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In this book Jared Diamond outlines, with the aid of some apt case studies, why some societies have failed to stand the test of time through overlooking the long term implications of their short term actions.
What could have been a turgid, academic review of one of the key problems of our times has been avoided by Jared Diamond, who manages to write in a very fluid and engaging style that makes you unable to put the book down.
When reading this book I could not help but think of the parallels that could be drawn, not with individual societies, but of the whole world in the age of globalisation and high, unsustainable consumption. A case in point is Easter Island, where a once rich and flourishing society collapsed through the unsustainable use of a seemingly plentiful resource.
A thoroughly good read, though worrying in the number of parallels that can be drawn between collapsed societies of the past and our own cotemporary global society.
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This book is probably one of the worst I have ever read.
The premise of the book is that the Chinese discovered the new world before European explorere did. This, with the limited amout of research and proof to back it up, could have been written about in under 100 pages. However, Gavin Menzies manages to fill 656 pages and therefore repeats himself quite frequently.
An extremely poor read that I would not recommend to anyone.
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This book offers each and every way possible to disagree with anything that is ever spouted from the mouths of Daily Mail readers across the UK.
As the title suggests, the book seeks to prove that immigrants are beneficial to a country and deals with every single misconception of immigration around, e.g. they are stealing are jobs (they aren't, they are doing the jobs that no-one wants to do in the UK), etc. etc.
Daily Mail readers will certainly not put this on their Birthday or Christmas list, but that's a shame. It is a fantastic book that does exactly what is says in the title - prove that immigrants are needed!
Red Storm Rising
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This is a fantastic read.The book was written and is set on the 1980s when the world was a very different place, but put that aside and read it.It all kicks off with a group of Islamic terrorists blowing up a very large pertochemical plant in the USSR, which resultantly leaves 'Ivan' a little short on fuel. To resolve the crisis, the USSR plan to invade the Middle East and use their oil. However, as the West has a lot of interest in the area they first of all need to make sure that they cannoy upset their plans and decide to invade Western Europe to neutralise NATO.The rest of the book then follows the beginning, middle and end of World War Three through several different characters and scenarios.It is a very gripping read though there are a few criticisms of the book for being unrealistic, but 99% of the people who read the book, including myself, don't care about the true range of a Soviet Backfire bomber. Also, yes, there are a lot of acronyms, such as SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander EURope), but there is a definitions page and to be honest, it doesn't take a degree to figure out most military acronyms.Overall, a very, very good book that you will stuggle to put down.
The Da Vinci Code
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Having heard some postive and negative reviews of this book I, like many other reviewers, approached this book with a bit of caution. However, this caution was quickly thrown out the window as I was drawn in from the first chapter until the end.
The chapters are very brief allowing you to pick up and read whenever you have a few minutes here and there. This is good in theory, but after you pick up this book you really will not be able to put it down.
A very good fictional/factual novel that is full of suspense and intrigue from the get-go. A gripping read.
And Another Thing: v. 2
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I must admit that my political leanings are somewhere to the left of Jezza's, but I find that some of his columns, like those of the grumpy old men series, say things that everyone knows to be true but don't like to admit.
The one thing that did strike me with this book was its ability to make me laugh with almost every single column/chapter. I know from watching Top Gear that Clarkson is a very funny man and has an analogy for every single thing he talks about. This manages to come across in his writing as well.
If you want a bit of light-hearted humour then this is your man and this is the book.
The River Cottage Fish Book
This book will open your mind to the wonders of fish.
The book starts with a detailed section on how to prepare all the seafood that is in the book, from gutting and filleting a fish to dressing a crab.
The passion that Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher have for fish is then shown through the wonderful recipes that are offered for every type of fish and shell fish. Each recipe is straight-forward and the number of ingredients never becomes unmanageable.
Of course, with his River Cottage hat on nothing is left to waste so there is even a section on how to cook the off-cuts and left-overs from your main meals.
After the extensive recipies section there is a wealth of knowledge on each fish and mention of a sustainability rating, e.g. whether you should really be buying the fish in question or not. It really does make you aware of what can be considered ethical and sustainable when eating fish.
A truly wonderful guide to fish that will make you aware of what and when to buy.
King Leopold's Ghost
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This book explains why Joseph Conrad wrote the Heart of Darkness during his brief forray into the Congo Free State.
It describes in immaculate, but readable, detail the establishment of the Congo Free State by King Leopold of Belgium and how he then managed to make a large fortune through torture, rape, mutilation and murder without ever stepping foot on African soil.
One wonders on reading the book what would have happened if it were not for a few noble humanitarians who exposed the Congo Free State for what it really was.
A fantastic read. Both to see what pure evil is really like and as a guide to why DR Congo is one of the least developed nations in the world today.
The Web of Deceit
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This book is a remarkable piece of work that is well researched and written.
The writings of Mark Curtis link well with John Pilger's books, but have a different slant. Intead of talking of distant lands, Mark Curtis' focus is on good old Blightly.
Looking through declassified files he has managed to unearth Britain's real role in the world - toppling foreign governments, forcefully removing a population from islands and developing repressive techniques that were so effective they have been copied by others.
This book will open your eyes to Britain's real role in the world. You name it, we've been there and done it! Shameful!
Freedom Next Time
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This book will open your eyes to the evils of the world around you.
In an age when journalists care more about whether Britney Spears is on the verge of a breakdown or not there are still some journalists out there who report about a world that many of us will never see or read about in Heat or on GMTV - from Diego Garcia to Palestine to South Africa.
It's a shame more journalists were not made in the mould of Pilger. If they were, maybe the world might change for the better.
If you like Pilger, I would recommend Mark Curits as well.