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Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Politics, Ice Cream, Churchill & My Mother

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  145 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
“Schama is a masterful stylist and storyteller.”
—Boston Globe

“A writer of gorgeous prose.”
Washington Post

The ever erudite, always delightfully curious Simon Schama returns with Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, a wonderful compendium of thirty provocative, witty, enlightening, and stimulating essays previously published but collected in a single volume for the first time. One
ebook, 448 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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Have they changed the rules without telling me? Is it now obligatory for intellectuals, having established their reputation in one discipline (maybe even two) to try to dazzle us further by writing essays (or, God forbid, entire books) about completely random stuff in which they appear to have no particular expertise?* I expect to find Professor Schama writing about history, or art, or art history. I'm not so sure I care that much about what he has to say about travelling, cooking, eating, and I ...more
Feb 21, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, Schama has ruined me for reading anyone else or in attempts at my own writing. Say what you will, but I enjoy his over the topness. Perhaps since I am in the sciences and have to read very droll pieces day in and day out, I find his style very refreshing and always spot-on. Does he come across as full of himself sometimes? Yes. Does he use 10 words where perhaps none would suffice? Yes. So what? If those bees get in your bonnet, read something that you already agree with or that doesn't mak ...more
Lets get this straight. 'Scribble, Scribble, Scribble' Simon Schama showing off. Flouncing with nouns, dazzling with adjectives. Look, look, see what I can do. When writing a review on a biography of Winston Churchill, he talks about the power of Churchill as an operatic orator, which the author did not really discuss in the bio.

Though I have to admit I have always loved a writer who knows how to throw his weight in synonyms around.

This a collection of essays, reviews, philosophies, and in som
Sep 28, 2011 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a huge crush on Simon Schama. I can't even count the times I've watched History of Britain. As history documentaries go, it's first rate, and, closet Anglophile that I am, it's just my cuppa, but I watch it over and over again because I can't get enough of his voice and his swishy, dishy, smarty-pants-with-his-hair down Oxbridge schtick. In one episode, he sneeringly describes Thomas Cromwell as "a jumped-up Putney Clever Dick."
I'm pleased to report, for crushing purposes, that the tone i
Feb 21, 2013 A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Why does it always take me so long to work through collected essays? I think it's because finishing each essay gives that feeling of 'done' and let's me walk away for a while guilt-free.

There is absolutely no question about the quality of the writing in this work. It's amazing. There is a remarkable diversity of subject matter (as the sub-title suggests) and inevitably I found some of them more riveting than others. A number of the pieces on art are in fact catalogue introductions and so not esp
Overall, I thought it a good read for a Schama fan, as his humor translates well to the written page. The travel, food, and memoir sections were the most interesting to me, while I had to bail on the art-centered essays after a while as I just didn't have the background to follow the "inside baseball" discussions. The final section focusing on history got a bit dense, though the last entry on the making of a Red Sox fan redeemed things! (grin)
Jan 12, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am reading it now and love love love the language. I am savouring his use of metaphor, cross references and imagery, the combination of which, alarmingly for fellow cafe patrons, induce reading and laughing out loud. The introduction had me howling when he goes off on a tangent about his own handwriting and so far the stories, both published in the New Yorker, are entertaining, interesting and humorous.
Howard Cincotta
In this delightful collection from 2010, historian Simon Schama’s ranges from European history and Dutch painting to contemporary foreign policy, reassessments of Churchill, and fond food recipes. Interestingly, the volume contains none of what later became his largest endeavor – two volumes and a BBC series – The Story of the Jews.

As noted in another review, the contrast between Schama and fellow British Jew, Cambridge graduate, and historian Tony Judt is fascinating. Judt debates the grim conu
R. Shurmer
Dec 31, 2012 R. Shurmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
anything Schama writes is worth the time
Jun 10, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
How can Simon Schama know so much about so many diverse things? There is unevenness in the articles; however, when I put down a book and feel inspired by what was written, I know I have experienced time well spent with a book. So I will go on to watch the movies of Charlotte Rampling, to read Interrupted LIfe, and to experiment with blood-orange and rosewater sorbet. And I will continue to reflect on Schama's praise for the historiographer in holding on to a broad perspective for history: " ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved collection of Simon Schama writings. He is such an erudite!
Jun 22, 2014 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Liked some essays better than others.. The one about Winston Churchill was good.
Dec 24, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prose
Simon Schama is always a pleasure to read or listen to, largely for his command of the English language and inventive use of the adverb. Maybe he's a bit too good. As an amateur/aspiring writer myself, it's exhilarating to read good prose, but thoroughly demoralizing at the same time. Nevertheless, it's nice to know that, in the spirit of Montaigne, Swift, Chesterton, Orwell, and Updike, the essay as a form of prose is alive and well in the 21st century.
As this is a collection of essays, I skimmed through the book, reading more closely only those I found particularly interesting. Churchill, of course, being one of them. Schama writes well, but the rather overblown Oxbridge style and frequent inclusion of foreign language tags got to be a bit much after a while. I just wanted to email the guy and say "We all know you are super clever. At ease."

All in all, good stuff for any Simon Schama fan.
Iosephus Bibliothecarius
Jul 08, 2013 Iosephus Bibliothecarius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Historian Simon Schama has a wide range of interests and a flowing pen which combine beautifully and to great effect in his latest book, a collection of articles and book reviews spanning three decades. Whether you are interested in art, history, travel, cooking, or politics, it's all here in Schama's wonderfuly descriptive and award-winning style. Here's to hoping there's a second collection in the works!
Lm Huffman
I struggled with this one. I love Simon Schama so much, but I found this to be so dense and at times impenetrable. Just because he wrote it, didn't mean it needed to be included in this collection. Less is more.
Schama opens this collection with a piece about a crossing of the Atlantic he was comped, on the Queen Mary 2.
The piece is OK, but nothing special.

David Foster Wallace closes his "A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again" with a piece about a cruise in the Carribean he was comped. It is brilliant.

That is the difference between erudite competence and sheer genius.
Feb 05, 2015 Anita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, I really enjoy this guy's writing style. He's lucky enough to be a professional smartypants/historian/gadfly - this book is a collection of his essays & articles from the past several decades. A little bit of everything here, and a super fun book to slowly make my way thru.
Nov 02, 2011 Sonia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so I only read 5 assorted essays in this book, but I couldn't bring myself to spend any more time on the book. I know Schama is a well-regarded figure, but his writing style struck me as rather pretentious. Ah well...
Apr 23, 2012 Avril rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mixed bag; loved some parts; found others lacking in interest. A bit sad to look back on a description of Obama from the beginning of his presidency - his election no longer seems to have been a great leap forward for the USA.
Simon Schama will always have a special place in my heart, but this is not the right time for me to read this book. Maybe I'll tackle it someday. I feel to ADD to appreciate it now.
Nov 09, 2011 Abigail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
Had to read it for work, but all-in-all I liked it. I definitely learned some new things, and I like his writing style. Not sure if I'll try one of his more serious books or not.
Nov 10, 2011 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, bookgroup, essays
This was the Knox Reads book this year, and once I accepted that it was a compendium of random essays and not a cohesive memoir, I enjoyed it.
Jul 29, 2011 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I lost interest after the first few essays. Schama is usually a compelling writer, but he lost me here.
Nov 30, 2011 Clint rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like his documentaries. Don't care for his writing style.
Jul 18, 2012 Anna is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just got it, want to read in this month.
Jul 20, 2012 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too heavy for a bedtime read for me
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Simon Schama was born in 1945. The son of a textile merchant with Lithuanian and Turkish grandparents, he spent his early years in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. When his parents moved to London he won a scholarship to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School where his two great loves were English and History. Forced to choose between the two he opted to read history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Here he was taught ...more
More about Simon Schama...

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“The digital communications technology that was once imagined as a universe of transparent and perpetual illumination, in which cancerous falsehoods would perish beneath a saturation bombardment of irradiating data, has instead generated a much murkier and verification-free habitat where a google-generated search will deliver an electronic page on which links to lies and lunacy appear in identical format as those to truths and sanity. But why should we ever have assumed that technology and reason would be mutually self-reinforcing? The quickest visit to say, a site called Stormfront will persuade you that the demonic is in fact the best customer of the electronic.” 4 likes
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