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Alfred Croucher "Lao Pengyou" (Suzhou, China.)

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Michael Schumacher: The Whole Story
Michael Schumacher: The Whole Story
by Christopher Hilton
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Schumacher Bio, 1 July 2009
Having written a bio of Senna I thought Hilton might provide the sort of insight into the character of Michael Schumacher that is appropriate to a person of his extraordinary accomplishments.

I was wrong. Hilton has no, or little insight into Schumacher's thinking. Indeed it may be he never met him. The book is mostly stories of the important races in Schumacher's career which of course as as devoted F1 GP fan, I am more than acquainted with.

I bought another book which I mistakenly thought was written by Jean Todt. It was better but again peripheral stuff to the man itself. I know the stories - I'm looking for insight into the man. Still to come it seems. A typically private anglo-saxon.

The Origins of Capitalism and the Rise of the West
The Origins of Capitalism and the Rise of the West
by Eric H. Mielants
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Review of the Origins of Capitalism, 1 July 2009
After I had purchased this book, but before it arrived, I read that Mielants was a Marxist and I immediately regreted my decision to buy it.
Ok I used to be a Marxist too, as befits a self-confessed sinophile. After a few years here in China I was quickly disabused of the usefulness of the simplistic Marxist analysis in understanding a complex civilization. Morever I found no Marxists in China - just shouters of slogans.

But on reading Mielants I was confronted with a vast amount of compelling material. Of course Mielants is an academic and so feels complelled to refute everything written before him on the subject in cluding his own teacher which I thought ungrateful. But that's academics - nothing if not vain, egocentric and neglectful of their intellectual debts.

The range of research, the breadth of the analysis, and the profundity of the insights make the book a worthwhile read however. Ignore the Marxist stuff, nobody takes it serously except academics which indicates its real worth.

The Revolt of the Pendulum: Essays 2005-2008
The Revolt of the Pendulum: Essays 2005-2008
by Clive James
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Collection of Essays by Clive James, 1 July 2009
Ok first a declaration of interest. Clive James comes from the same area as my father - the St. George area of Sydney - well he comes from Kogarah as I recall, not far from Sans Souci where my father went to school and where my grandmother and cousin lived for many years. My father crossed the George's River so my ancestral home is in the Sutherland Shire.

I suppose I first came across James via one of his early memoirs and I found a life which I could relate to - at least in terms of aspirations and interests. Moreover I found an often excruciatingly funny author who is very dangerous to read in public transport due the frequent involuntary LOL moments.

But if he was merely funny I possibly would not collect his works so compulsively. It's his extraordinary erudition, his ability to recall huge tracts of his favourite authors by memory, his ability to read in most of the main European languages in addition to Japanese, his encyclopedic knowledge of popular and obscure writers, especially Jewish, his unique insights, his funny humility and compulsive exhibitionism, his love of the popular genre as well as the elitist, his catholic appreciation of the arts.

But it is above all his ability to write with stylish English in an effortless manner I could never hope to emulate. The only thing I don't relate to is the poetry. Where does a St. George boy get a love of poetry? Not in St. George I can tell you. Well everyone has their faults I guess. Writing lyrics for songs I can understand but poetry? I don't read his poety.

Like me too James is an expat. A lifelong expat. He's been living in old Blighty longer than I have been living in China. And that's saying something.

Every new book is a gem. His mighty tome, Cultural Amnesia, I ploughed through, oops, glided through in less than two weeks. Devouring every word and planning to read them all again as soon as possible. But in the meantime he has published another volume of his memoirs, now this collection of essays from 2005-2008. I just finished it last night.

Book, film, music, poetry reviews, reviews of reviews, comments on motor racing drivers, essays on Australian literature, obituaries, political comment - as an earlier reviewer stated - Clive James is a brilliant bunch of guys. For me he's a polymath for our times. An antidote to cultural cringe.

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