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The News: A User's Manual
The News: A User's Manual
by Alain de Botton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.49

3.0 out of 5 stars One of his weaker books....., 6 July 2014
After reading The Consolidations of Philosophy and Religion for Atheists, I was really looking forward to this book. Sadly some of the chapters are a bit weak. We occasionally get lost in his fetish with art, which I sometimes find a bit annoying. But there was some great chapters on the “power of photography” and how we rarely here about “ordinary day-to-day lives of people around the world”. Sadly the news does have a strange fetish with bad news, and it’s pretty rare to come across good news. (Maybe a good news section on page 2 might be a good idea?) It’s also interesting how the news tries to hold powerful people to account. It’s worth a read, but it’s defiantly one of his weaker books. There was even times when I was bored reading, (which is usually very rare for an Alain De Botton book). I think the book could possibly have been a bit shorter, or could have been a large chapter as part of a larger “Philosophy of modern media book”.. That said you can’t really trust what anyone really writes these days…. So read the book and come to YOUR own conclusion.


The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy
The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy
Price: £3.49

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for £10, bit short, very inconclusive., 16 Oct 2013
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Not as good as the original book, but I guess its worth a read for £10.
Word of warning, there is no graphs or pie charts etc. The book is composed of just questions and answers.

I didn't really learn much from this book to be honest. Also there isn't much of a conclusion, also the book essentially skips the difficult economic problems of the future when robots might compete with humans for jobs. That said there is one or two very interesting chapters. There is a great chapter on happiness economics, and some valid points are made about how difficult it is to measure "happiness" and "inequality". However I personally felt the book was a bit short.

In conclusion, for those that are studying economics at A-Level or Degree Level or have a general interest in the subject of macroeconomics the book is probably worth a read, some chapters are very good, and some not so good. The chapters on inequality and happiness are probably the most interesting, several chapters get bogged down in Classical economics vs. Keynesian economics which is kind of interesting but inconclusive. There is also a few interesting pages on why Spain has high unemployment, its apparently linked to complex Spanish employment law, that requires older workers to be paid huge amounts of redundancy pay...

Also it would have been nice to maybe have a chapter at the end where Tim Harford maybe suggests how the UK or USA should go about fixing their economies?

In all its not bad, probably worth a read.


The Year of Dreaming Dangerously
The Year of Dreaming Dangerously
by Slavoj Zizek
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

45 of 68 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing!, 16 Sep 2012
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Very disappointing!.

Zizek does his usual dribble about Marx and Hegel, with Lacan making the odd appearance here and there. I get the impression Zizek has just googled Arab Spring and UK riots and financial crisis 2008. Then he has gone and copy and pasted a few facts, and then inserted a massive load of his own rubbish. This book could easily of been around 40 pages if you had taken out all the waffle.

If your looking for a detailed view at the causes of the current crisis and what the solution might be. Don't buy this book.

If you do wish to understand the current financial crisis and how capitalism is an unstable system read either:
The Enigma of Capital (newest version) by David Harvey
or
A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey

Good points about this book.
* I like his observation that the market has become a pagan god which is called upon by the news. The "market" often has various people that speak for it. Sometimes we just here "The market is down today" "the market is worried".
* More choice needs to be brought about in democracies. At the moment people can only choose between centre-right or centre-left parties. There is very little difference between most major political parties these days. Their policies are almost exactly the same.
* Police violence was essentially used to brush up the Occupy movements.
* Zizek mentions the journalist arrests in Turkey recently (which has received little mainstream media attention) **Especially as Turkey is often used as an ideal democratic/secular model that other Muslim countries should head towards.
* Where did the secular left in Arab countries go?
* Where did the secular left in once communist Afghanistan go?
* Good point about how some people have started to blame immigrants in Greece.
* Most people agree Greece will eventually default.
* US debt is out of control.

Bad points
* Zizek fails to mention the widespread TAX avoidance in Greece.
* Zizek fails to mention US financial companies helped Greece hide their government budget figures.
* A whole chapter waffling on about The Wire. (TV Show)

Conclusion.
As usual Zizek doesn't bother to even try and come up with a solution for the ills of capitalism. He can type all day about how is exploits workers, how it damages the environment etc. But never offers any solutions.
Do we scrap private property?
Do we let the state take over more companies?
Do we scrap money?
Do we limit people to one house max? (that way preventing investment bubbles in housing, which was the cause of the financial crisis in the first place)
Do we shut down all the stock markets?
Do we ban short-selling?
Do we ban certain forms of financial speculation?
Do we start to tax financial companies more? So hopefully more people may invest in factories/research and development of new technologies instead?
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2013 11:17 AM BST


Introducing the Enlightenment: A Graphic Guide
Introducing the Enlightenment: A Graphic Guide
by Lloyd Spencer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Average read., 10 Sep 2012
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Not bad. The book covers all the main moments and people which make up "The Enlightenment".
Only criticism is the graphics do take up a lot of room on some pages, and they don't really add much to the book. They just seem to take up space.


Introducing Thatcherism: A Graphic Guide
Introducing Thatcherism: A Graphic Guide
by Peter Pugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read., 10 Sep 2012
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One or two good pages on Thatchers life, also a few pages on privatisation.
Other interesting pages include:
Rise of the individual.
The Westland Affair.
The battle with the unions.
The state of Britain before Thatcher came to power.

If your doing an essay on Thatcher. This is probably one of the best books around.


How To Think More About Sex (School of Life)
How To Think More About Sex (School of Life)
by Alain de Botton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One or two interesting points., 8 Sep 2012
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Slightly disappointed.

There was one or two interesting points in the book. For example there is a good point made about how we can sleep with as many people as we want before marriage, but after marriage we are expected to never sleep with someone else again. Alain suggests that more open marriages might be the solution. (Which is something I have been suggesting for a long time) However he acknowledges that some people enjoy the honour that a marriage can sometimes bring. For example people who have remained committed to not having sex with anyone else for 20 years often pride themselves on the achievement. There is also another interesting point about how we don't have to love someone to be sexually attracted to them, and that people should be more OPEN about what they want when they meet someone they like. That way no one will get hurt. Some people are looking for love, but some are looking just for sex. If everyone was more honest in the first place, no one would get the wrong impression.

There is also a short but interesting chapter about why some people enjoy certain fetishes. (The current scientific research is still pretty hazy). Alain briefly looks at fetishes and says only more research will uncover why some people have specific fetishes. But he suggests a few possibilities, and suggests we should all ask ourselves if these fetishes are essential to achieve an orgasm in the first place.

In all its not a bad read. Its typical Alain de Botton. There is a some pessimism but also some optimism. As usual he has taken us on a nice little journey, but he keeps the conclusion very open.

I don't personally want a marriage or kids. But for people who are either married or are married and want to have an affair. I would defiantly recommend this book. As there is some interesting arguments for adultery but at the same time he also defends traditional concepts of marriage. That said single people might find the book a bit boring.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2012 1:57 PM BST


Introducing Sociology: A Graphic Guide
Introducing Sociology: A Graphic Guide
by Richard Osborne
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 8 Jun 2012
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Not a bad book. The graphics don't seem to add much at times. But its not a bad book for those wanting to get into the subject of Sociology.


Introducing Sartre: A Graphic Guide
Introducing Sartre: A Graphic Guide
by Philip Thody
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointed., 7 Jun 2012
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To much time spent on his life, and very little time spent on his ideas. Slightly disappointed. Some of the graphics seemed pointless as well.


Introducing Linguistics: A Graphic Guide
Introducing Linguistics: A Graphic Guide
by R. L. Trask
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read., 1 Jun 2012
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Very interesting subject!. The book does a good job explaining the key areas. Some interesting chapters on how some languages share a lot in common. Also a few pages are set aside for explaining Chomsky's theories. Some interesting pages on word order and there was also some fascinating pages on sexism in language.


Introducing Cultural Studies: A Graphic Guide
Introducing Cultural Studies: A Graphic Guide
by Ziauddin Sardar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read., 1 Jun 2012
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Good little book. Covers a range of subjects from: Consequences of globalisation to mass media and its impact on culture. Also some interesting pages on the cultural legacy left by imperialism and a few interesting pages on signs and symbols.


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