Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries from May 31st, 2009

"Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures)", Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson

May 31st, 2009 · Comments Off on "Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures)", Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson · Politics

Synopsis: An American law grad, a New York Secretary and a Kiwi doctor sign up for field work with the UN that takes them to conflicts in Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda and the Balkans. Stress, love and disillusionment follow. My Take: Oh dear. I’m sure everyone has a book like this on their bookshelves. A […]

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Tags:Heidi Postlewait. Andrew Thomson·Kenneth Cain

"The Crazed", Ha Jin

May 30th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The Crazed", Ha Jin · Asian, China, Chinese, Literature

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the Tianamen Square uprising, a Chinese literature professor suffers a stroke and relives his suffering in the Cultural Revolution through his dementia. His star pupil and future son in law is tasked with caring for him but is disturbed at what he learns from the old man’s ravings. My […]

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Tags:·Ha Jin

"On the Wealth of Nations", P.J. O'Rourke

May 29th, 2009 · Comments Off on "On the Wealth of Nations", P.J. O'Rourke · Economics, History, Policy

Synopsis: Libertarian polemicist digests Adam Smith’s ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’ and ‘The Wealth of Nations’ and then regurgitates them along with satirical commentary. My Take: I love the concept of this book – the first in a series on “Books That Changed the World” read and paraphrased by prominent authors “so you don’t have to.” Just […]

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Tags:P.J. O'Rourke

"The Guns of August 1914", Barbara Tuchman

May 28th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The Guns of August 1914", Barbara Tuchman · History, Politics

Synopsis: Droll and erudite Pulitzer Prize winning account of the first month of the first World War. My Take: I had wanted to read this book since reading RFK’s account of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Serendipitously, ‘The Guns of August’ won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962 and as a result came across JFK’s desk just […]

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Tags:Barbara Tuchman

"Everything is Illuminated", Jonathan Safran Foer

May 27th, 2009 · 2 Comments · History

Synopsis: Eponymous Jewish American author/protagonist travels to the Ukraine in search of the woman who saved his grandfather’s life during the Holocaust. The Journey is aided by a ‘premium’ local translator/narrator Alex, his blind grandfather and their ‘seeing eye bitch’, Sammy Davis Jnr, Jnr. My Take: Truly a bizarre book. Half mythical/surrealist history of the […]

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Tags:Jonathan Safran Foer

"Confessions of a Mask", Yukio Mishima

May 26th, 2009 · Comments Off on "Confessions of a Mask", Yukio Mishima · Asian, Japanese, Literature

Synopsis: The (presumably auto-biographical) story of a young gay boy trying to fit into Japanese society. My Take: Mishima is one of those authors (like Solzenitzen or Hemmingway) whose work is made even richer by their his extraordinary personal life. A militant Japanese ultra-conservative (fascist really) martial arts aficionado, Mishima isn’t your usual suspect for […]

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Tags:Yukio Mishima

"The Watchmen", Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

May 25th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The Watchmen", Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons · Sci-Fi, Trash

Synopsis: Set in a dystopian 1980s cold war alternative reality in which superheros help America win the Vietnam war and Richard Nixon stay in the White House well beyond constitutional term limits, a group of out of favour and long retired superheros investigate a series of attacks on ‘masked adventurers’. My Take: I can’t say […]

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Tags:Alan Moore·Dave Gibbons

"The Year of Living Dangerously", Christopher Koch

May 24th, 2009 · Comments Off on "The Year of Living Dangerously", Christopher Koch · Asian, Australian, History, Literature, Politics

Synopsis: A dashing ABC foreign correspondent based in Indonesia, an earnest Chinese-Australian dwarf cameraman and a beautiful British embassy staffer  become entangled in a Communist insurrection against President Sukarno. Ambiguous loyalties – romantic and political – proliferate. My Take: This book deserves to be a classic of Australian literature.  Tense plotting, an exotic setting and […]

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Tags:Christopher Koch

"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72", Hunter S Thompson

May 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72", Hunter S Thompson · Politics

Synopsis: Hunter S Thompson brings his gonzo eye and poison pen to the 1972 Presidential Election. The future of America is feared and Nixon is loathed. My Take: Whatever the reliability of his reportage (and like any good gonzo piece, the boundaries between fact and fiction are very hard to discern in this book) Hunter […]

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Tags:Hunter S Thompson


May 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on Welcome! · Admin

Welcome to Blogging the Bookshelf! The premise of this site is fairly self-explanatory; I’m going to blog my way through my entire bookshelf. Why? Well at the most prosaic level, I’ve recently returned to Australia from a period in the UK. Given that this was always going to be a temporary move, my books have […]

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