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M. Hillmann "miles" (leicester, england)

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Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial
Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial
by Simon Singh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skeptic and complementary medicine professor's evidence, 26 May 2010
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Simon Singh is the arch skeptic and now famous for his libel challenge to chiropracters that will reshape British libel laws. I did not expect him to give alternative medicine an easy ride. But Professor Edzard Ernst is the world's first professor of complementary medicine and has practiced homeopathy and other alternative medicines. Surely he has intellectual capital invested in these treatments?

Well if he ever did he certainly does not now. The pair systematically and thoroughly review the evidence on the effects of acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic therapy and herbal medicine. They are blunt and outspoken and offer no apologies for presenting "the truth."

They begin by discussing how science determines the truth. Evidence based medicine has revolutionised medical practices transforming it from an industry of charlatans and incompetents into a system of healthcare that can deliver such miracles as transplanting kidneys, removing cataracts, eradicating smallpox and saving millions of lives each year. This has been achieved by randomised double blinded clinical trials. If conventional medicine requires such objective assessment then so should alternative medicine.

As with all Simon Singh's work, the scientific issues are brought to life by fascinating human stories, for example about George Washington dying at the hands of bloodletting doctors or about how Florence Nightingale managed to win a bitter argument against the medical establishment by arming herself with solid irrefutable evidence about the importance of hygiene. She was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society in 1858 and was an honorary member of the American Statistical society.

Their skeptiscm of homeopathy and even chiropractice does not surprise me. But the lack of conclusive evidence supporting acupuncture even in its less controversial applications is surprising. Where there are high quality trials supporting the use of acupuncture for some types of pain and nausea, there are high quality trials that contradict it. In short the evidence is neither consistent nor convincing.

The Placebo Effect can be a very strong and positive influence in healthcare, but can alternative medical practictioners justify their existence by practicing placebo medicine and helping their patients with essentially fake medicine?

Of course plant extracts are used in the treatment of a whole range of diseases and the authors list the efficacy of a range of the more popular herbal medicines describing them as Good , Medium or Poor and then describing their risks. Unlike conventional pharmaceuticals , herbal remedies have not been properly tested or monitored for safety.

This book does not simply play to your prejudices but it leaves you feeling informed and awed by the depth and width of research on which it is based.

Bad Ideas?: An arresting history of our inventions: How Our Finest Inventions Nearly Finished Us Off
Bad Ideas?: An arresting history of our inventions: How Our Finest Inventions Nearly Finished Us Off
by Professor Lord Robert Winston
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful review of ideas, science, technologial development and the need for regulation., 2 May 2010
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Erudite or what? Robert Winstone has a phenomenal understanding and overview of an amazing number of scientific subjects from the origins of farming, communications, writing, and the use of fire, to transport, weapons, genetics and, of course, medicine. The breadth and depth of his historical and contemporary knowledge is impressive and he develops his themes compellingly and interestingly.

His themes are, firstly, that, although an ardent advocate of the importance of science and scientific development and public understanding of science, many discoveries and developments also pose a latent threat. Secondly that because of this latent threat, science and technological development need regulation. Even democratically elected governments cannot always be trusted to use science wisely and he urges the greater understanding and informing of the general public to assist sensible regulation. For example the refusal of Europe to accept genetically engineered foodstuffs, despite their widespread use in other parts of the world (the majority of soya, maize, cotton, alfa alfa are genetically modified to the benefit of farmers and, as for example golden rice with its high vitamin A, to the benefit of huge numbers of people) is due to the lack of consultation and information provided to the general public and hence their misplaced fears which sway supermarkets and politicians. But he remains very positive about the beneficial effects of a large proportion of discoveries and innovations and contends many have beneficial applications that were not originally envisaged.
Technological development, he maintains, has often happened and is happening simultaneously and independently in many parts of the world. Whilst individuals are often credited with "discoveries" usually such developments are a cumulation of work of many people. And he describes the origins and developments of many of his subjects.
Unsurprisingly he is most powerful on medicine and his detailed and intricate knowledge and personal involvement with medical research and particularly fertility is evident. Even the most seemingly valuable medical ideas need to be considered with wisdom and discussion.

In some respects it is a dissatisfying book in that you are waiting for the implications and conclusions from his descriptions. But he maintains that opinion should be based on evidence and the evidence is frequently open to different interpretations, so the interpretation is not necessarily conclusive. Climate change is the obvious example where he sensibly questions the blind following of the precautionary principle whilst open to the unfolding evidence. But the fascination and detailed description of such a wide range of scientific and technological developments and thoughtful consideration of their implications outweighs any reservations.

Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental novel destined to become a Classic., 5 April 2010
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This review is from: Wolf Hall (Paperback)
A long, strangely compelling novel about power politics, love, religion and mystiscm during Henry VIII's early reign.

Thomas Cromwell, a man of humble birth as the son of a violent blacksmith who ran away to sea and to a soldier's life in Europe fighting for anyone who would pay him, rose, via being the fixer for Cardinal Wolsey, to become the most powerful man in Britain apart from the king himself - Henry VIII.

Such a rise to power was extraordinary at a time when there was genuine belief in the superior abilities of the upper class. But Cromwell clearly had the personality, talent (he spoke several European languages) and a very shrewd brain. He is also portrayed as a compassionate and thoughtful man.

The richness of the novel lies in the way it elucidates the personal motives and combines them with the wider political context, Cromwell and Henry's drive to reduce the power of the corrupt church, the break of the English Church from Rome and England's vulnerability to the Spanish and the French.

Ann Boleyn mesmerises the king. She is coldly calculating in her quest for the throne to replace the Spanish Catherine as queen and to give Henry the son and heir he is desperate for. How much is the break from the Vatican due to these personal motives?

The early 1500's is a time when the plague regularly decimates families. Cromwell's adored wife and children all succumb. There was also an unquestioned belief in God and the supernatural, but brutal treatment, torture and execution for different interpretations of religion or heresy. But at the same time you are filled with admiration for the men of such principle that they would die for their believes, from Tyndale, in hiding in Amsterdam for daring to translate the bible into English (thus undermining the power of the priests) to Bainbridge for bringing Lutheran books into the country, and even to Thomas More, the brutal torturer of heretics who could not accept Henry's break from the Vatican and self appointed head of the Church in England.

The book revolves around Cromwell who is painted in a very human and sympathetic light whilst wielding enormous power and accumulating immense wealth. He clearly sympathises with the heretics driving from independence from the Vatican - even while Thomas More is at the height of his power and torturing and executing at will. But Cromwell simultaneously maintains good relations and mutual respect for his adversaries especially More.

A monumental novel, sometimes hard to read because of the idiosyncratic style of avoiding referring to who is speaking and of continually jumping from one situation to another, but none the less riveting reading.

Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay
Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay
by John Lanchester
Edition: Hardcover

169 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Lanchester for Head of the Financial Services Authority, 7 Feb. 2010
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An immensely readable account of the credit crunch by an informed observer rather than a participant with an axe to grind.

Nobody could avoid being totally bemused by the shenanigins of the financial institutions who brought about the credit crunch in 2008 - 2009. I certainly could not nor could I grasp the scale - what does $ trillions mean? How do sane bankers provide mortgages to poor people without any security of assets or income and convert them into triple AAA rated loans? And how can these loans be multiplied up to such an extent that they threaten the global financial markets? What are derivatives and why do they now dominate the financial markets? Should Lehman's bank and the US mortgage companies - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - have been allowed to fail? Were we right to bail out Northern Rock and rescue our banks whose key expertise is meant to be assessing risk? And why were the credit rating agencies not blowing the whistle on the incompetent bankers - surely that is what they are paid to do?

Whoops provides a comprehensible and entertaining account of what went wrong. He places the credit crunch in historical context - the collapse of communism in 1989 and the liberalisation of the financial markets especially the Big Bang in the UK and the repeal of regulation in the US. He explains in layman's terms the explosion of derivatives like credit default swaps (CDS's) and collateralised debt obligations (CDO's) and how they rapidly came to dominate the markets. The lack of understanding of their risk by those who ran many banks is absolutely staggering. There were exceptions, notably JP Morgan, who had pretty much invented the CDS and CDO industry and could see how profitable were these instruments, but to whom the risks were apparent and so they avoided them.

Lanchester writes a very human story. He discusses psychology research which proves that humans, even expert humans, have a particular propensity to errors in relation to risk. In the context of a widespread belief in the power of the free market to correct itself with its arch exponent Alan Greenspan, long time head of the US Federal Reserve, and with the growth of the mathematical modellers basing their work on historical data which did not include major downturns, risk becomes underrated.

The absence of any regulation by the financial services authorities is, in hindsight, fatal. The entire climate of opinion throughout the world was in favour of laissez faire, deregulation and financial innovation. Even where regulation was supposed to exist, the US's SEC and the UK's FSA were negligent. The SEC was warned about Madoff's long running Ponsi scheme and journalists did foresee the risks building up in the global financial system but "expert overconfidence" ignored them.

John Lanchester's conclusions are very depressing. Whilst not relating to $ trillions, I can get my head around the projected US deficit being bigger than the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the 1980's Loan crisis, the Korean War, the New Deal, the invasion of Iraq, the Vietnam War, and the moon landing all added together. In the UK relatively we are just as badly off. It is going to take a very long time to pay off this debt off. And John Lanchester is sceptical of the action that will be taken to regulate to prevent future crises.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2012 7:52 AM GMT

Into the Heart of the Mafia: A Journey Through the Italian South
Into the Heart of the Mafia: A Journey Through the Italian South
by David Lane
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mafia at first hand,ugly, brutal but thoughtful account, 22 Jan. 2010
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The heart of the Mafia is Siciliy's Cosa Nostra, the Camorra in Naples and Campania and the two lesser known criminal organisations of Calabria's `Ndrangheta and Sacra Corona Unita. David Lane gives an account, based on very detailed research and face to face meetings, of murder, wars between the Mafia families, extortion, trafficking of drugs, arms, and people and the crooked politicians and businessmen whose complicity helps the Mafia survive.
With so much first hand testimony, the detail is painful. In fact too much detail at times leaves you lost in the intrigues of the various families.
I was in Rome in 1992 when the two leading anti-Mafia magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, were murdered in Palermo. Falcone and Borsellino were both themselves from the same background, schooling and upbringing in Palermo as the hundreds of the Mafioso they were bringing to trial in the maxi-trials that began in 1986. I expected those and subsequent super trials to have broken the back of the Mafia, but clearly not.
The Mezzogiorno (southern Italy) is historically an area of intense poverty (the average wage is two thirds of northern Italy,a stagnant economy and, even by Italian standards, disrespect for civic responsibility. Cause of organised crime or effect asks David Lane?
The opportunities for bright, intelligent, ambitious people is either joining the Mafia in business, local government or politics or going into the police and legal profession. Some, like Falcone and Borsellino, were brave, dedicated magistrates who struggled against the odds to enforce law and see justice done. David Lane interviews them others who refused graft, corruption and violence as well as those under the Mafia's spell.
But the influence of the Mafia in the Mezzogiorno is all pervasive. In agriculture, where olive oil and bergamot (an essence without which the World's most famous perfumes of the fashion houses of Gucci and Dolce cannot be made) are cultivated, or in shipping (Gioia Truroo is the leading Mediterranean container port) or in the huge Lamazia petrochemical plant or in road or building construction, the Mafia rules. Is this systematic graft and corruption responsible for the stagnant economy?
The heart of the Mafia is in southern Italy. But Italian national politicians, from the 7 times President Andreotti to the current President Berlusconi, are too dependent upon the Christian Democrat vote from the south to take on the Mafia.
Ultimately it a sad and depressing view that despite the maxi trials of the 1980's, the 1990's and 2000's, the Mafia is as strong as ever. The reality of the south is ugliness, violence, brutal murder and the doubts and suspicions of civic leaders, politicians and churchmen. How can hope survive?

by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivetting power politics in Rome at the height of the Roman Empire., 9 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Lustrum (Hardcover)
The best histories are those bought to life through personal account. This rivetting, colourful "novel" is one told through the eyes of Tiro - the slave / political advisor / secretary to Cicero the most eloquent and influential Roman senator and consul of his time.

Cicero was unique in achieving position, power and popularity through thought, force of argument and his renowned speeches to the senate rather than by military might. This was in a Rome where by 63 AD power, fame and fortune accrued to the Imperators who were victorious in battle, conquered and ruled new territories and extended the Roman Empire. But it was not always thus. As Cato, an old wise senator put it "Do not imagine that it is by force of arms that our ancestors transformed a petty state into this great republic.... no, they were hardworking at home, just rulers abroad and to the senate they brought minds not racked by guilt or enslaved by passion".

Cicero the arch democrat who fervently believed in the democracy of the senate was also an ambitious politician who makes today's hysteria about MP's expenses seem like chicken feed. Bribery, marraige and shifting alliances were part of the deal. But the stakes were very high in such power politics. Execution of the senators who conspired to attempt to bring Catilina to power or exile with the consequent descent from fabulous wealth to destitution were the consequences of loosing.

Among the powerful in Rome at the time, Cicero - Father of the Nation - and Caesar - the young Imperator - stood head and shoulders above the rest. Both aspired to total leadership in two different ways. I shall not spoil a gripping story by divulging the outcome - Read it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2010 11:08 AM GMT

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
by Steven Johnson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epidemiology made readable, 3 Jan. 2010
The story of how Dr John Snow and the Rev Henry Whitehead pieced together that cholera was waterborne against the very strong conventional wisdom that it was airborne. They did this , working at first hand among the thousands of people suffering a miserable death in Soho in London.

In the mid 19th century, London, which was urbanising very rapidly, really did not have the sewers and public health infrastructure to cope with the dense populations. When cholera hit, the conventional wisdom was that it was due to the "miasma" (foul air). Overcoming this miasma theory held by the medical establishment took painstaking detective work in tying the disease back to the Broad Street Pump. It took a long time (30 years) to effect a change of policy. In the meantime, disastrous decisions were taken with the London sewage system that led to widespread drinking water pollution. Eventually when the importance of clean water was grasped, London undertook building an immense sewage system that became the envy of the world.

But the book is not just about cholera and clean water. It is also about the development of epidemiology and the way discoveries are made. Discoveries are not just the result of some brilliant individual mind, although both Snow and Whitehead clear thinking, diligent, exceptional people. John Snow, from humble beginnings, had already established himself as an early adopter and innovator in the use of ether and chloroform as anaesthetics and become a leading anaesthetist. But the book acknowledges the input of a range of people and circumstances - from William Farr, London's Registrar General, to the Vestry Committee who removed the Broad Street Pump handle against intense opposition.

The experience in overcoming cholera and the success of London in creating the conditions that allows dense populations to live together provides the blue print for the development of city living round the world. A wide ranging discussion on the development of cities and the threats for the future is stimulating.

A carefully researched, readable book by a powerful intellect.

It also provides a useful reading list! Snap again!

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
by David Aaronovitch
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conspiracy Theories - their importance and their fallacy., 30 Dec. 2009
Conspiracy theories are generally associated in the public mind with individuals. For example, the theory that the death of President Kennedy was not due to a gunman working alone or that of Princess Diana was not caused by a drunken chauffeur but were the results of organised Mafia/Communist/Royalist / establishment premeditated conspiracies.

But Aaronovitch goes way beyond the high profile individual conspiracies to look at the major impact of conspiracy theories on world history.

In 1897 "the Protocols of the Elders of Zion" were popularised, purporting to report on the secret conspiracy hatched by world Jewish leading financiers, politicians, businessmen and academics to organise for Jewish world domination. The Protocols gained credence - they were serialised in the British reputable press, Henry Ford in the USA gave great coverage in his own newspaper and Hitler wrote about the Protocols in Mein Kampf. Although by the 1920's the Protocols were exposed as being fictitious, the conspiracy theory of Jewish world domination remained in the public psyche and was part of the rationale that led to the Nazi death camps.

Again with Stalin's show trials in the 1930's of supposed conspirators against the Soviet state. Today it seems incredible that, by and large, the western diplomatic and intelligence services swallowed hook, line and sinker the guilt of the conspirators. At the time these conspiracy theories were widely believed, with the resulting massive effect on millions of soviet people.

Aaronovitch weaves together the conspiracy theory that Pearl harbour was allowed to happen by President Roosevelt to allow him to bring the USA into the War, with the development of McCarthy's witchhunts by the America First diehards in the 1950's. McCarthy's conspiracy theories had a major impact on US thinking subsequently.

Other examples follow - one of the most entertaining, but least historically influential, was the Da Vinci Code and the Holy Blood and Holy Grail that preceded it. But did these works of fiction really cause tremors in the Catholic Church?

Throughout the book, Aaronovitch debunks conspiracy theorist's selective use of fact and rejection of inconvenient evidence. But what drives so many to construct conspiracy theories? Aaronovitch attributes a certain amount to the experience of disenfranchisement "history for loosers". But he maintains, conspiracy, at bottom, is a symptom of paranoia. We need to create a story in the absence of information and it can be reassuring to suggest that human agencies are powerful and there is logical order rather than chaos.

A new look at history sometimes too complicated to be easy reading but well researched and interesting.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
by Michael Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Independent approach to sport coaching, 15 Dec. 2009
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American baseball - I wouldn't even read a book about British cricket and I played that avidly as a kid. I do not know what a walk is or a strikeout or a home run but this book proved compulsive reading.

Oakland A are a small, unsexy US baseball team who consistently got to near the top of the baseball leagues on a fraction of the money and budget of the leading high profile teams like the Boston White Sox or the New York Yankies. When you think of intellectuals influencing the course of human affairs, you think of physics, or political theory or economics. You do not think of baseball because you don't think of baseball as having an intellectual underpinning. But everything does have an intellectual underpinning and when an original thinker applies his mind startling results can be achieved.

Billy James, a Kansas University educated pork and bean factory worker was fascinated by baseball and studied it assiduously. He published his first leaflet : 1977 Baseball abstract: Featuring 18 Categories of Statistical Information That You Just Can't Find Anywhere Else. Doesn't sound a best seller does it?

But his thesis was that people in charge of professional baseball believed they could judge players performance simply by watching it. In this conventional wisdom on which millions of dollars was lavished, they were deeply mistaken. It was only by measurement and statistics that you could distinguish the good hitter from the average hitter - it is simply not visible.

James theory was not original - many others had measured players' performance. But he lived in a time of radical advances in computer technology enabling him to analyse vast amounts of data. And he lived in a time when baseball players salaries boomed - dramatically raising the value of his information. He developed computer models that correlated the number of runs a team would score against key statistics he identified but which were not particularly valued by the professional scouts and baseball professionals based on historical analysis. His models proved accurate in prediction future performance. However the baseball professionals failed to see the point. Until Billy Beane came along.

Billy Beane became General manager of Oakland A in 1997 and he had read all of Billy James Abstracts and had taken to heart not just the knowledge, but more importantly, had adopted the attitude of rational thinking and testing the evidence empirically. Billy Beane was not a statistician but he employed one - Paul DePoesta who applied the computer power and models developed by Wall Street Traders to baseball.

Billy Beane and Paul Depodesta developed Billy James approach to rate all the unknown, as well as famous players, in the game. Then they withstood the ridicule of their contemporaries by seeking the unknown or the quirky players, but ones that have a proven track record in some key criteria by which Billy and Paul rated them. They bought players at a fraction of the cost of the high profile teams and became winners. They achieved consistent success on the baseball pitch reaching the playoffs season after season from 2000 to 2004, when this book was written. And success at a fraction of the cost of the high spending teams. Once the value of their discoveries was recognised they had no hesitation in selling the stars they had created and bringing in more unknown players.
But it was not just in buying unknown players with special talents that Oakland excelled. It was also in identifying what each individual could contribute to the team and coaching them intensively in that trait and accepting their deficiencies in other traits. This is not just a story about dry statistical analysis - it is full of colour of the individual and quirky characters that Billy Beane turned from outcasts to key players in his teams.

Billy Beane's approach generated an enormous amount of antipathy among conventional baseball professionals, but Billy was not intimidated. .

This book is a lesson in life and in business - do not try and change people, nobody is talented in everything but if you build on people's strengths you can overcome their weaknesses in a team; don't follow the herd, think for yourself, look at the evidence, measure the outcomes; take some of Billy Beane's courage.
P.S. I love the names in the US - where else do you get Pauldepodesta working with Billy Beane.

Three Cups Of Tea
Three Cups Of Tea
by Greg Mortenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational American's mission in Pakistan/Afghanistan, 13 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: Three Cups Of Tea (Paperback)
Is he a remarkable man defying the odds or an irresponsible nutcase?.

Adrian, a friend living and working in aidwork in Addis Ababa, recently reinforced my memories from when I worked in Ethiopia about the about the proliferation of NGO's ( non Governmental Organisations) - charities set up by Americans and Europeans - in Ethiopia and the intense distrust among Ethiopians and lack of coordination with national governmental programmes. Was Greg Mortenson going to be another energetic, well meaning person, funded by rich Americans, striving with generous intent to share their wealth with others but ultimately having little long term beneficial impact?

Very soon Greg stands apart from the architypical traveller turned aid worker. Whilst being nurtured back to health by the people of Korphe - a Balti village in the high Karakorum - after a climbing epic on K2, he not only learns the language of the Balti but also their way of life and Moslem religion. In Korphe, as in so many poor countries, education and schools are very high up the priorities of very poor people after they have gained food security. Greg promises his hosts to build a school in Korphe.

But my suspicions were raised when Greg returned to Pakistan after raising money with with great difficulty and self sacrifice in the US. On his return he found that the people of Korphe had not made the progress they promised him in preparing for the school and he threw a wobbler and got personally involved in building the school. Was this a touch of the neo-colonialist approach? Was that school as great a priority as made out?

However these doubts are soon dispelled. Greg clearly has the understanding, and the language (actually several languages) and attitude to gain the confidence of Pakistanis wherever he goes. He lives with them, he travels and prays and drinks copious cups of tea with them. The book brings Pakistan to life. But whilst defying the principles that I hold so dear in being able to run any kind of organisation, he provides the vision and the funds that unleashes a spate of school building, teaching and maintenance across a wide area of northern Pakistan and into Afghanistan.

Remarkable in itself. But when combined with an outbreak of war in the Kashmir between India and Pakistan, and even more ominously with 9/11 and the arrival of US forces in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan it seems that the fairytale must end.

Greg ignores the personal danger - in fact he appears to go looking for trouble by travelling into some of the most notorious hotspots including Badakshan far north of Kabul in Afghanistan. He gets captured, imprisoned and has fatwahs declared against him. He is not deterred. His personal standing amongst the people and the more thoughtful mullahs overcomes the hotheads. The imminence of the danger almost seems to accelerate his drive to intensify and extend his operations.

Without ever holding itself out as a treatise on how to combat terrorism, the book provides a real inspiration of the positive way in which building schools and providing moderate Moslem education for both girls and boys is a far more effective way than brute force alone of dealing with the threat to western civilisation.

Written by a ghost writer - Greg is too driven to stop to write a book - the narrative can be accused of being disjointed. But it is a very rare biographical tale that is a non stop page turner.

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