Another of my OU set books but unlike some of the others that I have had to read, this has explained Sikhism to me in an easy to understand format giv...moreAnother of my OU set books but unlike some of the others that I have had to read, this has explained Sikhism to me in an easy to understand format given the complexities of the subject. It is indeed a very short introduction but it is a very good one too.(less)
This is simply a brilliant book. The debt that is owed to Henrietta Lacks is incalculable and is still accruing. No-one doubts the need for advancemen...moreThis is simply a brilliant book. The debt that is owed to Henrietta Lacks is incalculable and is still accruing. No-one doubts the need for advancement in science, particularly in the medical field, as ultimately everyone benefits in one way or another. But this book is also a timely reminder that research has to be done ethically, with compassion and with full disclosure to those involved. The revelations (to me) that, just a few short years after the prosecution at Nuremberg of the Nazi doctors who carried out unspeakable experiments on the inmates of the death camps, there were doctors in the US (and almost certainly other countries) who were carrying out horrendous research on people without them being aware of what was happening to them all in the name of science, was horrifying. That this happened to the poorest and most vulnerable in society only adds to the horror. What is amazing is that these experiments were still on-going within the last generation or so. If nothing else, Nuremberg and the hideous experiments carried out in the name of science should have taught us that any such experimentation should be subject to rigorous scrutiny and must be carried out in the full light of day.
The on-going history of the Lacks' family also highlights the shameful fact that, in one of the richest economies in the World, there is a large section of the electorate who do not have access to free at point of use medical cover. Whilst no doubt the UK's NHS has its faults, there is no-one in the UK who is denied treatment, indeed, my elderly father has just spent a fortnight as a guest of the NHS and has received superlative care - the doctors and nurses at the North Staffs Hospital have mine and my family's gratitude for their care and attention to him. I have never understood (and never will) the refusal by many people in America to countenance the development of a public health service that is free. This book should be read by all nay-sayers in the hope that it may change their obdurate refusal to extend free health care to all. (less)
The Killer of Little Shepherds is the story of a serial killer and how he came to be detected and caught. The fact that there was a serial killer stal...moreThe Killer of Little Shepherds is the story of a serial killer and how he came to be detected and caught. The fact that there was a serial killer stalking the countryside of late 19th Century France is less surprising than that he was eventually caught and convicted by the nascent field of forensic science. Douglas Starr has written a well researched book and told the story of Joseph Vâcher in an accessible and fluid manner. Although the body of the text itself has very few references or footnotes, there is a reasonable notes and bibliography section at the end of the book which readers can investigate if they wish. The true star of the story is Dr Alexandre Lacassagne, a man in the mould of Grissom or Mac Taylor from the popular CSI franchise. However, where Grissom and Taylor et al solve their crimes in less than 60 minutes, Lacassagne spent months trying to understand the mind of Vâcher and amassing the incontrovertible evidence that not only had he committed the crime he was charged with, but had committed others in just three years in some of the most remote parts of France and that he had done so with premeditation and not, as Vâcher and his legal team had tried to claim, whilst insane.
The verdict was vindication of the methods employed by Lacassagne and his team and, as the 20th Century dawned, came to be the standard operating procedures of the world’s police forces. Now, in the 21st Century, science is relied on to prove all manner of crimes, from murder to fraud, and it is believed to be both incorruptible and wholly accurate and there lies the rub – is it? Or can the results be manipulated or misinterpreted? Is there too much reliance on science and not enough on the scrupulosity of rigorous methods of application in the science? Lacassagne himself was certain that investigations had to be carried out methodically, documented at all points, and produced his own handbook as a guide. The well publicised cases of wrongful conviction demonstrate that sometimes, rigorousness is missing in some investigations and reliance on the accuracy of scientific developments such as DNA matching is perhaps at the expense of a thorough and impartial investigation.
This book is a timely reminder of where forensic science started and how important it was in bringing the criminal to justice. It is also a reminder that, once upon a time, the victim and their family were the only people who deserved pity – in Britain at least, we seem to have forgotten that. (less)
I started reading this series when watching the recent HBO series and I loved the first three books - could hardly put them down in fact - and then I...moreI started reading this series when watching the recent HBO series and I loved the first three books - could hardly put them down in fact - and then I got to this one and the momentum faltered. I'm not sure what has happened -is it a glut of fiction when I normally read mainly non-fiction, is it too much of a good thing all in one go or is it an author that has perhaps lost his way? Perhaps it's a little of all three. Whatever it is, I struggled to get through this book in parts. I feel that some of the different story lines should at least be coming to a resolution by now but instead, some characters have apparently disappeared and new ones have arrived and new plot lines are developing. I want to know what has happened to the missing characters and really couldn't get enthused about the new ones - in fact I found them extremely irritating. I'm not going to get the latest book yet - perhaps taking a break from Mr Martin for a while might rekindle my love for this series - at least I hope so.(less)
O.M.G. The time it took me to read this piffle is time I will never recover. Dan Brown really should be charged with crimes against literature and sen...moreO.M.G. The time it took me to read this piffle is time I will never recover. Dan Brown really should be charged with crimes against literature and sentenced to have to read his own books ad infinitum - at least while doing that he would be too busy to attempt to write another book. As for the publishers - shame on them but, when all is said and done - caveat emptor.(less)
What can I say - I can't put these books down - the characters are strongly drawn and the story lines compelling - you just have to keep reading. Thes...moreWhat can I say - I can't put these books down - the characters are strongly drawn and the story lines compelling - you just have to keep reading. These books may not be the works of literature that Tolkein's Lord of the Rings are but they give you a world that is real, full of blood and guts, even a touch of romance. I can't wait to read the next in the series!(less)
Beautifully produced book that I bought after attending a study day at the British Museum to help with my OU course. Was able to quote from it in my e...moreBeautifully produced book that I bought after attending a study day at the British Museum to help with my OU course. Was able to quote from it in my essay (just submitted - on time) now the wait for the marks begin!(less)