Book review: Upheaval, how nations cope with crisis and change, by Jared Diamond, 2019

Diamond wrote the excellent Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, so I had high hopes and expectations of Upheaval. I have found myself repeating in conversation some of the points Diamond makes in these earlier books, not least the axiom that guns, germs and steel were the central components of the conquest of much ofContinue reading “Book review: Upheaval, how nations cope with crisis and change, by Jared Diamond, 2019”

Book review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, 1996

I don’t think you would be able to guess that Neverwhere is a novelisation of a television series – it has a dramatic range and scope ideally suited to the novel form, and must have been a challenge to film. It is rare for novelisations to be more than their original format, but here itContinue reading “Book review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, 1996”

Supplemental – Dystopian fiction and a quick quiz

My local Waterstone’s (a UK bookstore, in case you were wondering) runs a monthly competition asking readers to identify four books from their opening lines. To make it easier the novelists’ initials are also given. Each month there is a different genre, and the lines this month are from “Early Dystopian Fiction”. The novels’ opening lines are:Continue reading “Supplemental – Dystopian fiction and a quick quiz”

Book review: It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, 1935

It Can’t Happen Here was Lewis’s response to the much-repeated political assertion of the novel’s title, which in turn was a common reaction to the rise of fascism in Europe and the parallel rise of American demagogues. Lewis believed that American complacency about the robustness of its constitution and political institutions was dangerous and issuedContinue reading “Book review: It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, 1935”

Book review: Smiley’s People by John le Carre 1979

I’ve written previously about how I prefer not to read too much about a novel in advance of reading the novel itself – how it can prejudice the reader, shaping their expectations one way or another. But you can take that approach too far, and I think I did here. I knew Smiley’s People wasContinue reading “Book review: Smiley’s People by John le Carre 1979”