Ministry of Propaganda

Ministry of Propaganda - 12/Jun/2006: "Recent Reading: boiling a frog"

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Recent Reading: boiling a frog

Recent reading is not entirely correct, 'read a while ago' is probably more correct. But in preparation for the 2006 version of the A Good Read entry I need to blog every book I read this year. In this case that's boiling a frog by Christopher Brookmyre.

The book opens with the old 'boiling a frog' metaphor: Amphibians are poikilothermic: their body temperatures adapt automatically to changes in their environment, without their noticing. Theoretically, this means that if you were to put a frog in a pan of cold water, then turn up the heat gradually enough, you could cook the poor creature to death before it realised it was in danger. Well, as he writes, theoretically. The boiling a frog metaphor is an urban myth, as explained by Whit Gibbons of the University of Georgia or also in Fast Company more than 10 years ago.

But after that it gets much better. It covers a lot of ground: British and in particular Scottish politics, religion, sleaze, a bit of crime, spin doctors, murder, prison, spin doctors, you name it (More on the book overview page, incl an extract). And a familiar 'hero' in Jack Parlabane.

At times the book felt a bit laboured to me, in particular early on I sometimes thought 'is this ever going to get anywhere?'. But the wry humour and the descriptions of all the spin and sleaze in politics and public life compensated for it. The events described in the story felt strangely constructed yet at the same time scarily believable.

To sum it up: Not the best read I've ever had, but still a good read.

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