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J. C. W. Collins (Medway, Kent, Great Britain)

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The Adventure of English
The Adventure of English
by Melvyn Bragg
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Adventure, 16 July 2008
Having a copy of the King James Bible and copy of the William Tyndale version of the New Testament, I was very interested to find out where the English language as we know it came from.

This book did not dissappoint me. It took me right from the Anglo Saxon and Norse of the six century, which made up Old English, right through to the Modern English that we all speak today and how it is spoken in the former colonies of the British Empire. It is very well written and very informative. I enjoyed a great deal the chapters about the influence of French on our language under William the Conquerer, and how increased trade in the Middle Ages and William Shakespeare helped turn the Middle English of William Tyndale into the Early Modern English of the King James Bible.

I think that what I really like about this book is the fascinating little facts contained in it's pages. About some of the mistakes in Dr Johnson's Dictionary, or the fact that Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" was the first English novel, or how an African slave would be "sold down the river" to another plantation, where the conditions were harsher, as a punishment. This book is absolutely bursting with such little gems of information. They can barely be numbered.

It is not entirely perfect - as afew of it's passages tend to be a bit long winded and need to read twice to get the full understanding. However, it is a very, very enjoyable read and it finishes with a chapter about what the future of our language might be.

I'll conclude by saying that if you are in any way interested in the origins, influence and amazing success of our mother tongue then read this book. I can't recommend it enough.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 22, 2009 4:50 PM GMT

Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning (Adweek Magazine Series)
Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning (Adweek Magazine Series)
by Jon Steel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 27.19

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from an outsider, 5 Jun 2008
I am not in any way connected to advertising, marketing or the business world. In fact, I'm a warehouse worker. However, I'm an avid reader and wanted to find out more about the advertising industry - my curiosity having been aroused by all those documentaries on BBC4.

I found this book really interesting. About how research can be flawed and how to conduct proper research. Then how the results from that research are used to form the advertising. What I most enjoyed reading about were, among other things, how to advertise an SUV vehicle that isn't that distinctive from it's rivals, or how to sell cycle helmets to kids who think that cycle helmets aren't cool - and to their parents. The most important thing that this book did for me was to describe the process of creating great advertising from it's initial inception right through to the finished product. And, as I touched on earlier, there are some great examples of very successful advertising campaigns being executed, seemingly, against great odds. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about the 'got milk?' campaign - which was responsible for increasing milk consumption in California when it had been in decline. I laughed out loud quite afew times. Infact, all of this book is written with great wit and humour. It's a joy to read and flows very easily.

Advertising is part of our culture. It's up there with art, music, the theatre and television. Whatever your views are about Western Capitalism you can't escape the fact that people like adverts, and are influenced by them despite what they say - I know that I am. So if you like culture you should read this book.

I Was a Rat!: Or, the Scarlet slippers
I Was a Rat!: Or, the Scarlet slippers
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for all ages, 27 May 2008
This is the second time that I've read this masterpiece now. I was originally introduced to it by a TV serialisation of the book that I watched some years ago.
It is a story about a rat who is turned into a page-boy, for the purpose of a Royal Ball, but who doesn't get turned back into a rat. After the Royal Ball is over our page-boy ends up wandering the streets and is taken in by a kindly old married couple. Who with great love and patience try to teach him how to behave like a good little boy and not like a rodent.
However, our page-boy gets himself into all kinds of scrapes and this makes for a great story. He finds himself at the mercy of the unscupulous Mr Tapscrew, so-called experts and the populist newspaper The Daily Scourge.
This novel is obviously set in times gone by but somehow manages to mirror our modern society. It also deals with human nature, both good and bad, in an excellent manner.
I recommend this book not only to children but to adults too. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm 45!

Lucky Jim (Penguin Modern Classics)
Lucky Jim (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Kingsley Amis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is a good read, 24 April 2008
I'm not altogether sure what attracted me to this novel. I think that I must have caught a clip of the black and white film of the book somewhere in the dim and distant past.

However, I'm glad that I did. It is a great story with laugh-out-loud moments along the way. The plot centres around Jim Dixon who's recently been appointed as a history lecturer at a provincial red-brick university. But Jim finds it hard to fit in with the stuffiness of post-war academia. To make matters worse he is still on probation and must make a good impression on Welch, the Professor of History, a man who Jim despises.

To complicate matters further Jim is trapped in a loveless attachment to Margret, a fellow staff member, but is attracted to Christine, the girlfriend of Welch's son, the obnoxious Bertrand who Jim has afew run-ins with. This is all set, as I mentioned earlier, in a post-war setting. Probably the late 1940's or at the latest 1950.

How these problems in Jim Dixon's life resolve themselves makes for a very amusing book. My only criticism is that there are places where the plot gets bogged down in too much narrative. For example, the first chapter is taken up almost entirely of the car journey from the university to the Welch residence. But don't be put off by that because it's worth reading on. I like the way that Jim experiences emotions that we can all relate to. Having travelled on trains for all of my life I could totally understand what Jim was going through on his not-so-smooth bus journey in the final chapter of the book. There are some great minor characters in this book too, like the other gentlemen that share the house where Dixon is lodging, and Mitchie the over-enthusiastic pupil.

In conclusion, I would say that this is a very enjoyable and funny book. Yes, it's a bit lumpy in places but it's better to read a good novel that'a a bit lumpy in places than to read a bad one that isn't. And I've absolutely no doubt that at some point in the future I will pull out my copy of 'Lucky Jim' and read it again.

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