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J. A. Garlick "jeremyanddasha" (Manchester, UK)
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Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Series 1 [DVD]
Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Noel Fielding
Price: £7.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Ooh, yeah., 3 Sept. 2014
Weird, funny, endearing, unlike anything else. Every show a fresh surprise, like a fantasy custard pie in the face. Love it.


Transition Scenarios: China And The United States In The Twenty-First Century
Transition Scenarios: China And The United States In The Twenty-First Century
by David Rapkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Does not do what it says on the tin, 15 Aug. 2014
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As a scholar interested in China's future I was looking forward to a detailed presentation of scenarios of the future of Chinese-US relations and their impact on the 21st century world. What I got instead was an uninformative amalgam of waffly transition theory based on European (rather than Chinese or US) history (presumably this part was written by Thompson) and over-long scenarios lacking in either methodological or evidential detail (presumably written by Rapkin). The whole, like most presentations of scenarios concerning China's future, is unsatsifactory and inconclusive, with the added problem of a failure to knit the theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of the book together.


When China Rules The World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order
When China Rules The World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order
by Martin Jacques
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Martin Jacques rules the world of 'China rise' books, 15 Aug. 2014
As a student interested in understanding China's rise, I found this by far the most informative book on the topic written in the last fifteen years. In it Jacques develops three key ideas which are not found in other recent literature on China, and by doing so he presents a clear vision of how China is likely to develop as it grows and takes its place on the world stage.

First, he puts forward the idea of China as a 'civilisation-state' (which he takes from Lucian Pye). By this he means that China is essentially different in character to the smaller, 'Westphalian' nation-states which first emerged in Europe. Chinese civilisation stretches back at least 3500 years and has absorbed a large number of smaller states into one unified socio-political entity. Jacques is suggesting that Westerners need to look at China in a very different way from the way they look at their own nation-states, which usually means (at least in the European context) discussing a history of inter-national conflict rather than the Chinese process of steady absorption and Sinicisation to create a vast country with a common culture.

Second he analyses what he calls the 'Middle Kingdom mentality'. This includes a unifying sense of historical purpose among the various peoples of China, as well as an understanding of China as being innately central, both in terms of political influence in East Asia and in terms of the long-term project of civilising the peoples of the world. Jacques connects this idea to the historical tributary system in which foreigners came to the Emperor to pay tribute and seek political and economic favours. Today we can see this tributary system beginning to re-emerge as European states send large parties of dignitaries and business people to Beijing to negotiate large-scale business contracts on Chinese terms.

Jacques' third main idea is what he calls 'contested modernity'. By this term he means that the world will no longer be dominated mainly by Western culture, economics and politics, but will increasingly be presented with alternative civilisational systems, most notably the Chinese Confucian-based one. This will produce a global sphere in which ideas from the West, the East and other parts of the world will interact and cross-fertilise, but in which, Jacques believes, Chinese civilisation will come to be increasingly predominant.

Because of these three main ideas, I would highly recommend this book to anybody interested in China's rise. The book is quite heavy going, and sometimes repetitive, but rewards concentrated attention with a wealth of detailed argument and evidence in a way that many other recent books on China do not.


China Goes Global: The Partial Power
China Goes Global: The Partial Power
by David Shambaugh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must have guide to today's China, 14 May 2013
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For anybody deeply interested in China's rise this is an important book to have. Written by one of the world's foremost experts on China's internal politics and international relations, it is packed with detailed research into every aspect of the emerging civilization-state.

As a scholar of Chinese politics, I particularly appreciated the analysis of Chinese academia's view of things, which gives us the view from the other side of the fence, rarely to be found in standard Western literature. Also very useful was the frequent use of Chinese terminology (including characters) for familiar IR concepts such as soft power, peaceful rise, and so on.

Highly recommended to Sinophiles, Sinologists, and anybody simply interested in the most important real-life story of our age.


Modern Times (Chaplin Collection) [DVD] [1936]
Modern Times (Chaplin Collection) [DVD] [1936]
Dvd ~ Charles Chaplin

2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, 16 Mar. 2013
In my view Chaplin is extremely overrated. He was a one-trick pony with only one character who has a well-defined silly walk. Don't get me wrong, he was very good at this, but there is no range to it.

Many reviews claim that Modern Times critiques industrial society. It doesn't really. It's just sentimental slapstick, a loosely connected selection of skits. The funniest scenes are in the factory and are connected with food. Everything else is quite boring. Chaplin's wife is pretty, but can't act for toffee.

Overall: sporadically funny slapstick interspersed with horribly sentimental scenes, lacking the depth that many pretentious film critics claim for it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2013 2:32 AM BST


Four Horsemen [DVD] [2012]
Four Horsemen [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Noam Chomsky
Price: £11.91

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but a little disappointed, 3 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Four Horsemen [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This film is not as good as I expected. At 90 minutes I think it is too short to accomplish the ambitious agenda that the filmmakers set out to persuade us of. A lot of valid and interesting points are thrown out, but not really developed sufficiently. There are very good sections, especially the one near the beginning about cycles of empire, but also poor ones, particularly at the end where the thesis of how to change society breaks down. I mean, is reintroducing the gold standard and changing the tax system really going to fundamentally alter the capitalist system for the better? This is very poorly thought through, and inadequately supported with evidence and argument.

There is also a problem that most of the experts put their points across too fast and in language that could be clearer. The interviewer needed to get them to slow down. There are no subtitles on the DVD, so this doesn't help. I wanted to show the film to colleagues who are not native speakers of English, but the speed and lack of subtitles means it is difficult for them to follow the film.

The other basic problem with the film is the concept of 'Four Horsemen' itself. The film does not really introduce its four pillars properly. I think they are mentioned quickly somewhere, but not emphasised enough. There should be four clear sections with titles introducing each, plus a catchy sequence with an apocalyptic horseman riding through the dusk or something. This would be a far more effective way to structure the film. This film is somewhat incoherent and insufficiently developed, and needs a re-edit and a rethink.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2013 6:42 PM GMT


The Girl Who Leapt Through Time [DVD] [2006]
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Mamoru Hosoda
Price: £2.99

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is seriously overrated here, 25 Sept. 2012
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Really the only reason this film is so highly rated and a bestseller on Amazon must be because it is so cheap. It is really not in the same league as the best of Studio Ghibli (e.g. Mononoke, Totoro, Nausicaa). The animation is pretty standard Japanese anime, particularly in terms of the faces, and the atmosphere lacks the magical quality of Ghibli. The characters of the two main male characters are poorly defined, while the female lead is simply a typical feisty female. The story begins quite well as a coming-of-age schooldays love triangle type thingie, but descends into farce in the second half as the time travel theme unravels into absurdity.

Suffice it to say that I and my wife laughed out loud at some of the plot developments (particularly relating to the pivotal role of the painting), and we were clearly not supposed to. This film is really not very good, and I would recommend serious cinephiles to head first for the Miyazaki classics mentioned above.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2012 2:18 PM GMT


China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation
China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation
by David Shambaugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Chinese Communist Party - in depth, 23 Aug. 2011
You thought it was impossible to know what is going on in the Chinese corridors of power? Think again.

This book breaks new ground with detailed and in-depth research of Chinese-language sources. Unlike many China books, there's no recycling here as David Shambaugh delves into the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). So this is a book not for the casual reader, but for those who are deeply interested in finding out what drives China from the inside.

Conclusions? The Chinese leadership is trying to learn from its own and others' (e.g. the Soviets') mistakes, and create solid long-term policy to enable the CCP to hold onto power and to maintain the stability of the Chinese state. This means that the Party is paradoxically in a process of "atrophy and adaptation" allowing it to become "a new kind of political hybrid" - an "eclectic state" that cherry picks policies out of the failings and successes of other states.

Highly recommended for both amateur and professional sinologists.


Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise
Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China's Extraordinary Rise
by Carl E. Walter
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The inside story of China's financial system, 17 Aug. 2011
This is essential reading for anybody who wants to know what is really going on inside China's financial system, and why surface appearances (as usual in China) do not represent the whole of the underlying reality. One of the authors' main points is that the Chinese have adopted the features of a Western capitalist system (e.g. a stock market, shares, privatisation, etc.) in order to attract investment, but that these trappings do not reveal the true movements of capital within the system, or the interests that the capital serves. Basically, in China everything is underwritten and owned by the state or its proxies, even if this doesn't appear to be so officially. What looks like a successful company might turn out to be a debt-ridden shell, and you can't get anything done without the say-so of the Party.

Note that the authors have lived and worked in China for approximately 20 years, so know the Chinese financial system inside-out.


Records of the Historian
Records of the Historian
by Sima Qian
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stories, a great help learning Chinese, 25 Feb. 2009
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There are 42 illustrated stories in this book. Each story is fairly short, but extremely interesting, and taken from Chinese history and legend. The text is Chinese characters with Pinyin transliteration above. This helps immensely with looking up the words. The book has motivated me to persevere with trying to read Chinese, as I am desperate to know what happens in the stories, and translations are very difficult to find.

Extremely good value at the price if you are trying to learn Chinese.


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