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A. Patterson (United Kingdom)
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Christian Anarchism
Christian Anarchism
Price: 12.61

3.0 out of 5 stars A political commentary on which gospel?, 9 Nov 2013
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This is an excellent exposition of Tolstoyan Chritianity and non- violence, but I was surprised to find the exploration of the gospel only extends to the Canonical, i.e. the scriptures the orthodox church foisted on its 'followers' as a mechanism of social and political control in the Middle Ages. There is no reference to the Nag Hammadi find, the contents of which have been available to scholars and the general public since the 1970's. This is a shame, because exploration of the Nag Hammadi scriptures (or even only the Gospel of Thomas) would yield a fascinating insight into early Christian Gnostic practice, which in my opinion is essentially anarchistic in nature (for example, the Thomasonian saying "The Kingdom is within you" is a gnostic call to eschew intercessors, bishops, priests and overseers, and find God within yourself). Otherwise, well worth a read.


Veggiestan: A Vegetable Lover's Tour of the Middle East
Veggiestan: A Vegetable Lover's Tour of the Middle East
by Sally Butcher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Veggistan Yum, 12 Feb 2013
My friend just made me a recipe from this book (Afghan Yoghurt with Aubergine)... without doubt the best thing I have had in months. Quite apart from the zizzling perfection offered by this palatable scrum, the size and scope of the book looks pretty epic, well laid out, with appealing photos, and easily followable. PLUS there is a rather fetching felt design peppered into the front of the book. Mmmm sexeh.


The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
by James Watson
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
The story from one of the main protagonists lips of how DNA structure was really discovered. If you imagine scientific discovery to be a tale of egghead boffins selflessly labouring away in pristine lab coats in Ivory Towers, then you will be disappointed. Watson shows the cutthroat world of backbiting, one- upmanship, and over- inflated egos, standing on each other's faces to get to the research & development cash. Watson was 24 at the time, and more interested in girls or spending long afternoons chatting with fellow tennis toff Crick. Although Crick and Watson are credited with the discovery itself, we are led to conclude it was actually only a matter of time before others could piece together the jigsaw, and so the race was decidedly on. As the story reaches its climax, the pace quickens sufficiently to make you run to your molymodel for comfort. The account has been criticised as being overly sexist towards Rosalind Franklin, and dismissive of other researchers in the field such as Linus Pauling and Maurice Wilkins. This led to some later editions of the book which contain additional emollient sounding notes from co- workers and commentators in the appendices. If you ask me, the original, slightly unbalanced view only adds to the appeal of the book, as it shows the real and gritty side of science as opposed to fairytails of philanthropic devotion.


Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics)
Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Rachel Carson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
"The sedge is wither'd from the lake, and no bird sings." So begins this book with an eerie quote from Keats. Imagine a world without birdsong, with decreased biodiversity and increasingly threatened species, on account of human ignorance and technological pollution. Rachel Carson tells it like it is in Silent Spring, credited by many as the book which ignited the environmental revolution in the 60's. "What we have to face is not an occasional dose of poison which has accidentally got into some article of food, but a persistent and continuous poisoning of the whole human environment". Written in 1962, this book is more relevant today than ever, and based on science that still holds good. It will basically scare the hell out of you- you may never reach for an innocent looking can of fly spray or some other household chemical again. The science of Clinical Ecology wasn't around when Rachel Carson wrote this book, and I credit her with founding a whole science based on her tireless work of advocacy for the cause against the agrochemical and pharmaceutical machine. Due to family circumstances and her humanity in caring for her sick and elderly parents, and then her own breast cancer, she was unable to undertake doctoral work. I believe she is a worthy candidate for a posthumous award- a shining light in the science world who deserves far more credit for her work.


The Voyage of the Beagle (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)
The Voyage of the Beagle (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)
by Charles Darwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
No biology recommended reading list would be complete without a bit of Charlie Dee. But instead of The Origin of Species, which lets face it is a daunting Victorian proposition where a full stop comes around only every 10 pages or so, I place before you The Voyage Of The Beagle. It is a young man's book of discovery and wonderment of nature, a bit of a kaleidoscope of natural history, with bizarre tribes, treacherous mountain treks, incredible creatures, and all the other stuff you don't see on an 18- 30 holiday. I often wonder whether the young Charles Darwin was practically press ganged into this voyage by his uncle, having dropped out of medical school and just scraped his BA in theology (he was not a gifted scholar). He lived under the shadow of the great Erasmus Darwin, beardy weirdy grand daddy of natural history. His own father said of him in a letter "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all of your family". Although the experiences on the Galapagos are recounted fully, there are no deep philosophical musings about the origin of species, as that came later, and with the input of others. The book is just an innocent, child- like study in the fascination of nature. Excellent read. Short chapters, so ideal for those (shall we say) more lengthy visits to the water closet.


Last Chance to See....
Last Chance to See....
by Douglas Adams
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
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This review is from: Last Chance to See.... (Paperback)
Small book. Big concepts. Douglas Adams, with his zoologist photographer Mark Carwardine, tour the globe in order to catch a glimpse of a clutch of gravely endangered species (if indeed clutch is the collective noun for endangered species). From Komodo dragons to Silverback gorillas, I am sure how you can already see how Douglas Adam's quirky and philosophical style is suited to this unorthodox genre in much the same way as his Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. You are left with an uncomfortable sickly sweet feeling by his writing; of flimsy serendipity, of the fragility of life, of our place in the universe, but underneath it all; rage that as a species we are destroying nature through ignorance. Its like going backpacking and ecotourism for people (like me) who can't afford it. Quite how Douglas Adams ends up in the Shanghai `Friendship Convenience Store' surrounded by a crowd of amused Chinese onlookers and trying to buy a pack of condoms, I'll let him explain.


Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution
Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution
by Lynn Margulis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 18.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
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Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution, to give it its proper title, is without doubt the single most important book that shaped me as a biologist. From such an unlikely subject matter too! Lynn Margulis, assisted by her son Dorion Sagan, weaves an absolutely spell binding story of evolution on our planet from the perspective of the main character- the industrious microbe. However, this is no work of orthodox cataloguing. Her thesis is an affront to modern deterministic molecular biology. As she is a distinguished geneticist herself, this has led her to undergo the familiar cycle of ridicule, ostricisation, challenge, then reluctant acceptance. Margulis turns Darwinian simplification on itself and explores the co-operative aspects of living systems on a cellular, through to planetary level, with some shocking and fascinating conclusions. Margulis is credited with originating the endosymbiont hypothesis, advocating the Five Kingdom system of taxonomic classification, and co developing the Gaia hypothesis with James Lovelock, author of Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth. The Gaia hypothesis postulates that planet Earth can be considered a self regulating biocybernetic system a living thing in its own right, similar to the way multicellular organisms are comprised of archaeobacterial remnants. The book is also highly informative about other aspects of archaeobiology that you may not have even thought about, such as the origin of life, the oxygen holocaust, the evolution of sex and multicellular life, and a unique consideration of human evolution. Lynn Margulis obviously has a passion for biology and life which is unsurpassed- YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK !
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The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition
The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
The Selfish Gene is in a way rather like the antithesis of Lynn Margulis' & Dorion Sagan's Microcosmos. Richard Dawkins, erudite Oxford professor, is basically the voice of reductionist competition. He is by far the most ruthless and logical exponent of Neo Darwinism; masterful passionate, and his book The Selfish Gene is richly drawn from the colourful well of nature in order to back up his claims. His basic idea is that the gene is the ultimate agent of evolution; not the organism, not the population. In fact, he terms organisms as `survival machines', as mere vehicles to lug around genes (another acclaimed title by Richard Dawkins is The Blind Watchmaker). This has huge knock on effects for population dynamics, social organisation, even raising the perspective of gender competition, and generational competition in terms of gene replication. This leads one to the conclusion that life is a soulless, mathematical computational program in which gene expression is a war of survival. Well, I will let you draw your own conclusions from the book, but I recommend it here to demonstrate to you how sometimes radically different approaches in biology can yield similar conclusions; the last few chapters of The Selfish Gene discuss altruism, cooperation, evolutionary stable strategies (ESS), and memes (or thought genes) which bears a resemblance to the language of Microcosmos. My two copies of these books sit side by side on my bookshelf bickering like an old married couple.


The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History
The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History
by Stephen Jay Gould
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.51

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology & Zoology at Harvard University, has written a small library of books, which comprise a rich set of musings on the life science. Reading through them all is a bit of a job, which admittedly I am still working on, but I heartily recommend The Flamingo's Smile. It is a collection of essays with a common theme: the haphazard happenstance of natural selection. In it he explores a range of bizarre oddities of nature, which are incredibly impossible, or throw up conundrums. Consider the snails that change sex, the tubular, now extinct Hallucigenia, which looks like it belongs more in the engine of a racing car, and whether the surface area to volume ratio of dinosaur testicles could have led to their catastrophic demise. This is just to name a few! Gould's style is friendly and approachable, without cheating the reader of technical appreciation. He is a deeply thoughtful human being, with adept skill at communicating the most salient kernel of the issue. This book will widen your appreciation of nature, entertain and inform. I found it all the more moving to realise Gould had written this book whilst contemplating his own mortality- he was seriously ill at the time.


Rolfing: Re-establishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being
Rolfing: Re-establishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being
by Ida P. Rolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: 21.00

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
Although Rolfing admittedly sounds like something you might be inclined to do down a back alley in Soho, you may otherwise have heard of it by the name of Structural Integration. I discovered this book as a well intentioned student massage therapist. By far and away it was the best, most sophisticated examination of human functional anatomy I have ever seen. And seen since; one of those books that changed me- a bible of bodyworking. Ida Rolf started out with a PhD in biochemistry, which makes it all the more intriguing that she should develop an interest in functional anatomy. Rolf had an interest in REAL bodies, not the idealised artist's impressions that we see in anatomy books. Real bodies are messy. They are made of connective tissue, cartilage, sinews, muscles and bones all welded together in one wholistic functional unit. Bodies are energetic. They transmit, store, and contort with emotion and use, and Rolf explores all of this with a multitude of graphs, charts, diagrams and photographs. This book is unashamedly technical. Just the title indicates that fact: `Rolfing- Re-establishing the Natural Alignment and Structural Integration of the Human Body for Vitality and Well-Being'. It demands a rigorous and intimate knowledge of anatomy which Rolf assists in greatly. Not by simplification, but by explanation- she is an inspired teacher. After a biomechanical study of the various functional units of the body (e.g. hips, lower locomotion unit, shoulder girdle, head and neck), she asserts that correct postural function on which so much of health depends, can be regained by structural integration. This is a type of deep tissue processing, not dissimilar from a Chinese burn, only twice as painful. Rolf bases much of her therapy on the much ignored, but enigmatic connective tissue. After reading this book, I went out for the full series of sessions, and grew about 1 inch in height! This is a must read of PE heads, all bodyworkers, and those students geared towards the medical sciences.


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