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Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 20 July 2017
Thought provoking but a tad repetitive.
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on 15 June 2015
I had mixed feelings about this book. It's high-minded, well-written, but there is a silly side, too. This comes from de B's reluctance to acknowledge that some - much indeed - of our consumption of news is motivated by the spirit of vulgar curiosity. Some of the time we really want to know about things, the rest of our lives, day by day, we only half do. He also knows nothing about journalism. Sometimes this is a great advantage - there are few in jokes or cliches - but the reader does periodically wonder waht news bulletins written by Alain de B would be like. Maybe he should have had a go at writing them - this would have removed the somewhat starchy tone of chastisement that often mars otherwise good pages.
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on 22 February 2014
Some years ago, on the advice of a motivational guru, I was advised to stop watching the news as it would only depress me. By and large I have followed his advice, finding that if news is necessary to me it will somehow find me. I heard Alain de Boton being interviewed about this book on the radio, and thought it sounded very interesting. I don't think I've highlighted so many excerpts on my Kindle app for any book before. So many insights which I agreed with. I shall enjoy dipping into The Philosopher's Mail for interpretation of news stories in future.
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on 14 February 2015
For a while I've been feeling disillusioned with the news, even formerly reliable sources like The BBC. It seems increasingly to be a noxious brew of empty political rhetoric, tacky infotainment, disaster porn and sexual hysteria. So I was looking forward to this book, which promised an analysis of the news and its discontents, with a prescription for their remedy. How disappointing then to find rather shallow observations that any bright A-level student could have made, a style that meandered about without seeming to have a destination, and conclusions that seemed to amount to "don't take too much news" and "concentrate on good news stories". Not the hard-hitting, thought-provoking epistemological examination of the place of news media in our society desired by somebody who wants to be reliably informed about what goes on in the world without being overwhelmed. I find Alain de Botton a mixed blessing; he popularises the idea that philosophical thinking can be applied to everyday life, but he doesn't apply it particularly well, or thoroughly. There's a great book to be written about this subject, but I'm afraid this wasn't it.
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on 6 July 2014
After reading The Consolidations of Philosophy and Religion for Atheists, I was really looking forward to this book. Sadly some of the chapters are a bit weak. We occasionally get lost in his fetish with art, which I sometimes find a bit annoying. But there was some great chapters on the “power of photography” and how we rarely here about “ordinary day-to-day lives of people around the world”. Sadly the news does have a strange fetish with bad news, and it’s pretty rare to come across good news. (Maybe a good news section on page 2 might be a good idea?) It’s also interesting how the news tries to hold powerful people to account. It’s worth a read, but it’s defiantly one of his weaker books. There was even times when I was bored reading, (which is usually very rare for an Alain De Botton book). I think the book could possibly have been a bit shorter, or could have been a large chapter as part of a larger “Philosophy of modern media book”.. That said you can’t really trust what anyone really writes these days…. So read the book and come to YOUR own conclusion.
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on 25 March 2015
If you like de Botton then you will enjoy this. Perhaps not as thought provoking or as deep as some of his other work but there is still more than enough to keep us interested with his reliable brand of philosophy, wisdom and insight as he takes on the tabloid media and the real agendas behind it and as ever there are some lessons to be learned along the way.
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on 6 February 2014
I thought this was a clever, insightful and at times surprisingly funny guide to the modern media. De Botton looks at things differently and helps de-construct this messy world and challenges our pre-conceptions about it. And not in a boring "media studies" way. No doubt reviewers from the media will not like being on the receiving end of his intelligence and humour but ignore them, this is a fascinating and clever read.
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on 12 June 2014
The whole idea of analysing what the news is, and what it means to us is very interesting, but some of the conclusions to draw from that felt a bit weak and the style of examples became quite repetitive. Definitely worth a look though.
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on 6 February 2014
News a Users Manual is part of Alain de Botton's sublime philosophical survey of the modern world and how to exist in it and even be amused by it. He's done workplaces and art and love and now he is doing the News. I am addicted to the news like everyone else and yet I find this blizzard of information exhausting and confusing and often somewhat painful; and there is far too much of it and alot of it is unnecessary. So its a wonderful idea to write a guide, a users manual to understanding, analysing and navigating this constant flow, avalanche, this blizzard, this cannonade of information that bombards us at all times. but this book is much more than that. I have read the de Botton books since he started - first the novels of love then the Proustian and philosophical books - and I always relish his voice and his original approach. I am an author myself and I know a lot about how the news is made but I have found so many ideas and concepts and facts in this book that I hadn't known before or more often approaches I hadn't thought of. And so I especially relished not just the cleverness of the writing, the bon motes but its exceptional originality - no one else does it like this. This is a guide to modern living and I think the fun of this is that de Botton is gradually writing a body of work that should be published in one big volume on how to live in the 21st century. As always with de Botton, it is witty, its playful, its very unpolitically correct, its full of wisdom, whimsy and unusual facts but also its full of common sense and wry knowledge of the world. To read de Botton the only thing you need is a sense of humour - the sense of fun is never absent and there is usually a smile behind even his most grave pronouncements. We all know there is something of the philosopher about de Botton but there is also something of the investigative reporter: he is interested not just in the slick vapidity of the news flow itself but also the sweaty rush of the newsroom where the news is decided by people who often know nothing of the place or the event they are covering. I don't often write reviews on amazon but I so enjoyed this that I couldn't resist reviewing it here. De Botton's News is brilliant, original, mischievious and funny - this is essential reading for anyone who is living in the 21st Century and wishes to enjoy it and even survive it.
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on 11 April 2014
What starts off as an attempt to point out the ridiculous and sometimes disturbing reliance on and interest in the News, descends into an unbalanced and rather paternalistic essay. However, as usual, the author succeeds in provoking thought.
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