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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A continuation of the "If Symptoms Persist" books
This is a collection of very short Spectator columns that roughly follows on from where his previous book "If Symptoms Still Persist" left off (which in turn was a follow-on from "If Symptoms Persist"). It is roughly twice as long each of those books and, according to a page inside the book, covers the time period from 1997 to 2009 (the previous books covered the...
Published on 7 Nov 2009 by Matthew Buckley-Golder

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3.0 out of 5 stars Medical
Not really impressed. Felt author concentrated too much on attacking health boards and N.H.S. Would hesitate to recommend it to friends.
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. D. Gunn


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A continuation of the "If Symptoms Persist" books, 7 Nov 2009
By 
Matthew Buckley-Golder "amazon_womble" (Toronto, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
This is a collection of very short Spectator columns that roughly follows on from where his previous book "If Symptoms Still Persist" left off (which in turn was a follow-on from "If Symptoms Persist"). It is roughly twice as long each of those books and, according to a page inside the book, covers the time period from 1997 to 2009 (the previous books covered the mid-1990s).

The stories mostly come from his time working as a doctor and are witty, darkly funny, and well-written. Since they are short pieces, they don't quite have the cultural depth and longer arcs that his longer essays have, but they are still very enjoyable to read. But, it is clearly of a different character than his collections of longer essays like "Not With A Bang But A Whimper" and "Our Culture: What's Left Of It".

Sadly, they don't have the accompanying illustrations by Nick Newman that the other two books had. But, this is only a minor shortcoming because the writing is at the very least equally as good.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read in small doses, 10 Feb 2011
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: SECOND OPINION: A Doctor's Dispatches From The Inner City (Kindle Edition)
The book is a collection of short essays about the author's experience as an inner city and prison doctor. I found them interesting though they are better read a few at a time. The book paints an almost completely hopeless picture of life at the bottom of the heap. Men and women beat each other up because of real or perceived insults or injuries. They all, without exception, appear to lack the finer qualities of human nature.

Prisoners vow to go straight but never really achieve their aim. People try and commit suicide because someone is nasty to them. Men walk out on their children and women have children by many different fathers. Yes he is judging people by his own standards which some people may find distasteful but occasionally a small dose of judging other people and finding them wanting makes a refreshing change in this non-judgemental era.

I finished the book feeling there is no hope for the majority of inner city dwellers but then I thought about the flashes of humour and the occasional insights displayed by some of the author's patients. The author offers no solutions to the many problems he encounters and to my mind throwing money at the situation would not help. The book made me realise that we actually need to censure people if they commit crimes and we are doing them no favours if we explain and excuse their behaviour. Everyone needs to develop a sense of personal responsibility. Life at the bottom is tough but it need not be as tough as some people make it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Machiavelli., 16 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
Dr. Dalrymple catalogues the frailties of human nature encountered in his experience as a doctor. These first hand accounts of the inherent viciousness and brutality of human nature blow the relatavist dismissal of any human nature out of the water. It is significant that Machiavelli was writing about these self same frailties over five hundred years ago, suggesting a certain permanence to them. Postmodernists who 'feel good' about themselves should wake up and smell the coffee.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Antidote By Anecdote, 3 Jun 2010
By 
Eileen Pollock (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
At the end of the day I look forward to sitting in my armchair with my feet up on the ottoman, pouring myself a stiff Diet Pepsi, and inhaling several pages of Dalrymple at his driest. Second Opinion, imported from England, is chock-full of amusing tales of life among the savages. I know what you'll say - Dalrymple lacks compassion! And that's what makes him so delectable, so - so transgressive! In this era where we censor ourselves before thinking, Dalrymple dares to announce what we know is true but dare not say publicly or privately. His experience working in British prisons has given him a wealth of anecdote, but his genius is in the telling. Briticisms abound. I constantly flew to the Oxford English Dictionary to translate his language to American. (I learned that supererogatory does not mean unnecessary, as I had believed, but excess. That "instantiation" is not related to "instantaneous".) There were many phrases that were so Brit that I have no idea what they mean. Nonetheless, I got the gist and enjoyed the process. Second Opinion is superbly amusing and goes down painlessly, especially taken with a double dose of Schadenfreude. I want to add that the book contains unexpected grace notes of wisdom, observations about finding meaning in life, as well as the sudden leap of empathy toward the rare patient who embodies a quiet heroism. His encounter with the young man who speaks of Othello with recognition and applies it to his own jealousy is poignant.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, witty language, although it's quite pessimistic, 20 Jan 2010
By 
Pekka J. Taipale (Espoo, Finland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
I found this book very amusing, entertaining but also thought-provoking. It should be mandatory reading for policymakers in the area of justice, crime and social policy. However, I also found it a bit pessimistic: it looks like there is little hope left, Britain is sunk and so is the continental Europe. Perhaps that is a part of the conscious approach by the author, but somehow the constant flow of nihilism made me tired.

The language is very lively and expressive in an educated, enjoyable way. I'm not a native English speaker and more often than once did I need to reach for a dictionary, or google for words, but that didn't stop me from enjoying. Long live dyspeptic grumpy old men!

Recommended in small doses, daily intake maximum 5 short stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A desk companion, 14 Sep 2010
By 
Mr. B. M. Fisher "Ben" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
As usual from Dalrymple a well written book, but this time in the form of a collection of short anecdotes (1-2 pages).
Sat on my desk for around a week for dipping in to during quiet moments, certainly brightened the day up with his critical but realistic style of writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wry and cynical observation on one way the state wastes your taxes., 10 July 2011
This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
Entertainingly describes the faceless bureaucracy and absurdities of the welfare state. Worth a read to anyone who doubts why we need to perform radical surgery on the system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FAB!, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: SECOND OPINION: A Doctor's Dispatches From The Inner City (Kindle Edition)
A great book. I cannot disagree with anything Theodore Dalrymple has said. This is a book that could insult someone who doesnt have an open mind, and possibly cause fights. But the author is honest, open your eyes to the bombs hit is that is Britain today!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humour & Hell, 18 Jun 2011
This review is from: Second Opinion (Hardcover)
If you want to know what happens when medicine meets the underclass, read this book.

Theodore Dalrymple is erudite, sophisticated, witty and, I suspect, a very good doctor (retired).

He used to write for 'The Spectator', so that tells you all you need to know about his politics.

He cares passionately about the people at the bottom of the pile and he's taken the time to work out how they got there in the first place.
But he knows there's no quick fix round the corner & probably no happy ending, either.

Who'll read this book?
Well, he name-checks Gibbon, Malcolm Muggeridge, Emily Dickinson and quotes from the Bible & Shakespeare.
If you can keep up with his three or four-syllable nouns & verbs, it's a wonderful, thoughtful & thought-provoking book.

One more thing - he doesn't do PC but if you are/were working at the sharp end of social care or the NHS, you won't care.
Because you'll know that every word he says is true.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Medical, 25 Oct 2013
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This review is from: SECOND OPINION: A Doctor's Dispatches From The Inner City (Kindle Edition)
Not really impressed. Felt author concentrated too much on attacking health boards and N.H.S. Would hesitate to recommend it to friends.
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