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A Carless (Spain)

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The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union
The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union
by Luuk Van Middelaar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging history, 14 July 2016
This is a well-written story of how co-operation between nation-states in Europe has evolved over the last sixty-five years. The careful dissection of actions behind the scenes makes it clear how complicated the evolution has been, how small the individual steps of progress have been but also how persistent has been the momentum as events along the way have to be dealt with. It is encouraging to be reminded just how much has been achieved in two-thirds of a century.


Against Elections: The Case for Democracy
Against Elections: The Case for Democracy
by David Van Reybrouck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mistaken diagnosis but useful prescription, 14 July 2016
This is an interesting book with some useful information about ways of making democracy work better. I bought the Kindle edition on which all his figures are illegibly small so recommend buying a paper edition. There are two reservations : the author's knowledge of English history seems to be very deficient, and I don't agree with his diagnosis - although I like the name of Democratic Fatigue Syndrome ! Surely the frustration many people feel is mirrored right up to the top when those in government find themselves impotent against global corporations. Find a way of cutting down to size these irresponsible and uncontrollable giants and we would all be happier.


The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327
The Origins of the English Parliament, 924-1327
by J. R. Maddicott
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial indeed !, 12 Oct. 2015
Although written as a book for academics this is on such an interesting subject that it merits a wider readership. We amateurs can ignore the bibliography and the footnotes and enjoy the clear logic which refutes a fair number of myths in making the case that a phase of representative government began in the reign of Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan and formed a vital step provided by the English along the road by which democratic government has evolved. The writing can be a bit senior-common-roomy at times but this book is so good that Dr Maddicott is entitled to as many Latin phrases as he likes !


Villagers: 750 Years of Life in an English Village
Villagers: 750 Years of Life in an English Village
by James Brown
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to make detail fascinating !, 26 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought James Brown's first book about Gamlingay (which was excellent) but was in two minds about getting the second but am very glad that I did so as it is just as entertaining but follows a number of interesting lines much further. I look forward to his third but hope that it will arrive a bit quicker as I am nearly eighty !


The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.59

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A buried book, 26 Aug. 2014
This is a typical academic's book. The author is so determined not to be blamed for leaving anything out that one ends up with an almost meaningless mass of detail. Somewhere in it all a good book lies buried but I prefer authors to do at least some of the work for me !


The Blunders of Our Governments
The Blunders of Our Governments
by Anthony King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Linnaeus and not Darwin, 17 Dec. 2013
This book is a well-researched account of the many blunders made in the government of Britain during the last thirty years. It is, however, more of a catalogue than an analysis. The suggestions made for doing better in the years ahead are very unconvincing and the obvious questions (to a scientist) have not been asked ; we need to look for more efficient governments, examine carefully the differences between them and our British one, and then formulate a helpful hypothesis. Half the amount of 'fact' and ten times the amount of thought about underlying reasons and how to correct them would have made a brilliant book. As it is, this is a mere academic pot-boiler, which is a pity when the subject is one which is genuinely important.


What to Eat: Food that's good for your health, pocket and plate
What to Eat: Food that's good for your health, pocket and plate
by Joanna Blythman
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy the Kindle edition, 16 Mar. 2012
I have never managed to make it to the end of a book about modern food and the food industry before because I am so sickened by what I am reading. Ms Blythman manages to convey the information without stuffing it down one's throat, and also manages to be optimistic. I unthinkingly bought the Kindle edition and it is, of course, a disaster. This is a book for continuous reference and dipping into, and for passing round friends and family. For some weird reason the invaluable recipe suggestions have been printed in an almost illegible grey.


Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Debt: The First 5,000 Years
by David Graeber
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History need not be bunk, Mr. Ford !, 29 Dec. 2011
The depth of Mr Graeber's erudition is only equalled by the breadth of his sweeping statements. But I find generalisations can be illuminating, and this book certainly throws light on the past in a way which few, if any, historians are prepared to risk doing ; anthropologists are clearly both fearless and philosophical. This book is not quite so easy to grasp immediately as, perhaps, other reviewers have suggested but I am sure that, unlike most books, it will be well worth reading again soon. Otherwise my reviewing predecessors have said it all, although I fear that this book will join the ranks of disregarded myth-exploders.


Meat: A Benign Extravagance
Meat: A Benign Extravagance
by Simon Fairlie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.95

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 300 pages of anti-waffle, 14 April 2011
This is the first time I have ever given a book five stars, and I am full of admiration for Simon Fairlie's hard work and powers of logical thought ; he also writes very well and with frequent flashes of wit. It is too meaty a book to be an entertaining read but it would be hard to better this as a comprehensive overview of land use which packs in a great deal of simple arithmetic to back its clear conclusions, and, along the way, manages to show how many of the 'facts' bandied around are mythical.


Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance
Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance
by Amy Chua
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read worth buying, 4 Mar. 2011
A professional historian might have quailed at the thought of packing the stories of all the world's major empires into 350 pages to illustrate a hypothesis of why empires rise and fall. But the polymathic Amy Chua is a professor of law and had no inhibitions about making the attempt. The result is a very readable book packed with information and quotes. The hypothesis is that the mainspring of successful imperialism is toleration and seems to be based on the premise that toleration is the cardinal virtue. This premise is as questionable as Professor Chua's hypothesis and the book is not entirely convincing at exploring the one and demonstrating the other.
The trouble also with hypotheses is that there is an unavoidable tendency to select the facts to fit them, and sometimes, (no doubt inadvertently) to bend them as well. The Inquisition, for instance, may not have been quite so horrific as Protestant history has made out - see James Hannam's 'God's Philosophers' for another view ; and Professor Chua is more than suspect when she asserts that the extent of Dutch maritime domination in the seventeenth century is astonishing. There were three naval wars between England and the Netherlands between the 1650s and the 1670s, of which the English won the first, the Dutch the second, and the third was a draw. In the 1650s the English had 50,000 tons of warships to the Dutch 30,000 tons. The Dutch then modernised and built steadily until, in the 1670s, they had 102,000 tons to the English 84,000 tons ; but the French by then had 120,000 tons.
But some misleading 'facts' and an unconvincing hypothesis do not detract from 'Day of Empire's essential quality, even if it is not quite so good as Amy Chua's 'World on Fire'.


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