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William

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Best analysis of Putin & today's Russian politics

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-05-20

Detailed and balanced, highly informed. Provides a rich picture of Putin's ambitions and his limitations.

Politics trumps science - again

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-04-20

This book was written out of a sense of public duty, to inform about what alcohol is, how it affects us physically, psychologically, socially. It is a message from someone whom Government has tasked to address the problems alcohol poses to us individually and collectively, and whose scientific findings were then dismissed as unwelcome. It is another example of short-sighted politicians deciding that we have heard quite enough from experts. As such it is definitely worth reading.

However much of the book reads like a public information brochure. No question about the quality and integrity of the data, with chapters addressing the whole range of people who are at greater or lesser risk. No-one who drinks alcohol is in the risk-free category, as there is always a downside to consumption. The most interesting chapters are the first - How Drinking Affects your Body and Brain - looking at the level of neuronal responses, and the last one - Is there a Solution to the Booze Crisis? - looking at what would constitute best practice based on the experiences of different countries. The tone is not preachy or didactic, but is simply the reflection of a highly qualified scientist presenting his findings.

I would suggest spending time on those 2 chapters and selecting what is of personal interest in the middle chapters rather than necessarily reading from start to finish.

Compelling setting. Storyline strong with weak end

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-04-20

Fortress Britain in a not very distant future with defensive coastal wall lapped by risen ocean. This makes for good narrative but the generation responsible for it will be long gone before the beaches disappear, and it won't be the fault of the parents of the protagonist.
Strong portrayal of social gulf between the Defenders - expendable worker ants - and the privileged elite running the show. The Others attempting to broach the fortification are an anonymous amalgam of cultures, closer to a zombie army than real people.
The twists of the story make it exciting but at times the excessive good luck of the action hero and his sweetheart stretch credulity. The figure of the Captain has more of a Soviet hero worker than a believable character. If his act of treachery were to prosper, which it did, he was comdemning himself to death or exile. No reason is sketched out to explain why he wanted to do this.
The ending is disappointing, a sort of inconclusive triumph and damp squib.

Confused and disappointing book, awful narration

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-02-20

The book poses good questions about the identity crisis posed by the demise of the USSR. This is the "lost" part of the title. The answers - the "found" part - are sketchy and lacking coherence. The author sets out to prove the idea that Russia cannot be understood through reason alone, and proudly provides evidence to justify the view. She may well be right, but the evidence adduced often has a contrived feel to it.

It is unclear why the author sets out to investigate the question. No context is provided for the 1000s of kms she covers. She comes over as a prosperous Westerner having jolly jaunts here and there. The friends she describes come over as caricatures rather than complete people, and her relationship with them sometimes recalls that between lab technician and a cage of mice!

The author is way too much to the fore, continually commenting on how she feels about people and situations rather than allowing the readers to draw their own conclusions.

The narration is the worst of several hundred Audible titles I have listened to. The narrator attempts a Russian accent and it sounds like a cross between Scottish and Jamaican!

Persistently self-centred

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-19

Mildlly humorous but the unrelieved focus on me and my little world is unappealing. Got through 3 chapters and needed fresh air

Sensitive and perceptive

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-09-19

An elegantly written perusal of aspects of Proust's writings and life. Lots of intelligent observations about how we may learn to enjoy life more and suffer less. Relaxed and chatty in style, with plenty of curious details if his life.
One anecdote I found particularly interesting was the brief meeting between Proust and Joyce. A cold, indifferent exchange with no engagement from either man.

Maybe a more appropriate title would be How What Proust Wrote Can Change Your Life. His life has contributed a work of stunning perception on a huge range of human predicaments, yet his life is not one many would choose to emulate, or rather suffer. Great sensitivity comes at a high price.

Fun but serious

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-09-19

An entertaining drive-by of where humanity has screwed up despite the best intentions and plans.
Behind the flippancy there is a sound basis of fact. A salutary and sane laugh at our vanities.

Fluent overview of the mess we are in

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-09-19

The authors know what they are talking about, and write in a clear and accessible way. They have long and direct experience of campaigning and informing on climate change.
Although the book is only 4 years old, it feels a bit out of date due to subsequent further backsliding on the climate front. The US elections of 2016 - still to come at the time of writing - are referred to as "make or break". We got the Break candidate...
This is not the most compelling climate change book available in 2019. The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells is a more up-to-date text, although correspondingly more urgent as we have slipped further down the oily slope towards crisis and chaos. For an understanding of why we find it so hard to face the climate crisis, an excellent read is George Marshall's
Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change. These two texts also end on a faint note of hope.

Why was this story not told before?!?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-19

It is mystifying that such an important dimension to an understanding of one of the greatest horrors of the twentieth century should have remained unexplored for so long.
This book peoviy convincing account of one of the main drivers of Nazi ideology - narcotics. The history of Hitler and the Third Reich make more sense seen through this lens.
The story is told with adequate detail to convince but does not given in to the temptation of excessive length. It is narrated with vigour and is easy to listen to, thanks to a first-class performance from the reader.

Outstanding. Depressing with glimmer of hope

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-09-19

To say the book is enjoyable sounds glib, as the topic is so crushingly grim. Yet it's not the author who is at fault, but a subject matter all the more serious for being largely ignored by humankind.
It isn't a description of the mess we're in but a thoughtful analysis of why we find it so difficult to call a climate crisis a climate crisis.
It ends on a minor key of optimism, as any book on the topic must. If all we can do is to fold our arms and await the end, no-one would bother to put finger to keyboard.
Thank you George Marshall for an intelligent and human perspective on our predicament.