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J. G. Phipps "vitruvius" (uk)
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A Delicate Truth
A Delicate Truth
by John le Carré
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars collateral damage?, 2 Jun 2013
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This review is from: A Delicate Truth (Hardcover)
I love le carre and had pre-ordered this one. I found it hard to read the first time but it made more sense the second time. Note that the link jumping from chapter one to chapter 2 in kindle version takes you straight to the end. The characers Kit Probyn and Toby Bell are so similar that they are hard to tell apart. Why should a trained soldier who is used to killing people get so upset about collateral damage of two bystanders? Why should two trained diplomats used to lying abroad for Her Majesty have such trouble with brushing this one under the carpet! worse things happen in Iraq. The proposition is that it is a last straw which breaks the camels back pushed by an idealistic daughter with a conscience. The book ends with a crash! but wont spoil it. Some of the technical details re PCs is wrong but no matter that would be picky. I enjoyed it overall but not in the same class as Spy who came in from the cold - but what is - his finest work.


Teaching Singing to Children and Young Adults
Teaching Singing to Children and Young Adults
by Jenevora Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars indispensable, 29 Dec 2012
A handbook intended for all those engaged in teaching singing or drama to children and young adults. Also benefits those involved in vocal therapy and training. Excellent chapters on childen with special needs and on the development of the "changing voice" in young boys which it is important to handle sensitively and constructively.
Any practitioner will find this indispensable.

The cartoon illustrations are jolly and illustrate well the points in the text. There is also an accompanying DVD set available not included with the book itself.


The Fear Index
The Fear Index
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting raising many philosophical questions, 16 Dec 2011
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This review is from: The Fear Index (Hardcover)
I like Robert Harris and can't wait for the third volume of the Rome series. As I have worked in computers for a very long time and in the City it raises interesting points. One of the most worrying things about City operations at present is that machines can trigger selling or buying frenzies and go off on "frolics of their own" to the detriment of the small investor and everyone else's savings. Another problem is when you create an indestructible fail safe fault tolerant system how do you switch it off?! the scenario posed is not far fetched if you posit that the machine has been taking its own decisions about how and where to instal standby servers and installation which are unknown to those paying for it. His description of what a hedge fund is is just plain wrong but never mind! I read it very quickly and need to go back to it again to read the sub-texts. The Frankenstein parallel is obvious.


Our Kind of Traitor
Our Kind of Traitor
by John le Carré
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.19

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 4 Oct 2010
This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Hardcover)
A long term fan of le carre I found this book disappointing. It seemed to be a rewrite of "A most wanted man" but with different baddies and a different ending. I couldnt follow why Dima's life would be in danger after handing over control of his empire and I couldnt understand why Peregrine and Claire decided to get involved at all. The detail about computer trade craft seemed unconvincing and not really based on true background knowledge. I will read it again in a few months - maybe it will make more sense then??
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 28, 2011 4:14 PM GMT


At Home: A short history of private life
At Home: A short history of private life
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating stuff, 21 July 2010
I have just finished reading it for the second time. His style is inimitable and flows effortlessly. Rather like the "short history of nearly everything" it flits from bush to bush with effortless ease. Hundreds of fascinating bits - "the plum room contains all those pictures and items which one partner likes but the other wants to see burnt" - the account of the building of the Crystal Palace is a joy. The account of the famous demonstration by Whitney to the President of interchangeable parts - which he alleges was rigged. The book says that notes and sources are available on the website but they aren't actually there yet. A fascinating theme is how inventors seldom profited from their inventions - the mason jar - the inventor of hydraulic cement - the french inventor of the kerosene lamp and many many others. Edison he relates as not to be a "nice man at all". He registered his patent to the light bulb in England eight years after its original invention by Joseph Swann, who had failed to patent it. Edison also rigged his demonstration of electric light by lighting most of the rooms of the house with kerosene lamps and only one or two with electric light. One could go on and on.

My major criticism is that the paper, typography and the quality of the illustrations disappoint If production costs were an issue to meet a price point I would have cheerfully have cut about 80 pages.


A Week in December
A Week in December
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars showing its lineage, 26 Sep 2009
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The book does not disappoint. It could be said to be "by Birdsong out of Human Traces" The psychology knowledge comes in very handy and the depiction of the reality TV show "Its madness" which others have thought over the top is actually extremely chilling. I hope that Endemol do not read the book! Many have said that the barrister is the hero - it is more like anti-hero. He is a failure as a barrister and knows so little of the law that he doesn't realise that consorting with witnesses socially could get him disabarred. He also appears to be rehearsing the evidence which is even worse.

The final polemic on capitalists and city clever clogs delivered by the corporate lawyer who has had one too many is biting and incisive - it should be learnt by heart by all economics students. If only one could have said that oneself! It also exposes the fallacies of the efficient market hypothesis and the "fair value" algorithmic trading.

There are overtones of the Bridge of San Luis Rey in the setting of the dinner party which brings the characters together although they are connected even in ways unknown to themselves eg the hedge trade who wonders why the beautiful WAG does not recognise him and then remembers that she is an internet porn star. All of the characters seem to be trapped in their own "virtual reality".


The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
by Alice Schroeder
Edition: Hardcover

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money - a good read., 9 Oct 2008
The book starts well although it reads a bit like a hagiography written by Arthur Hailey. That is ok by me I like Arthur Hailey and have always regarded Buffett as a saint. I laughed out loud several times during the first 50 pages.

After this it gets a bit heavier going. There are many insights and many surprises. I had not realised that Berkshire Hathaway lost money from the start and wound up having the textile mill shut down. I had not reliased that Buffett was first a director of Salomon brothers and then became chairman appointed to clean up the mess which he seems to have done with great honour distinction and dignity. I liked the account of the arbitration with the former director Gutfreund who seems to have had it coming. His views on how derivatives spawn risk rather than remove it are very current today. Also his views on the Efficient Market Hypothesis have always been my own and not current orthodoxy.

A trifle over-written but very moving at the death of this friend Kay Graham and at the death of his wife Susie. Remarkable for the close friendship he enjoys with Bill and Melinda Gates and his partner Charlie Munger.


Teaching Today: A Practical Guide
Teaching Today: A Practical Guide
by Geoffrey Petty
Edition: Paperback

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good standard textbook, 31 Oct 2000
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Well established textbook- first edition 1993. The book reeks of years of experience from everything on how to maintain discipline in the classroom, how to rub out on OHP slides, how to plan lessons, how to make learning understandable and how to put across ideas. The part that will stay with me is the statement that standing in front of a class and reading out the textbook would take only half your teaching time allotted and would convey very little into the minds of the class. Those who have suffered university lectures will know how true that is! Do not expect to find within much information about special learning difficulties or dyslexia.


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