Archive for Books

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Why buy a book? To get a fictional train ticket

31 March 2014 , ,
How do you still sell physical products in a digital age? For some firms it’s no problem. Digital toilet paper after all is no substitute for the physical stuff. For many, however, it’s a big question, often forcing them into finding different ways of making money – with newspapers and music being the classic examples. […]
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett: not his best, but still good for long-term fans

27 March 2014 , ,
Terry Pratchett's 40th Discworld novel reminds me of the final episode of the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Different genre, different medium, but very similar.
Dominion by CJ Sansom

Dominion by CJ Sansom: lugubriously enjoyable

26 March 2014 , ,
CJ Sansom's novel ponders what if Winston Churchill had not become British Prime Minister in 1940? His appointment turned on a small number of face to face conversations involving a handful of people, which makes for a great jumping off point for an alternative history.
Writings on the wall - Social media - the first 2000 years by Tom Standage

Writing on the wall: Social media – the first 2,000 years by Tom Standage

21 February 2014 , , ,
Tom Standage’s book, Writing on the wall: Social media – the first 2,000 years, has at its heart one good magazine-length article about how many of the concepts we associate with social networks run over the internet have in fact been around in all sorts of forms for thousands of years. Concepts such as commenting, […]
The Everything Store by Brad Stone

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon by Brad Stone

31 January 2014 , , , , ,
Grab an armful of business leadership books from your nearest bookshop and look through them for advice on how to treat staff. I doubt you’ll find any of them encouraging business leaders to humiliate their colleagues in public more frequently. Yet one of the most memorable stories in Brad Stone’s account of how Jeff Bezos […]
1918 - A Very British Victory by Peter Hart

1918: A Very British Victory

Peter Hart’s book is a fascinating account of the last year of fighting on the Western Front, even though in the end he leaves a big question unanswered. Hart is one of the historians believing what is now very much the mainstream view, namely that by 1918 the British Army (including the soldiers from around […]
Systems Thinking In The Public Sector by John Seddon

Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: the failure of the reform regime… and a manifesto for a better way: is John Seddon right?

10 January 2014 , ,
I started out expecting I would largely agree with the book, and by the end although my agreement with much of the ideas wasn’t shaken, the way the book argues for them left me disappointed. Take the book’s bald statement, “I have not seen any evidence that people want choice. I see plenty of evidence […]
Dole Queues and Demons by Stuart Ball

Dole Queues and Demons: British election posters from the Conservative Party Archive by Stuart Ball

Stuart Ball’s collections of election posters from the Conservative Party Archive at the Bodleian is really two books in one. First, a sumptuously produced full colour collection of Conservative political posters from the last century and second, interspersed with that, a clear and succinct retelling of the history of the last century’s politics from the […]
Osborne and Gaebler - Reinventing Government

Reinventing government 22 years on: Osborne and Gaebler still have useful advice

2 January 2014 , , ,
Back in the early and mid 1990s┬áDavid Osborne and Ted Gaebler’s book, Reinventing Government, had its turn in the trendy policy wonk sun. Just as theories about nudging behaviour are now the in thing, back them their approach to a different way of doing government attracted interest from across the political spectrum and spurred a […]
The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin - book cover

Edmund Crispin’s The Moving Toyshop no longer moves me

31 December 2013 , ,
I remember reading Edmund Crispin’s detective thriller The Moving Toyshop as a child and enjoying it hugely. Alas, I should have left my childhood memories there for, on rereading the book recently, I still found the detective, Gervase Fen, an entertainingly quirky character, but the book overall now seems horribly dated. Published in 1945 (and […]