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The Drummer Drives! Everybody Else Rides: The Musical Life and Times of Harry Brabec, Legendary Chicago Symphony Percussionist and Humorist
The Drummer Drives! Everybody Else Rides: The Musical Life and Times of Harry Brabec, Legendary Chicago Symphony Percussionist and Humorist
by Barbara Brabec
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Drummer" - this one you can't beat!, 3 Mar. 2011
I was given a copy of this book to read, and I was unsure whether I would enjoy it. I have neither been to Chicago, nor do I have a passionate interest in music. But by the end of the first chapter any doubts about enjoying the book had been cast side. I was engrossed.

On the face of it, "Drummer" is a book about the life of a man born in the 1920s and who died in 2005. He was neither famous nor infamous, and closer to poor than rich.

But what is so inspiring about this simple story of his life is the freshness and vitality with which it is told by his wife, the author, Barbara Brabec. It quickly becomes apparent that this is a love story: a story about people in love with music, in love with life, and in love with each other. It is also the story of a journey, and by recalling with affection many of the little idiosyncrasies of that journey through life (those silly notes attached to birthday presents, the annoying habits of a partner not seen by outsiders, shared moments of joy where others might see adversity, and so on) it is probably the journey of your life, and that of everyone. Read it!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2011 8:33 PM BST


Feasts: Food for Sharing from Central and Eastern Europe
Feasts: Food for Sharing from Central and Eastern Europe
by Silvena Rowe
Edition: Paperback

14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 5 Jan. 2011
I can only think that other people rate this book so highly because it panders to a desire to learn about the 'undiscovered' (and, therefore, trendy) cuisines of Eastern Europe.

Let me focus on a few of the negatives:

(1) For me, the word 'Feast' conjures up the image of special ocassions, of high days and holidays, when you share food with guests; New Year, Easter, weddings, birthdays and so on. The book never mentions these events, but is focussed on everyday food, including street food.

(2) The book should more correctly be called 'Everyday cooking from Bulgaria.' Take the two, meagre, references to Ukraine, for example. The text accompanying the recipe for Borsch appears to be a straight lift from the book, 'Culinaria Russia.' The second reference is to 'Pampushki.' These are flour dumplings sold in street kiosks; hardly a 'feast.' I haven't eaten one in more than ten years.

(3) Quite why the photgraphy of the book was awarded a prize, I'm at a lost. None of the photos has a caption, so you're at a loss as to what they show. The photo opposite the recipe for borsch shows a dish of grey coloured, unappetising, broth or casserole, but the recipe describes borsch as being crimson red. The photo quality, on matt paper, is not too good, either.

As a resident of Eastern Europe I am very disappointed with this book. Read it and enjoy, but please don't kid yourself that these recipes are for feast days, and remember that perhaps 75% are native to Bulgaria, whereas Central and Eastern Europe is very diverse.


Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710-2000
Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha, 1710-2000
by Stephen Lovell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much more..., 24 Nov. 2010
Stephen Lovell should be congratulated for writing a book about the dacha; an under-researched subject of East European history.

Given the highly-specific subject which will only appeal to a select group of people, Mr. Lovell has done little to appeal to the broadest possible readership. A history of the dacha could have included stories about the role the dacha played in political intrigues, romances, childhood development, the green movement and so on.

Instead Summerfolk is a dry, repetitive, academic treatise. Thoroughly researched, as attested to by the hundred of references to little known papers, but made difficult to read by the gross over use of the colon and semi colon. It's focus is almost solely on St. Petersburg and Moscow, neglecting the diverse dacha culture of other Russian regions or countries (in particular, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Georgia spring to mind). As far as I can see there is little logic in the choice of photographs used in the book. And the issues - political intrigues, romances, childhood development, the green movement (to name a few subject areas that would broaden the appeal) receive the barest of references.

If your academic speciality is in a related area, Mr. Lovell's book is for you, but if you're looking for a lighter, broader discourse about the dacha's role in people's lives, keep looking.


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