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Sexy Hammond (UK)

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Strange Tales (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural)
Strange Tales (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural)
by Rudyard Kipling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and frightening, 15 Dec. 2009
Jungle book this ain't, but a collection of complex, terrifying and often very moving short stories by the first British (and still the youngest) recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The stories can be broken down into three categories if you like: Tales of the supernatural, disturbing psycho-dramas and Edwardian entertainments. Of the first, the best are set amongst forgotten young men at the fringes of empire - lost in an alien continent and exposed to conditions and superstitions they cannot or will not try to understand. These tales involve lycanthropy, lost villages of the damned, ghost legions of murdered horsemen, hideous blind, crying things in the cellar and unquiet corpses in the roof. Some of these are truly scary, but it is Kipling's ability to generate atmosphere and convey psychological upheaval that is striking. Some of the stories set in Europe are deeply moving. Kipling's life was blighted with tragedy - his daughter died at a young age and his son was killed in the Great War. "They", in which the narrator accidentally uncovers a country house populated by the ghosts of dead children,"Mary Postgate", which is basically a premonition of what it would be like to lose a child in war, and " A Madonna of the Trenches", written a few years after his son's death, are almost unbearably poignant.

Get beyond the "poet of Empire" tag often lazily associated with Kipling and you can understand why he was lauded in his day as the successor to Dickens. Comparisons with Hardy and James may have been more appropriate.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2011 12:39 PM GMT

The Art of Consultation
The Art of Consultation
by Rhion Jones
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bizarrely compelling, 15 Dec. 2009
If, like me, you have always assumed that public sector consultation is a licence to waste money (and time) this is a thought-provoking read. I bought this on the back of Rhion Jones' article in the most recent Civil Service World, and, I'm quite surprised to say, found it fascinating stuff. The consultation culture will not simply go away - the government has a "duty to involve", but you will be horrified to read the many examples here of how consultations can go awry through bad planning, lack of initiative, lack of application, failure to understand an audience or utilise the correct media for consultation, etc. At its best, the authors point out, consultation can be a useful part of the democratic process (important to remember that the consultor has no mandate to deliver the results of a consultation, however) but often, civil servants and politicians are defeated before they begin by a host of pitfalls. This is generally a sympathetic book and leaves much to think about in terms of producing decent consultation. It's also worth saying, despite it's subject matter, it's very much a layman's book, readable and bizarrely compelling.

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