Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries Tagged as 'English'

Orwell on the English Aristocracy – “The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius” from “Fifty Orwell Essays” – George Orwell

October 28th, 2011 · Comments Off on Orwell on the English Aristocracy – “The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius” from “Fifty Orwell Essays” – George Orwell · English, History

It is important not to misunderstand their motives, or one cannot predict their actions. What is to be expected of them is not treachery, or physical cowardice, but stupidity, unconscious sabotage, an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. They are not wicked, or not altogether wicked; they are merely unteachable.

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“Fatherland”, Robert Harris

August 16th, 2009 · Comments Off on “Fatherland”, Robert Harris · English, History, Trash, WW2

Synopsis: Twenty years after the Nazi’s have won WW2 a criminal detective in the SS starts investigating the deaths of a number of senior party officials in the lead up to celebrations for Adolf Hitler’s 75th birthday. It’s Agatha Christie meets George Orwell. My Take: Let’s face it – the main appeal of historical fiction […]

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“The Polysyllabic Spree”, Nick Hornby

July 15th, 2009 · Comments Off on “The Polysyllabic Spree”, Nick Hornby · English, Reading Related

Synopsis: A month by month reflection on one year of Hornby’s personal reading. Not a collection of book reviews, but a review of the reading process. My Take: I knew I would love this book from the moment I opened Chapter One to see two columns containing separate lists for ‘Books Bought this month’ and […]

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"The Undercover Economist", Tim Harford

July 11th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The Undercover Economist", Tim Harford · Economics, English, Policy

Synopsis: The economics correspondent for the Financial Times writes a pop economics textbook illustrating economic principles in accessible and engaging examples. My Take: Should be required reading for all high-school students. Clearly articulated, widely accessible and practically illustrated explanations of the fundamentals of economics. Highlight: A great chapter highlighting the benefits of sweatshops as a […]

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"Scoop", Evelyn Waugh

July 7th, 2009 · Comments Off on "Scoop", Evelyn Waugh · English, Literature, Politics

Synopsis: A case of mistaken identity results in the pastoralist nature writer for the London tabloid, The Daily Beast, being sent as a foreign correspondent to cover a brewing Communist insurrection in the fictional African state of Ishmaelia. Satire that makes ‘Frontline’ look like a loving homage to the media. My Take: Bitchiness like this […]

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“The Blair Years”, Alastair Campbell”

June 27th, 2009 · Comments Off on “The Blair Years”, Alastair Campbell” · English, History, Policy, Politics

Synopsis: Tony Blair’s Director of Communications and general master of the dark arts tells (almost) all about The Blair Years. My Take: Ordinarily I steer clear of political biographies (diaries in particular!) but beore I moved to the UK I thought I needed a bit of a crash course in the who’s who of the […]

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"Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad

June 25th, 2009 · 4 Comments · African, English, Literature, Philosophy

Synopsis: Freed from the constraints of European morality, a man confronts the underlying nature of humanity. Madness ensures. My Take: For quite a short novella, “The Heart of Darkness” has certainly prompted a lot of meta-discussion. The subject of critical attention as a part of the Western cannon, as a flash point in post-colonial literary […]

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"The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words", Simon Winchester

June 20th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words", Simon Winchester · English, History

Synopsis: The story of the 70 year process of compiling for first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and the relationship between the primary editor, Dr James Murray and the most proflific contributor, the institutionalised and certifiably insane, Dr W.C. Minor. My Take: A great read. An interesting story, engagingly told. I was struck while […]

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"The End of the Affair", Graham Greene

June 19th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The End of the Affair", Graham Greene · English, Literature, Nihilist

Synopsis: A deeply bitter writer reflects on his aborted affair with a married woman during WW2 London when years after the conclusion of their relationship, he runs into the woman’s husband. Hatred and contempt for self, women and God flows freely. My Take: I have mixed feelings about Graham Greene. One the one hand, he’s […]

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"An Artist of the Floating World", Kazuo Ishiguro

June 11th, 2009 · Comments Off on "An Artist of the Floating World", Kazuo Ishiguro · Asian, English, Japanese, Literature, Under-Rated

Synopsis: An aging painter contemplates his life as an artist of the ‘floating world’ (‘Ukiyo‘) of Tokyo’s pleasure seeking districts and struggles to come to terms with his place in post-war Japan.  Sometimes hindsight doesn’t come with 20/20 vision. My Take: As you may have guessed by now, I have a real peccadillo for Japanese […]

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