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Comandante: Inside Hugo Chávez's Venezuela
Comandante: Inside Hugo Chávez's Venezuela
by Rory Carroll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent portray of a very polemic figure, 27 Nov. 2013
I am Venezuelan and I have followed politics since I was a child. I know quite a few things about what is going on in my country and yet I still learnt many fascinating details from this book.

Mr Carroll lived in Venezuela from 2006 until 2012. He did his homework. Unlike most other foreign journalists, he actually travelled a lot across the country and listened, patiently listened to a lot of people from every side. He examined every aspect of the problems from the point of view of the different political actors. Mr Carroll went to see if those shiny villages were really what the propaganda claimed or whether he was in front of a Caribbean Potemkin or two. He gained the trust of fascinating characters across the political spectrum. He managed to gain insight into the workings of presidential palace. I particularly loved the way he
described the intrigues of ministers longing for Chávez's recognition and fearing his anger.

Mr Carroll showed a good understanding of Venezuela's real socio-economic history, not just as seen from 1998, 1992 or 1989 but from early on. That is something I have seldom seen among foreign observers - too strong are their ideological biases or too limited their attention span. Without analysing the actual factors that shaped Venezuela's economy and society since oil became its main exporting product you cannot understand Venezuela. Without a thorough understanding of the oil dependency, of the international oil prices across the decades and how policies changed or not, you cannot write about Venezuela. Mr Carroll managed to get that understanding. Still, his book doesn't have dry, boring explanations of economics. Instead, it is a nicely written narrative that explains how a very cunning caudillo managed to get so much power at the right (or wrong) moment, how he hypnotized so many people and how he took the country on the messy path it is in 2013.


The Queen's Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls
The Queen's Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls
by Nick Hazlewood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, more about a special time than about an individual, 22 Oct. 2013
This book is an excellent introduction to how the British got involved in the slave trade between Africa and Spanish America.
It also gives a lot of details about John Hawkins' beginnings. The reader should take into account the book focuses on the initial
enterprises John Hawkins undertook, not on his whole career, even if there is information about it as well. I find that a good approach: instead of doing a superficial account of Hawkins' whole life,
the author gives an excellent description of how it was like when the Britons got involved in the tragic trade on humans to be taken to America. He describes what happened with the whole enterprise.

I am Venezuelan and my ancestors are Europeans, native Americans and black African slaves, like with most Venezuelans. I was born close to one of the places described in this book and it was particularly interesting for me to read more details about those times.

There is a good, even if short, description about how the Portuguese became active in Africa, about how the Spaniards tried to keep their monopoly on trade with the New World and how their policies on slaves started to shift depending on commercial interests.

All in all, there was a lot of excellent research done here. I would have preferred to see a couple of maps, even if I know the Caribbean well: maps help visualize a lot. Still, the book gets 5 stars from me.


The Trees: Selected Poems 1967-2004 (Salt Modern Poets in Translation)
The Trees: Selected Poems 1967-2004 (Salt Modern Poets in Translation)
by Eugenio Montejo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Venezuelan poetry for English speakers, 13 Jun. 2008
This Venezuelan poet became known to big audiences through the lines quoted in 21 Grams. Although that was a good poem, it is definitely by far not his best.

It is a tragedy the Venezuelan poet passed away. We are left with a dozen more of his excellent poetry books and that is it!

I hope more of Montejo's work gets translated into English. I read in the original as my mother tongue is Spanish, but I am giving this edition to some of my best friends who do not speak my language.


The End Of The Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
The End Of The Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
by Charles Clover
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, moving book! Incredible eye-opener!, 7 May 2005
The title does not look firstly as tantalizing as what all these pages really contain. You should really take a look inside and you will very probably realize how good this book is.
The End Of Line is definitely one of the best non-fiction books I have bought in the last couple of years. Here you can read what is really happening in the oceans worldwide. People often do not care much for what they don't see, but the consequences of what they (we) are letting happen to the fish resources are terrible.
Mr. Clover explains in a very professional and passionate way the crimes (the word is not an exageration) commited by such countries as Spain and the rest of the European Union, by Japan and many others, in their pursuit of profit: depleting the fish resources of many poor countries, bribing and coercing the government of those countries to let them do what they want with the fish, hiding reports to the public opinion. What the EU is doing about controls is really a bad joke.
We consumers need to wake up. Yes, eating fish is good for your health. Now, if no radical change takes place in the way we are destroying the oceans' biological resources, we are going to be in real trouble in the future and the next generations more so.
This all sounds pretty dramatic and it really is.
Thanks, Mr. Clover


Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams
Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams
by Paul Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent popular science book on sleep and dreams, 2 July 2003
Counting Sheep is a tantalizing book that tells you lots
of useful and not so useful but interesting facts about what scientists currently know regarding sleep and dreams.
People tend to give over and over again too little thought to
this so important part of our lives.
How dangerous is it really to be sleep-deprived?
How do dolphins sleep? What is there to sex and sleep?
How do cows dream? What can be done regarding sleep apnea?
How can you influence your dreams?
Martin tells about these facts and more sprinkling scientific
facts with excellent quotations of well-known writers and many funny anecdotes.
I hope this book will be translated soon into my mother tongue, Spanish. If you like sleeping or if you don't, if you sleep well or bad, if you snore or know somebody who does, if you remember your dreams or not, this book may interest you.
There were some parts that could have been kept shorter and Martin bit around the bush a wee bit, but in general, it was an excellent book.


Ingredients
Ingredients
by Loukie Werle
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent investment for people who love cooking, 10 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Ingredients (Paperback)
I actually bought the Dutch edition of the book. I found it a great investment: great pictures of a huge amount of ingredients of every kind, from fish through meat through cheese through tea sorts...and short but useful descriptions of the different products.
I consider it is perhaps a pity some very important ingredients found in the European cuisine are not there, but else it is perfect.
If you are sometimes lost when looking for ingredients of
new recipes (that is, if you do not cook all the time only fish and chips), if you want to improve your vocabulary in the area of cuisine, if you simply love cuisine, this is a great buy.
I am actually writing in the book, next to the Dutch and Latin name of the ingredient (when there is a Latin name), the names in Spanish, which is my mother tongue, and in German and English, because I often visit friends who speak those language and who like cooking.


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