Miscellaneous Non-fictional Topics:
Experiences, Opinions, Advice
Literature references and annotations by Dick Grune, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Pinnen in Mongolië en andere oplosbare reisongemakken,
(in Dutch: Using an ATM in Mongolia and other solvable traval discomforts),
Nijgh & van Ditmar,
Straightforward back-packing and other travel advice.
Nothing to Envy -- Real Lives in North Korea,
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],
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
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".
Poorly Made in China,
(An Insider's Account of the China Production Game),
Partly humorous, partly sour account of the author's work as a
Chinese-speaking facilitator between large American retailers and their Chinese
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
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,
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.
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,
(in Dutch: Naughty),
Foreign Media Books,
Collage of the erotic psyche of 14 prominent Dutch women, through
self-revelation and interviews by the authors.
De first lady van Georgië,
(in Dutch: S.R., First Lady of Georgia),
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).
Guns, Germs, and Steel -- The Fates of Human Societies,
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,
(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
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.
Mijn naam is Freud -- Iki Freud,
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,
[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),
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,
(in Dutch: The Other Person's Soul),
Nijgh & van Ditmar,
Twenty-three, necessarily short, interviews with 23 very different
psychotherapists and psychiatrists, with comments on the interview by the
Psychotherapy -- A Personal Approach,
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.
An Intelligent Person's Guide to Psychotherapy,
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
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,
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,
In spite of the title, this is not a general diatribe against
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.
Adrie M. Roding,
De bevrijding van Enschede / The Liberation of Enschede,
(in Dutch and English),
Van de Berg,
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.
Le roman du Nil,
Description of the river, its history and what you find on it.
The Book of Five Rings,
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,
Weird and crazy medicine from centuries gone by.
The Lazy Man's Guide To Enlightenment,
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,
Life among the Lakhota / Dakota.
Considered outrageous and contemptible by same, I read.
John G. Wilson B.A.,
Language of Maps,
Schofield & Sims,
Short but intensive course on map reading.
(in Dutch: Art of Ropework),
Cook book for hitches, knots, splices, and sail sowing, explained with
Cyrus L. Day,
Steken, splitsen en knopen,
(in Dutch: Hitches, splices and knots),
Instructions for 86 knots etc., with 30 pages of good photographs.
Peter C. Swann,
Japan von der Yoomon- zur Tokugawa-Zeit,
Art, mostly B&W, with about 20 color pages.
Grafiek en tekeningen,
(in Dutch: Graphic Art and Drawings),
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
China -- Geist und Gesellschaft,
Art, mostly B&W, with 12 color pages.
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones,
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
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),
Charming explanation of the more classy printing process, with the
booklet itself as an example.
Twente in beeld,
Four pages of introduction and 50 photographs of rural Twente.
Leonard de Vries,
De Jongens van de Hobbyclub,
De Bezige Bij,
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,
An a-story-a-day book to read to young children, created in war-time
The Diary of a Cotswold Foxhunting Lady 1905-1910,
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.