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FDR
FDR
by Jean Edward Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.16

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 8 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: FDR (Paperback)
There was a load of hoo-hah when Obama got elected due to the colour of his skin. They are ahead of us Brits on that one. Same for disability. President Roosevelt got himself elected over 80 years ago from a wheelchair, and hardly anybody noticed.

Those were the days. Of course they didn't have 24 hour 'news' following everybody everywhere up to and including bathroom back then, but still the lack of vast libraries of photos showing a man in a wheelchair must be a staggering achievement.

I suppose coming from a privileged background might have helped, as did having another president in the family (albeit a looney one), but its hard to imagine it being repeated even now. So have we really advanced that much?

The book ends a bit abruptly. Biographies always have sad endings, ie the subject dies. But this chap died on 12 April 1945, less than a month before his nemesis Hitler died and the war ended. So a bit of continuity would not have been amiss. But a good read for all that.


Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction To Your Future
Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction To Your Future
by Richard Susskind
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grim reaper Susskind stalks the land once more..., 9 Feb. 2013
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Here he goes again, doom and gloom all the way.

There are three forces crushing down on us lawyers and forcing us to change, he says: the pressure to do more for less (ie do it cheaper), liberalisation (by which he means more legal services providers of various types) and the advance of IT. But he is wrong. The first has always been there, and the other two just drive it a bit more latterly. Lawyers are not unique in getting it in the neck that way.

I'm a 'High Street' lawyer so I'm not really interested in his prognostications about hi-falutin' commercial practice or in-house and whatever. As for my world, apparently everything will be chopped boxed and mass produced. So I and all those like me are gonners.

It is hard to imagine how he could be more wrong. The paradox of IT nowadays is that whilst with the click of a mouse it gives us access to information way beyond the dreams of previous generations, about 99% of it is at least junk, and much of it worse than junk: conmen, chancers, spivs on the make, and all of it is impersonal.

Thus society is changing before our very eyes from a world where any information at all was hard to get over huge swathes of human curiousity, to one where the issue is confidence: its reliability and personability. So solicitors will always thrive.

The profession will change, it always does. It could do with changing quicker but vested interests are always slow to change. But to change is not to die and to say we are doomed is just nonsense. In truth the future is so exciting it has never been a better time to be a 'High Street' type lawyer.

I hope loads of my competitors read this book and get frightened to death and shut up shop.


The Story of Music
The Story of Music
by Howard Goodall
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ta-dah!!!, 29 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Story of Music (Hardcover)
I was a bit nervous about buying this because I know absolutely nothing about music. And to be fair it does presuppose a bit of nous. There is a fair bit of fairly technical stuff in here. Probably stuff the author does not realise is technical for me because it isn't for him.

But in spite of all that its a good read even for a musical ignoramus like me. There's a thread to the tale that even I can follow. So it deserves its 4 stars at least.

If you have ever remarked to yourself how unusual it is that we live in a world with constant wall to wall music, and noted how in previous eons they had to somehow get by in more or less total silence, this is a good book to start with.


Flying Free
Flying Free
by Nigel Farage
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new in here, 26 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Flying Free (Paperback)
If you follow UK politics you will not find anything you don't already know in here. Farage is a personable chap as we well know from the telly, but his ego does not permit of much deep reflection if this is anything to go by. Calms down a bit and gets a touch more reflective after his plane crash, but that doesn't last long. Good for political junkies, but you've already read it haven't you?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 28, 2014 7:18 AM BST


Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
by Jon Meacham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The true father of US democracy, 21 Jan. 2013
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We are brought up on 1776, the war of independence, and George Washington. All worth knowing about. But it didn't end there. Just because the colonies had their independence did not mean they knew what to do with it. For many years the dominant strand of opinion in America was that the president should be a king-like figure (maybe even just a king, full stop).

Jefferson is the chap who put a stop to that. He gave us the American system we more or less still have today. He started a dynasty of like-minded presidents and before very long his views - at first peripheral to the point of eccentricity - became the new norm. And still are. Well worth the read.


Einstein: His Life and Universe
Einstein: His Life and Universe
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Einstein for dummies, 12 Jan. 2013
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Einstein's ideas are hard to get to grips with because we try to take them in all at once. He took a lifetime to think them through, and this is the story of his life and how his thought developed. Worth reading through if only to get to the fascinating story of what happened to his brain after he died. And by persevering you end up with a deeper understanding of the unfathomable. Or at least you think you do.


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £23.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Founding grandfather, 12 Jan. 2013
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Fascinating chap. Oldest (by a long way) of the US founding fathers who drafted the constitution, and criss-crossing the Atlantic like a modern on missions of both business and diplomacy. Overwhelming feeling is he would not have felt at all out of place in our modern world, and he would probably teach us a thing or two. Excellent read.


The Last Gunfight: The real story of the shootout at the O.K. Corral And how it changed the American West
The Last Gunfight: The real story of the shootout at the O.K. Corral And how it changed the American West
by Jeff Guinn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Earp and Doc Holliday, 12 Jan. 2013
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Yes they did exist, they were not just made up in Hollywood. And the shoot out in the OK Coral happened too, although not in the OK Coral. And why is Tombstone Arizona called Tombstone? I won't spoil it for you. Good social history putting an old western yarn in it's true context. Fascinating stuff. Would have been 5 stars but perhaps a bit on the long side.


Latest Version Bluetooth Portable Handheld Handy Scanner
Latest Version Bluetooth Portable Handheld Handy Scanner

4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff., 23 Dec. 2012
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Does what it says on the tin. Fiddly downloading but that's part of the territory.

I used to tear items out of papers on long journeys, now I scan them in. Perfect.


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

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental insights, shame about the ego, 23 Dec. 2012
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Taleb is a clever man, but it is the mark of the insecure to have to keep reminding us of it all the time. Which is a pity, because if only his writing was as good as his brain we would really be onto something here.

Worth 5 stars for the content in spite of the style. Basically his thesis is that the route to happiness is being able to take the crap and not just walk through it but grow from it, listen only to others doing the same, and ignore anybody (the majority) not doing likewise.

It's hard work but he writes convincingly and it's worth it in the end. Just don't put him in charge of anything. He would make Stalin look like a simpering inadequate.


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