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November 20, 2013

Odds and ends: some random book reviews on China, Marriage… and Auschwitz

by quaesitor
duke humfrey bodleian library

So, there’s been seriously long radio-silence from Q in recent weeks. But this is not the result of inactivity. Far from it. Regulars will be pleased to hear that my book is seriously under way – with 5 out of 10 chapters now completed in draft. Phew!! There’s going to be lots to blog on when it’s done – but I don’t have the energy or brain to do both at the same time! Nevertheless, I’ve been keeping up reading and stuff. Here are a few reviews of recent freebies I got on the Amazon Vine programme. There might be something of interest to someone…

china knowChina: What everyone needs to know

by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom

I write this as a total China novice: I’ve never been there, though have always had friends from Hong Kong or the mainland for as long as i can remember. It has always been a source of fascination, but only of a fairly ignorant kind. This book has served to set me straight, and given me enough fuel for further investigation and reading. Its key aim is to explain how the nation has reached the point of being 2nd biggest economy (and will soon be 1st). And it does a convincing job (or so it seems to me). Those who are better informed may disagree of course – but I was sufficiently gripped and felt well-informed.

Read more…

bruckner love

Has Marriage for Love Failed?

by Pascal Bruckner

I can rather imagine sitting at Pascal Bruckner’s feet outside a Paris cafe on the left bank, sipping espresso and drawing on Gitanes – there’s something very gallic about this accessible but fascinating and provocative exploration of a difficult subject. This extended essay is readable, thoughtful and fair (on the whole). He has few illusions about where we’ve found ourselves in post-Enlightenment Europe – and perhaps the French do understand the effects and fall-out of the Enlightenment better than most. After all, they cast off the shackles of the ancien regime far more rigorously and thoroughly than anyone else (including their revolutionary co-belligerents, the United States).

Read more…

Kulka - LandscapesLandscapes of the Metropolis of Death

by Otto Dov Kulka

A boy of ten, who finds himself reunited with his father… but separated from his mother.
A world that has brutalised and destroyed his child’s security of hearth and home.
Ushered into “the corridor of lights, to the Metropolis of Death” (p6)
Welcome to Auschwitz.

Read more…

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