After 25 years cooking in various kitchens David came to the Strand in 1997. In his spare time he creates computer graphics and 3d models. Would you like other recommendations? Email me at email@example.com
David S's Reviews
The Secret Agent
by: Joseph Conrad
In the late 19th Century in response to brutal oppression anarchists turned to violence in their efforts to bring down the state. "Propaganda of the Deed" as it was dubbed resulted in bombings and assassinations across Europe, resulting in further repression and damaging the anarchist cause.
London has traditionally served as a place of refuge for political exiles. Voltaire, Marx and, Lenin all sought safe haven there. As long as they broke no British laws, they were free to write and say what they pleased. This tolerance infuriates Mr. Vladimir, the new First Secretary of a foreign embassy that the reader assumes to be Russia. Appallingly ignorant and colossally vain, he has a plan to make Her Majesty's subjects take the problem seriously. He summons Verloc, the secret agent of the title, and orders him to begin a series of bombings in order to outrage the British public and force them to adopt draconian measures .
Verloc has spent years in anarchist circles informing on them for the Embassy and the Scotland Yard. It has been easy work, for the anarchists we meet are a feckless bunch, more interesting at sniping at one another than any concrete action. They range from hopeless dreamers to posturing braggarts advocating violent action, as long as someone else puts themselves at risk.
To sum up, Vladimir wants Verloc to set off a real bomb at Greenwich Observatory to outrage the public about a nonexistent threat.
Conrad puts us into the heads of a great many characters, some more good than evil, some not, but all flawed in some basic way. There's a society hostess who has made a pet of one the anarchists, showing him off at her gatherings. There's Ossipon, an ex-medical student who spouts the theories of Lombroso and Nordau and supports himself by sponging off servant girls. The Professor, a chemist turned bombmaker, who carries one of his infernal machines with him at all times, with his hand gripping the trigger, gloating about how he holds the power of life and death over all around him.
You don't need me to tell you Conrad is a great writer and this is a great book. If you haven't read it, please do.
Microbe Hunters: The Classic Book on the Major Discoveries of the Microscopic World
by: Paul de Kruif
To begin, let’s get one big issue out of the way. In one of the front pages, the publisher notes that the book was written in 1926 and has some phrasings the modern reader might find “infelicitous”. If by “infelicitous” one means “appallingly racist,” then the note is accurate. If the reader can tolerate that, this is a great book.
At first, the enthusiasm he evinces for his subjects—Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur, Ehrlich and others—might be a bit off-putting. Yet because these men discovered, analyzed, and contained the germs and bacteria that ended so many lives prematurely, you will agree with him that these are the truest heroes we have. Think: were it not for the efforts of the Microbe Hunters, you might not be alive to read these words.