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Ita (UK)

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The Sufis
The Sufis
by Idries Shah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sufis are the extraordinary people who have guided, ..., 15 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Sufis (Paperback)
The Sufis are the extraordinary people who have guided, and are still guiding, the evolution of human consciousness. They do not preach, or evangelise, but through books such as these, and through living exemplars, they offer an opportunity for self-development that is in harmony with the development of mankind.


Land Not Theirs
Land Not Theirs
by David Marcus
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Price Territory?, 8 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Land Not Theirs (Paperback)
`A Land Not Theirs' is a novel set in Cork in the closing months of 1920. The Irish War of Independence was being waged. Black and Tans, thuggish temporary constables recruited from World War 1 veterans to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary in its fight against the Irish Republican Army, but under no control, were terrorising the civilian population. Their atrocities horrified even the British Army which was barracked in the city.

In 1920 doctors still used a horse and trap to visit patients. A new Ford car cost £250 but could be afforded by few. Young men played bowls on Sundays, on country roads. Brass bedsteads, no longer fashionable, were being replaced, and solid-fuel ranges were regularly blacked by house-proud women. These are some of the details David Marcus injected into his book to bring to life this time in Cork's history.

The story he tells centres around the Jewish community with its many eccentric characters, but its special focus is on the Cohen family - Rabbi Moise Cohen, who lives with his son Iron Josh, a scrap metal dealer, his daughter-in-law Bertha, and his grandchildren, Judith and Jacob. Moise came to Cork to escape persecution in Lithuania. By 1920 Cork Jews had established successful businesses and were living comfortably in a world punctuated by Sabbaths, festivals and rituals surrounding events like marriages and deaths. They have little interest in the struggle going on around them, though they discover it is impossible to keep aloof from it.

Love creates connections between the Cohens and the Catholics of Cork. Secret and dangerous liasons involve both Judith and Jacob. But, this novel is not just about romantic love. Rabbi Moise has forged a deep friendship with Fr McGiff. the Catholic priest who shares with him an understanding that approaches the heart of each religion. Love is what the Rabbi has learned with age. From his grandfather Jacob receives the love his father seems unable to give him. To his zeide he returns this love. He is also in love, not with Ireland, but with Cork, the city of his birth.

Rabbi Cohen does not share his grandson's love of Cork. By the autumn of 1920 he has already decided to sever ties with his family and best friend and to lead a group of fourteen people determined to settle in Eretz Yisroel - the Land of Israel - where they could expect a hard life and attacks from the Arabs already living there. I cannot agree with David Marcus' description of the Rabbi as wise. Wisdom needs foresight and subsequent events show that prophecy was not one of the old man's gifts.

I am awarding this book five stars because its author has created a fascinating picture of Cork and of the Jewish way of life there. He has peopled his novel with a set of memorable characters. Above all he was a Master Storyteller with a sense of humour, whose book can surprise until you turn the last page.


Blood Med: (Max Cámara 4)
Blood Med: (Max Cámara 4)
Price: £3.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There was much that we enjoyed about the fourth Max Camara murder mystery - the ..., 20 July 2014
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There was much that we enjoyed about the fourth Max Camara murder mystery - the writing, always good, sometimes intensely vivid; the development of characters from previous books, not least that of Max Camara; the personalising of the consequences of Spain's financial crisis. I can't, however, say this was the best story I ever read, and I think my husband, to whom I read it aloud, would agree. There were long digressions where politics came to the fore and the story retreated into the background. We were left with a very strong impression of the physical appearance of the corpse of Amy, the murdered American girl, of her flat, and of her postmortem; but we found out very little about her life; and the motive for her killing became evident early on in the book.

We might have found ourselves more involved if we had a sense of people, other than Camara and his lover Alicia, being in danger. What happened to Alicia was shocking (I'm not going to reveal whether she survived her ordeal, or not). Camara, now the owner and daring rider of a motorbike is, of course, invincible. It is impossible to take his danger seriously. Whenever he is in imminent danger of losing his life, a miraculous rescue is inevitable. Camara Five has, after all, been scheduled for publication next year.


Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions
Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions
Price: £5.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trust Your Gut Feelings, 7 July 2014
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It's obvious, isn't it, that the more we know the better our inferences will be? No, says Gerd Gigerenzer, it doesn't always follow. What we take to be knowledge is usually limited to the conscious variety. We are unaware of the vast reservoir of unconscious knowledge which we can access, and which is the source of gut feelings and intuitions.
Successful managers base all their decisions on reason, or so we have been led to believe. Wrong again, says Gigerenzer. Although they are reluctant to admit it, the higher up the hierarchy managers are the more likely they are to rely on gut feelings.
So why do many of us make bad decisions? Because we have not been educated to understand risk. We are unable to distinguish between between known calculable risks and uncertainty. We are very uncomfortable with uncertainty, preferring to accept the illusion of certainty offered to us by people in authority. The hunger for certainty is what prevents us from being risk savvy.
Heuristics are smart rules of thumb which can simplify decision making. They can be safer and more accurate than a calculation, yet are frowned upon by many. This book gives examples of heuristics ranging from the gaze heuristic of pilots to the aspiration rule which can prevent us wasting time and feeling restless and dissatisfied when shopping.
This is a book which encourages us to take more control of our lives. It allows us to see when we are being offered second or third best solutions because someone feels it necessary to engage in defensive decision making. Although it does contain repetition, it is a book well worth the time taken to read it.


Curing Cancer with Carrots
Curing Cancer with Carrots
Price: £3.23

10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nutritional Epigenetics?, 18 Jun. 2014
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If you find yourself diagnosed with cancer, you need effective treatment when it can cure you or allow you to enjoy a good quality of life for longer than you might otherwise expect.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost ten years ago. the cancer was removed surgically. I then had chemotherapy and radiotherapy before being prescribed Arimidex for five years. Arimidex is an enzyme inhibitor which prevents the formation of oestrogen from a precursor naturally present in the body. My hospital treatments lasted little more than six months. Chemotherapy was the only form I would describe as tough; but I am glad I underwent it because i have enjoyed very good health since.

I had my treatment under the NHS, so my oncologist had no financial motivation for prescribing the drugs I was given. I found all the health professionals I encountered to be kind, conscientious, caring and concerned about my wellbeing, and resent the insinuation in this book that doctors are ignorant and self-interested.

I eat carrots regularly as part of a balanced diet, but will not be juicing five pounds of them per day. The fact that Ann Cameron has been drinking carrot juice for the past year-and-a-half and is free from symptoms of cancer is not evidence that she has been cured. Testimonials from a handful of other people detailing benefits which they attribute to carrot juice are not evidence of its effectiveness.

As a food carrots are useful, but ingested in abnormally large amounts they may be harmful. Side effects have been reported from falcarinol and luteolin, two anti-cancer compounds found in carrot juice. Falcarinol in high doses is neurotoxic. Luteolin can cause nausea, vomiting and gastric hypersecretion. It has also been reported to have adverse effects in vitro on endometrial cancer cells.

This book may sound scientific because it contains words like 'angiogenesis,' 'apoptosis' and 'necrosis'; but it also contains statements which would be given zero marks in a school biology exam. One such is, 'the immune system senses the wound as a hole in our body that has to be filled in.'
One of the researchers whose work is cited in connection with immunology and cancer has had to write a letter of retraction to the Journal of Immunology.

I know from personal experience how vulnerable people with cancer can feel. It gives me no pleasure writing this review and I hope Ann will not suffer a recurrence; but this is a dangerous book in so far as it may deter people from seeking effective treatment.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2015 5:22 PM BST


PARIS SYNDROME
PARIS SYNDROME
Price: £2.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindstretcher, 20 May 2014
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This review is from: PARIS SYNDROME (Kindle Edition)
I find Tahir Shah's work uniquely satisfying, and 'Paris Syndrome' is no exception. Supremely entertaining, it also stretches your mind.

This is a book which reminds us of how little we really know about the human psyche. What Tahir Shah is exploring through the experiences of unassuming, disillusioned Miki Suzuki is spirit possession. When the young Japanese woman is brought to the asylum of Dr Mesmer, his gentle understanding probing tells him that she is under the control of one of the incomplete spirits known in the East as jinn. Miki's babblings are not random. They are the utterances of an intelligent unconscious entity who is capable of shapeshifting from a princess to a stone, and who can tune in to the thoughts of others around her. It is her jinn who has brought Miki to Paris, knowing that this is where her destiny lies. Dr Mesmer's refuge from the crazy media-manipulated world outside allows her and his other patients to regain normality. But Miki differs from the others in that she is not satisfied with normality. She has met her true love in Paris, in the form of Compte Hugo de Montfried, and is determined to remain in the city whatever the consequences.

We live in a universe where most of the matter (the 'dark' matter) is beyond detection by our senses and still completely inaccessible to science. I think this fascinating book deserves to be read with an open mind.


Casablanca Blues
Casablanca Blues
Price: £2.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tantalising Thriller, 21 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Casablanca Blues (Kindle Edition)
I found this thriller where worlds meet, among them East and West, enthralling and tantalising. It defied prediction until the last full stop.

If you are undecided about whether to buy this book, I recommend a visit to its website. This can be accessed through Tahir Shah's main website, tahirshah.com. It contains an extract of the narrative and photographs of the city as it is now, and as it was seventy years ago when the movie 'Casablanca' was made. You can read articles written by Tahir about Casablanca and watch videos he made, and there are several short clips from the movie. You could not ask for a more delicious taster.

'Casablanca Blues' is a book which invites you to re-read it, and this I did. Once I was no longer preoccupied with discovering what twists and turns the story would take, I was able to delight in the magical writing, where a city and country are brought to vibrant life with an amazing economy of words. Reading the book slowly, a chapter at a time, allows you to reach a different level where you realise that Blaine, the American hero is a seeker, dissatisfied with life as he has experienced it. Casablanca is the human mind, a spirited place where knowledge and wisdom can be found. The tunnels beneath the city are the Unconscious.
Tahir Shah is not restricted to the insights of Western psychology. He is also immersed in the psychology of the East and has his finger firmly on the pulse of modern life. This enables him to write a book which is subtly, but very powerfully therapeutic.


The Modern Explorers
The Modern Explorers
by Robin Hanbury-Tenison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Back News From Distant Lands, 11 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Modern Explorers (Hardcover)
Have you ever wondered what drives a few intrepid men and women to forsake comfort and security, to explore places known only to those whose home they may be? In this book modern explorers write about the sufferings and privations they endured, and the rewards they experienced as they crossed polar and desert regions, scaled mountains, traced rivers to their source, made perilous sea journeys and forays into rainforest, ventured into caves and sought to rediscover lost worlds. Some were part of large, highly organised expeditions to further scientific knowledge. Others travelled in small groups, or alone, plumbing the depths of isolation from other members of the human species.

Each writer offers a different slant but, in a book as diverse as this, you are inevitably drawn to some more than others. I don't think I'll forget how Ranulph Fiennes dealt with the maddening pain of frostbite, or how Jon Muir crossed Australia unassisted with his Jack Russell terrier for company. I now know who Mikael Strandberg considers to be his true heros after spending a year in Siberia, and what life is like in the Darien forests of Panama, as seen through the poetic eyes of Wade Davis. Robert Twigger's account of Tim Severin's Brendan Voyage confirmed my suspicion that modern materials are not always superior. There was reassurance in Hank de Velde's conclusions after he had passed the solitude test on his never-ending voyage; and in Tahir Shah's shoestring technique. To be an explorer, he contends, all you need is determination. Reading this book will provide encouragement to would-be explorers.


The Anarchist Detective: (Max Cámara 3)
The Anarchist Detective: (Max Cámara 3)
by Jason Webster
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hilario's Stroke, 12 July 2013
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This is an intricate, brain-exercising story, expertly told. However, for me, parts of it didn't ring true. From the second chapter on, because I have known people who suffered from strokes and have seen what a devastating illness it can be, I found myself in conflict with one of the main character's (Max Camara's grandfather's) experiences throughout the book. Neither my husband nor I found Hilario entirely convincing, even as we enjoyed trying to decipher who the killer was, and what might have been his motives.


Cannibalism: It's Just Meat (Tahir Shah Essays Book 2)
Cannibalism: It's Just Meat (Tahir Shah Essays Book 2)

5.0 out of 5 stars Raising Searching Questions, 23 Jun. 2013
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Cannibals ate, and still eat, human flesh for reasons that are familiar and can manifest themselves in behaviour more acceptable to society. They ate it to survive, because they enjoyed the taste, because of their beliefs or because they wanted to exert control over other people. So why do we fear cannibalism so much, and why do we reserve our fiercest condemnation for cannibals, when we are more tolerant of killing and rape, for example? In this well researched essay, Tahir Shah asks these and other searching questions.
Ita


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