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The Carbon Crunch: How We're Getting Climate Change Wrong - and How to Fix it
The Carbon Crunch: How We're Getting Climate Change Wrong - and How to Fix it
by Dieter Helm
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Compelling and a Great Read, 29 Oct 2013
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This should be read by anyone interested in climate change. Lucid and very readable, Helm convincingly shows Europe's current approach to climate change - that it can be tackled painlessly through a dash for wind and roof-top solar panels - to be empty grandstanding, a fantasy rooted in a 'hubristic optimism' and denial of the facts which has prevented meaningful progress in reducing our Co2 emissions.


Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?
Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?
by Michael Sandel
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and timely book, 16 Jan 2012
I was hooked straight away by this book, and am inspired to explore the thinkers Sandel introduces, despite having read little or nothing on ethics or moral philosophy since leaving school. Its very readable and explains the core ideas succinctly and clearly, and I was able to get through most of it on the tube.

The final few chapters provide a challenge to liberalist notions of obligations and duties built purely on choice, consent and natural rights. In the wake of the financial crisis they resonate with the increasing doubts many of us have about the economic merits of liberal free market capitalism.


When China Rules The World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World
When China Rules The World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World
by Martin Jacques
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial, 2 Nov 2010
There are a couple of good chapters at the beginning, including a good marxist influenced comparison of China and the West's comparative development.

The remaining 350 pages is pretty slight, with references drawn from a narrow selection of secondary literature to provide slender support to the author's assertion that the 21st century belongs to China. There is an awful lot of repitition and little convincing data.

There is very little discussion of factors favouring the West's continued dominance, which the author, in marxist tradition, seems to reduce to the relative abundance of coal and timber in 19th century Europe and America, eschewing any broader social, political, cultural or intellectual factors. There is no weight given to the West's intellectual capital and other achievements.

As is depressingly frequent in politically correct western literature on China, there is an excessive guilt about the perceived wrongs of Eurpoean colonialism, and a rosy tinted view of the implications of China's rise. The sole exception is a chapter on Chinese racism (the author's wife died after being abused and mistreated in a Hong Kong hospital). There is much commentary lauding China's supposedly subtle cultivation of its East Asian neighbours, which now seems serioously questionable in the light of the Senkaku / Diaoyu and Cheohan incidents.

Its not worth 500 pages - James Kynge's "Hungry Nation" is a far better book, and much better value for the time and money invested.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 12, 2012 1:28 PM BST


Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalisation
Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalisation
by Jeff Rubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 20 Sep 2010
Pacy, succinct and very readable. Has enough depth unless you're already familiar with the topic, and uses telling details to good effect. This deserves a wide readership.


A History of Britain (Vol 1) At the Edge of the World: 3000BC-AD1603: At the Edge of the World? - 3000 BC-AD 1603 Vol 1
A History of Britain (Vol 1) At the Edge of the World: 3000BC-AD1603: At the Edge of the World? - 3000 BC-AD 1603 Vol 1
by Simon Schama CBE
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read, 9 Sep 2010
One of the most readable and enjoyable history books I have ever read. Never gets bogged down but has enough detail to illuminate the key individuals and episodes - highly recommended both for those new and not so new to british history.


Losing Control: Why the West's Economic Prosperity Can No Longer be Taken for Granted
Losing Control: Why the West's Economic Prosperity Can No Longer be Taken for Granted
by Stephen D King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 21.26

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Convinced, 17 Aug 2010
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I was disappointed by this volume. It strings together many different - and often seemingly unconnected points - ranging from the decline of sixteenth century Spain to demographic trends across the 21st century world, without assembling more than a handful of statistics for any of them, or examining these issues in any depth. Many topics have been covered better and in greater depth in occasional articles in the Financial Times.

Complex social and historical processes such as the integration of the world economy under the European empires of the 19th and 20th centruries are reduced to crude and simplistic narratives about "rigging markets" and "plundering virgin territories", which do little to illuminate these issues for the reader or shed light on today's world.

The analysis is rather unbalanced - there is little discussion of the potential strengths enjoyed by the developed world, or the (huge) problems likely to be faced by the emerging powers as they trash their environments and fail to evolve stable political and social structures.

The author talks about the insufficiency of pure quantitative economics and advocates a return to 'political economy', but there is little effort to actually achieve this in this volume, there is no substantial social, political or historical context offered for the economic developments Mr King describes.

Worst of all, the reader can't help but detect a smug and complacent ambivalence, or even a favouritism - perhaps shared by HSBC, his employer - towards the development model pioneered by the P.R. China ("the envy of the world" in the words of Michael Geoghegan, HSBC CEO) and subsequently refined by their friends in North Korea, Myanmar, Iran and Uzbekistan.

The scientific, social, economic and intellectual achievements of Japan and the West are dismissed as merely the ill-gotten spoil of 'rent-seeking workers in the developed world', yet without copying and often stealing the intellectual property of our societies, and without the investment foreign corporations have provided, China would still be the famine-stricken basket case it was 50 years ago.

The book ends with a slight discussion, lasting for no more than a handful of brief pages, of the possible choices open to the developed world. Like many academic or professional economists, safe and sound in tenured university posts or lucrative positions in the major banks, the author expresses the pious hope that western governments will not seek to protect ordinary citizens, and maintain their faith in the tenets of the free trade gospel.

The author deplores the possibility that the US and the EU could - as Japan has done in recent years, not without some success - turn inwards, embrace a slower rate of growth, and focus on developing their own peoples and societies. There is a vague comment about the populist Smoot-Hawley Trade Tariff being enacted against the views of economists in the 1930s, with the inference that the academic views of those in Finance should trump all else. So thats that argument settled then. After all, we are only their constituents - why listen to us? Clearly, the overriding priority for the EU, the US and Japan should be to maintain employment and social stability in China.

You get the feeling the author thinks that the security of east Asia, and the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca, are safer in the hands of Pyongyang and Beijing than they are in the hands of Washington. Is this not a little naive?

How can the West accept a diminshed role in world affairs - as the author recommends - when its competitors are generally criminal and corrupt dictatorships that see nothing amiss in a regime starving its own people on a massive scale (North Korea), let alone acknowledge their wider international responsibilities to promote good governance and cooperation across the world.

I'm not an economist or a historian but I thought this book was pretty poor.


Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy
Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy
by Joseph Stiglitz
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 30 July 2010
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Well written, entertaining and very readable. Covers a wide range of issues, not in quite enough depth in some places to be fully convincing, but is always thought provoking.


The Internal Auditing Handbook
The Internal Auditing Handbook
by K. H. Spencer Pickett
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Abysmal, 19 Dec 2008
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This is possibly the worst textbook ever published in the English language. Massively overlong, extraordinarily tedious, strewn with numerous spelling and proof-reading errors, endless duplication, reams and reams of text without any bullet-points, paragraphs or diagrams. It frequently just cuts and pastes secondary material in without providing any commentary or context so that the reader can understand the relevance of the material or why he or she should bother to read it. The author frequently name drops other writers, again without explaining who they are or why we should regard them as a competent authority. Most of the business examples in the text seem to have been provided by the Daily Mail.

I can't believe that the UK Institute of Internal Auditors would have this book as their standard textbook for the MIIA course. Students of Internal Auditing would be much better advised to use the Tolley Corporate Governance Handbook, or indeed almost any other book.


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