PositiveThe Guardian (UK)A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner gives a surreal, darkly funny, at times horrifying but always humane account of what it’s like to be locked up in a dysfunctional institution in which 50% of prisoners are functionally illiterate, mental ill health is rife and it’s easier to obtain spice, a synthetic version of cannabis, than paracetamol, let alone therapeutic support ... Atkins was released in December 2018, having completed his sentence in open prisons. Now, he says, he is a less judgmental man. Prison should be about loss of freedom and rehabilitation, not torment, fear, violence, addiction and loss of self-respect. He ends with recommendations. Among them are improved facilities for education, training and employment, secure psychiatric units for the mentally ill and upgraded conditions ... England and Wales have a prison population of 85,000, higher than any EU country. The reoffending rate is 48%: it is 27% in Denmark. The prison budget for 2018/19 was £4.56bn: the cost of reoffending is £15bn a year. Something isn’t working. So what’s the government’s solution? Longer sentences and 10,000 more prison places. Whether this is stupidity or vindictiveness at work, we all pay.
PanThe Observer (UK)She is clearly smart, so it\'s a mystery how Sandberg is so short on common sense and has fallen for the oldest trick in the book. In Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sandberg shows very little awareness of herself or the ridiculous nature of the system that she so doggedly and determinedly embraces. Her book should carry a toxic warning ... she is is a handmaiden of a process that, since the 1960s, has been intent on customising feminism and turning it into a servant of the marketplace ... It\'s a message some may want to hear, but it\'s conservative and neoliberal and doesn\'t even pass as feminist. Lean in is a clunky, self-conscious phrase ... It\'s self-blame by any other name. What internalising does is deaden the collective muscle that, throughout history, has proved to be the only genuine igniter of change ... Lean In purports to be about some bright new dawn with Amazonian alpha females doing it better than the boys. On the contrary, its ethos is desperately old-fashioned ... as far as her values are concerned, she\'s leaning into a void.
Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... skillfully ghosted by Christina Lamb ... The teenager\'s voice is never lost. The youngest-ever nominee for the Nobel peace prize is, of course, extraordinary. However, the book also reveals that she is the daughter of a man of exceptional courage with a profound belief in the right of every child to fulfill his or her potential.
RaveThe Guardian\"This book is joyous. It is neither anti-medicine nor anti-prevention; it is pro-balance, pro-scepticism and pro-perspective. And it asks us to show a little humility ... If you are struggling with choices that weigh hope in potential medical advances that damage quality of life against non-treatment and the acceptance of a terminal diagnosis, this may not offer much comfort, but for me, as with so many of Ehrenreich’s books, Natural Causes is a much-needed tonic.\