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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 9 July 2017
A straight forward read, that sticks to it's topic without veering off into unconnected areas. I enjoyed it and thought it covered its subject very well.
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on 25 September 2017
very interesting. provocative
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on 26 December 2014
There's so much in this book that had me nodding in agreement - for example the parallels that the author draws between sentimentality and brutality, his critique of today's victim culture, and even his analysis of the deficiencies of utilitarianism. Most importantly of all (IMO), Mr Dalrymple condemns the trend towards a blurring of the distinction between private and public expressions of emotion - the sentimentalists' dictum being the everyone "must" emote in public rather than suffering in silence (and if you remain impassive, like the parents of Madeleine McCann, then you must of course be guilty).This trend has been facilitated greatly by the rise of social media, and is something I personally find very scary.

The one thing that I didn't go along with was the author's creation of a false dichotomy - in his view, you either believe in the Christian doctrine of original sin, or you subscribe to the Romantic doctrine that children are naturally good. I'm sure that quite a few of us (myself included) fall into neither camp.

Apart from that there was only one other niggle, namely poor editing (there are quite a few typos).
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on 9 May 2017
A thought-provoking book which could have done with some editing of its often clumsy prose. Dalrymple makes a convincing case against corrupting public displays of artificial emotion. Should be compulsory reading in schools.
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on 15 August 2010
This book is Dalrymple's criticism of the effects of overt public displays of emotion.It shows how sentimentality has become a substitute for thinking & also coercive which has a damaging impact on society. How you feel about an issue being more important that being erudite about it. While Dalrymple does not expect us to behave as stoics, he notes how public sentimentality can become coercive i.e Princess Diana's death and how this coercion can result in threats of violence if people do not conform. He notes how fortitude, once regarded as a virtue now is a sign of callousness. Dalrymple goes through different events in the book e.g Madeline McCann disapearance & disects the media & the publics reaction to these events. Dalrymple regards a lot of these displays of emotion as more for the selfish benefit of the person who displays them - being emotional showing that you are a caring/ sharing person. He believes that sentimentality is the midwife to violence. Lack of control over our emotions can be used as an excuse for violence. This book is well worth a read & causes you to be skeptical if you are not already of sentimentality in public.Its also a decent price for a good book
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on 16 September 2010
Once again Dalrymple dispels the foetid stench of political correctness like a breath of fresh air. Dalrymple's misanthropy is a plea for human dignity in these most degraded of times. Revolting public displays of emotion by sanctimonious attention seekers, Maddy Mcgann wristbands advertising the wearer's concern for Maddy and the ever grotesque Tony Blair are just a few of the topics covered.
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on 23 December 2016
I have been an admirer of Dalrymple since first chancing on 'Life At the Bottom' - his incomparable series of essays on the ever more dysfunctional lifestyle of the less well off section of the British population. Since retiring from the prison psychiatric service he has widened his scope to diagnose the ills of a whole society, skewering the folly that gives rise to our debased pubic and private morals with devastating outcomes for all sentimentalists in the legal, political, economic and academic spheres. Avid readers of his essays who post reviews notice that he returns to certain themes and misses other opportunities, but that is in the nature of essay writing about the complex diverse phenomena of human culture in a particular time, namely the relentless post industrial, post imperial, post everything decline of Britain in the 20th and early 21st centuries. What he does so well time and again is to use his wider and deeper knowledge of human history to sharply refocus our attention on the underlying reality behind the falsehoods that so insidiously sap our ability to make progress on dealing with the ills of the world. It can be a depressing experience to read Dalrymple, but also invigorating. I believe that his essays have punctured many windbags and wounded political hypocrites with beneficial effects on public debate and policy.
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on 18 August 2010
This is an excellent book on a very important subject. Most people are unaware of the all-pervasive nature of sentimentality in the modern world -- because it is so all-pervasive. It is also insidious and dangerous and allied to many kinds of evil, as Dalrymple demonstrates.

It is difficult to define sentimentality. One could say it is insistence that one's feelings must be beautiful, and that this matters above all else. So, compassion for a large number of people one knows nothing about -- 'the poor' , say-- is very beautiful, and gives one a warm glow of self-satisfaction. The fact that these feelings have no use for 'the poor', and are indeed only of use for making me feel good about myself, is irrelevant to the sentimentalist. It is not the truth of his thoughts that matter, but the beauty of his feelings. Sentimentalists tend to be utterly ruthless and unscrupulous. They are as dishonest and manipulative with others as they are with their own all-important feelings.

That is only a starting point, of course. There is so much to say on the subject.

One very interesting question, which I wish Dalrymple had said more about, is the historical context. Is there much more sentimentality than there was, say, in Shakespeare's time (an author entirely untinged with sentimentality) and if so why? One reason is the decline in Christianity. Dalrymple is not a believer but the doctrine of Original Sin certainly kept one is a state of healthy distrust of one's feelings, although of course that could turn into unhealthy self-flagellation. Second, the rise of the mass media, and films and pop videos which convey ultra-simple emotional instant gratificaton. Third, the rise of overall wealth and comfort certainly has something to do with it.

Certainly, in my travels to third world countries, I did not spot huge levels of sentimentality amongst poor and religious people.

Dalrymple's savage treatment of modern Britain will make many people -- myself included -- ashamed to belong to such a degraded country. Let us only hope the tendency towards emotional honesty and integrity that he represents regains some ground.
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on 12 November 2016
Whilst there is some truth in the topic that the author covers, he seems to presume that the lens through which he sees the world is truth. His negative, pessimistic hyperbole may be beyond comprehension to some readers who have some hope in them. To me this book is what I imagine the letters section in the Daily Mail contains, but in book form and with some Latin phrases thrown in as if to justify intelligence. The genius of the book is that any criticism of the book can merely be discounted as sentimentalism, such as the authors use of the term "handicapped" throughout the book, which is all the more amazing considering his frequent mentioning of the fact that he was a doctor.
Not the book for me, but if you're depressed with the state of the country and you want only complaints with no solutions then it's definitely for you.
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on 20 July 2014
A number of passages of lucidity and insight if not originality; otherwise a devastating, occasionally hilarious & often grotesque self-parody.
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