The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter

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The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A look at the risks we all encounter on a daily basis and how much of a hazard they really are. It's witty, informative and highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Profile Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846686207

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I'd like you to meet Norm. He's an absolutely average kind of guy, thirty one years old, 5'9”, a touch over thirteen stone and he works a thirty-nine hour week with the occasional treat of a bar of milk chocolate. Oh, and he's ambivalent about Marmite - couldn't care one way or the other - can take it or leave it. In The Norm Chronicles we hear the story of his life and the lives of his friends Prudence (the name tells you what you need to know) and Kelvin, who's a dare-devil, hard-living kind of guy. It's the story of the hazards they face - some real and some imagined - in every aspect of their lives. And along with these stories are the real facts about the reality of the risks they take.

I've long thought that if you are an avid reader of certain tabloid newspapers with their Under-age Sex With Asylum Seekers Causes Cancer of the Housing Market approach you probably find that life is best lived in a small room in the middle of your home. The Norm Chronicles is the perfect antidote, acknowledging the risk and giving the figures to put it in context. Some are surprising - such as the risks from a whole body health scan compared to standing a mile and a half from the epicentre of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. In terms of radiation it's about the same. I was fascinated too by the statistics with regard to the dangers of rail travel - you're definitely better being on the inside of one looking out rather than the other way round.

Picking examples is difficult as this really is cradle to grave coverage with a look at every aspect of life in between. I've always leaned towards the logical approach to evaluating risk rather than believing what makes a good story in the media, so this was meat and drink to me (sausages are more of a problem than I thought and wine is less). There was just one chapter - on chance - which went a little above my head (but my husband hoovered it up with enthusiasm - it's a matter of what you're interested in) but the rest of the book is perfectly pitched and if not completely free from jargon, the concepts are explained clearly and in terms which the layman can understand. Blastland and Spiegelhalter are masters of creating the mental image which explains a concept perfectly.

I'm no stranger to Michael Blastland's writing and I knew exactly what I was expecting. I wasn't disappointed. What I wasn't expecting was that there would be moments which were laugh-out-loud funny and that the book would be written with wit and elegance. Don't feel that it's a book to sit down and read through - it's one to take in stages as there is a lot of information to assimilate - but it was a pleasure to read and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we're sure that you'll also enjoy The Tiger that Isn't by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot.

Buy The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Norm Chronicles: Stories and numbers about danger by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter at Amazon.com.


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