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Book reviews


Mussolini: His part in my downfall by Spike Milligan

Spike was an important part of my early teens. There was something in the insight, eccentricity, humanity, risk taking and yet at times childlike innocence in his writing and humour that resonated with those early adolescent years. ‘Adolf Hitler: My part in his downfall’, and ‘Rommel – Gunner who?’ were much loved books.

At Christmas I received a big set of his books, of which those were the first in the series. I never realised there were so many. I started from the beginning of ‘Adolf:…’ and loved it as much as before – though I don’t remember there being so much nipping into cupboards and dark corners with the ladies those years back when I first read it.

However as the series goes on it seems to run out of steam. ‘Mussolini:…’ is the fourth. Reading the preamble, it appears that at the time his early works were being criticised for being unreliable, and this hit him hard. So in this volume he works hard to establish details, and then at times overhard to be funny. The ending it poignant – as the realities of war hit home, he sees things no-one wants to see and he himself is hit. Physically. And mentally. A book that’s funny and sad in many ways.

By |March 15th, 2013|Book reviews|Comments Off on Mussolini: His part in my downfall by Spike Milligan

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz

A client recommended this to me. We were in London at the time, and so at the end of the session, being by the bookshops on Charing Cross Road, I popped in and bought a copy. And was engrossed. Love, laughter, lies, envy, hope, betrayal, sex, loss, changing – it’s all in here, told through real stories of Stephen working with clients during his many years as a psychoanalyst. It gives wonderful insights into the world of human experience, and the experience of being the listener and therapist.

Whilst I’m not in the medical profession, the responsibility that comes with being the listener and the asker of questions really resonated with me. As did possibly too many of the client’s stories. There were quite a few ‘Ahhh, that’s me’, and a few ‘Ahhh, that’s them’ as I justified how I felt about others and their behaviours. It was warming to read of some of Stephen’s own doubts, joys and not-knowings. If you’re interested by what it is to be human, and you are prepared to see this as a mirror as well as a window, you’ll probably love it as much as I did.

By |March 15th, 2013|Book reviews|Comments Off on The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz