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John Hamlen (London, UK)

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A Struggle to be Heard: By a True Ulster Liberal
A Struggle to be Heard: By a True Ulster Liberal
by John Laird
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars First class storytelling, 9 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I recently had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion hosted by John Laird entitled "Finance Fit for the Future". I believe I received the invitation because because I was a sort of banker (now thankfully recovered). Whatever the reason, I'm very glad for the opportunity to hear Lord Laird speak. What a storyteller! He had the assembled guests enthralled and thoroughly entertained. If politics doesn't work out, he should really consider stand-up.

Hoping for more of the same, I ordered a copy of this book and haven't been disappointed. "Political biography" isn't (for me at least) synonymous with "a real page turner". However, this book delivers very interesting histories of a life (John), a country (Ireland), and an ethnic group (Ulster Scots), with great storytelling and witty anecdotes.

As a London teenager in the late 70's/early 80's, The Troubles was hard to understand. All the Republicans seemed to be doing was setting off bombs, whilst the Unionists seemed to be represented by a loud and slightly deranged sounding church minister. Thanks to the excellent writing in this book, this middle-aged version of me feels he has a much better understanding of the issues of Northern Ireland.

Education, Education, Education: Reforming England's schools
Education, Education, Education: Reforming England's schools
by Andrew Adonis
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read book by a passionate author, 5 Dec. 2012
If you have the slightest interest in the UK education system - and that should be everyone who cares about the future prosperity of this country and its people - then this book is a must-read.

For anyone who has heard Andrew Adonis speak, it is obvious the passion he brings to bear on "big problems" he cares about, whether it be transport, education, or even democracy itself (e.g. [...]). He's a perfect example of a Peer with a pulse and because of this, as a previous reviewer noted, the first half of the book is a 'cracking read'.

Not everyone will agree with the viability of all his manifesto points in the second half of the book - though how boring would that be?! I certainly didn't, but every suggestion is well argued, and the reader will often find themselves persuaded.

The author is sometimes painted as having a one-dimensional, academies-are-the-answer-to-everything point of view, but in fairness to Adonis, he does devote page space to the barriers to, and limitations of, the model. Maybe a bit more of this would improve the book, but for me it's still a solid 5-stars even before getting to: Chapter 12 - How to be a Reformer.

If you are trying to put your own small, in the late Steve Jobs' words, "dent in the Universe", then this chapter alone is worth the price of admission regardless of your field of endeavour.

Chinese Express: Talk Chinese
Chinese Express: Talk Chinese
by Moon Tan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horses for courses, but spot-on for this reviewer, 17 April 2012
It's difficult to give a completely objective review of language learning books, because different styles suite different people. However, for this reviewer, this book ticks the two "must have" boxes:
1) Audio - AS another reviewer points out, this is especially necessary for Chinese pronunciation!
2) Bit-sized chunks - I'm not a natural language learner and have a short attention span!

People who want a more advanced book should look elsewhere, but for getting a beginner started and giving them confidence, this is the best I've seen.

The Photographer's Vision
The Photographer's Vision
by Michael Freeman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.69

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freeman's best yet, 17 Nov. 2011
I'm really enjoying Michael Freeman's "The Photographer's ..." series (Eye, Mind, and now Vision).

Yes, there is a need for books explaining the basics of shutter speed, aperture, depth-of-field, film/sensor sensitivity etc. However, in my opinion, the last thing the world needs is yet more books covering these topics. Unfortunately, many photographic authors/publishers seem to disagree. They end up producing books with what good original content there is watered down by reams of pages about how (for instance) telephoto lenses are good for wildlife and wide-angle lenses for exaggerating perspective.

So three cheers - and five stars - to Michael for eschewing this trend and producing a series of books that covers the creative, rather than technical, dimension of photography. This is more difficult to do as an author, but results in books being equally useful for both beginner and advanced photographers. This book expands the audience even further by helping non-photographers increase their appreciation of the art and what its masters have created over the past century and a half.

Even though Freeman has produced some great images over the decades, I particularly like that in this book he uses - and comments on - the work of others including such greats Paul Strand, Elliot Erwitt and Jeff Wall.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong size for current (2010/11) generation C2/C2N, 16 Aug. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When looking for a case to protect my Clickfree drive, a search on Amazon turned up two options that specifically mentioned the C2/C2n. This one from Clickfree, and another much cheaper option. I decided to spend the money and go for the Clickfree branded item to ensure a nice, accurate fit. What a mistake! The case doesn't fit the drive properly. One can be just about squeeze it in by misshaping the case, but it feels like the zip is going to break by doing so as it is so cheaply made. My assumption is that the case is only a fit for the earlier generation of these drives.

The Network Effect
The Network Effect
by Tony Newton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Impressively Practical, 18 Jan. 2011
This review is from: The Network Effect (Paperback)
The Network Effect is a 230+ page paperback divided into the following 12 chapters:

1 - Why develop a networking culture
2 - It's a small what?
3 - Hunting and gathering, giving and getting
4 - Breaking the ice
5 - A question of rapport
6 - And who are you?
7 - Hello, I must be going
8 - What's in a name?
9 - But I don't know anyone!
10 - Back at the ranch
11 - I saw this and thought of you
12 - Social networking, your network and your reputation

So far, so normal...

There are already many books on the market whose aim is to make you a better networker. I know, I've had to read most of them! As Operations Director for an employability skills training company teaching such "soft" skills, I'm always first in the queue when a new networking title hits the shelves.

So what makes The Network Effect different? Well, it's not the ground covered: All books of this genre have to cover the basics of why networking is important, ways to build and maintain your network, and tips for handling networking events and situations.

No, where this book really stands out from the rest is the way it engages with a large amount of practical advice, real-world case studies, and encouragement to try various "hand-on" exercises. "Case Study" and "Do Try This" breakout boxes are peppered throughout the books and probably take up about 50% of its volume. This makes the book an easy read and emphasises how great networking is about interacting with people, not reading acres of single-spaced text!

I have had to drop one star for the lack of coverage of online networking tools like LinkedIn. However, as another reviewer has pointed out, there is still plenty of ways you can apply the advice in this book to the online world - particularly the importance of following-up.

Even with this slight criticism, this is still the best book on networking I've yet to come across. Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2011 9:46 AM GMT

From Crew to Captain: Book 1
From Crew to Captain: Book 1
by David Mellor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stands out amongst a sea of "Start Your Own Business" books, 21 Aug. 2010
One visit to your local book shop - let alone a browse through Amazon - will reveal an overwhelming number of "Start Your Own Business" (SYOB) books. A wave of entrepreneurial spirit has clearly been sweeping across the UK for a few years now as viewing figures for programming such as "Dragons' Den" will testify. However, despite the growth, is there room for yet more titles on this increasingly crowded bookshelf?

My answers are "no" AND "yes":

I say "No" because if a see another me-too, jump-on-the-bandwagon, SYOB book I feel I'm going to seriously disturb the hushed atmosphere of the next Waterstone's I find myself browsing through. Too many people seem to be simply rehashing the structure and content of existing books to create a derivative works that differ only in cover design and title. They might deliver good sound advice, but what's the point in writing - and especially paying for and reading them - if they don't add anything new?

However, I say "Yes" because in this sea of one-size-fits-all, there is plenty of room for some bespoke tailoring. This is where Mellor's book fits, a made-to-measure item for the same price as off-the-peg.
Rather than try to address the whole SYOB market and weaken the book in the process, Mellor has taken his own advice and primarily addressed a particular niche. (It's amazing how many SYOB authors don't take their own advice in matter!).

If you've decided that there has to be a better way and are leaving - or considering leaving - a big corporation in order to begin your own enterprise. Then this is a must read. Three reasons:
1) It is specifically written with your situation in mind.
2) Mellor took exactly this path himself when leaving Deutsche Bank and 25 years "in the City".
3) It offers concrete advice, exercises, worksheets rather than the usual generic guidance.

I agree with a previous reviewer about it being a fast read and leaving you wanting more, but there are enough practical to-dos to keep the reader very busy both during and after reading. I also agree with that reviewer's opinion of Michael Gerber's E-Myth Revisited; a really inspiring read. It and Mellor's book work very well together: Gerber's is great for big picture inspiration, whilst Mellor's gets down to more practical issues from the perspective of what a UK "crew member" needs to do to become a successful "captain".

Any budding entrepreneur should read them both. I have, and I'm already working hard on how my new born company expands into the Indian market... but that's another story.

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