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Customer reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
The Wisdom Of Crocodiles
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on 6 May 2016
This may be the greatest book that you have ever read or the worst. Personally I loved it, it bought into all the ideals and idealism that it espoused with a marvelous verve. To me, a cracker of a novel.
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on 31 January 2012
This is the most horrible book I ever read and the only one I ever physically destroyed. Not only is it a tedious exposition of the belief that nothing in life has any meaning, but it indulges in gratuitous violence of the most extreme kind. I struggled through it, then tore it up so that nobody else would have the displeasure of reading my copy.
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on 31 March 2013
Fantastic read, liked the film (Jude Law) but the book as usual had more to it. Couldn't put it down, intellectually gripping and challenging. A number of stories which are linked and take you into the different characters personalities. I found the book emotionally charged and perfect read for today's financial difficuties in the UK and world, I'm now a Hoffman fan.......a very unusual read
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VINE VOICEon 3 November 2002
Paul Hoffman's "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" is mostly quite brutal, pulling no punches in its exploration and investigation of modern day living in the so-called civilised Western world. More specifically, this novel set in and around various (fictitious) bureaucratic agencies of modern London, this book presents an uncomfortably frank (and gory) look at the human condition — uncomfortable largely because one can't help but think that its rather bleak prognosis is almost certainly correct. The story is substantial in its outlook, encompassing global economic theory, the rise of artificial intelligence, terrorism, and the common human condition of loving and lusting. It is heavyweight in its approach, too, throwing up a great number of surprises and shocks along the way.
It has to be said that this is a brave book. It contains some startlingly frank admissions (and some uncomfortably universal observations) and rarely misses an opportunity for subtle side-swipes at (and many not-so-subtle full-frontal assaults upon) the ways men habitually treat and think of women. It is unusual to find writings like this coming from the pen of a man. Indeed, there are times when Paul Hoffman reads more like Sheri S. Tepper than anything else!
Perhaps almost inevitably, given its size and scope, there are times, though, when this book really does lose its way. Indeed, I can't help thinking that it should be rewritten and released as three or four books, not just one: there are times when it seems like the author has mixed up a number of unrelated stories, or else has dropped the occasional additional short story into the mix, creating, in the process, a complete hotch-potch of only loosely linked chapters and events.
So, while the book has some undoubtedly worthwhile ideas, the overall result is spoilt by a general lack of discipline. The book is allowed to wallow, overly at times, in its own invective — and shock tactics — often to little useful effect. The delirium and terminal ranting of a dying man, for instance, is taken to extremes, dragged out endlessly before the reader, always with the implication that its prolongation will bring clarity to some issue or other, whereas in fact, it never does. Another issue to consider is the sad matter of the book's historical inaccuracies (as they have turned out) of the recent past (still in the future when the book was written). While such things are virtually inevitable in any contemporaneously positioned work such as this, here they sadly throw into doubt some of the story's more important prognoses and prophecies, even though others have come frightening true already.
Mostly, though, the whole book just feels too hyperactive. It constantly leaps off in new directions before it has properly explored the territory it is passing through and sometimes seems to dump story-lines it has grown bored with, rather than fully resolving them. Which is a pity. The book is certainly worth a read: it gets where it is going in the end and has a very great deal to say along the way — which is probably also its biggest fault!
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on 19 September 2002
... How should a reader even hope to explain anything about "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" without sounding ridiculous? It's huge. It's complete but not satisfying. I wanted to sit down with the author and dissect it, examine every theme (of which there are way too many to count), ask what motivated him to present each in the unique way that he does. It's like a zoo for the senses - everything captured in one place, and it feels incongruous for it all to be together and addictively voyeuristic to keep reading. This is a book that deals with every darn concept you have ever read about, wondered about or experienced - including the supernatural - but doesn't answer a single question. I'd like to tell you about the multiplicity of characters and storylines and the astonishing way the author connects each with the others, how I felt physically sick at some of his descriptions and moved to tears at others...but it's just all too BIG for any of that to be prominent. Apparently it was 13 years in the writing. I'm surprised it wasn't longer. Read this book : it is as complex and alarming as life.
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on 7 November 2015
Book arrived fine ta
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on 28 August 2014
very good
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on 30 January 2008
A simply staggering book, whose scope is far beyond a small review such as this. By turns fascinating, engrossing and disturbing - the book has an uncomfortably amoral edge to it - this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The passage on banking could have been trimmed, but it's still a five star discovery. Great!
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on 7 March 2005
I can't help but feel that it is a case of The Emperor's New Clothes with this book. I am a voracious reader and have read, and loved, Classical literature, satire, Postmodern literature-- anything thoughtful and well-written-- I adore it.
I bought this book expecting great things. I have only ever given up on a couple of books in my life, and Lord, this nearly made it three. It is the most pretentious, posturing and sometimes downright silly book I have ever read. Before anyone tries to tell me that I "didn't get it", believe me, I did. It was a painful, annoying and pretentious slog, and of all the books I have ever read, this is the one I dislike the most. (This is likely due to the fact that I paid £15 for a book I hated.)
When I came to the end of the book, I paused. I considered. And then I flung it against the wall. I am ridiculously careful over how I treat my books. I keep my copy of "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" on my bottom shelf, because I quite think it would offend Joyce, Orwell and even Palahniuk to have their seminal works nestle alongside such an unworthy and ultimately unsatisfying read.
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