Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A few books I have read lately

Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You To Know About
Kevin Trudeau

I approached the best selling "Natural Cures 'they' don't want you to know about" with a healthy dose of scepticism. After all, should we really take advice on healthy eating from a convicted fraudster? But I've concluded that Kevin Trudeau is the ideal person to write about the total scam that is the pharmaceutical industry and its packaged food counterpart.

"Natural Cures......" is basically a tirade against the culture of drugs and packaged foods that have taken over the modern world. Trudeau explains how this culture of drugs and snack foods (and some other products) is undoubtedly responsible for making us sick in many ways. He goes on to offer ways to reduce toxins in the body and cure or prevent many diseases.

A lot of what Trudeau teaches us is nothing new for most of us (snack foods have numerous chemicals, GM food loses much of its nutrition, etc.) but he goes to great lengths to make us realise just how serious the problem has become, just how extensive the lobbying and coercion of politicians can be and just how misleading drug or food advertising has become. So many lies and scams are exposed in this publication that there will be at least one revelation for everybody.

After making all this clear, Trudeau goes on to offer tips and ideas - many of them beautifully simple - on leading healthier lifestyle to clear the body of toxins and "never get sick again".

A lot of the advice is superbly simple yet often something we would never think of (Buy organic fruits and make a fruit shake every day, don't buy any product with ingredients you can't pronounce, etc.) and very passionate. Trudeau clearly practises what he preaches and has very extensive knowledge of the industries he discusses.

It's true that some of the author's ideas make him his own worse enemy. Statements such as "Animals never get sick" and "Wearing a magnetic ring will help you eliminate chaos" simply invite his many critics to knock him. But there are so many articulate, practical and genuinely heartfelt arguments and suggestions in this book, I get the impression many critics have based their reviews on their dislike for the writer.

This book did what "Super Size Me" and "Fast Food Nation" failed to do. It made me realise the dangers of my diet (as the aforementioned works also did) but it also gave me the inspiration and impetus to actually make a positive change. I've done two juice fasts and a water fast since I got this book two months ago. I've taken up many of Trudeau's ideas and I feel far better for it.

Highly recommended, if only to see what the fuss over this NY Times bestseller is all about.

Corruption and Democracy in Thailand
Pasuk Phongpaichit,Sungsidh Piriyarangsan

Now considered an essential publication for students, my second reading of this work reminded me it is a vital read , if for no other reason than making us realise how little some things have changed. Pasuk Phongpaichit (probably my favourite Thai author) gives detailed reports of various corruption sagas in Thailand but - far more importantly for students - helps us to understand the historical roots of corruption in Thai society and how Thais from different demographical groups have different ideas about what is classed as corruption. The book contains a very interesting survey that questioned Thais from all parts of society and gauges their opinions and responses to various examples of corruption. The section on police corruption is also very interesting and especially relevant today.

God Is Not Great How Religion Poisons Everything
Christopher Hitchens

This book was published just after the best selling "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Hitchens takes a far more poetic line to his polemics, delivering a fluent yet sometimes complex line of argument from many of the same angles as Dawkins. Hitchens delves into the historical atrocities committed by men of theist religions before moving on to a critique of the faults on attitude and logic of many modern religious groups. The author moves on to discuss the dangers of facist style doctrine from modern religious practitioners and delivers a final argument in favour of rational atheistic and scientific thought.

The book is very much a parallel line of argument as that of Richard Dawkins but written more in the style of a long open letter from one scholar to another. For this reason, I recommend the book to anyone with a strong interest in religious debate but for those who are looking for a down to earth and highly readable summary of an Atheist's argument against the existence of God, I recommend Dawkins' book first.

This is just a sample of what I am reading or have read lately. I devour books. For a fuller list of what I get into these days. See my 'iread' profile (about one hundred books long!) on Myspace.

As a general rule, I don't read books written by farangs in Thailand. There are some notable exceptions, but most of them are just plain bad. They range from gleeful recounts of debauchery written by guys who probably never had a girlfriend before coming to Thailand to self indulgent dramas or mystery novels written by those with delusions of grandeur induced by too much sun.

In between these we have guidebooks and biographies. I picked up "Lady of Pattaya" in the bookshop this week. A quick random read gave me these profound insights: "the typical women will first marry a Thai and divorce before moving on to a foreign between school students is now just as prevalent here as in the west............many prostitutes in Pattaya go on to become property owners and role models for the other workers".

Each one of these statements strikes me as pure nonsense. (Yes the rate of youngsters having sex is increasing, but I have spent years here teaching in all kinds of schools and I can assure you the rate is nowhere near equal to the west yet).

The book was written by a Canadian expat who made the classic foolish error - he went in search of something (prostitutes in this case) , found it because he knew where to look and judged all Thai people based on those who came into contact with him.

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