MixedThe Times (UK)...Bezonomics: How Amazon is Changing Our Lives, and What the World’s Companies Are Learning From It...is the sort of incredibly long title that publishers only give books when they aren’t sure what the point of them is. Bezonomics is an easy and engaging read, but I’d hesitate to call it gripping. Quite often, though, it is eye-opening ... If you want to understand why Amazon ended up here rather than any other company then the answer seems to lie with Bezos himself, who emerges as both an enigma and not very interesting all at once, even if the raw ingredients of character ought to be promising ... One flaw with this book is an occasional tendency towards being too reverential ... Probably there is not much new here, with other books looking in more depth at AI, automation, the gig economy, data mining, or Bezos, but it all makes for a fair beginner’s guide pulling it all together.
RaveThe Times (UK)Pomerantsev’s book is beautifully written. Sometimes it’s virtually travel writing...Yet it is densely argued too, and its theses are strong ... Why is truth taking such a battering? Here Pomerantsev is at his most philosophical, and I love it ... I suppose there are points in this book when Pomerantsev’s ability to write beautiful prose might be doing quite a lot of the heavy lifting. The distinction between old-fashioned protest and new, populist parody pseudo-protest is obviously subjective, and I’m not sure he always calls it right. Such as with Corbynism, which he seems to identify as the latter ... Still, his lived experience, his background, and most of all his restless globetrotting, mean that his conclusion has to be taken seriously, and what a conclusion it is.
George R.R. Martin
PanThe Times (UK)Think of it as anglosphere manga, but written down ... At some points, this gets frankly impenetrable ... Even this would be forgivable if the story drew you in, but it does not, because there isn’t one ... Occasionally the narrative shows signs of flaring up into what could have been a proper story if Martin could have been bothered to write it properly. Essentially, it is all one long synopsis for about 50 books that he will never get around to writing, which itself has only been written because he can’t get around to writing the other two Game of Thrones books that his fans are waiting for. ... Worse still, after a doorstop of a thing, we’re still a century and a half short of GoT even beginning, which means there’s another volume of this interminable, self-indulgent crap to come.
RaveThe Sunday TimesDense, complex and hilarious, which is a rare and winning combination ... a wonderful book and I say that having almost certainly misunderstood quite a lot of it. I shall read it again, more than once. it is just such a blast to read. Witty, terribly clever and steeped in the wild, doomed peculiarities of 19th-century Germania, it is a tremendous and reformative biography of a man whom popular history has perhaps done a disservice. Is this man, Prideaux asks, really to be remembered through the lens of a sister who never truly understood him at all?
PositiveThe TimesThere are not many new facts in this slim volume, which sometimes reads like proposals for ten other books, minus meaty research. What Lanier does, though, so brilliantly is take well-worn concepts and present them, freshly, from the other end ... \'Fake people,\' he writes, \'are a cultural denial of service attack\': when fakery so overwhelms reality, the latter ceases to function. This is Lanier at his best, taking the language of the internet and turning it back on itself ... The only time he loses his footing is on politics, possibly because where it doesn’t intersect with tech he’s just not very interested ... These, though, are quibbles ... Best of all is its quiet insistence that social media is an addiction, much like any other.