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Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Pluto Middle Eastern Studies)
Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Pluto Middle Eastern Studies)
by Israel Shahak
Edition: Paperback

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very disturbing book, 19 Dec. 2003
Shahak is no friend of organised religion, and he tireless in seeking to expose all aspects of life that have been contaminated by it. This book tells the story of how the far-right fundamentalists in Israel are holding the state to ransom. More, it offers some very interesting reasons for why secular Jews are letting these people get away with blackmail. He suggests that both sides are using each other, while simultaneously exposing the racism that underscores Israeli attitudes towards everybody else, and especially their Arab neighbours.
Compared to Jewish History, Jewish Religion, it is a less stylish and accomplished book, but its subject matter is even more disturbing. The Fundamentalists he talks about are not some mere crackpots, but people whose fingers are uncomfortably close to the nuclear button.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2011 7:06 PM GMT


Jewish History, Jewish Religion, the Weight of 3000 Years (Pluto Middle Eastern Studies)
Jewish History, Jewish Religion, the Weight of 3000 Years (Pluto Middle Eastern Studies)
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an eye-opener, 19 Dec. 2003
Some people believe they have to set their own house in order before proceeding to pontificate to others about what they should do. Shahak is definitely one of them. He has many extremely interesting things to say about Judaism and Jewish history, and in case anybody was wandering, they are all derogatory. This comes as no surprise, since he belongs to the humanist tradition, and thus has little patience with organised religion. In common with most other humanists, he has very strong moral principles, and he holds up Jewish religion and Jewish history to them, and founds them wanting.
Sadly, in today's climate, few Jews are going to pick this book up to read it, while many Jew-baiters will seize on it. Still, a must read for all.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Popular Classics)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Popular Classics)
by James Joyce
Edition: Paperback

7 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring, boring, boring, 21 Oct. 2003
Sorry, not my kind of thing; subjectivism run riot, and I fairly couldn't see the point of the whole exercise.


The German Ideology: Including Theses on Feuerbach and an Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy (Great Books in Philosophy)
The German Ideology: Including Theses on Feuerbach and an Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy (Great Books in Philosophy)
by Karl Marx
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx at his best, 21 Oct. 2003
Half of the book is about various long-forgotten German philosophers that the grand old man deftly debunks. It is the other half which is mainly of interest for us today, in which Marx gives the basics of his philosophic system.
Anyone worried about not understanding Marx should read this half of the book. It is totally approachable, and very friendly, written in superb style, with generous doses of humour. Even Marx's philosophical opponents will be surprised with what they will find here. The system he proposes sounds the epitome of sound common sense, while his presentation of the failings and the strengths of the capitalist system will have even hardened private marketeers nodding to themselves in agreement, or even chuckling up their sleeve.


Rabelais and His World
Rabelais and His World
by M Bakhtin
Edition: Paperback

19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this book changed my life, 21 Oct. 2003
This review is from: Rabelais and His World (Paperback)
I first read Bakhtin's book on Rabelais when I was 22. At the time I was struggling to find a way to go on being a leftist, with the Berlin Wall coming crashing all around me. Bakhtin showed me how.
It is still the best introductory course on laughter and its liberating qualities. Not to be missed by anyone interested in understanding how laughter works


The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Jaroslav Hasek
Edition: Paperback

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars maybe the best novel of the 20th century, 21 Oct. 2003
Svejk is not the sort of novel that would appeal to James Joyce, Virginia Woolf or Henry James fans. In many ways it completely disregards ellusive modernity, and deals with things that would have interested Rabelais and Aristophanes: food, drink and sex. Simultaneously its characters find themselves in the butchery of the First World War, and do all they can to get themselves out of it. Hasek is no Remark, and his protagonists are so adept at getting out of the front, that by the (incomplete) end of the book there has still been no actual fighting in it.
Just like Rabelais, Hasek successfully subverts any form of authority. Alhtough Hasek became a communist towards the end of his life, he remained at heart an out-and-out anarchist. Much of his venom is directed at the corrupt and decaying state of Austria-Hungary, but the most choice specimens of it are those reserved for the Church and for religion of all kinds.
Svejk himself is very like Hamlet in one important way: just as it is almost impossible to give a definite answer to whether Hamlet is mad or not, so it is impossible to give a definite answer to the main question surrounding Svejk: is he a patent imbecile or not? In another sense he is much bigger than Hamlet, since he takes over directly the structure of the work, and twists, chops and defines it accordingly. He always tells grotesque stories, supposedly to illustrate a moral of some kind, but these always seem to drift and swerve wildly away, and end up proving nothing at all or something totally different to his avowed aim. They impede the flow of the narrative so much, that by the end there is almost no narrative, just a morrass of subversions, each more hilarious than the one that preceded it.
It definitely is a prime contender for book of the past century.


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