Friday, 13 November 2009


Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. A generally depressing satire about mankind's enthusiasm for developing ever more effective means of destroying human life. Vonnegut has an easy and humourus style but his message is as subtle as a flying mallet.
Cliffhanger by T J Middleton. A crime comedy/thriller where the central protagonist sets out to murder his wife but fails, having murdered someone else. We spend the book unravelling who it might be, and eventually the sociopathic anti-hero is sent to prison for murdering someone his wife murdered whilst his victim is merely presumed to have moved to South Africa.
God Bless You, Mr Rosewater also by Mr Vonnegut. Less depressing than Cat's Cradle and even with some comedic moments but still a heavy satire on the shallowness and venality of American life. This book might even persuade you to look further into the Marxist analysis of western capitalism. Kilgore Trout saves the day eventually.
The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell. Set in the 9th century around the history of Alfred the Great and his campaign to to defeat the Danes and establish an 'English' kingdom. Mr Cornwell writes a good novel with a romantic warrior, Uhtred, as the central protagonist, and weaves it in with interesting military, religious and social historical detail. Cornwell was brought up by adoptive parents who belonged to the 'Peculiar People', a fundamentalist Protestant sect, and this experience turned him against religion. He loses no opportunity to point out various idosyncracies of the christian church and its belief system, highlighting that the church was as ambitious a political force as the kings, barons and so forth.
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. The latest Discworld novel, in which Mr Pratchett takes the micky out of football as well as racial and social stereotyping. Hilariously inventive with occasional nuggets of insight into the, ahem, 'human condition'. As with all Pratchett's books you don't want it to end.
The October issue of History Today. Includes an article on the 'Hundred Years War'  explaining that it wasn't one war but three separate wars which 19th century historians lumped together mainly because they each involved England fighting the French in France. A bit like calling the period from the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war to VE Day the 'Seventy Five years War'.

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