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Nick Lincoln (Watford, England)

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Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism
Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism
Price: £4.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It Works Because You Cannot See It - Not Good For P.R Though!, 31 Aug 2014
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The beauty of capitalism is that it is organic: it is all around us and we all contribute, without really knowing we are. That is also its biggest fault: it has no overarching body or promulgator. It has no trade body. It has no NGO to pump out propaganda on its behalf.

Its second biggest fault: capitalism works best the less the State gets involved with it. But for the last 100 years we have suffered career politicians who baulk at the idea of being told to do less; politicians who grasp at every opportunity to be seen to "do something", to do more, tinker here, "nudge" there. And if your funding comes from the State (hello quango-land, NGOs et al) it is in your interest to get the State to do more, not less. For politicians, who see votes in every pound spent, this is manna from heaven. The couch at 10 Downing Street always has room for a special advisor who has a whizzo idea on what the Government should do in this or that area; the advisor who wants to sit down and tell our elected betters that they really should do a lot less of everything will not get through the front door.

Foster's book outlines why we bite the invisible hand in a concise, readable fashion. My concern is that it will not convert those who think a mixed economy / corporatism works. And the fact still remains that capitalism - aside from irrefutable logic and history - still has no representative body, aside from the millions and millions of people who have risen out of poverty thanks to it. But when they do not even know it themselves.....


The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet
The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet
Price: £6.17

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating (especially if you are a vegetarian), 4 Aug 2014
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Since The Enlightenment man has had blind faith in his ability to reason, to analyse and to lecture. Science is the new religion and what went before is dead, of no use; that there is a scientific solution to every "problem".

Which is how - with scant evidence - fifty odd years ago nutritionists got the ears of those in power (and commerce). Believing they had cracked the reason behind gradually rising levels of heart disease, the "specialists" put the Western world on a low-fat, high carb diet. The results, of course, have been dismal.

The arrogance of the perpetrators is breathtaking. In a blink of an eye they discarded millions of years of human evolutionary experience, an experience based on eating meat, dairy and saturated fats full of nutrients and proteins. Enormous quantities of vegetable oil (and all their revolting hydrogenated offspring) were introduced into the Western diet without any thought as to the consequences. Staggering stuff.

Teicholz's skill is making what can be a technically challenging foray through dietary strictures, cholesterols, different types of calories etc readable and compelling. She has done a lot of research and it shows: The book took 10 years to write and was worth it.

In a nutshell this book confirms that the Atkins Diet works and - more importantly - how and why it works: Because it is (more or less) the diet that has fed mankind for the last few million years (the last 50 disastrous years notwithstanding).


Mark Steyn's Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations expanded edition
Mark Steyn's Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations expanded edition
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Prose about the dead that is full of life, 20 July 2014
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Steyn is such a lovely writer; paragraphs fly by, without effort. The book is somewhat America-centric in terms of lives lived: The joy of Steyn's ability as a writer is that one does not really care if the subject matter is an unknown; the quality of the text is a good enough reason to read on and learn.

Having read some of the author's other works I was surprised about the familiarity and obvious love of the "Great American Songbook" revealed here for the first time (to me, at least). Many of the paeans here are connected with Tin Pan Alley characters, the Gershwins, Lerners, the greats.

The final eulogy is to Bill Miller, Frank Sinatra's long time pianist. Gorgeous piece. Worth the price of purchase alone.


Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential
Price: £6.79

5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Almost Taste It, 15 July 2014
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I saw this title on a friend's bookshelf, read the sleeve and Kindled it up. What a ride!

You probably (though not absolutely) have to enjoy food, to enjoy eating out, to get the most from this. Food luddites can let this one pass by. But for anyone with an interest in what goes down our throats, stomachs and intestinal passages this book is a gem.

It is pacy - think "noir" - in the depictions of the shady characters and shadier scenes behind that amuse bouche you are wolfing down. It is also a reminder of how organised restaurants have to be, in back-of-house. The workload, hours and pressure are monumental: As Bourdain states, good cooking really is a labour of love, of old-fashioned craftwork. It certainly ain't art.

If you like food then buy this and devour it. Pun intended.

Note: Avoid the Monday fish specials at all costs.


Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Milligan Memoirs 1)
Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Milligan Memoirs 1)
Price: £3.95

2.0 out of 5 stars When Humour Must Have Been Rationed, He Must Have Been Funny, 9 July 2014
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As another reviewer (@SL) says, "My sense of humour must have been much more anarchist as a teen, as I just didn't find it as funny as I remembered."

I read this around 30-odd years ago as a 15 year old and found it (mildly) funny. Now it seems banal and base. Compare this satire to any of Woody Allen's collections from the 1970s: Truly brilliant, subversive and stupid. Where Allen teases out preposterous ruses and gags over paragraphs, Milligan abruptly dumps half-funny one-liners and walks away. Not big, not clever.

And for those reviewers stating that this is the funniest book ever written about war, Google "Joseph Heller".

Milligan will always have his devotees, much as the touring-again-but-still-unfunny Flying Circus will have. But what was funny for one adolescent is dull for the one 60 years down the line. Some things get better with age. Some things - they just age.


Living With Lies: Nick Cohen in Standpoint
Living With Lies: Nick Cohen in Standpoint
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Short, sharp and Right, 9 July 2014
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If you throw a dart enough times, you are going to hit the bullseye eventually. Similarly if you read enough, in time you stumble across someone of the Left who writes with lucidity, insight and wit. Such as Mr Cohen.

A short book of short essays (toilet length, if that helps). All his normal targets are lined up and shot down with vim and sly humour. So refreshing to read a writer of the Left who calls out his fellow travellers for defending the undefendable, as long it means the USA gets a good kicking.

Thoroughly recommend. And very good value (via Kindle).


The Lost Continent: The BBC's Europe Editor on Europe's Darkest Hour Since World War Two
The Lost Continent: The BBC's Europe Editor on Europe's Darkest Hour Since World War Two
Price: £3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid recounting of what happened but no insight as to why, 3 July 2014
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Let's get this straight out in the open: Any account of almost anything to do with the EU is never going to be easy to tell. Such is the nature of the beast, of the labyrinthine complexities that this bureaucratic behemoth generates at will. Mr Hewitt does an admirable job of breaking down the breaking down of the pro-Euro consensus from 2007 onwards.

There is, however, little insight or opinion. Hewitt recounts meeting after meeting and records what was discussed and agreed. In a way it is more like a collection of news reports from the period. Perhaps it is supposed to be? But one longs for some personal input from the author. After a while, chapter after chapter about interminable meetings, agreed actions and then failure to take them grates.

Two important takeaways from the book. Firstly, for those that believe the Anglo-Saxon capitalist model is not despised by mainland Europe, dream on; the bitterness and resentment is palpable. Secondly, the pro-EU, pro-Euro bureaucrats and politicians are not economically literate; they really did (do?) think the markets damned the Euro, not the other way around. Stunning naivety - and stunning arrogance from those involved, who make continual noises about somehow circumventing the market each and every time bond yields rose!

The final chapters dwell on the mounting hysteria in Greece and Spain, on riots and soup kitchens; on "Shining Dawn" and other extremist groups. Nothing is mentioned at all of mainstream pro-Sovereignty parties in Europe. No mention of UKIP, for example. This is more than odd, even for an author whose primary employer would appear to be the BBC.


Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
Price: £4.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He could certainly write, 24 Jun 2014
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The author died in 2011; having never really heard of him before his demise (and make of this what you will) I am not an automatic "fan-boy". And there can be no doubt that Christopher Hitchens drew fans to him like flames to that cliche he would have despised.

He packed an awful lot into his life. Much of it was a wasted, trivial effort, especially early on. But he recalls his life on the edge of "the Left" with good humour and verve. Crisp prose, pacy and not too much "look at me" stuff.

However he was also capable of looking at both sides of an argument and feeling he could pick either - and win: He lacked a binding narrative and perhaps, to some,that was his appeal. But a mid-life lurch from "the Left" to the right is - although predictable and understandable - not a particularly riveting story.

Mea culpa: a fair bit of this tome talks about James Fenton and Edward Said. My ignorance is bottomless: I had never heard of these two before reading this book. Having read it, I do not feel compelled to find out more. Does that say more about me than the source material?

A good writer, somewhat self-obsessed, cosseted in maturity by other scribes and also those who were - especially early on in his adult life - spectacularly wrong about pretty much everything. Representative? No. An everyman voice? No, definitely not. Which is probably the send off he would want.


Ordinary Men
Ordinary Men
Price: £4.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still room to fathom "why?", 15 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Ordinary Men (Kindle Edition)
This book fails to answer the central question it poses: Why did "ordinary men" do what they did in Eastern Europe between 1939-1943? In so doing (or not doing), however, it asks another, more important question.

The book shows how a relatively small number of men, from moderate and mainly non-military backgrounds, carried out their work. And their work was murder, either in direct one-on-one shootings of eastern Jewry, or indirectly, forcing these terrified souls onto the cattle trains that had as their final destinations the death camps of Sobibor, Treblinka et al.

Without living in that awful period it is hard to imagine the mindset of the oppressors, let alone the oppressed and the horrors they were subjected to. And that is why it is always going to be hard to understand how these humdrum Germans did what they did. The final third of the book is a rather laboured attempt to explain, to contextualise their actions. I just do not think it can be done.

Thus the book raises another - far more unsettling - question: Given that these men did what they did, would you or I have done anything markedly different, had we been in their shoes? This is not rhetoric: "Ordinary Men" (very well researched, written in a straight-matter-of-fact manner) is likely to make you question your assumptions. Unsettling indeed.


A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
Price: £2.05

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A human tragedy - but a great read!, 9 Jun 2014
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I am loath to give out five star reviews; they should be treasured and dispensed carefully. Overuse devalues them: If everything is five star then nothing is.

However, with this superb book, I have no choice but to give it the maximum. For this is one of the best books I have read for a long, long time. Credit the author with pulling off a difficult trick: Rendering a very complicated story comprehensible and lucid. I dithered before buying this book (Kindle edition) solely because it was on a subject matter of which I knew little: Would I be able to keep up with the thread, the story of numerous characters - long dead - all seemingly from a distant world of cloistered chambers and privilege?

Yes, in short. The book reads like a novel in places. It is pacy and understated. You can almost see the author raising his eyebrow as he writes. It is an incredible story of treachery and duplicity, spun on a frame of bureaucratic incompetence, deference, and faith in the Old Boy Network.

You do not have to be a historian or espionage buff to enjoy this work. It really is that accessible. The writing style so engaged me that I felt I was with Philby at times, looking out at the world through his eyes. No mean feat, given that this was a man who raised discretion to an art form.

I was born long after the names Burgess, Maclean and Philby entered into notoriety. I vaguely remember Anthony Blunt being unmasked in the late 1970s, and how the episode seemed to open up long-forgotten wounds in the British psyche. Reading this book it is clear why: Philby betrayed his fellow countrymen, did so for decades, and did it by constantly duping those near the very top of post-war British politics and power. A shameful time.


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