zurich



2018

Title Author Rating Comments
Burial Rites Hannah Kent

A novel written by this Austrlian woman who ended up in Iceland. Based on a real event - the last woman to be executed for murder. Very dark, fitting the Winter weather on the island.

Normal People Sally Rooney

Having recently been berated for not reading fiction I decided to give this prize winning book a go. Wish I hadn't, it just doesn't resonate. Especially the "Fifty Shades" elements - what is it with the modern world? I am (finally) showing my age...

The Liberty Tree Murray Armstrong

A blow-by-blow account of the life of Thomad Muir and his "rebellious" acts while wanting to change society, including universal suffrage. They were "interesting" times with a background of the French Revolution and the strong desire of the British upper classes to maintain their brutal control, including the use of secret funds to target rebbels... It was ever thus.

The Geek Manifesto Mark Henderson

So many areas to cover from government policies to the poor mix of politicians representing us to the enemies of science.
Quote:"Susan Blackmore, the psychologist and author, often runs classes in critical thinking for nurses and other health professionals to teach them the basics of evidence-based medicine and good experimental design. She finds that her lessons always work best if she starts with a thought experiment. 'Suppose we find that the more often people consult astrologers or psychics, the longer they live,' she might begin. 'Why might that be true?'
Her students start to suggest ideas. Most know that astrologers and psychics can't actually predict the future, but perhaps they might make people feel better about themselves, with benefits for their health. Maybe healthier people, or people who have already lived long lives, are more likely to believe in the paranormal. After a while, someone will eventually come up with the most probable explanation: women go to psychics and astrologers more often than men, and also live longer. Knowing your horoscope might be associated with longer life expectancy, but it isn't responsible for it: both are the result of something else" Recommended.

Inglorious Empire Shashi Tharoor

This is a book which, if they read it, would confound some Brexiteers as they realise that The British Empire was not at all what they imagined - well at least looking from the position of a colonised nation. How on earth anyone would think that India would be keen to do trade deals with the UK after reading this book is beyond me.
Quote;"History knows the event as the Jallianwala Massacre. The label connotes the heat and fire of slaughter. But there was nothing of this at Jallianwala Bagh. Dyer's soldiers were lined up calmy, almost routinesly; they were neither threatenednor attacked by the crowd (peaceful protestors); it was just another dasy work, but unlike any other. They loaded and fired their rifles coldly, clinically, without haste or passion or sweat or anger, emptying their magazones into the shreiking, wailing, then stampeding crowd with trined precision. As people sought to flee the horour towards the single exit, they were trapped in a murderous fussilade. Sixteen hundred and fifty bullets were fired that day into the unarmed throng, and when the job was finished, just 10 minutes later, hundreds of people lay dead and several thousand more lay injured, many groteskly mained for life." Recommended.

The Secret Barrister Tim Shipman

A revelation. It shows how the system of law in the UK is simply broken and run largely by amateurs. As successive UK governments, and especially those on the right have taken apart what was a very egalitarian system and turned it into a "fast track" nightmare. As it clearly states: It is a system of law, not justice.
I sincerely hope I have nothing to do with it in the future. Just another aspect of how the UK has gone downhill in a major way in the past 30+ years - über-sad.
Quote: "When photographs are released of patients lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, the parlous finances of the NHS fill the front pages, double-spreads, op-eds and vox pops, as commissioning editors scramble to amplify the horror stories of real-life victims of our distorted political priorities, seeking the council of professionals stuck in the system. Working our way down the hierarchy of needs, near-comparable excitement is whipped up by crowded classrooms, over-worked teachers, social care crises, immigration, transport strikes, welfare reform, pensions, low pay, the merits or demerits of Brexit and footballer's exploits.
Twenty thousand leagues under that we see the justice system." Recommended.

The Shortest History of Germany James Hawes

An excellent book which, in spite of all I have seen, heard and read about Germany over the last 40+ years, was an eye-opener. It especially manages to explain so much about the differences between the Eastern part, the DDR and what was the BRD. Recommended.

The Ecology of Law Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei

So, I finally finished this book, even if I had to re-read a lot of the sentences to be sure I could follow his points. In summary He positions the philosophies of Locke and Hobbes as the mainstays of the two strongest influencers on today's legal system, namely "property rights and individual freedom" and "state sovereignty". He demonstrates clearly IMHO that these have lead to not only the demise of general participation in our systems of government but also the rape of our commons. The final chapters of the book don't really get to how this can be changed in any practical way and again the word "revolution" is used. Marx was also correct as to the ills of the system and aslo pointed to revolution, but this didn't happen.
In general I am still confused as to why people obviously vote against their own best interests.

Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty Zygmunt Bauman

A book with many erudite sentences - i.e. have to be parsed several times, making the read a long one. Some really good ideas and statements. It deals in some detail with the refugee issue, only a description, not on how it could be solved.
Quote: "Uncertainty cannot be defused nor dispersed in a direct confontation with the other embodiment of extraterritorality, the global elite drifting beyond reach of human control. That elite is much too powerful to be confronted and challenged point blank, even if its exact location were known (which its not). Refugees, on the other hand, hapless and helpless, are a clearly visible, sitting and easy target for unloading the surplus angers, even if they are totally irrelevant to the miseries and fears of more miseries which caused that anger."
"The 1970s was the decade when the `glorious thirty years` of postwar reconstruction, social compact and the development optimism that accompanied the dismantling fo the colonial system and the mushrooming of `new nations`was falling into the past, opening up the barve new world of erased or punctured boundaries, information deluge, rampant globalisation, consumer feasting in the affluent North and a `deepening sense of desperation and exclusion in a large part of the rest of the world`asising from `the spectacle of wealth on the one hand and destitution on the other`."

At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime A. Roger Ekirch

A long-winded look at nighttime and how our lives have changed. There is an idea that we used to have two sleeps back in the Middle Ages, not sure I subscribe to this. But, light at night has changed our lives beyond recognition.

Wonderful Tonight Pattie Boyd

Some interesting stuff about the 1960s, George and Eric.

 
 



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