Miscellaneous Non-fictional Topics:
Experiences, Opinions, Advice

> Literature references and annotations by Dick Grune, dick@dickgrune.com.
Last update: Fri Feb 17 12:00:20 2023.

These references and annotations were originally intended for personal use and are presented here only in the hope that they may be useful to others. There is no claim to completeness or even correctness. Each annotation represents my understanding of the text at the moment I wrote the annotation.
> No guarantees given; comments and content criticism welcome.

* Liesbeth Rasker, Pinnen in Mongolië en andere oplosbare reisongemakken, (in Dutch: Using an ATM in Mongolia and other solvable traval discomforts), Nijgh & van Ditmar, 2018, pp. 271.
Straightforward back-packing and other travel advice.

* Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy -- Real Lives in North Korea, Granta, 2014, pp. 320.
The author extensively interviewed six North Koreans from Cheongjin, a Pacific industrial coastal city, four women and two men of various ages, who each in their own way had made it to South Korea. The book follows a time line from about 1975 to 2009, telling the story of each person in each time segment, with ample descriptions of life in the simple and completely government-controlled 1970s and 1980s, during the famine years of the 1990s, when the sea was blocked and all arable land was exhausted, and the (meager) possibilities of the 2000s. All defections went through Musan on the Chinese border (75 km), and several went from there in secrecy to Mongolia (another 600 km), where the government would send them on to South Korea. The title of the book comes from a North Korean propaganda slogan "We have nothing to envy in the world!" (Sesang-e bureom eopseora = in-the-world a-thing-to-envy note-that-there-is-not) (pg. 12)

* Jang Jin-Sung [Jang Jinseong], Dear Leader, Rider, London, 2014, pp. 326.
In his mid-twenties the author is a famous poet in North-Korea and the youngest Admitted (someone who has spent time with Dear Leader). But his meeting with a less than holy Kim Jong-Il and the famine he sees when he travels to his home town to boast of this meeting cause him to reconsider his values in life. Then two blunders, one by the author and one by his friend, force his hand, and they both have to flee. They bluff their way to the North-Korean-Chinese border, where they cross the Tuman river into China. After having been betrayed and helped by many people, the author arrives at the South-Korean embassy in Beijing where he is given papers as a South-Korean citizen. Remarkably, neither the author nor his friend ever voiced regret over the blunders that forced them to flee and put their lives in danger.
     The book consists of chapters describing his adventures, from his meeting with Kim Jomg-Il to his settling in South-Korea, interspersed with chapters about the situation in North-Korea, in the famine years of his escape and later. The last chapter is called "The Future of North-Korea", in which the author explains that North-Korea is impervious to outside influence and that change must come from within.
     The Korean text on the cover means: "To the General -- Ten Million Years".

* Paul Midler, Poorly Made in China, (An Insider's Account of the China Production Game), John Wiley, 2009, pp. 235.
Partly humorous, partly sour account of the author's work as a Chinese-speaking facilitator between large American retailers and their Chinese suppliers. The Chinese are characterized as operating by one single concern: middle-long term profit; in this they are helped by the virtual absence of commerce laws in China.
     The game goes as follows: the first (large) order of the American retailer R is filled perfectly and very cheaply, at zero profit to the factory. Once R has established himself at home at that price level, the quality goes down and the price goes up, both very slowly, thus producing a profit for the Chinese factory F; finding a new supplier would take several months, and leave R without supplies for that period. This continues, with lots of shenanigans, for several years. After several years the relationship breaks down, and the retailer finds a new factory; then the old factory F, still in possession of all the techniques and equipment to produce the product of R, continues to do so, possibly with a different label, and sell it to second- and third-world countries, where authenticity is not too carefully checked.
     It is illustrative of the China Production Game that the author is still welcome in China, because he still brings in new customers.

* Marcus Henderson Wilder, Naive & Abroad: Israel & Palestine, !Universe, New York, 2009, pp. 59.
Vehemently argumentative collection of about 250 one-liners on the subject. I checked about 20 of the most striking ones against the Wikipedia and some other Internet sites, and found almost all of them essentially confirmed, including the ones on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and "Die Spinne", but excluding the author's equating Palestinians to Philistines.

* Judith Koelemeijer, Anna Boom, Atlas, 2008, pp. 240.
Life and loves of Anna Boom, frequenter of spas in the 1930s; courier, aid of Wallenberg and nurse in Budapest in WWII; lady of the manor in India; housewife in Switzerland; wife of a KLM chairman.

* Heleen van Royen, Marlies Dekkers, Stout, (in Dutch: Naughty), Foreign Media Books, 2007, pp. 256.
Collage of the erotic psyche of 14 prominent Dutch women, through self-revelation and interviews by the authors.

* Sandra Roelofs, De first lady van Georgië, (in Dutch: S.R., First Lady of Georgia), Archipel, Amsterdam, 2005, pp. 274.
Diary-like commented account of her life from the moment she met Mikhail Saakashvili (1993) until the moment she became First Lady of Georgia (2003).

* Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel -- The Fates of Human Societies, Norton, 2005, pp. 518.
On the jacket flap a newspaper is quoted saying basically that this book is so complex that it cannot be summarized. So I'll try anyhow.
     The discrepancies in the levels of health, wealth, and civilization between nations are often explained by citing proximate causes: corruption, stupidity, etc. (Any phenomenon is the result of a chain of causes and results; the causes nearest to the phenomenon are the "proximate" causes, the ones at the beginning of the chain are "ultimate" causes.) The author concentrates on ultimate causes.
     To start a civilization out of hunting-gathering, one needs two things: 1. biology: a good number of domesticable plants and animals; 2. geography: adjacent terrain where the same plants and animals can thrive, to extend the civilization into. Mesopotamia had 9 to 12 domesticable plants and 3 to 4 domesticable animals; Middle-America had 2 domesticable plants and 1 domesticable animal; the rest of the world had hardly anything. This is why civilization arose first in Mesopotamia and much later in Middle-America. Mesopotamia is in the middle of a (horizontally) wide continent, where plant and animal could spread to zones with the same climate; Middle-America is in the middle of a (vertically) tall continent, where plant and animal could not spread to zones with the same climate. The book fills in the details; there is relatively little guns, germs, and steel in this book.

* Iki Freud, Mijn naam is Freud -- Iki Freud, (in Dutch), Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 2004, pp. 287.
Eclectic autobiography of the author, a psychoanalyst, covering the period of 1937-2004. Her war experiences, Israel, Hungary, Indonesia. Interesting material described in a rather matt style.
     The subtitle is "Confessions of a Psychoanalyst", but for confessions the author keeps much to herself. Situations and events are described very factually, are seldom commented upon, and even then only in the vaguest terms. One is tempted to pry the sentences off the page to see what is underneath. The first paragraph is symptomatic, in which she tells how her family name has influenced her, without telling that she is from the Hungarian branch of the family and not (directly) related to Sigmund Freud.

* Daniel L. Schacter, The seven sins of memory: how the mind forgets and remembers, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2001, pp.
[From Scientific American:] Absent-mindedness: forgetting where you left things. Transience: the weakening of memory over time. Blocking: the inability to recall a familiar name of fact. Misattribution: assigning an item of memory to the wrong source. Suggestibility: the implanting of memories through leading questions. Bias: the unconscious reshaping of a memory under the influence of later facts or opinions. Persistence: the repeated recall of disturbing information or events that one would prefer to forget.

* A. van Dantzig, Mensen onder elkaar -- Essays over geestelijke gezondheidszorg, (in Dutch: Among People -- Essays on Mental Health Care), Boom, Amsterdam, 2000, pp. 215.
21 essays about philosophy, mental health and its care, and society, emphasizing the situation of the non-religious person towards the meaning of life, the limited extent of free will, and the protection of children against violence. The author advocates regular psychologist checks for everybody, in a way similar to dentist checks, and some restrictions of privacy, both as prerequisites to crime reduction, especially child molest. In very clear and readable prose.

* Marjo van Soest, Andermans ziel, (in Dutch: The Other Person's Soul), Nijgh & van Ditmar, 1998, pp. 174.
Twenty-three, necessarily short, interviews with 23 very different psychotherapists and psychiatrists, with comments on the interview by the interviewee.

* D.J. Smail, Psychotherapy -- A Personal Approach, ~1998, pp. ~86.
Advocates a style of psychotherapy based on shared emotional experiences between client and therapist, arrived at through negotiation (I think). Is rather critical of traditional psychotherapy.

* Antony Stevens, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Psychotherapy, Duckworth, London, 1998, pp. 216.
Not at all what the title suggests. It is actually a plug for evolutionary psychotherapy, psychotherapy which helps the client to understand his problems in terms of natural in-born reactions that were appropriate at one time in the evolution of man.
     To prepare the field for his evolutionary psychotherapy, the author gives a sometimes not too flattering survey of the existing methods, and then sets out to show that the effective components of the existing methods are unified in evolutionary psychotherapy.

* Marietta van Attekum, Aan den lijve -- Lichaamsgerichte psychotherapie volgens Pesso, (in Dutch: Bodily -- Body-oriented Psychotherapy according to Pesso), Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse, 1997, pp. 144.
Specifics of Pesso therapy: indication (missing basic need satisfaction), the importance of the body, techniques ("structures"), examples.

* Terence W. Campbell, Beware of the Talking Cure, Upton Books, Boca Raton, 1994, pp. 265.
In spite of the title, this is not a general diatribe against psychotherapy. The main thesis is that therapy should target relations, not individuals. The three traditional paradigms of psychotherapy, analytic, client-centered humanistic, and behavior, are evaluated against this thesis and unsurprisingly found wanting. The author then describes "effective relation therapy". Summary: don't do psychotherapy, do relation therapy.
     Few case studies; little but not zero rhetoric. Interestingly written.

* Adrie M. Roding, De bevrijding van Enschede / The Liberation of Enschede, (in Dutch and English), Van de Berg, Enschede, 1990, pp. 239.
Enschede was liberated (April 1, 1945) by English, Welsh and Scots troops, not by Canadians, as some sources have it. The Canadians passed Enschede by on the West.

* Bernard Pierre, Le roman du Nil, (in French), Plon, 1989, pp. 348.
Description of the river, its history and what you find on it.

* Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings, Bantam Books, Toronto, 1982, pp. 107.
Very efficient, since the first page summarizes the book, stating 9 rules, starting with 1. "Do not harbor sinister designs" and ending with 9. "Do not engage in useless activities."

* Leonard de Vries, Ha dokter, Ho dokter, de Haan, Haarlem, 1980, pp. 176.
Weird and crazy medicine from centuries gone by.

* Thaddeus Golas, The Lazy Man's Guide To Enlightenment, 1980, Bantam Books,
THE book for the lazy person in search of enlightenment, and for the not so lazy as well. Good reading for all seasons.

* Ruth Beebe Hill, Hanta Yo, Warner Books, New York, 1979, pp. 834.
Life among the Lakhota / Dakota. Considered outrageous and contemptible by same, I read.

* John G. Wilson B.A., Language of Maps, Schofield & Sims, Huddersfield, 1975, pp. 53.
Short but intensive course on map reading.

* J.H. Coolhaas, Schiemanswerk, (in Dutch: Art of Ropework), ANWB, den Haag, 1974, pp. 215.
Cook book for hitches, knots, splices, and sail sowing, explained with hand drawings.

* Cyrus L. Day, Steken, splitsen en knopen, (in Dutch: Hitches, splices and knots), Hollandia, Baarn, 1967, pp. 78.
Instructions for 86 knots etc., with 30 pages of good photographs.

* Peter C. Swann, Japan von der Yoomon- zur Tokugawa-Zeit, Holle, Baden-Baden, 1965, pp. 239.
Art, mostly B&W, with about 20 color pages.

* M.C. Escher, Grafiek en tekeningen, (in Dutch: Graphic Art and Drawings), J.J. Tijl, Zwolle, 1959, pp. ~100.
76 drawings + self-portrait, of which 8 in color, with 10 to 20 lines of explanation each, by the artist. With a preface in which the artist describes his switch from craftsman to artist.

* Werner Speiser, China -- Geist und Gesellschaft, Holle, Baden-Baden, 1959, pp. 263.
Art, mostly B&W, with 12 color pages.

* Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1957, pp. 163.
Collection of four small books: 101 Zen Stories; The Gateless Gate, a collection of 49 koans; 10 Bulls, ten stages in the development of awareness, each illustrated by a wood-cut, a poem and a comment, leading on the 8-th stage to emptiness, but returning on the 10-th stage to mingling with the people; Centering, an Indian list of 7 questions on life, the universe and everything else, with 112 answers.

* R. Zomer KJzn, laat het zó drukken, (in Dutch: printing the way it should be done), Succes, Den Haag, ~1948, pp. 46.
Charming explanation of the more classy printing process, with the booklet itself as an example.

* W.H. Dingeldein, Twente in beeld, Drukkerij Insulinde, Hengelo, ~1948, pp. 4+50.
Four pages of introduction and 50 photographs of rural Twente.

* Leonard de Vries, De Jongens van de Hobbyclub, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1947, pp. 361.
Account of a year (1936-1937) in the life of the pupils of a Middle School in Amsterdam, who, inspired by teachers, organize a Hobby Club (radio, ham, photography, film), with a lot of lively descriptions and quite some romance, but actually an instruction sheet in narrative form for setting up such clubs. The author succeeded; one year after publication already about 70 hobby clubs had been founded.

* Jeannine de Jong - Snijder van Wissekerke, Rendeltjes Vertelselboek -- Vertellingen voor het vierde kwartaal, Opbouw, Amsterdam, 1944, pp. ~140.
An a-story-a-day book to read to young children, created in war-time Netherlands.

* Frances Witts, The Diary of a Cotswold Foxhunting Lady 1905-1910, Amberley, Stroud, UK, 1910, pp. ~ 200.
Short jotted down notes of six seasons of fox hunting, by themselves interesting but dry-as-dust, made much more palatable by many, many amusing drawings by the author's daughter Susan Boone. Full of fox-hunting jargon. It shows that fox-hunting was quite a dangerous affair, with several falls reported every months, and one broken wrist, one broken shoulder and one death from a broken back in those six years.