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    Recently enjoyed One Day by David Nicholls. Quite light, easy to read, funny (and a bit sad). Enjoying my second AJ Cronin book The Judas Tree.

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      Think I'll start The Good Soldier Svejk again. I love that book so much. The illustrations are perfect as well.

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        Just finishing Empires Of The Monsoon - A History of the Indian Ocean and its Invaders by Richard Hall. When thoroughly mainstream, in no way radical history books like this so vividly convey the filthy horror of colonialism it forcefully reminds one what nasty charlatans Niall Ferguson and his ilk are. When I was little I idolised explorers like Vasco da Gama, but he was a fanatical marauding mass killer. I know this isn't news. It's a good book.

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          Having had Anna Funder’s “Stasiland” for years I thought I’d finally read it before Berlin holiday. It’s great. Was expecting dryish docu-hist but it’s very personal and more like a travel book in tone.

          Enjoyed it so much I went straight to her novel “All That I Am”, about socialist exiles from the Nazis in London. Also very good indeed.

          On a German roll I’m now on Arjouni “More Beer”- delighted to see the detective’s Gladbach support featuring early on, as in the 1st in the series.

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            Anyone read Anna Burns' Milkman? Just finished it - an intense, but often funny, feminist read; kind of about the way the Troubles occupied and oppressed people's internal lives as well as their external ones. Bits of it reminded me of James Kelman as it goes, in that kind of stylised deployment of an internal monologue. Worth a read

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              Originally posted by San Bernardhinault View Post
              Black Sea is a very good book - although I don't recall the subtitle which must be a new addition or possibly a new edition. The only problem with it is that for a while afterwards I conflated Neal Ascherson with Niall Ferguson which became pretty confusing.
              I've a copy that my Dad borrowed. His verdict was that it was a very good book but could have done with better editing as he thought Ascherson had a tendency to digress a little. Based on what everyone here has said though, I'm really looking forward to reading it.

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                I love the digressions I must say. You can end up going from 91 coup against Gorbachev to a meander around Khazar history and back within a few paragraphs.
                Last edited by Lang Spoon; 17-08-2019, 07:33.

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                  Yes, that's what I'm finding. He does digress, but I wouldn't say the book is at all the worse for it.

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                    Recent/current reading:

                    Dawkins - The Blind Watchmaker (not far into it, but very good so far, nice illustrative examples and only moderately laboured points)

                    D R Thorpe - Supermac (a biography of Harold Macmillan, absolutely cracking read, I'm up to the 1959 election so far)

                    Jane Austen - S+S (no point commenting, you'll all have your own opinions on it I'm sure, but I enjoyed it)

                    N N Taleb - Skin in the Game - OK, shoot me, I bought a book (in a 3 for 2 deal) by the obviously egomaniacal arrogant twat who repeats all his points ad nauseam, especially his most frequent points which are "I am unbelievably wonderful" and "[huge categories of professionals in public life] are charlatans". But if you can get through the grossly inflated sense of his own infallible correctness and his arrogant dismissal of almost everyone else (a tough ask for the more discerning reader than I am, perhaps) there are quite a few interestingly illustrated thought-provoking points. And occasionally even the bitchiness is quite amusingly OTT, as in one particularly aggressive swipe at Steven Pinker.

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                      Pinker deserves all the swipes he gets.

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                        You'd be welcome at our gaff. The wife's a Pinker groupie and the lad's a Peterson fanboy.

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                          Ooft!

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                            His room must be spotless in fairness but.

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                              Ha! I'm exaggerating just a teenie bit. The Peterson fooforah over the past year or so served as a catalyst for him to question some of the assumptions he'd been making over the years. So genuinely important for that reason. As for La Signora, she just gets the hots for intelligent, handsome men (she married me after all.) And Pinker pushes all the right buttons in that regard.

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                                Finished The New Silk Roads earlier this week. It's a fascinating update on The Silk Roads.... Eerily prescient and everso slightly frightening...
                                For example this:
                                "... There seems little or no recognition of the fact that while 'the will of the people' to leave the European Union was expressed in 2016, the world has changed dramatically since then. Challenges have appeared that were not just not known about at the time of the referendum, and in some cases did not even exist. As such, perhaps the biggest problem about Brexit is not the question of whether leaving the European Union is right for the UK; it is whether it is right to do so at a time of such profound geopolitical fragility. There are real dangers in concentrating on matters that are of parochial importance when so many other more significant and challenging problems require and demand attention"

                                This in the context of the UK banks' exposure to a Chinese credit bubble bursting being more than US, Euro area, Japan and Korea combined....

                                I'd urge everyone to read it.

                                One small gripe with it is that the rush to bring it out shows in the number of proof-reading errors. Someone at Bloomsbury is probably packing their desk as we speak...

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                                  I've read 'Children of Ruin' by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It's the sequel to 'Children of Time', but while that did a great job of imagining what a spider civilisation could look like, the octopus civilisation in this wasn't as compelling. That's probably because he was trying to interweave a third story into it and because he's already done the 'another species becomes the intelligent apex species' theme. I quite liked the octopuses and the idea of an emotionally-led race where that wasn't seen as a weakness deserved a bit more page time. Also the one character to (sort of) carry over from 'Children of Time' was deeply unsympathetic and the book might have been better without them in it.

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                                    Last week on holiday I read Stone Mattress, a collection of shorts stories by Margaret Atwood. All really good. I like her writing a lot.

                                    Before that I finally finished The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, which was half fascinating (when it was about dinosaurs) and half irritating (when it was about his paleontology frat and all his amazing fossil hunting mates who get pissed and are just hilarious, man).

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