reader finishes the book feeling they know William intimately. We know far less about the son. Perhaps there is another book here? The writing is excellent and pungent without being exceptional. It is remarkable and unusual in that there is no malice in this account of a very unusual relationship. The book is all the better for this.

Highly recommended.

The New Threat From Islamic Militancy
The New Threat From Islamic Militancy
Price: £9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Attempt To Defeat Islamists., 29 Aug. 2015
This is another book about Isis. The tale of this murderous organization has already been well told by others such as Hosken, and Cockburn. This account, inevitably, has little new to add. Burke focuses on how Isis merged with Baathists in Iraq and Syria and later easily defeated Assad's army as well as Iraq's.

The author also dwells on the still active al-Qaeda forces and its affiliates in Syria, Yemen and Somalia. He demonstrates how young Muslims have been drawn to these armed groups and carried out terrorist atrocities. Many of these groups comprise ex prisoners. He confirms other studies by emphasising that prisons are in realty academies for Islamists. It is while they are incarcerated that twisted mindsets become reinforced not broken. Burke believes we should put them in jail a very long way away from those who share their perverted views. Other countries have done this.

Burke argues that the west must protect the so-called 'gray zone'. This is that part of the world that the terrorists wish to eradicate.. They want a world of two camps. One is for Islam, the other for non-believers. They do not want a middle gray camp of tolerance, understanding, debate and diversity. Whether this is a realistic aim is very debatable.

This is an honest attempt to find a solution to the mayhem that the fear of Isis is causing. It rightly reminds us that the current threat is from many , not one, Islamist entities.

Red: A Natural History of the Redhead
Red: A Natural History of the Redhead
Price: £10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars This Makes You See Red., 29 Aug. 2015
Jacky Harvey has written the first comprehensive account of how people with red hair are regarded. Her book is a scientific, historical, cultural and artistic overview of this rare genetic quirk. Her history spans the slaves of Greek drama, medieval depictions of Jewish tormentors of Christians and South Park.

Some of our best known actors and one minor royal are redheads. Red hair dye is sold in greater quantities than all other colours put together.

This hair colour is the result of a recessive gene, it is rare. Globally, it occurs in about two per cent of the is slightly more common in Northern and Western Europe. Those with an ancestry are more likely to have red hair. For a child to be red-haired both parents have to carry the gene; they may be unaware they are carrying it. There is a biological benefit. The paler skin of a redheads is better at synthesising Vitamin D. They are hence less likely to get rickets.

Being a redhead means as the author explains being exposed to taunts and ribald comments as a child. They are also she says ' expected to lose their temper'. You are also supposed to be a little kooky and assertive. Harvey writes that as an adult she was allowed to be impulsive, hot-blooded and passionate. You are told you must be Irish or Scottish, artistic and perhaps spiritual. In brief, you are viewed as being different. Why?

Harvey now discusses what is the basis for these assumptions, and why do they differ from one country to another? She asks where do redheads come from?

Harvey has tracked the term redde-headed as a synonym for red hair back to the 16th century. The chromosome responsible for red hair was not identified until 1995 by Professor Jonathan Rees of Edinburgh University. Until then it was regarded as a complete mystery. Theories were replete with all sorts of bizarre ideas ranging from the influence of stars to a sign of divinity.

The author uses the Sherlock Holmes story ' The Adventure of the Red-Headed League' as an example of how Conan Doyle regarded redheads. She reveals that red may have been the first colour early primates learned to distinguish in order to select ripe fruits from unripe. We know that anyone suffering temporary colour blindness is able to perceive red before any other colour.
In Elizabeth 1 reign it was common for court women to use rhubarb juice,I or sulphuric acid to dye their locks the same shade as the Queen's.

Red is the colour of war, and love. We see red when angry but send loved ones red roses. It is the colour of blood and can thus symbolize life and death. It has been used in funeral rites for centuries in the form of red ochre. Bad sins are said to be scarlet according to Isaiah. In much western art it is the colour of Satan. Yet it is also the colour of luck and prosperity in the East. Red is danger, the colour of sex in shady parts of some cities. It is hence full of opposites and contradictions.

Harvey demonstrates how attitudes toward red hair are very gendered . In men , red means bad. In women, good. She illustrates this with copious examples from TV, films and stories. Rota Hayworth's hair always featured in her films.

This is a very unusual yet interesting account of how red hair has been viewed down the ages. It will provoke a great deal of discussion that will reveal our prejudices about those with this hair colour. The only problem is that her arguments at times are rather confused. There is a mire of hypotheses and much digression. There has inevitably to be a good deal of maybe and perhaps. Anecdotes also abound. At times you wonder is this an academic tome or a colloquial one. The editing also needs attention. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining romp. It provides redheads with a great deal of ammunition to fire back at their tormentors. However, I doubt if it will stop them.

Highly recommended.

Price: £10.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blitz Takes Its Toll., 28 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Noonday (Kindle Edition)
This latest book by Barker is set in London in 1940. It is billed as the climax of a trilogy about the effects of war. It is the first of her novels to be set in the Second World War. Like her previous novels it has the ability to disturb. This, of course, is why Barker has won such high praise, including the 1995 Man Booker prize for The Ghost Road, the third in her Regeneration trilogy.

A character in this final novel is a medium called Bertha Mason. She is an ex-con, a medium, has a personality disorder and is physically grotesque. Barker describes her as ' Like a huge, white, half-melted candle'. By naming her as Bertha, Barker cleverly links her to Charlotte Bronte's mad woman in the attic, Rochester's first wife in Jane Eyre. It is a exceedingly brilliant idea from the author because Bertha propels us into very disturbing territory. Important questions are now raised about life and death.

Barker's key characters are of course Elinor, Kit and Paul, the main characters from the two previous novels. Their problems which include surgery to the face, and mental scarring emanating from the Great War are described in detail. Paul is married to Elinor. He has a limp while Elinor bears the deep emotional scars of losing her brother Toby.

The Blitz is raging. The three become heavily involved as ambulance driver, and air-raid warden. Understandably, dealing with bodies, dead and alive, begins to take its toll. The consequences are dire. Although Barker does a superb job of describing the horrors of the bombing, the severed heads and destroyed homes, it is all rather familiar even for those readers who read only fictional accounts. Bowen and Greene, for example have already covered this ground in grand fashion. Many American authors have done the same.

Bertha is shown to be a fraud and unruly. She holds dubious seances that are stage-managed by dodgy husband. However, it is clear that she is haunted by the dead soldierwho speaks through her mouth in a gruff voice. She in turn haunts. Barker paints her as the incarnation of wartime atrocities, she is the cloudy line betwee life and death. One wonders if she is also more, for example the embodiment of the author's obsession with war.

Although this novel is supposed to stand alone, anyone not familiar with Toby's Room will be puzzled at times.. For example, it would be very difficult to make sense of references to Elinor's incestuous relationship with her brother.

Cleverly written with subtlety, and verve this final novel is moving . It left this reviewer,however, with the feeling that Barker is far less assured emeshed in the 1939-45 war than she is in that of 1914-18.

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World
Price: £15.83

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The West Is No Longer The Centre Of The World, 28 Aug. 2015
This is a very important book because it is high time we recognised the importance of the East to our history. The absence of study of the East in the school history specification is a disgrace, as is the abilty to drop History at the age of 14. Peter Fankopan has written a magnificent account of the Silk Roads. He is an Oxford don, a Byzantine specialist and the author of an acclaimed history of the crusades. The breadth and ambition of this book therefore is not surprising.

The author's main aim is to rebalance our understanding of history by demonstrating the importance of the East and its interconnection with the West. The rebalance is long overdue, particularly when the dominance of the West is coming to an end. There is a fin-de-siecle feel about the book that contrasts with the rise of China and India. It is useful to be reminded that British armed forces are now the size of New York's police department.

The Silk Roads were akin to the world's nervous system. The cradle of civilization was in the heart of Asia. It is odd that we think that globalisation is a uniquely modern phenomenon, whereas 2,000 years ago it was merely a fact of life. The camel was the favoured mode of transport for merchants returning from Persia to China laden with silks, jade, pearls, lapis lazuli and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The author has an enviable mastery of several languages. This is evident in his discussion of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Other chapters include: the founding of Constantinople, Genghis Khan, and Anglo-Russian rivalry,

The 7000 mile railway linking China to Germany is a contemporary incarnation of the Silk Road. China is also investing in Piraeus Port to give her a Mediterranean outlet. She calls it the One Belt, One Road policy. These modern developments mean that China has a new Silk Road that links her to 70 per cent of the world's population by land and sea.

This book is a powerful and necessary corrective to parochialism at a time when many otherwise excellent histories of medieval Christianity hardly mention Byzantium and eastern Christians in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Iran, the Gulf or China. Today, far too many university history departments are deeply westerncentric. It is not only due to language difficulties. It is not long ago that you would have found in history courses the east referred to as the 'rest'. Yet this book demonstrates how the Silk Road was used to transmit not only material things but also ideas in the fields of science, philosophy and religion. Christianity moved eastward and Islam westward along routes that carried spices and silks. It was the Christians who were the fundamentalists then not the Muslims.

Unfortunately, the road also transmitted disease. The bubonic plague became a pandemic in the 14th century. Plague victims were hurled into besieged castles and cities, an early example of biological warfare.

We should remember that Columbus sailng west in 1492 was trying to find a route to the East. Instead he found America and as a result inspired the subsequent focus on the West. The author points out that this led to a rewriting of history to accommodate this shift. He adds that this helped to justify colonialism especially after oil became very precious.

Many books are available that claim to be a new History of the World. This one deserves the title. Frankopan argues persuasively that the centre of gravity is steadily shifting back to where it used to be for thousands of years. He makes it abundantly clear that the study of history is very important. Our politicians equipped as many are with law qualifications would do well to heed his warning , namely that we in the west lack a global perspective. We are ignorant of the big patterns in the Middle East. This means, as the misguided ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan showed, we have a warped and skewed judgment of the present. Our profound ignorance of the past has enhanced the tragedy of today's Middle East. It is to be hoped that our foreign policy experts and senior military have a more nuanced knowledge of the area today than 14 years ago. Somehow I doubt it. Reading this book ought to be mandatory for them.

Read this book , it is an eye opener. One of the finest of its genre for many a year.

The Gestapo: The Myth and Reality of Hitler's Secret Police
The Gestapo: The Myth and Reality of Hitler's Secret Police
Price: £13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The True Gestapo, Warts And All., 28 Aug. 2015
Historians are well aware of the myths that pervade events In the past. Once embedded in the consciousness they are almost impossible to remove. For example, those relating to the Great War would fill a book but they are still trotted out even in the latest accounts. McDonough's book aims to eradicate some of the many myths surrounding the notorious organization, Gestapo.

For 12 years the three syllables made many in Germany and elsewhere in Europe tremble. Millions suffered at its hands under the guise of 'social necessity'. The Gestapo was the central pivot of the Nazi State. It was a social instrument perverted by evil and unscrupulous individuals. The Gestapo and SD infiltrated every activity. Most of those who operated the machine, like the SS, were very ordinary men. Most were middle-class young men. A few senior members had law degrees. It was Hitler who gave them a new moral code that ordered total submission to Nazi dogma. After the war few had any regrets about their infamous deeds. The evidence about the Gestapo is overwhelming. There are 23 volumes of the International Military Tribunal and 17 volumes of appendices, thousands of documents published by the Nazis and hundreds of oral statements. Collaboration trials also provide a rich source of evidence. Files in their thousands are available despite more thousands having been destroyed by the Nazis in 1945.

The key aim of this latest book about the Gestapo is to explore its impact on German citizens. The author examins: the origins of the organization, the background and methods of its officers, the victims of Nazi terror, particularly religious dissidents , communists and Jews, the extent to which the public aided its activities, the involvement of the social and welfare services, and the fate of Gestapo officers at post war trials. Overall it is an important. addition to existing knowledge about the terror that pervaded the Nazi state.

The book makes, not for the first time, the key point that Hitler's regime was very popular. The picture of a tormented society is false. Films and TV are to blame for this distortion of the truth. The Gestapo began as a police department in 1933. We have known for some 55 years that Nazi rule was less totalitarian in practice than in theory. This book reinforces this revisionist interpretation of the Gestapo. Its numbers never exceeded 33,000. But there were 66 million Germans. For example, it had only 69 officers in Cologne for a local population of 750,000. To have watched them all was impossible, hence the importance of tip offs from neighbours and colleagues. The work of Robert Gellately in 1990 revealed that denunciations of Jews and dissidents were crucial therefore for the Gestapo's activities.

The organization had racial defilement sections.that dealt with homosexuals. Himmler like Hitler believed the Weimar Republic 's gay culture had defiled the German race. Six million Slav slaves were isolated from German womanhood. Any fraternisation was dealt with severely. Its main purpose throughout the Nazi era was to enforce ideological conformity. To achieve this even graffiti on lavatory walls was analysed.

The author has used numerous case files about those hunted by the Gestapo in order to present a more nuanced picture of the Gestapo. He reveals the hidden history of the Third Reich as few have done. The account reveals the high level of autonomy the Gestapo was given to deal with cases and the amount of time it devoted to them. He confirms that many denunciations were provoked by jealousy and personal dislike of those reported to the Gestapo. In all, the book provides a thought-provoking doorway into everyday life inside Hitler's state. In so doing it reveals many surprises and destroys numerous myths. One of the myths he destroys is that all Germans were under the spotlight of the Gestapo. In truth you were safe if you did not belong to an 'outside' group of undesirables. McDonough also demonstrates the incompetence and chaos that was part of the Gestapo's activities. In this respect, it was no different from most other Nazi organizations.

This book ought to shatter any remaining doubts about the complicity of ordinary Germans in the activities of Hitler's regime. Sadly, some will remain unconvinced. Afer the war, members of the Gestapo, like ex SS, crept back into society. Any that were prosecuted received light sentences. The reasons ar now well known. West German authorities were afraid of disturbing revelations of the extent to which the German people had readily collaborated with the Gestapo. After 1945, the Gestapo mutated into the Stasi of East Germany. Informers again had a field day.

This is a lucid , authoritative study of the Gestapo (full name Secret State Police) and its servants. It is a chilling as well as a compelling read.

Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2015 4:03 PM BST

Agincourt: Great Battles Series
Agincourt: Great Battles Series
by Anne Curry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Victory By Longbow., 28 Aug. 2015
The author is a History professor at Southampton University. Her specialist field is Medieval History. Her latest book is about important battles, in fact one Agincourt. It is one in a series of books on great battles about which much has been written over hundreds of years. Each volume sets the battle in the context of the war in which it took place. Its legacy is discussed and its historical interpretation and inevitable reinterpretation. Its place in national memory and its manifestations in culture and art are further examined. The series pays due regard to the courage and suffering of those engaged in fighting battles. As Hew Strachan has said we ' should never forget the immediate suffering caused by battle'. Wellington wrote that ' next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained'.

The battle of Agincourt was fought on 25 October 1415. It has a greater cultural legacy than any other medieval battle. Professor Curry explains why and how this is so despite the fact that it lasted only a few hours. This was no Stalingrad or Somme. Again, it was not a decisive battle. The French were not forced to the negotiating table. They didn't even acknowledge defeat. For many Shakespeare's Agincourt is the real battle. The scenes in Henry V contain little dialogue but much comedy and bombast. There is ample evidence as Curry says that the battle is deeply embedded in the public psyche. It has become a legend.

It has inspired art, music and literature. Curry does not forget French interpretations of Agincourt although the focus is on the English/British interpretations. Curry explains how the battle was immortalized long before Shakespeare. It began as soon as the battle ended. Henry ensured that the battle was presented in songs, pageants and chronicles as proving God's approval for Henry's right to rule in England and conquer in France .For England Agincourt was the high point of the Hundred Years' War, for the French, it was a moment of deep shame. It was 400 years before they staged Henry V in French. Apart from Waterloo, no battle with France is better known. None has been seen as so symbolic.

Professor Curry has written a book that wreaks of scholarship. She clearly knows more about this battle than anyone else. In addition to this excellent account she has created a superb database of all known soldiers who fought in the Hundred Years' War between 1369 and 1453. It can be accessed at : ''.

The book is clearly written and beautifully illustrated.

The Seven Good Years
The Seven Good Years
Price: £7.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Flight Meditation., 27 Aug. 2015
Keret was greatly influenced by Kafka. He is well known for several acclaimed short-story collections that include: The Nimrod Flipout. The stories are quirky, errie and surreal.

This is his first non fiction book in over twenty five years of writing. It is about those nearest and dearest to him. He has published it not in his mother tongue, Hebrew, or in the place where he lives,Israel, but to share it only with strangers. It is about a seven year journey beginning with his son's birth and ending with his father's death. It is an entertaining and fascinating journey, more mellow than his short stories. There are 36 captivating stories. His voice reads like that of a dear old friend. The stories have names like: ' Requiem for a Dream', 'Matchstick War', and ' Just Another Sinner'.

We learn how he loves flights, and going to book festivals. His son Lev was born on the day of a suicide attack. We are made aware of the painful reality of that day, a day also of joy. He relates talks with other parents about whether they should let their children join the military when old enough. His wife, the poet Shira Geffen, is very much against Lev joining. She believes a peaceful solution is still possible. Keret says that Israelis boycott him as a traitor, while foreigners boycott him as an Israeli.

The author reveal some astonishing things about his family. His sister has 11 children. she is ultra-Orthodox. His brother is a peacenik who campaigns for the legalization of cannabis. He lives in Thailand. His parents survived the Holocaust. His father is terminally ill.

One of the most absorbing stories is called ' Love At First Whisky'. It relates how he met his future wife. To put it mildly, it is very unusual. Many of the stories are influenced by the bed-time stories his father used to tell him. They were full of compassion and magic, based on the time he lived in Sicily in the 1940's.

Keret's stories are full of absurdities and realities. They are extremely moving and full of humour in the face of awful tragedies. Each story is very, very short, some are only four pages long. Nevertheless, each is powerful and deep. They are a superb companion on a train or plane journey. Do read this book, you will feel better afterwards.

Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet
Cyberphobia: Identity, Trust, Security and the Internet
by Edward Lucas
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars NOBODY ON LINE KNOWS YOU ARE A DOG., 27 Aug. 2015
The author is a senior editor at the Economist. Previous books on Eastern Europe post 1945 were received with acclaim. These prepared him well for the murky world of cybernetics. He is a recognized expert in the cybernetics field. He writes that there is an arms race to develop offensive cyberwarfare capability. Over the next five years Britain aims to spend £2bn on developing stockpiles of malware and discovering flaws in the computers, networks and systems used by our adversaries. America, Russia and China are doing the same.

The internet is a great leveller. Hackers can and do wreak havoc , as those using the Ashley Madison dating site and Amy Pascal have discovered. A very major problem is that no matter how ingenious our techniques, used by GCHQ, to protect citizens we cannot be certain that an attacker can't replicate them for nefarious reasons. The greatest fear is a digital Pearl Harbour.

We can be certain of one thing, namely that digital weapons are dramatically changing the nature of international conflict. It took over 200 years for gunpowder to spread. The internet has taken 20 years. There are no real-world equivalents to the problems raised by digital weapons. They operate in totally different ways to kinetic weapons. They cannot be predicted by military planners. Given an attack, how do we know who is the attacker? Unlike, say, nuclear weapons, we cannot display them to deter. How does one read the intentions of the enemy? These and many more are discussed by Lucas. Threats are asymmetrical, costs are low for the attacker but not for the defender. Attackers need to be lucky only once. Defenders all the time. Some recent attacks are mentioned, for example, Red October and in June 1941, Dragonfly. Russia is thought to have been responsible for the latter. This year Chinese hackers infiltrated the US Office of Personnel Management which stores millions of personal details of federal employees. It is a treasure trove of immensely valuable information about people including their convictions, drug abuse, sexual activities and financial problems. The scope for blackmail is therefore huge.

There is another very major problem. The overlap between the civilian and military use of digital weapons is deeply blurred. Malware can and has been developed by an individual. You do not need teams of very expensive scientists. Who is an armed combatant and who is not? When Russia targeted Estonia we saw how attacks on computers and networks can cripple the financial system and induce panic. So far such sabotage has been limited but the scope of what is possible has been demonstrated. It is to be hoped that the famous scene in Skyfall is purely fictitious. America claims that China attacks her in this fashion every day.

In 1998 the the CIA director, George Tenet, said : 'We are staking our future on a resource that we have not yet learned to protect'. He was referring to the internet. Then the founder of Facebook was aged 14 and Google had just been set up in a rented garage. Lucas makes it clear that Tenet was correct.

Lucas emphasises that we do not realise the risk we take when we go on line. Recently, those addicted to facebook and twitter have discovered this to their cost. Cracks are papered over and hackers exploit. They are persistent, clever, ingenious and anonymous. Many of their targets are ignorant and careless. Lucas describes security issues by using a fictitious , risk-averse middle aged couple who he calls Chip and Pin Hackett to demonstrate how their attitude to computer security differs sharply from that they adopt in other aspects of their life. No other device in our homes is so misunderstood as the computer. We increasingly rely on it yet have no control of it. For example, it is child's play to fake an email address. Bank account fraud on line is increasing. Soon fridges, cookers and boilers will be linked on line, all hackable. Security scanners at airports could also become dangerous in this respect. In China thousands work in unit 61398, a place where hackers hack into Western companies. Corporate espionage is a growing and very dangerous threat.

The book is not replete with baffling jargon, as are many, it ought to be comprehensible even to incurable cyperphobes.
Such people should confront their fears and read this book for the problems it discusses are going to get much worse. We must fight back against the criminals who want to exploit our ignorance.
An excellent book about a very important issue.

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