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Bruce Finch

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A Little Circle of Kindred Mind: Joyce in Paris
A Little Circle of Kindred Mind: Joyce in Paris
by Conor Fennell
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars a little circle of kindred minds, 24 Jun 2012
This is an excellent book. Ernest Hemingway famously wrote that "Paris is a Moveable Feast" a series of short stories on his time in Paris in the 1920s. Conor Fennell, a well known former RTE journalist, has done the same for the Irish literary circle centred around James Joyce. This group of hugely creative writers seemed paradoxically only to be able to express their creativity by not being in their home country. He has caught very well the dynamic tensions in Joyce's relationships wth his weathly female benefactors and the details of the cafe society in which Joyce and the others lived and how it influenced their output. Very strongly recommended.


Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain's Road to War
Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain's Road to War
by Ian Kershaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.17

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh but vivid analysis of an Anglo Irish grandee out of his depth, 10 Jun 2012
I doubt Sir Ian Kershaw made any friends with the present Marquess of Londonderry's family writing this book and interestingly it is not for sale in the gift shop at the former Londonderry Irish mansion at Mount Stewart in Co Down (or wasn't when Lady Mairi Bury was still alive) but it is a very good analysis of how the Anglo Irish grandee Lord Londonderry tried and failed to imitate his ancestor Viscount Castlereagh, the great Foreigh Secretary, in trying to reach an accommodation with Adolf Hitler with some very unfortunate consequences. An excellent book


Music and Dancing at Castletown, Co. Kildare, 1759-1821 (Maynooth Studies in Local History)
Music and Dancing at Castletown, Co. Kildare, 1759-1821 (Maynooth Studies in Local History)
by Karol Mullaney-Dignam
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 Jun 2012
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A very good description of how music and dancing were used in the Anglo Irish Ascendancy as a way of cementing local relations at Castletown in Co Kildare with some well researched and vivid descriptions. The only question unanswered is the "so how is this different to anywhere else". Music and dancing have been used in pretty much every society from the Ancient Egyptians onwards and were used by the peasantry in Ireland, albeit in a less sophisticated way, in the same way as the Gentry to build relations. Not that this detracts from a great book but perhaps the end result is similar to every other society?


Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British
Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British
by Jeremy Paxman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good narrative self satisfied and fails to answer the question - Kwasi Kwarteng is much better, 10 Jun 2012
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A good narrative history written from a left wing metropolitan perspective but fails to answer the question it poses. He clearly thinks that most of the British running the Empire were a bit bonkers and is frequently rather jarring on that issue - the "12th Earl of Meath had a bald head, a red face and enormous white beard" and uses caricature continually to try and undermine the enormous sacrifices that Empire builders such as the missionaries and doctors made in the countries in which they lived building agriculture, railways, health and education.He makes lots of judgements "the 1924 exhibition seemed rather purposeless" without evidence and too often the tone - this was all a bit mad because clever Jeremy Paxman thought so rather than on any facts - is rather irritating. The worst part of the book is the conclusions - apart from some brief examples of curry restaurants and immigration he doesn't seem to really address the issue he claims to answer - his last sentence is illustrative "they (the British) might find it easier to play a more useful and effective role in the world" - a bland judgement ignoring the strength of the UK economy, culture, high tech manufacturing, the English language, the strength of the UK Armed Forces etc. It could well be argued that the UK has adapted and is far less tied to the imperial past than France which spends vast amounts of money propping up former and existing colonies. This typifies much of what Paxman writes - good research but the analysis is superficial and the judgements unevidenced. Kwasi Kwarteng's book is much better


The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World
The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World
by Jonathan Powell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Selective, 29 April 2011
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Having read Great Hatred Little Room I looked forward to reading this book. I was greatly disappointed. The references to Machiavelli are a cover for a selective memoir whose aim seems to be to backstab Gordon Brown, eulogise Tony Blair and settle old scores. He is highly selective and offers no evidence for what is really prejudice an example being "General Dannatt was not up to his job" an assertion made without any facts. In fact most commentators think Dannatt did an excellent job as head of the Army he just didn't agree with the lousy strategic judgements Blair made. He makes startling assertions such as the Coalition Government being a continuation of Blair's policies on schools etc - it could be equally be argued that the later Blair governments merely resurrected Major's policies on schools (city technology colleges as a predecessor of academies) and the internal market in Health. For me the central flaw of the of the book was best exemplified in the last paragraph when he argues that Blair will be seen by history as one of the best Prime Ministers of the last 400 years. After the massive misjudgements and lies surrounding Iraq, the corruption of cash for honours, the personal sleaze of the celebrity holidays etc that claim is simply laughable as sadly is so much of this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2012 1:40 PM BST


The Best of Southern Italian Cooking
The Best of Southern Italian Cooking
by J.C. Grasso
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An essential bible for the southern Italian kitchen!!, 11 Dec 2000
I live in Naples as an ex-pat Irish and have found this book to be of immense help. It includes "do-able" recipies, clearly laid out and is easy to follow. All the ingredients listed are readily available. I wouldn't be without it in the kitchen!


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