Well written, well thought out account of a Havana that was and what the Revolution did to one family closely connected to the island's power brokers.Well written, well thought out account of a Havana that was and what the Revolution did to one family closely connected to the island's power brokers. A tale of bourgeois insensibility on the one hand and the difficult times that developed once the tyrant Baptista was gone and, according to the book, the tyrant Castro was born. One might not agree with the tenor of the political assessment given throughout, but it is nonetheless a highly readable work that takes us inside Cuba old and new, providing unexpected insights in spite of a certain perhaps unavoidable gossipy quality. ...more
From my limited experience of the country, I would have to say this is a fairly good evaluation of Cuba in the 1990s (and beyond). In addition, whoeveFrom my limited experience of the country, I would have to say this is a fairly good evaluation of Cuba in the 1990s (and beyond). In addition, whoever Isadora Tattlin is, she can write, making the actual reading of interest by itself. She does have an incredibly elite position from which to view things: her husband is purportedly a well-to-do executive from an unnamed European country, meaning that they are a wealthy couple by Western standards. In Cuba, therefore, they can and do live about as high as anyone can, given the restraints imposed by the availability of foodstuffs and material goods. In their four year stay, they travel extensively on the island, take holidays out of Cuba (returning with hundreds of pounds of goods each time) and have connections that eventually lead them right up to Fidel Castro himself.
Good book, expressing the opinion of a not unenlightened American woman in her forties at this time....more
This is very much a 5-star read, as it combines a haunting evocation of a lost Highland lifestyle with remarkable writing skills. Thompson displays hiThis is very much a 5-star read, as it combines a haunting evocation of a lost Highland lifestyle with remarkable writing skills. Thompson displays his love and understanding of the country around Loch Monar in Glen Strathfarrar, as it was before the area's hydro-electric installations. He describes the very much lost art of hill shepherding in detail which is always accompanied by a lively interest for the local people and other denizens of the surrounding pastures and mountaintops. He speaks very tolerantly about the lairds as well, showing an innate understanding for the role they played in protecting the land up until the 1960s, when the larger interests of the State began to intervene.
One of the finest books on Highland life, written about the fading days of the decade of the 1950s when, as he says, the lifestyle of remote crofters in the Highlands was finally coming to an end....more
One of those fascinating, well-written books from the 60s, recording a time long gone. Hilder worked for Burns Philp, the company that ran supply shipOne of those fascinating, well-written books from the 60s, recording a time long gone. Hilder worked for Burns Philp, the company that ran supply ships throughout the Pacific until the 1960s or so. He also sailed in minesweepers in WWII, and has some odd stories to tell about those years as well as his sailing days in the islands, both as crew and eventually as Captain....more
In this eminently readable text, McKibben pleads for a resolution to the current economic madness involving constant (and unsustainable) growth, by moIn this eminently readable text, McKibben pleads for a resolution to the current economic madness involving constant (and unsustainable) growth, by moving towards a model based on local initiatives that bring back life to communities now being shredded by the doctrines of globalization and free trade. Although he has been criticized as a lightweight back-to-the-lander and fear-mongerer by right-wing pundits, he has successfully combined an understanding of what "land" can mean (in both western and Indigenous terms) with a broader worldview (citing such local/global thinkers including Wendell Barry and Lewis Mumford as he does so), and what our current divorce from nature is costing us, including the march towards catastrophic global warming and climate change.
At times a poetic clarion call for justice for both man and nature, McKibben has successfully positioned his worldview within what is possibly, in the end, the most important part of all our civilizations: our community. This is an important contribution to the literature of the new millennium and the ecology of man....more
Not without interest, being a first-hand account but somewhat tempered by the author's religious (christian) beliefs. The islands were remote at thisNot without interest, being a first-hand account but somewhat tempered by the author's religious (christian) beliefs. The islands were remote at this period, although much more accessible than the New Guinea highlands for example, so the natives had had some contact with outsiders and perhaps it was a more simple matter to set up a mission and health centre there. ...more
Scholarly but readable work which will keep you on your toes as the author (or should I say the inimitable Chomsky) expects the reader to follow closeScholarly but readable work which will keep you on your toes as the author (or should I say the inimitable Chomsky) expects the reader to follow closely and pay attention, a reasonable expectation given the amount of work he has put in. Essentially, it is an examination of why the United States of America qualifies as a failed state, and the lengthy argument, well supported by notes and an index, may perhaps best be summarized by referring to Chomsky's own summary in the Afterword:
«One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: “They present solutions, but I don’t like them.” In addition to the proposals that should be familiar about dealing with the crises that reach to the level of survival, a few simple suggestions for the United States have already been mentioned: (1) accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court; (2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols; (3) let the UN take the lead in international crises; (4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror; (5) keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN charter; (6) give up the Security Council veto and have “a decent respect for the opinion of mankind”; as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if the power centers disagree; (7) cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending. For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population, in most cases the overwhelming majority. They are in radical opposition to public policy. To be sure, we cannot be very confident about the state of public opinion on such matters because of another feature of the democratic deficit: the topics scarcely enter into public discussion and the basic facts are little known. In a highly atomized society, the public is therefore largely deprived of the opportunity to form considered opinions.»
It is a fact that unless one is predisposed to investigating this sort of information, one can very easily overlook it entirely. At the present time, in July 2013, this would still seem to be the case for the vast majority of the American population, which is wandering along in a never-never land of wishful hopes and patent fantasy. ...more
Not a particularly useful book for anyone looking for background information on Brittany and naturally somewhat dated as well, very much so in terms oNot a particularly useful book for anyone looking for background information on Brittany and naturally somewhat dated as well, very much so in terms of style (some readers may find this an endearing point). The author discusses general history, architecture, ecclesiastical development and so on, almost always with an eye to his English readership. This means that he has concentrated on aspects of the province that have a British connection of one sort or another, an area of scholarship that has been well documented elsewhere. Baring-Gould loves to tell stories and some of them can be frankly long-winded and rather repetitive. Nevertheless, there are many tidbits of information contained in this work that one won't find easily elsewhere and it is a relatively quick and easy read....more
Useful text with many black and white photos if interested in the area - north-western WA, still a fairly remote part of the world and the scene of soUseful text with many black and white photos if interested in the area - north-western WA, still a fairly remote part of the world and the scene of some of the largest mining ventures on Earth. This seems to have been written mainly as a family history - includes lots of names and who was related to whom. Also contains various odd reminiscences which make for amusing reading at times....more
Rare look into the world of the last of the older full-blood Australian Aborigines who were born in the bush and did not come into contact with EuropeRare look into the world of the last of the older full-blood Australian Aborigines who were born in the bush and did not come into contact with Europeans until they had been well-versed in the Law of their tribe. François Giner spent some twenty years living close to these people for six months a year, bringing in selected tourists in small numbers with the Aborigines' permission, and at the same time watching this ancient culture literally fall apart in front of him. It is an immensely sad story told with great feeling by a careful observer, and one who had the rare sensitivity required to understand what was happening to these people as their lives disintegrated. The book has been admirably translated from the original French....more
A rather special text, more of an oral history than anything else, but very well written and certainly of interest to anyone looking for first-hand acA rather special text, more of an oral history than anything else, but very well written and certainly of interest to anyone looking for first-hand accounts of that momentous day, the 6th of June 1944. It is a curious thing to see how the book came about: the author more or less stumbled on the "Bates" coincidence and, being interested in D-Day in general, decided to try and find out more about the young man who died all those years ago. To this end, he enlists the help of two veterans who both knew Sidney Bates and who were nearby on the day of his famous action. Once in Normandy, the trio is assisted by Madame Suzanne Lenaud and others, and the intricate story of how they locate the right battlefield is told against the background story of D-Day itself, and notably the part played by the veterans, Ernie and Bill.
The whole text has been translated into French, which appears on the opposite side of each page, a most unusual undertaking which naturally makes what looks at first like a thickish book, quite quick to read....more
This is a story about what Bulwer-Lytton famously called the "great unwashed," referring to the lower classes in English society in the 19th century.This is a story about what Bulwer-Lytton famously called the "great unwashed," referring to the lower classes in English society in the 19th century. London confirms that not only are they still unwashed at the turn of the century (a bare 112 years ago), but that the situation is unbelievably tragic and applies to hundreds of thousands if not several million English men and women and their offspring. He has no hesitation in ascribing the fault to criminal mismanagement by the elites of the time - a century later one wonders if anything has really changed.
This is not a good edition - it has been rather hastily thrown together and contains numerous typos. Yet the story remains the same, and if we find it hard to believe at all (in spite of the many sources quoted in the book itself), then perhaps it's because we don't quite believe that the same thing is happening around the world and even here in wonderfully rich North America, today....more
Intriguing at times but not only controversial, extremely contentious and basically unreliable. Too many unsupported assertions and farfetched assumptIntriguing at times but not only controversial, extremely contentious and basically unreliable. Too many unsupported assertions and farfetched assumptions. A very opinionated author who is very keen on establishing his authority, if nothing else. The notion of a pre-Atlantean civilisation is intriguing, but this does not help the case much, in my opinion....more
I have no idea how I came across this book, although I suspect it was a cheap find in a bargain box somewhere and I liked the title. When I first readI have no idea how I came across this book, although I suspect it was a cheap find in a bargain box somewhere and I liked the title. When I first read that it was about the World Bank, in which I had little or no interest at the time, I nearly put it straight it down, but there was something about the writing that kept me reading. It turned out to be a wonderful introduction to the writing of Jan Morris, even though she was called James at the time she wrote this! She is one of the most interesting and original writers working in English today (2012) and I think I enjoyed this odd tome as much as any other, for the sheer pleasure of her text. Anyway, if you are interested in the World Bank, this is far from being the dull read it might have been had the commission gone to someone else!...more
Contains information about tribal life and customs in Arnhem Land, the coastal islands and Central Australia. The book is detailed and at times drylyContains information about tribal life and customs in Arnhem Land, the coastal islands and Central Australia. The book is detailed and at times dryly academic, but contains a wealth of knowledge concerning the Aborigines at a time when they were hardly yet assimilated into non-tribal lifestyles....more