Book Reviews: Non-Fiction

Extreme Measures
Martin Brookes
Last edited on: 12/03/2011 - 15:41

The Victorian polymath Francis Galton: Medic, mathematician, statistician, gentleman adventurer, inventor of eugenics and promoter of the use of fingerprints, has been cropping up frequently in my reading.

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The Drunkard's Walk
Leonard Mlodinow
Last edited on: 05/03/2011 - 11:17

I'm rapidly becoming addicted to purchasing books in the 'Popular Science' shelves of my local bookstore. Or rather, I flick through them, make a decision, and then order online for a fraction of the price. The latest to adorn my burgeoning collection is The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow. Mlodinow has crafted an intriguing work on the day-to-day randomness that affects all our lives. In many respects there are similarities with the hugely popular Freakonomics, but this is a disservice to Mlodinow who's book far eclipses that of Levitt's.

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Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain
Matthew Engel
Last edited on: 26/02/2011 - 11:27

The thought of a purchasing and travelling the length and breadth of the UK with a week-long rover ticket (1st and 2nd class access) to most people would be anathema, yet this was the challenge Financial Times journalist Matthew Engel set himself. His fixed schedule was to journey from the most southerly station, Penzance, to the most northerly, Thurso. Beyond that his itinerary was flexible and he wandered on a whim.

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An Utterly Impartial History of Britain
John O'Farrell
Last edited on: 20/02/2011 - 11:08

This was Grumpy Old Man John O'Farrell's first foray into chronicling the history of these fair isles, and this publication pre-dated his subsequent whirlwind tour of post war Britain An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain.

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An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain
John O'Farrell
Last edited on: 13/02/2011 - 12:10

John O'Farrell came to public prominence as one of the droll middle-aged vox-poppers on Grumpy Old Men. Having enjoyed the show, and O'Farrell's contribution in particular, it was with great anticipation I got hold of a copy of his An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain or 60 Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes. As the title may suggest, this is an irreverent look at the events that have shaped British life over the last sixty years.

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A Lot of Hard Yakka
Simon Hughes
Last edited on: 13/02/2011 - 11:10

In the words of Terry Malloy, “I could've been a contender” - or at least those were my delusional thoughts back in the late70s. As a teenager I was obsessed with cricket and harboured big ideas of making it into the cut-throat world of the professional county cricket circuit. In reality, I had neither the talent nor the aptitude, and had actually already found my metier at village green level. At the same time 200 miles south of me, Simon Hughes shared my aspirations. He was cutting a swath with his fast swing bowling whilst juggling his education at Durham University

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Freakonomics
Steven D. Levitt et al
Last edited on: 30/01/2011 - 12:32

Freakonomics is the work of Harvard graduate Steven D Levitt and journalist Stephen J Dubner. Levitt is known chiefly as an economist with a speciality in crime; his brand of statistical analysis has been used to detect sumo wrestlers fixing their bouts, and correlate the drop in crime in US cities to the passing of pro-abortion legislation.

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You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life and Times of Willie Donaldson
Terence Blacker
Last edited on: 14/01/2011 - 23:09

Back in 1988 I moved into the flat of my dreams in Elm Park Mansions in Chelsea. I had the pleasure of being a Chelsea-ite for 15 years until I moved out in 2003. Almost every day of my stay in EPM I would see the same neighbour walking over the courtyard or up and down Park Walk with his trademark military upright gait. He cut a somewhat cadaverous sight with his sunken cheeks and Professor Wallofski male pattern baldness, always bedecked in the same blazer, open shirt and creased slacks that had the sort of shabbiness only the toffs can carry off.

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