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How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters
How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters
by Daniel Hannan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat biased, but worth reading!, 31 May 2015
This is a very intriguing, not to say thoughtful as well as thought provoking, book. For me, a Scandinavian with some basic knowledge only of British history, this added a lot of knowledge and several interesting perspectives. Now, of course, being a Brit the author is naturally somewhat prejudiced, which is fine most of the time as long as he describes what, to us, is history. In general I am willing to accept his theses as reasonable, plausible and well worth considering.

What does, however, become quite tedious and makes me deduct a star from an otherwise almost five star rating, is the last part, where he switches from being a historian (with some bias) to being a full blown politician (with an agenda). Here the tone shifts from mainly descriptive to mainly polemic.

That notwithstanding I am willing to recommend the book!

Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies
Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies
by Marty Brounstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Primarily for managers, NOT for independent mentors, 27 April 2014
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The title of this book is technically correct, but unfortunately a bit misleading. I bought this book in search of guidelines and tips for mentoring a person I am not directly connected to. As it turns out, however, this is a book about applying mentoring and coaching techniques as a managerial skill, i.e. towards your own staff, quite a different scope from what I was in need of.

Not being what I needed I have not studied the book in detail. It does, however, appear to deliver what it wants to, i.e. basic, sound and pretty well described advice on how to manage staff in a "modern" way to achieve sustainable performance. Being a "for dummies" book it may be a bit tedious at times, but it should be OK as a primer and basic reference.

King David Versus Israel: How a Hebrew Tyrant Hated by the Israelites Became a Biblical Hero
King David Versus Israel: How a Hebrew Tyrant Hated by the Israelites Became a Biblical Hero
by Gary Greenberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars King David untangled, the dirty reality..., 13 April 2014
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As is the case with so many stories in the Bible, the legend of King David, his predecessors and successors, is a jumble of contradictions, seemingly mis-placed passages and outright political smoke screens.

In this book Greenberg masterfully investigates the pieces, unravels them, compares them to each other and to other information and puts it all into logical order. While most of his conclusions seem very well founded, he freely and honestly admits that some of them are tenuous, although no better credible alternative seems to exist.

What emerges when he is finished is a story of conflicts within as well as between tribal power centers, political factions and priestly coteries. But be warned, the evidence is not pretty and seriously questions the "Good David" picture. Above all, it is a story of "real-politik", the very dirty reality of power struggles rather than lofty obeisance to (any) god. He also shows how the chroniclers, in particular the authors of Samuel and Chronicles, both writing well after the events, have tried to further their own agendas and white-wash David at the expense of Saul. Indeed, some of the conclusions have been possible only because these authors had differing agendas, and thus they covered up different parts of the stories, while leaving others more or less untouched, enabling Greenberg to compare and to weed out the most likely one.

Greenberg not only untangles these messy stories, however, but in doing so he also implicitly shows to what extent the stories can be trusted, and how much effort must be put into extracting a credible account. But as he did this tedious work for us, and because he is a pretty good presenter, the book is a relatively easy read. Anyone with at least of modicum of interest in this legend, whether of faith or not, should find this tome valuable!

No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars Acceptabele, no more, and with quirks, 6 Nov. 2010
Let's start with the positives: This is certainly a pretty neat pod, with reasonably sized controls considering the diminutive size. The screen is admittedly small, but in my opinion clear and readable. The sound is good with good earphones (though see below).

There are, however, a couple of quirks pulling several stars off the grade:

- Occasionally, about one time in ten or twenty, the pod freezes during start-up. The only way to unlock it then is to push the microscopic reset button on the underside with the stylus of a pen or something similar. This apparently cuts the power, the pod shuts off and you can try again. Usually it then remembers the last setting (so you can continue where you were at last power-down), but not always.

- The fast forward function is way too slow, it will take five-six seconds per minute. I listen to podcasts of about an hour or more, and it is not fun having to spend three or four minutes "fast forwarding" if somehow (possibly due to start-up freeze as per above) I have to scan deep into a podcast.

- The maximum volume is too low. While you should never, ever blast your eardrums, depending on the environment (car, train, plane) or the earphones used (open style and/or low efficiency) the maximum volume you can cream out of this device is simply too low.

- The earphones supplied are more or less useless, low efficiency and mediocre sound, possibly the worst I've come across. Extremely disappointing for something bearing the brand name of Philips; they should not have been included.

I'm sorry, I really can't recommend this device.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best book, 31 July 2010
Having read, and highly appreciated, some of Dawkins previous opuses (Climbing Mount Improbable, The Ancestor's Tale and The God Delusion) I looked forward to indulging this tome.

As always, Dawkins valiantly and stalwartly, lucidly and unerringly, explains evolution - what it is, what (and how much!) we know about it, and why and how we now know it is true.

Still, I must admit I was slighty disappointed. Let there be no doubt, however, that the facts and the conclusions (evolution is a scientific fact, period) are far beyond questioning. The slight trouble I have with this opus concerns other matters:

First, if you have already read some of his previous books, you will find not so few repetitions here. Naturally, and fairly, he is reusing his own material - but it does become a little bit tedious, I had been hoping for more new, detailed examples than there are.

Secondly, he states that he is (partly?) aiming this book towards persons not yet fully convinced that evolution is true. But, considering his writing style - which I partly find condescending towards apologetics and sometimes outright derogatory (however well deserved) towards creationists - I doubt any sceptic, even if open to making an honest attempt, will care to finish reading the book. While I personally share Dawkins values, I think he might have made a mistake in selecting this writing style.

While not bad, this is not the best of his books. Personally I would rather recommend Climbing Mount Improbable and The Ancestor's Tale.

The Incredible Human Journey
The Incredible Human Journey
by Alice Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable, but Oppenheimer is better, 18 July 2010
Not having seen the BBC documentary, I was eager to read the book. Having previously read some other books on the subject of human development and expansion, however, I was slightly disappointed with this one.

Let it immediatelay be said though that, as far as I can understand, the facts are immaculate and "correct" considering present scientific knowledge and consensus. The disposition of the book is also logical, starting from pre-Homo sapiens, through the probable exodus from Africa some 90.000 years or so ago, tracking expansion through the world and ending up in the southern South Americas. All through the presentation archaelogical and genetical facts are used to show what is the probable history of mankind.

What put me off a little bit, though, were two things:

1) The book is too much a "TV documentary" in itself. It is almost as much the story of her own trip - told as if she were almost alone and not accompanied by a significant media circus. There are several little dialogues and "adventures", of the kind you somehow get in a TV documentary but that do not present well and do not themselves add to the facts in a book of this kind.

2) One frequently recurring reference is to the work by Stephen Oppenheimer, particularly as presented in his book Out of Eden. He has traced and mapped genetical markers (mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA). Indeed, Roberts book is, in its outline, almost a copy of Oppenheimers book, which is - of course - logical as both trace the same expansion out of Africa, but nevertheless a bit frustrating.

Having read both of these books, I undoubtedly recommend Oppenheimers book as the better one. Roberts book does, however, add some details and is in no way bad, just not really as good in my mind.

Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe
Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe
by Simon Conway Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.49

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but also disappointing, 14 July 2008
Generally, this book deals with the subject of "convergence" in evolution. In this sense it is the fact that species from widely separated families develop surprisingly similar characteristics - be it the streamlining of sharks (cartilaginous fishes) and dolphins (mammal) or olfaction (the sense of smell) in insects and humans. Other cases are DNA itself, and the eyes. He argues the case that these similarities are not at all coincidental, nor due to some "creator", but rather a corollary of the limited ways things can work in our universe.

In these parts of the book the author is generally convincing, and makes a reasonably strong case. It is then forgivable that he repeats a couple of favourite expressions perhaps once or twice too often. Perhaps only he has too bleak a view of the probability of life, and sentient life, in other parts of the universe.

The last part of the book, however, is rather different. Here he leaves the scientific ideals and goes to task with those he consider ultra-darwinists and, as far as I can judge from having read some of them, puts words in their mouths that they have never intended. He also spends a chapter on some kind of metaphysical musings, the kind of which would rather belong in philosophical pamphlets than in the kind of well researched and well written scientific treatise the book starts out as.

While the first two thirds of the book are interesting, I can not unconditionally recommend it due to the mismatching ramblings in the latter part.

Nudibranch Behavior
Nudibranch Behavior
by David W. Behrens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.60

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little gem!, 29 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Nudibranch Behavior (Paperback)
As the title of the book clearly indicates, this volume deals with behaviour (and other interesting details) of nudibranchs. That is to say, it is not a field guide! Contrary to the title, though, it covers not only 'nudis', but rather all sea slugs (Opisthobranchia), including e.g. sea hares and sidegill slugs.

The book is clearly aimed at the diver with a naturalist interest, and it hits its mark very well. Factfilled and comprehensive, it still is not hard to read. There are short, but very informative, chapters for all those things that make nudis enigmatic and interesting: classification, senses, respiration, feeding, locomotion, reproduction, colour etc. Everything is explained in clear writing.

The book is very well illustrated, with a number of drawings and lots of colourful photos. All illustrations are there strictly to support the text, none of them a space filler. In an appendix there is a short list of current web sites dealing with this topic.

Apparently proof reading was a bit relaxed, as I have come across a couple of typos and misspellings, probably also in the scientific names. The font used is a little bit hard to read. Apart from these points, I have nothing to complain about.

The physical quality is superb; high quality paper, very good print and a soft ("stiff" rather) cover with the spine of a real hard cover book. As you might wish to bring this book on diving holidays, you should know it is a bit heavy, 450 gr approx.

I can highly recommend this book to divers interested in nudis and sea slugs! You will, however, also want a field guide such as e.g. Debelius "Nudibranchs & Sea Snails".

Scourge the Heretic (Warhammer: Dark Heresy)
Scourge the Heretic (Warhammer: Dark Heresy)
by Sandy Mitchell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished tale!!, 19 April 2008
The range of books set in the Warhammer worlds vary very much in quality, from pathetic to pretty well written. This book falls somewhere slightly on the better side of midrange.

The story, set in the 40k world, concerns an inquisitor, his band of aidees and some stray guardsmen picked up after a major incident. They have on hand a problem ultimately concerning a syndicate freeing and smuggling rogue psykers.

While this book is reasonably well written, there are two shortcomings that need mentioning:
- There is very little thrill. Even if the plot is supposed to be grim, you never really feel that while reading.
- The story is NOT FINISHED!! When finishing the book you are left completely hanging with at least half the plot still to unfold! This is apparently the first book of two, or possibly three in a continuing story, but that fact is not announced - that is certainly bad style.

Plot and writing would make for 3½ star, but the unannounced division of the plot makes me reduce that to only 2 stars.

God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
by Victor J. Stenger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.50

131 of 157 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book!, 9 April 2007
For a century or so science and piety have agreed to dissent, and tried their best to avoid each other in order not to escalate conflict. This has led to a general belief that science has nothing to say, indeed can not say anything, about religion or, specifically, about (any) god. This book changes that!

Victor Stenger starts by showing how artificial that separation really is. With established scientific methodology there is nothing preventing us from forming a hypothesis about (any) god, seek evidence (logical or factual), and reach a conclusion. Mind you, the conclusion should not be expected to be final in the sense that it unequivocally proves or disproves the existence of a god (whatever flavour). What it can do, however, is strengthen or disprove certain hypothetical god constructs - notably gods someone believes in.

Stenger, writing for a western audience, concentrates his effort on the Great Monotheistic God (Judeo-Christian-Islamic). By defining the characteristics of this god (in science lingo: formulating hypotheses about him/her/it) he gradually, bit by bit, shows "beyond resonable doubt" that there is no trace of such a god anywhere. Furthermore he shows that the universe looks exactly as it is expected to without a god. The reasonable conclusion to live by is that the Great Monotheistic God does not exist. There is little doubt that the outcome would be the same should one investigate other types of gods.

All the time the arguments are clear, and his position that of an honest scientist. Should resonable evidence be found in favour of (any) god, he is willing to assert it and embark on a scientific journey finding out more. Problem is, no such proof is found - none that passes even relaxed scientific standards.

The book is well written, and easy to read. To fully appreciate it, though, you would propably need at least a college degree - to say nothing about an open mind... There are ample notes and literature references - he is, after all, a scientist!

The book is important, and one wishes that it would reach a broad audience.

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