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Andrew Dalby "ardalby" (oxford)
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The Candidate: What it Takes to Win - and Hold - the White House
The Candidate: What it Takes to Win - and Hold - the White House
by Samuel L. Popkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Democrat perspective of US politics, 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are a fan of The War Room, Primary Colours, House of Cards and The West Wing this is a great first hand account of what it takes to get into the White House. It shows how background, current office and a myriad of other factors can affect a campaign from the first primaries to the presidential election itself, It also shows how pundits can be wrong and how campaigns can fall apart for the simplest of reasons. Who could forget the collapse of Hillary Clinton's campaign to win the Democratic nomination? Then there was the dithering of Gore when he could and should have won the Presidency from Dubya. There are loads of examples taken in great detail such as Carter's Presidential debate with Reagan and the "There you go again" moment. So it give a fascinating insight into how you need to run a political campaign.

So for anyone interested in campaigning (not just in the US) and anyone interested in politics this is a must read. It perhaps needs another chapter to cover Obama and his first Presidential debate for re-election where the wheels nearly fell of his campaign. But most of all it misses some of the Republican gems such as Sarah Palin, but that is because Popkin is writing from where he knows as a Democrat. To get this other view we will have to get Karl Rove to write a warts and all revelation from the Republican perspective.


The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution
The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution
by Faramerz Dabhoiwala
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains a lot of our current hang-ups about sex, 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a wonderfully written history of the development of sexual rules from the end of the 17th century through to the end of the Enlightenment. It first provides a history of how views on sex had become stricter as the Catholic Church had sought to regulate moral life and how the rules had become a mixture of pagan, church and Old Testament teaching that associated sex with the fall of Adam and Eve. There was strict regulation of adultery which could be a capital crime, as well as fornication and laws against bastardy. Most of these laws were about property rights from the pagan perspective, about inheritance and not forcing the community to support unwanted children. For the church perspective the sin of lust was the driving force. But for both women faced the brunt of the persecutions as they were the ones who could get pregnant and not deny their actions.

With the advent of Protestantism and the Puritans things got even worse and laws even tighter than under a more pragmatic Catholic regime that had tolerated prostitution. The Protestants looked back to the extreme rules of the Old Testament and looked for perfection of the human spirit and so all compromise with the reality of human desire was abandoned. Yet within 50 years of this strictest times the world had changed and all the old sexual laws had been abandoned. This is the core of the author's thesis. By having so much diversity of view with the fragmentation of religion it become impossible to assert a single moral view and so society made this move into the Enlightenment that we still benefit from today.


Godchild (P.I. Jack Marconi)
Godchild (P.I. Jack Marconi)
by Vincent Zandri
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic writing, rubbish plot, 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Zandri's writing is fantastic, it gives the dark film noire feeling of claustrophobia and intensity. The writing is very tight and it is a real page turner. You really get into the mind and body of the characters. It is emotive and stylish in the use of chapter lengths and perspectives. The problem is the plot. It is just silly. A millionaires wife is an author looking for realism to inspire her, and she she gets involved in drug running on the Mexican border. Unfortunately her first run goes wrong and so "Keeper" Marconi is hired to get her out of a high security jail. Real world someone gives the regional governor a large campaign contribution and she walks free discretely. Not some complex involved plot of "Prison Break".

If Zandri got some better plots he could be the next Raymond Chandler/James Ellroy but he needs to cut out the wild plot lines and have something simpler.


What the Best College Students Do
What the Best College Students Do
by Ken Bain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas but who is the audience, 22 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Bain's first book looked at what the best college teachers do. In this sequel he is looking at the students. For the first book the audience is quite obviously the teacher who want to have inspiration as to what they can do better and what the best practitioners do. For this second book the audience is less clear. It presents lots of ideas about how we want students to be as deep learners and it shows that it is this deep learning aspect that has made the interviewees successful in their careers, but the problem is how do we get students to this Utopian ideal of the deep learner. Sometimes the book falls into being a self-help guide for students giving them advice as to what they can do and sometimes in the case studies it presents to ideas from a more detached tutors perspective of this is what your good student should be doing. The problem with it as a self-help guide is that I do not think college students are often mature enough to learn the lessons from the book and they are likely to think they can become a strategic deep learner!! I also think you cannot tell people to be deep learners, they have to find it for themselves. Baxter-Magolda has covered this idea as well and it is difficult to find a way to create a pathway where students can be enabled to make this leap. You cannot teach them to get there, they have to find it. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink. You can lead students to college education but you cannot make them deep learners, they have decide to do it.


Shiverton Hall
Shiverton Hall
by Emerald Fennell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ghost story, 18 April 2013
This review is from: Shiverton Hall (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Arthur Bannister is about to start term at a new school Shiverton Hall. It is far away from his home in London in an old run down gothic estate. He is lucky that he got a full scholarship to the school, but that's the odd thing. He didn't apply.

Arthur meets George, his shadow, one of the pupils of Shiverton who introduces him to the Shiverton curse and the ghost stories surrounding the Hall. Arthur isn't convinced but when strange things start to happen he doesn't know who to believe. The friends are returning, but he doesn't have a friend, or does he?

This is a fantastic debut novel from Emerald Fennell that will appeal to any fan of Harry Potter that has a bit of a warped mind for horror stories or a fan of Skullduggery Pleasant. It is well paced, the characters are a bit thin at times but the story is captivating and unpredictable, you just have to know what is going to happen next.


I Suck at Girls
I Suck at Girls
by Justin Halpern
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Quite funny but a little disturbing, 16 April 2013
This review is from: I Suck at Girls (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you like S*** my Dad Says you will probably like this sequel which focuses on the world of girls. It is funny and there are parts that everyone will relate to. Things we did wrong, embarrassing moments they will all strike a chord. It even helps to imagine William Shatner's voice every time his dad says anything.

The problem is if those events had really happened in the way described I would have expected social services to have paid the family a visit because dad just isn't doing the dad thing in the right way, especially in the early school incidents. There are ways of saying things to a 7 year old and there are other ways.


Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes brilliant, other times frustrating and always controversial., 16 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is Taleb's latest book where he brings together his ideas from the Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness to create a complete synthesis to deal with the complex world we live in. He calls this approach anti-fragile, which is something more than robust because the anti-fragile thrives in adversity. A biologist would call this a world that is an evolving complex system, where prediction of the future is difficult or not impossible and where eco-systems have been anti-fragile for billions of years.

The insights are sometimes brilliant, but like the over-all theory if he read more others with similar views he would find he is not as original as he thinks he is. He is a fan of Mandelbrot but he misses out Wolfram whose book The New Kind of Science is actually covering a lot of the same ground. He also misses Prigogine who wrote a lot of similar views on complexity. He also misunderstands statistics where the rule is not to extrapolate because he confounds it with statistics in economics where extrapolation is the rule.

The other problem is Taleb's tone. He is continuously confrontational and often random. He is not very good at constructing reasoned arguments when ad hominems and stereotyping can be used to ignore other views.


Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth
Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth
by Kevin Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, amazing and inspirational. I cannot say how much everyone should read this book, 10 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We are living in times of austerity but people need to put the problems in the west into perspective and this is the ideal book for doing that. This book tells uplifting stories of how people who live in some of the worlds poorest and most deprived areas are changing their lives by using simple solutions. They have the attitude and the motivation to want to change their lives that are harder to find amongst the more comfortable lives of the developed countries.

These are people who see a problem and solve it, using what they have and what they know. They don't wait for someone to come and solve it for them. It is also a tale of how big business has had to reinvent itself in emerging markets and how those frugal approaches have allowed them to bring new ideas back to counter austerity. If you have read Antifragile by Taleb then this is the perfect antidote. Jugaad is totally anti-fragile. It strips away the complexities and chaos of life in the developed world for simplicity. Alright they might be temporary patchwork solutions and not a perfect solution, but they are what works when we need a problem solving. Jugaad is not a permanent solution but it is a flexible and adaptable solution that beats the over-designed solutions we have now. For anyone who thinks the world is in a mess and who feels there is no way out of austerity, this shows that there is a simple way out and that we can all play a part in showing the politicians that they are wrong.


Functional Biology of Plants
Functional Biology of Plants
by Martin J. Hodson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 55.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Completely new look at plants, 4 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This textbook presents a very fresh look at plants and plant biology. Some textbooks of the past focussed too much on plant anatomy and physiology and drove away an interest you could have in the subject. This is a textbook which puts plants into context. So it is not just about the plants themselves but moves from the molecular to the ecological levels. If you just focus on the how of a system then you miss out the much more exciting why questions. That is what functional biology is about.

What makes the book even more impressive is the breadth but compactness of the material. It is not one the the 600 pages (plus another 1000 in the accompanying DVD) bloated texts that are written to be totally comprehensive but to terrify undergraduate students. This covers the material just in the right amount of detail and in clear and precise language. The book is nicely illustrated throughout and it is a pleasure to read. I think that it will be an excellent addition to any plant biologist's bookshelf.


Sustainable Refurbishment
Sustainable Refurbishment
by Sunil Shah
Edition: Paperback
Price: 49.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written undergraduate level text on the subject, 4 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an ideal textbook for an undergraduate short module on sustainability in refurbishment. The text is well written, with clear and relevant illustrations and references to the appropriate further materials, as well as the guidelines and regulations.

The first chapter is set at a rather too introductory level but the rest of the material builds on this overview, The main strengths of the book are the case studies which are taken from the published literature and show how the theory can be put into practice.

This would also be a useful book for anyone who is interested in sustainable refurbishment and who is starting a refurbishment project. While it does not give a DIY guide it would allow the reader to have an informed discussion with the architects and project managers so that they can be more involved in the refurbishment design and more aware of where the best savings/changes can be made.


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