Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother by Simon Schama

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Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother by Simon Schama

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A collection of articles from the pen of the eloquent professor, Simon Schama. Nothing is too grand or too trivial to escape his observant eye and sharp intellect.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 464 Date: July 2011
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099546658

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The collection has been divided into reader-friendly sections named, for example - Travelling, Testing Democracy, Cooking and Eating, to name but three. As a professor of Art History, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's also a rather chunky section on Schama's thoughts on the art world. Politics also is a centre-stage subject. Each article is headed with where it first appeared and the numerous Guardian pieces may be well-known to some. So I suppose you could say that this is second time around, for those who missed the first publication. Not a bad thing at all when the writing is as good as this, I'd say.

Even in the Introduction we are treated to Schama's rather breathless and busy style - wanting to get all of his points across within the allotted time. He cites his very first foray into journalism in The Jewish Chronicle with its (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) reason to keep himself nicely shod in trendy winkle-pickers. He has a natural way with words, there's no doubt about it. For example, he says of a particular newspaper editor that he was in his ... sensational (but not sensationlist) prime. Many would not know there was a difference, let alone what the difference might be.

The articles in this collection are all interesting in their own right - but depending on the reader's interests, some will possibly be more appealing than others. And that's the way it should be. I myself thoroughly enjoyed Schama's blow-by-blow account of his trip aboard the QM2 back in the spring of 2004. He calls her the princess of whoosh. How terrific is that line? And I'm only five lines in and I'm absolutely loving it - I don't want it to end. Schama packs in lots and lots of information, data, research, opinion, thought oh, and the odd joke or two. Some readers may want to come up for air now and again. Me? I sailed on.

I find it very difficult to just quote the odd line to you. There's so many to choose from. Let me give you one - and it's on page one. Schama is talking about our busy, modern lives and the pace of life etc and gives us his erudite thoughts on the matter ... the three-gulp Happy Meal, ... the vital phone message that I am here and you are there? That last bit just creased me up. That's my type of humour. I won't forget it in a hurry either. He tells us Schama-style how eating (on cruises generally) is a big thing. Almost a hobby in itself.

Many pages are given over to either American modern-day politics or British modern-day politics or a bit of both, if you seem what I mean. Obama gets quite a number of mentions here. The piece entitled The Unloved Americans is a first-rate scholarly-type article which is also thought-provoking at the same time. The article open in the year 1889 so there's quite a bit of ground to cover ...

We veer off for a short spell to take in the delights (interpret that any way you wish) of Amsterdam and Schama uses wit and playful language to get his message across. With some scathing comments he talks briefly about the local ecology, global warming and his main point in this section which is the balance of marine life. But never mind, let's all go tramping around like oafish tourists regardless.

We also get a peep into the professor's domestic life and he even throws in the odd recipe or two.

A very entertaining and intelligently-written book covering a wide range of topics. Because a goodly number have previously appeared in The Guardian and other newspapers/periodicals, some may view parts of the collection as 'regurgitated' (awful word I know) material but the writing is so good, I'm going to overlook that small point and give this publication a stonking high-five. Highly recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might like to try Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990-2010 by Sara Wheeler.

Buy Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother by Simon Schama at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother by Simon Schama at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother by Simon Schama at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Ice Cream, Obama, Churchill and My Mother by Simon Schama at Amazon.com.


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