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Playing the Long Game: How to Save the West from Short-Termism (Societas)
Playing the Long Game: How to Save the West from Short-Termism (Societas)
by Laurie Fitzjohn-Sykes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard data, clear argument, practical ideas - every Chancellor should have a copy, 21 Sept. 2015
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Beg and bully your friends to read this book. It is a two-hour read for even a layman in economics and finance. Yet it will transform their grasp of an issue which matters more than any other to the welfare of your children and grandchildren. Well, not quite "any other" - nuclear war might just top it. But if Fitzjohn-Sykes is right (I am not 100% convinced but he has certainly got me thinking and questioning my views) then the past 30 years' triumph of western equity-funded capitalism has not only been a con but also has built up (and is continuing to build up) a lethal legacy of under investment in productive capital for future generations. The beauty of this book is that it comes from an insider who has studied the equity funding system at close quarters. More than that, an ANALYTICAL insider who supports his claims with well researched statistics that would satisfy the highest academic standards as well as with the suitably cynical eye of a hard-wired experienced equity analyst. He takes you through the history and current practice of equity capital raising to show how its UK and US applications tweak every single dial against long term investment and in favour of short term earnings targets. Yet more helpfully, he delivers in the last two chapters a series of fiscal, statutory and organisational changes which may not be life-transforming but each of which stacks up credibly as a sensible push in the right direction. Unlike the higher profile Picketty who battered the merits of modern rentier capitalism impressively into the ground with 700 pages of tables but then delivered an implausible and over-ambitious solution, this book follows up its easy-to-follow demolition of Wall Street equity funding with a series of practical steps to discourage short term profit taking. So much criticism of short term business behaviour is of the woolly liberal variety. This is hard data, relevant statistics and clear argument. It should be on the reading list of everyone interested in the success of the British economy.


The Other Me
The Other Me
by Saskia Sarginson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A girl's story but two men's unforgiven guilt, 17 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: The Other Me (Paperback)
Who is “the other me” in this gripping tale of guilt and redemption between generations? This seems crystal clear at the outset. Arriving from claustrophobic London suburbs at her northern university in the mid-1990s, Klaudia throws off the shackles of childhood shame at her austere father’s suspected Nazi past by dropping out, renaming herself Eliza Bennett and pursuing the dream of a dancing career. All whilst maintaining the lie of her student life to her parents for whom Eliza is “the other (and unknown) me”. And for her closest dancing friend Meg and devoted, exciting, artistic boyfriend Cosmo, “the other (equally unknown) me” is the repressed daughter of the Third Reich, Klaudia. It is the tension and turmoil thrown up by this double Klaudia/Eliza life which dominates one’s interest and concern throughout the first half of the novel as it flashes back to Klaudia’s strained childhood but remains rooted in Eliza’s desperate juggling of dual lives. Threaded between these twin tracks are the memories of a barely seen, mysterious uncle Ernst which hint at the unspeakable childhood endured by him and Klaudia’s father Otto which had propelled them into the Hitler Youth and fed the daughter’s obsession with her family’s shameful past. First seen as glimpses into a back story to Klaudia’s present troubles, these memories gradually take on more shape and relevance in the closing chapters to the transforming twist of perception which reveals “the other me” in a totally different guise. Klaudia becomes in effect the inheritor and interpreter of a very different story about her father and uncle whose characters and behaviour, dealing with strains unimaginable by the standards of Klaudia’s modern world, come to dominate the moving climax. Her fleeting identity change and escape into the dancing world appear almost trivial alongside “the other me” revealed by the harsh life experiences of uncle Ernst and father Otto. And how the two elderly brothers face each other’s brutal memories, unforgivable betrayals and approaching death personalises in compelling drama the agonies endured by a wartime generation now fading from view.


Dead Ahead
Dead Ahead
by Richard Maher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Original Whodunit in Classic Period Setting, 25 April 2013
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This review is from: Dead Ahead (Paperback)
Rich in 1930s transatlantic luxury with hints of war clouds on the horizon, this superior crime thriller gently unravels enough subtle clues to hint at the solution but brilliantly twists them at the end in a direction so original that I had not even thought of it ... but then cursed myself for failing to spot the neatly laid trail. Convincing dialogue throughout makes it a natural for a period TV detective series with Danny Gamble as London's answer to Marlowe with musical attitude. Plus an unexpectedly compelling anti-hero in a sub-plot which leaves disturbing echoes of the cataclysm about to engulf Europe.


East of the Mountains
East of the Mountains
by David Guterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Less tense than Cedars but deeper exploration of the soul, 19 Jun. 2012
This review is from: East of the Mountains (Paperback)
Hard to know how Guterson could match, let alone better, the novel for which he will always be known and admired - Snow Falling on Cedars. This sensibly does not try. This is no multi-layered thriller turning over the pages so fast that the prose and the setting almost flash by before you can absorb their richness. The journey of 70-something Ben Givens, retired cardiologist and widower and now terminal cancer patient, back to his rural roots where he intends to depart unobtrusively from life, is set out with crystal clear precision from the outset. There will be no breakthrough twist to a mind-stretching plot in a tense final quarter. Ben's preparations may be too meticulous to succeed - indeed they are initially too meticulous to convince as this neat, intelligent man plans a journey whose end can only intensify the pain which he is so anxious to spare his beloved daughter and grandson. We know that the plans must go awry but we (rightly) do not anticipate another roller-coaster sweep in the style of Snow Falling on Cedars.
Which leads in its gentler, less bravura way to a deeper and more moving outcome whose lessons sink in slowly and long after an altogether simpler and less dramatic closure. Things - utterly unintended - do indeed happen to Ben and his dogs on this last journey. But nothing really happens. Except that Ben's life story spills naturally and seamlessly into our consciousness and the landscape that has shaped it comes vividly to life with Guterson's trademark command of detail. The craft may appear over-wrought at times - the pin point precision of a Second World War field surgeon's last invasive resort to revive a soldier's dead heart comes to mind - but it never feels superfluous to the human tale or an irrelevant feat of pyrotechnics. The intensity of his love affair with the north-west American forests, rivers and mountains can also overwhelm. But they are the rock of Ben's life and values so that the endless descriptions play their part in revealing the man.
It took me at least fifty pages to connect with the self-absorption of this man (and who would not be self-absorbed in the aftershock of losing his lifetime's love and now close to losing his own life?) and it never compelled me onwards in the manner of its more illustrious predecessor. But it will stay longer and deeper with me - perhaps reflecting that I am almost fifteen years older than when I read Snow Falling on Cedars.


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