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John M. Fisher (Exiled Yorkshireman)
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Bosch (Art & Ideas)
Bosch (Art & Ideas)
by Laurinda S. Dixon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Bosch - alchemy and religion decoded, 5 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Bosch (Art & Ideas) (Paperback)
This is a brilliant book!, it gives a fascinating insight into the world of the late 15th century seen through the eyes of my favourite artist. This book explains Bosch's paintings and puts them into their wider socio-religious context.

Whilst little is know about just who Bosch was and what life was like for him, Dixon does a superb job of bringing the era to life and letting us glimpse what underpins some of the most famous pictures. Dixon looks at the alchemical influences and imagery in Bosch's painting and gives credit to the much maligned forerunner of today's chemists. (Where would we be without alchemists? - a far poorer place in my opinion.)

Dixon takes each picture and looks at what the various symbols, images and creatures actually mean or represent from within their own culture rather than imposing a modern interpretation on them.

It also cites my second favourite artist (Bruegel) as a follower of Bosch (no surprise then why he's number 2 for me). The surrealists also cite Bosch as one of their key influencers - although looking at his fertile imagination and grotesque images I can't see why :-). In fact, Dali used one of Bosch's images as a central feature of one of his own paintings.


Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy
Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy
by Martin Lindström
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be afraid, be very afraid - Big Brother IS watching!, 8 July 2012
Forget Stephen King et al, this is probably the scariest book you'll ever read! Lindstrom takes us through a fascinating (and terrifying) journey showing how we are constantly manipulated by companies to buy whatever they are selling.

He begins by talking about how he wants to "pick up where" Vance Packard's classic 1950's book "The Hidden Persuaders" left off. He has more than achieved this. Packard's book is, in my opinion, one of the best books on influence (and the book I credit with giving me an interest in psychology - which remains to this day) along with Cialdini around. This now joins that select group.

Lindstrom explains the sophisticated techniques now being used to part us from our money without us recognising how much we are being tricked, and how much information that the biggest companies actually hold about us without our knowledge or agreement. Even this will now add to the covert file that is John Fisher's buying/liking habits!; and reflects one of the techniques Lindstrom discusses - that of peer/colleague word of mouth recommendation. Of course Amazon are a classic example of this technique with their "reader's lists" and recommendations - both directly or more subtley in the "readers who bought "X" also bought "Y". How many of us have accepted Amazon's kind offer to share with our Facebook friends our latest purchase - now I know why!

In many ways I can see throughout the book examples of Cialdini's social influencers and how they are now being used. This book should be required reading on every influence, persuasion or social psychology media course!

Scarily, you will still be manipulated by these techniques in the same (oblivious/subconscious) way and only once you've been caught will you (possibly/occaisionally) realsie you've been got!


Society's Child: My Autobiography
Society's Child: My Autobiography
by Janis Ian
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Fly too high - the peaks and troughs of a great singer/songwriter, 17 Jun 2012
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The book is simply superb, it is full of highs and lows, choices both good and bad (and some "what the ..." decisions). Whether you know much of her work or not this book is a triumph over obversity and shows how we can overcome all the difficulties life throws at us.

From victimisation by the FBI (of her parents - a sad indictment of MacCarthyism) through to her own struggles with a narrow minded petty bureacratic officious IRS representative she shows both a naivety and a tenaciousness that makes this book both laugh out loud funny, poingnant and frustration at how America treats its genius' in almost equal measures. Janis Ian's light shines throughout the book. It is a triumph over personal and professional challenges.

Maybe this is really a love story! - one persons love of music and making music that satisfys the soul! If you want to be eventually uplifted, buy this book, if you want a good read buy this book, if you want an insiders view of 60's and 70's American music, buy this book. In fact just buy the book!


The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & the Birth of Public Relations
The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays & the Birth of Public Relations
by Larry Tye
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.77

3.0 out of 5 stars All spin - no substance!, 8 Jun 2012
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This is a biorgraphy of a man whose ethical and moral compass was undoubtedly skewed, a man full of contradictions, self aggrandising, bombastic, self promoting (and not above spinning his own achievements to suit his cause) but driven and with a passion for his work. He lived through virtually the whole of the 20th centuary and left a disproportionate mark on the 21st centuary and helped create the socio-economic world we now live in!

Not only did he, literally, write the book on PR/Spin, Bernays was the man who made it cool for women to smoke, yet actively tried to get his wife to stop smoking. He also made eating the "heart attack special" breakfast of bacon and eggs popular. He promoted equality yet ran his own house like a middle ages robber baron. If he wasn't the centre of attraction he either made himself so or withdrew and victimised anyone who crossed him!

His tactics, which apparently have stood the test of time and are still the basis of much of todays PR campaigns (focus grooups, media reports, promotion/sponsorship of events, and even early forerunners of flash mobs!, etc.) generally involved subterfuge and mis-direction.

More worryingly he used his skills to overthrow a central America government because they were reforming their country and trying to force his client company to treat their workforce better and threatening their profits!

The book itself is rather bland and skirts over many things and, almost, appears to just give the salatious details (the only problem is they aren't really salatious!). Its style is rather dry and ponderous and the personality of Bernays doesn't really come out in anything more than a one dimensional sense.

Yet for all this his mark, for good or ill, was immense and whilst Bernays doesn't come out of this book well you have to admit he certainly had an impact! To (mis)quote "love him or hate him you can't ignore him"!


The Mandorla and Tau: The Secrets and Mysteries of Freemasonry Revealed
The Mandorla and Tau: The Secrets and Mysteries of Freemasonry Revealed
by Kevin L. Gest
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this if you want an expose of Freemasonry - but do read it!, 1 Jun 2012
This is a fascinating book that is more about the workingmens guilds and friendly societies that sprang to prominence in the middle ages than it is about modern freemasonry.

It is one of the most readable books about how the British and European trade guilds evolved and grew in importance before eventually declining as the industrial revolution altered the world forever.

Obviously there is much in here to interest the Masonic scholar and it gives a valuable insight into the wider social, economic and political enviroment covering some of Freemasonry's formative years and helps place the society in its place in history.

If you want to learn more about the rituals and symbollogy of freemasonry then there are probably better books out there.

But if you want a different perspective on history and a fascinating glimpse into our social heritage linking Freemasonry to the Hanseatic League, the British Guilds and Fraternal Societies then read this.


Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul
Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul
by Howard Schultz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars How to manage major change and succeed!, 1 Jun 2012
This book is probably the best book on managing major change and leadership I have read and should be required reading for every management course.

It is one of the finest change manifesto's and an excellent review of how to successfully implement organisational change told from the heart with nuggets relevent to any inspiring leader on most pages.

In some ways the book reads like a cross between a "ripping yarn" and Che Guevara's manifesto in how Howard Schultz re-took over his company and led a revolution with heart and soul.

His passion shines through as does his respect for people and his single minded approach to achieving his goals.

You can create your own change plan and strategy by adapting how Howard Schultz achieved success - identifying key stakeholders and key actions then working the plan and achieving commitment not compliance but being ruthless (in as nice a way as possible) and removing the change blockers quickly and efficiently. The latter is one of the things, in my experience, most companies who want to go through change don't do well (if at all) and try to rely on changing people's attitude rather than knowing when to let go!

Buy it now!!! Howard Schultz probably doean't need the money but every leader, change agent or aspiring leader needs this book!


Alela Diane & Wild Divine
Alela Diane & Wild Divine
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars so good I'm now buying it!, 18 Mar 2012
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I've just listened to this album whilst on a flight coming home and think it's up there with the best of the female singers around at the moment. Not heard her other albums but as Country rock is my thing (or one of them at least) I'm now buying the album.


The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership
The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership
by Daniel Goleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.91

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars over blown, over hyped and over here!, 23 Mar 2011
I enjoyed the first 100 or so pages and liked the concept of resonance, however after that the book went downhill! Most of the examples are laboured at best and only partially relevant. Maybe a good editor could have trimmed many of the examples and tightened up both the relevance and the impact.

For many i was left with a "so what ..." feeling. Sadly not for me!


Red Revelations
Red Revelations
Price: £7.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars southern swamp country rock at its best, 7 April 2010
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This review is from: Red Revelations (Audio CD)
If you like your country rock music with its feet in the swamp (a la Tony Joe White) then this album is right down your street. At times there was also a hint of Divine Comedy in some of the songs. This album is more than the brilliant bad things.


Inquiring Man: Theory of Personal Constructs
Inquiring Man: Theory of Personal Constructs
by Donald Bannister
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic intro to Personal Construct Theory, 18 Mar 2010
This book is still a modern classic and is still one of the best introductions to Personal Construct Theory around. It explains the theory in an easy to understand way and brings it to life in a way that collections of papers cannot do.

Bannister and Fransella (both sadly no longer with us now) explain George Kelly's theory of Personal Constructs in a structured and focused way that is both relevant and practical in that it will help you put into practice the concepts and approach. The key concepts and underpinning philosophy (which can be quite off putting and confusing) is explained in practical terms that make sense.

If you're interested in how the individual sees their world and want to know how to communicate and connect more effectively then this is the book to start you on your new life!


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