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R. S. Rabab "Sindibad" (Bristol, England)

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Islam and the Destiny of Man
Islam and the Destiny of Man
by Charles Le Gai Eaton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.89

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "'The best jihad,' the Prophet said once, `is a true word in the presence of a tyrant'", 30 Dec 2008
This book gives the reader a brief introduction to the Islamic religion. It provides a glimpse into the life of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his companions, along with the main historical events that shaped the development of the faith.

There is an interesting chapter, which focuses on the continuity and contrast that Islam has presented in relation to the Christian faith. This is preceded by a chapter which highlights some of the reasons for the animosity that still exists today between Europe and Islam.

Other chapters include a detailed explanation of the meaning of the Cerdo of Islam (Shahada), as well as the importance of the holy Quran as the main source for constructing the Islamic Shariaa law and the reason why some occidentals struggle in their first attempts to understand it.

Good for overall introduction, a bit sketchy on the family of the prophet; and the language used could have been simplified to make the book accessible to a wider audience.

The Age of the Warrior: Selected Writings
The Age of the Warrior: Selected Writings
by Robert Fisk
Edition: Paperback

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There is no remedy against the truth of language", 19 May 2008
The age of the warrior, contains a collection of selected writings from Robert Fisk's articles that were published in the Independent during the period spanning between August 1998 and January 2008. The book contains over one hundred articles, which are grouped according to their common theme rather than the publication's date. There are 12 themes in total and they cover topics related to the war in Iraq, Lebanon, The Jewish Holocaust, the Armenian's genocide and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The author has also included a couple of thought provoking themes about the misuse and abuse of language in today's reporting on events related to the Middle East and the relationship between blockbuster feature films and the reality that they are supposed to portray.

Robert Fisk is passionate about the issues that he writes about, and this comes across very clearly to the reader throughout the book. Unlike the majority of reporters today, who are doing their best to fall in line and conform (unquestionably) to the ideals of the state and authority, Mr Fisk provide an independent and honest view on the various topics that he covers; especially in relation to crimes against humanity, where he is dedicated to exposing and criticising the offenders regardless of their nationality or religion.

Although the articles are mainly focused on political events and personalities, there are number of articles that give the reader a brief glimpse into the private world of Robert Fisk through some childhood events and his early days in journalism.

Overall, this is a great collection of articles; educational, informative and a valuable resource for anyone who has an interest in the politics of the Middle East or journalism in general.

How to Draw Cartoons
How to Draw Cartoons
Price: 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does exactly what it says on the cover!, 16 April 2008
This review is from: How to Draw Cartoons (Hardcover)
The book provides a useful little introduction into the art of drawing cartoons. It start with a brief description of the required tools, followed by the very first basic concepts of creating human shapes in varying positions, as well as the various types of face features that can be used to convey different emotions.

Composition, perspective, shadows and highlights are also covered in this section.

The rest of the book builds on the concepts presented above while introducing a whole host of common cartooning styles such as Sci-fi, Manga,, Superheroes, Comic, Fantasy and Fairytale styles.

The instructions given throughout the book are very minimal, however, the step by step progression of the images presented in conjunction with the minimal instruction are enough to get you started with drawing basic characters.

New Toddler Taming: A Parents' Guide to the First Four Years
New Toddler Taming: A Parents' Guide to the First Four Years
by Dr. Christopher Green
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Confident parents are positive and positive parents are very powerful people", 8 April 2008
Toddler Taming is a great resource for first time parents. It covers a wide range of topics, which includes tantrums, eating, sleeping, toilet training and common toddler illnesses. It also includes a valuable set of appendices that cover child development milestones and immunisations.

Despite the wealth of general knowledge that is covered within the book, I personally found that some of the methods that were suggested for dealing with common toddler behavioural problems were either impractical or contradictory. However, the main value of the book lies in the fact that it educates the parents about toddlers and their characteristics and common traits. It also helps ingrain the fact that these challenges that are faced by parents are in fact the norm rather than the exception. Armed with this knowledge, confidence in parenting is likely to increase, and customising some of the methods suggested in this book to suite your parenting style could make noticeable difference, if not to your child's behaviour then at least to your reaction, understanding and ability to cope with such behaviour!

The book is written in a way that makes it accessible to all, and the author's use of humour made the educational experience all the more enjoyable.

Man, Interrupted: Welcome to the Bizarre World of OCD, Where Once More is Never Enough
Man, Interrupted: Welcome to the Bizarre World of OCD, Where Once More is Never Enough
by James Bailey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.32

2.0 out of 5 stars If you're after educational value, inspiration and entertainment, then buy another book!, 29 Feb 2008
I have read a couple of excellent, factual and educational books on OCD by Jeffery Schwartz and Ian Osborn, and so I picked up "Man Interrupted" in the hope that it will shed more light on this condition from a the patient's personal prospective; and the fact the book was advertised as looking into OCD in a light hearted and comical fashion was all the more appealing due to the grim nature of this condition.

However, I have to say that I was very disappointed with the book. The educational value is almost minimal and most importantly, I felt that the author has failed in his attempt to produce a book that could be classified as "funny". Most of the jokes were cheesy and predictable, very much like the ones you would find in Adam Sandler's movies. Now, if you are a fan of Mr Sandler then you might want to give James Bailey a shot, otherwise I'd stay well clear.

In addition to the lack of comedy value, the majority of characters in the book tend to lack any depth; they are introduced, forgotten about, and then recalled again to be referenced when the author feels like having a hypocritical moan about their habits.

Although there were few exceptions to this, in general the main characters' negative attitude (to put it mildly) towards his fellow patients and counsellors made it difficult to empathise with his struggle during the journey he was making.

The topic and the idea behind this book have the makings of a potentially exceptional reading; it's a shame though that on this occasion the author's attempt fell short of achieving this.

The 33 Day War: Israel's War on Hezbollah in Lebanon and Its Aftermath
The 33 Day War: Israel's War on Hezbollah in Lebanon and Its Aftermath
by Gilbert Achcar
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.71

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Another error typical of colonial rule, repeated in Lebanon: just rely on the big stick", 15 Feb 2008
This book is a must read for anyone who is still under the delusion that the latest Israeli adventure in Lebanon during the summer of 2006 was to free a couple of their captured soldiers!

As well as giving the reader a detailed examination of the two sides directly involved in this conflict, the authors of this book (Gilbert Achcar, a Lebanese Lecturer and Michel Warschawski, an Israeli Journalist), have also provided some analysis of the influences that some third party sides had on the conflict, i.e. the role played the United States and its allies in blocking (for three weeks) any attempt at discussing a Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire, "one of the most dramatic cases of paralysis in the history of the sixty-one-year-old intergovernmental institution".

The first section of this book gives a brief introduction to some of the main events that shaped the Lebanese history, such as the Israeli occupation and the civil war. It also describes the stages that Hezbollah went though from its inception in 1982 as direct response to the Israeli invasion.

The second part is mainly concerned with Israel, and the goals that were set by the IDF before the offensive was launched against the Shiites populated areas in Lebanon. The authors then go on to explain the reasons for Israel's failure to achieve any of its aims and the effect that this has had on the Israeli government and society.

The book closes with an interesting section about the changing nature of modern warfare and the move into the "post-heroic" age, where the reliance on sophisticated weaponry is paramount. The adoption of such techniques has led to a dramatic increase in the civilian casualties both in Iraq and Lebanon as the result of the recent colonial expeditions by the USA and Israel; in what has been cleverly disguised as the `the global war on terror!'

Twenty Tales from the War Zone: The Best of John Simpson (Quick Reads)
Twenty Tales from the War Zone: The Best of John Simpson (Quick Reads)
by John Simpson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Exciting, Moving and Inspiring, 27 Dec 2007
In just few pages, John Simpson takes the reader into a journey through some of the most significant events that shaped the lives of millions in Europe and the Middle East, i.e. the fall of the Berlin wall, the 2nd Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Islamic revolution in Iran, and the Bush's wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition to the above events, the book contains few chapters describing Simpson's encounters with a number of prominent figures such as Nelson Mandel, Princess Diana, Colonel Gadhafi and Osama Bin Ladin.

Although the chapters are short (5 pages each), they tend to concentrate on a specific aspect within the event, focusing on the human element of the story, engaging the reader and invoking emotions.

Having been a fan of John Simpson's journalism, this book has certainly lived up to my expectations. Thoroughly enjoyable, highly recommended.

Tormenting Thoughts and Secret Rituals
Tormenting Thoughts and Secret Rituals
by Ian Osborn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.96

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Face up to your fears. Take Control: Stand up to OCD", 10 Dec 2007
This book is written by some one who has suffered from OCD, and as a result, it tends to provide sensible and relevant advice to the reader.

It includes detailed description of the steps involved in the behavioural therapy approach to dealing with obsessions and compulsions. This approach can be practiced by anyone, and could produce dramatic improvements in the life of the suffere by reducing the anxieties caused by obsessions (Osborn states though, that severe cases will require professional help during the therapy). There is also a great section on tips from real life sufferes on the techniques that they have used and found useful to succeed in exercising the behavioural therapy.

Osborn is a great advocate for using medication in the treatment of OCD, and he provides a chapter detailing the most common drugs that can be used for this purpose, including their benefits and side effects.

As well as being compasionately written, the book is very comprehensive in its coverage of the subject matter. It provides clear definitions of Obessions and Compulsions, Real life case studies of people who battled against various types of OCD, an explanation of the common peronality characteristics found in OCD sufferes, as well as a section on help and guidance for families on dealing with OCD.

There is an interesting section at the end of the book that explores OCD cases througout history, some as old as 570. It makes the reader appreciates the recent medical advances in diagnosing and treating OCD, which is also detailed in another chapter within the book.

Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War
Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War
by Robert Fisk
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.29

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.", 8 Oct 2007
This book provides an exceptional depiction of the tragedies that Lebanon underwent during the last quarter of the 20th century,

The bulk of the book focuses on the events that took place during the civil war between 1975 and 1990, hence, it covered the Syrian intervention in 1976, the Israeli invasions in both 1978 and 1982, and the involvement of the multinational forces (USA, Britain and Italy) in the aftermath of the 1982 invasion, which triggered an escalation in civil war. Although not covered in much details, Robert Fisk provides brief snaps taken from the major events that led the deterioration of the situation in Lebanon, such as the Jewish Holocaust and the ethnics cleansing of Palestine. In addition, there are small sections that covered briefly events related to the Lebanese history during the 1860s (Christians and Druze civil war) and 1950s (USA's first involvement).

Despite some accusations against Mr Fisk of being biased in his reporting, I felt that the author has presented a valuable piece of work that successfully captured the ugliness of the war, and exposed the wrong doings of all involved from Palestinians to Israelis, Muslims and Christians, Syrians and the USA. There is a whole chapter that was dedicated to the role of the media in this conflict and other similar conflicts around the world, as well as the hypocrisy and double standards of reporting that was and continue to brain wash the masses to achieve some cynical goals.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone who has an interest in the Lebanese history or the recent developments in the Middle East. It is a little grim and harsh at times, but so has been the fate of this region of the world for as far as I can remember.

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Don't seek others' pain as the limbs of your own happiness", 26 May 2007
This book provides a gentle introduction into some of the basic practices within the Buddhist school of thought.

Some of the practices that were presented included Meditation, Slogans of Atisha, Tonglen and the Four Limitless Qualities (Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity).

The practices aim to present an alternative ways of dealing with common emotions and feeling that we encounter in our daily life. The practices are presented as a way of helping us break away from the self destructive patterns of behaviours and attitudes that we have accumulated and were forced to pick up along the way in our lives. The key ideas in the book revolve around the opening of both the mind and heart to all the emotions that we experience and the situations we find ourselves in.

This was my first book on this subject, and as such I found it a little of a challenge to follow some of the concepts that were presented in the book, and my only minor criticism is the lack of sufficient examples that could have been used to illustrate some of the points that were being made.

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