A Companion to Rawls - edited by Jon Mandle and David A. Reidy. Reviewer Joe Sinclair
The Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia - edited by Julia Simner and Edward M. Hubbard. Reviewer Joe Sinclair
Relationship Thinking. Agency, Enchrony and Human Sociality by N. J. Enfield. Reviewer Joe Sinclair
Change. What Really Leads to Lasting Personal Transformation by Jeffrey A.Kottle. Reviewer Terry Goodwin
Attachment in Common Sense and Doodles by Miriam Silver. Reviewer Michael Mallows
Can I Tell You About ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? by Jacqueline Rayner. Reviewer Mark Edwards
The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda by Fawaz A. Gerges. Reviewer Sep Meyer
The Hidden Hand - a Brief History of the CIA by Richard H. Immerman. Reviewer Sep Meyer
Photography & Zen: Discovering Your True Nature
through Photography by Stephen Bray. Reviewer
A Companion to Rawls edited by Jon Mandle and David A. Reidy. Hardback. 600 pages. ISBN No. 978-1-4443-3710-5. Price £120.00. Published by Wiley-Blackwell
Much of my study of philosophy was influenced by my admiration of Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and it is interesting to note that his death in 1970 coincided almost precisely with the publication of John Rawls’ (1921-2002) major work, A Theory of Justice (1971). Inevitably, perhaps, Rawls thereby established his right to supplant Russell in my esteem.
How to compare them? Both were moral philosophers. Both had influences that extended beyond the academic realm of moral philosophy to affect public conception of law, politics, economics, and social disciplines. Both were analytic philosophers. Indeed Russell is regarded as the founder of analytic philosophy.
This unanticipated association in my mind had been triggered by my discovery that A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy From Russell to Rawls by Stephen P. Schwartz had been published in 2012 by Wiley-Blackwell.
Current analytic political philosophy owes much to John Rawls. In a series of papers from the 1950s onward (most notably "Two Concepts of Rules" and "Justice as Fairness") and his 1971 book, A Theory of Justice, he developed his support for a liberal egalitarian concept of distributive justice, this concept being predominantly Kantian. Subsequently he published Political Liberalism in which he digresses from Kantian to political constructivism. Rawls himself described his intention in Theory as being an attempt to “generalise and carry to a higher order of abstraction the traditional theory of the social contract as represented by Locke, Rousseau and Kant.”
Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism contributed to a general revival of liberal thinking after their publication and were greatly responsible for the ways in which liberalism is regarded at the present time.
Twelve years have elapsed since the death of John Rawls (in 2002), and the same amount of time has passed since the Cambridge University Press published its companion work to this celebrated political philosopher. Sufficient time, one might think, for both his work and CUP’s tribute to it to be re-evaluated with some degree of objectivity by this newly published A Companion to Rawls.
So, what is one to say about it? Do the essays add any more to the body of criticism of the work of John Rawls? Are they sufficiently diverse in terms of refining and reconsidering what was written earlier? Are they provided by equally (at least!) erudite and trustworthy students and critics of the subject matter?
The answer must be "yes" and, certainly in this latter respect, I can proclaim a heartfelt affirmation. I have nothing but praise for Wiley-Blackwell’s choice of editors and contributors. Indeed, one of the more important essays, The Basic Structure of Society as the Primary Subject of Justice, has been contributed by Samuel Freeman, who not only edited the CUP work twelve years ago, but was a student and teaching assistant of Rawls at Harvard, and has himself written a masterly introduction to Rawls.(1)
In fact, each of the 32 contributors to this volume possesses the most commendable academic qualifications and the 31 essays cover the entire spectrum of Rawls’s work. But what I found even more praiseworthy is the way these splendid academics have devoted their contributions to the task of describing and commenting upon the areas of Rawls’s output with which they were concerned, in a thoroughly objective and didactic manner, without overly interjecting their own beliefs and views. Credit must, I suppose, be given to the two editors for this laudable result.
The book comprises six sections (Parts I to VI) and these have been described by the Editors in their six-page Introduction.
Part I (Ambitions) is described as covering “materials only recently available to cast new light on Rawls’s own understanding of his project and philosophical ambitions.” The two chapters in this Part, are contributed by one of the Editors, David A. Reidy, and Paul Weithman. They deal with the “religious aspect” of Rawls’s work.
The five essays in Part II (Method) are contributed by Anthony Simon Laden, Larry Krasnoff, Samuel Freeman, Zofia Stemplowska/Adam swift, and the other Editor Jon Mandle The first chapters are concerned with Rawls movement from his initial interpretation of Kant’s constructivism in moral theory, the concern that objective standards are needed to resolve practical problems, and what Rawls calls the “original position”, that is the position from which all citizens could accept moral priniples. The final chapter, by Jon Mandle traces Rawls’s subsequent development of this idea.
Part III (A Theory of Justice), with contributions by Robert S. Taylor, Colin M. Macleod, Stuart White, Thomas E. Hill Jr, and Alexander Kaufman, is concerned with Rawls’s magnum opus A Theory of Justice (1971). An interesting observation by Colin M. Macleod in the essay entitled Applying Justice as Fairness to Institutions is “Rawls believes that the protection of the basic liberties is more important than the realization of the other principles of justice.” (p.171)
Of particular interest to me was Kaufman’s essay that dealt with the ethical concerns of a citizen’s obligation to obey the rules and regulations imposed by the institutions of political authority and where it might be permissible to disobey or resist. These were the very concerns that gave Rawls himself pause and led to his subsequent writing and publication of Political Liberalism (1993), namely the legitimacy of reasonable disagreement.
In Part IV (A Political Conception), the essayists are Gerald Gaus, Aaron James , Jonathan Quong , Rex Martin, Richard Dagger, and Erin I. Kelly. Their essays take further this concern of Rawls with political liberalism, in particular the conflict between moral, religious and philosophical doctrines, and the political conception of justice. This also covers the digression between the Kantian constructivism that marked the early Rawlsian concern with morality and this subsequent political constructivism. In fact his Political Liberalism gave an entirely new focus to the liberalism of A Theory of Justice.
Part V (Extending Political Liberalism: International Relations) consists of four contributions from Huw Lloyd Williams, Gillian Brock, Richard W. Miller, and Darrel Moellendorf that, according to the Introduction, “consider Rawls’s extension of political liberalism in matters of international relations, especially as presented in The Law of Peoples.”
In Part VI (Conversations with Other Perspectives), the concluding section’s essayists are Jonathan Riley, Steven Wall, Barbara H. Fried, Daniel Brudney, Claudia Card, Kenneth Baynes, Daniel Little, S.A. Lloyd, and Paul Guyer, This section of The Companion brings together a number of disparate threads that derive from the earlier sections. Of particular personal interest was the political position that Rawls’s philosophical studies led him to. Daniel Little’s essay Rawls and Economics tells us that . . . “judging from the lectures on Marx that Rawls delivered in 1971 through 1973 in his course on the history of political philosophy” , Marx’s economic writings and his theory of exploitation seem to have been of no special interest to Rawls. (P.512)
To revert, in conclusion, to my opening bracketing of Rawls with Russell, I am piqued by a certain similarity in their approach to Marxian theories, be they political, economic, or philosophical. It is interesting to note that even though Rawls gave a short series of lectures on Marxism, he actually regarded Marx as a critic of liberalism. Russell changed his own stance totally following a visit to Soviet Russia and the subsequent publication of his damning The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (1920).
In 1946, Bertrand Russell wrote: (2) "Modern analytical empiricism [...] differs from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique. It is thus able, in regard to certain problems, to achieve definite answers, which have the quality of science rather than of philosophy. It has the advantage, in comparison with the philosophies of the system-builders, of being able to tackle its problems one at a time, instead of having to invent at one stroke a block theory of the whole universe. Its methods, in this respect, resemble those of science. I have no doubt that, in so far as philosophical knowledge is possible, it is by such methods that it must be sought; I have also no doubt that, by these methods, many ancient problems are completely soluble.”
I wonder how much of that statement would have been approved by John Rawls. I wonder how much exception to it, if any, might be taken by the contributors to A Companion to Rawls.
(1) Rawls (Routledge 2007)
(2) Bertrand Russell – A History of Western Philosophy, 1946, George Allen & Unwin
The Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia - edited by Julia Simner and Edward M. Hubbard. Hardback. 1104 pages. ISBN Number 978-0-19-960332-9. Price £85.00. Published by Oxford University Press.
The book begins with a question posed by the Editors in their opening chapter entitled Overview of Terminology and Findings: "So why write a handbook of synesthesia?".
Disregarding the obvious anomaly in the question itself, namely that no "one" has written the handbook, but a vast number of contributors have provided around 50 essays on different aspects of the subject, I'll address myself to the Editors' own answer and mentally replace "write" with "publish".
I have to say that the subsequent explanation (inter alia) “that there has probably never been a better time to write one. . . “ strikes me as being somewhat weak; rather as though the Editors have invented a reason, instead of posing a question that really addresses prior reasoning. But this is neither to detract from the merits of the Handbook nor from the fact that there was certainly a legitimate need for such a work which, I suggest, the simple explanation has merely trivialised. Happily they do then introduce further reasons, including: "The final reason to write a handbook of synesthesia is because it is quite simply a fascinating subject . . .”
For me, that would have been reason enough.
Synethesia is, the Editors write, "an astonishing phenomenon. . . there is something uniquely challenging about the possibility that other people might not experience the world in qualitatively the same way. Most people have an intrinsic feeling that “reality” is fixed, that it is exactly as we see it, that it could not be different in somebody else’s shoes. And this is because our sensations feel unambiguous: sound is noisy (not colourful!) taste is flavoursome (not pointed!). But neuropsychologists have long since known that reality is a construct we create by filtering stimuli through the individuality of our brain. This means that subtle differences in brain structure or function can allow some people to experience the world in different ways. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of synesthesia. So our aim with this handbook is to show these differences, to illustrate how they are brought about, and to demonstrate their consequences for cognition, social interaction, artistic expression and so on. Most importantly, we hope to demystify what is, for the average non-synesthete, something rather mysterious."
This reason actually helps to explain why I requested a review copy of the book from the OUP. At the risk of being accused of asinus asinum fricat, I recognised the term as one I had introduced into my own An ABC of NLP (3) where I myself perhaps trivialised the subject with my definition of "a spontaneous link between two senses to access an unconscious representational system". But although at that time I had recognised the relevance of synethesia to Neuro-linguistic Programming, I had not appreciated how significant it was on both the neurological and the linguistical levels. But perhaps I do myself an injustice as so much developmental work on the subject has taken place in the decades following the publication of my book. Although synesthesia was the topic of intensive scientific investigation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was largely abandoned by scientific research in the mid-20th century. Neurologist Richard Cytowic who has contributed the essay on Synesthesia in the twentieth century in Part IV of the Handbook has suggested that synesthesia underwent a renaissance later in the 20th century.
"An astonishing phenomenon", to repeat the editorial phrase. I agree. That is no exaggeration.
Synesthetes themselves are often unaware their experiences are unusual until discovering that other people do not have them. Others keep them secret because they do not want to appear different, afraid that they may be ridiculed for their unusual ability. Most, however, describe their experiences as pleasant and do not feel handicapped by them, regarding them as a special gift and applying them to wonderful effect in their academic, working, and particularly artistic and cultural activities. Many writers, artists, musical composers, for example, have used synesthesia creatively even when not themselves synesthetes.
Carol Steen is a contemporary synesthetic artist. She and art historian Greta Berman have contributed the article on Synesthesia and the Artistic Process to Part VI of the Handbook describing how synesthesia is used in the creation of artwork. Included in this section is the synesthetic photographer Marcia Smilack who says that she waits until she gets a synesthetic response from a subject before taking the picture. Greta Berman in an address to the 4th annual conference of the American Synesthesia Association commented: "One day, Carol Steen and I had lunch together and ran into Ben Wolfe, a bass player, composer, and jazz music faculty member at Juilliard. Spontaneously, she asked him if he was a synesthete. He had no idea what that meant, but, when further queried as to whether he saw music in color, he responded, 'Of course!'"
Amongst famous synesthetes in the various fields of the arts may be numbered Vladimir Nabokov and Joanne Harris (writers), Vasily Kandinsky and David Hockney (artists), Duke Ellington, Rimsky-Korsakov and Itzhak Perlman (musicians). And this is not even tapping the surface.
Further chapters in Part VI include Synethesia and creativity, Synesthesia in the visual arts, Synesthesia in literature, Synethesia and memory, Synesthesia and savantism, and Synesthesia, imagery, and performance. This section (Part VI) is titled Costs and Benefits: Creativity, Memory and Imagery. It is fascinating to discover how the artistic process may differ between synesthetic and non-synesthetic artists and even how the artistic process may differ with synesthetes using different senses to construct, e.g. visual images. For example, Carol Steen's paintings from touch are different from those created from sound: ". . . with recorded sound she can more easily replay the music as often as desired . . . with colored music, memory is no longer an issue since a particular passage can simply be reheard. However if the synthesete forgets what song she was listening to, the unfinished painting may become unresolved."
So what are we to think about those people who taste their food in colour(4), or feel the touch of music on their body, or see letters and numbers in vivid colours. The one thousand plus pages of the Handbook offers a multiplicity of descriptions, explanations, suggestions and theories about this genetic condition, all enhanced by the considerable - I might say extravagant - wealth of reference material available at the end of each section of the book. It is apparently genetic, runs in families, and is more common among women than men. Part I covers the Origins of Synesthesia and in Chapter I, The Prevalence of Synesthesia is contributed by Donielle Johnson, Carrie Allison, and Simon Baron Cohen. All three are attached to the Department of Psychiatry at the UK's Cambridge University. In 1987 a team led by Baron-Cohen carried out research on the subject of synesthesia. This research was ongoing. And this level of expertise, duplicated in other sections of the Handbook by similar research conducted by American university teams, such as that led by Yale's Larry Marks, PhD in 1975, gives testimony to the excellence of both the material and the quality of the contributors brought together by the transatlantic editors Julia Simner (Edinburgh University) and Edward M. Hubbard (University of Wisconsin).
The excellence of the Oxford University Press, particularly its range of academic encyclopaedias and “handbooks”, is too well-known and well-evidenced by the number of awards it has achieved to need any “puffs” from me. And there is, accordingly, no real reason for surprise on my part at the excellence of this latest title that I have reviewed. Nevertheless I cannot praise the book too highly.
It is a matter of regret that its length has made it impossible for me to "read it from cover to cover" before producing a review. But it is with delight that I look forward to having it occupy a place on my bedside table for many weeks to come.
(3) An ABC of NLP by Joseph Sinclair, ASPEN-London, 1992
(4) "The taste of beef, such as a steak, produces a rich blue," says Sean Day PhD, a linguistics professor at National Central University in Taiwan. "Mango sherbet appears as a wall of lime green with thin wavy strips of cherry red. Steamed gingered squid produces a large glob of bright orange foam, about four feet away, directly in front of me." (American Psychology Association Monitor March 2001)
Relationship Thinking. Agency, Enchrony and Human Sociality by N. J. Enfield. Hardback. 304 pages. ISBN Number 978-0-19-933873-3. Price £50.00. Published by Oxford University Press.
I found this book both provocative and motivational.
The book is a study of human relationships by way of human interactions. As the author puts it in his introduction, the central issue is to look at a swatch of social behaviour and ask, Why and how does this piece of behaviour reflect or constitute a social relationship?
N.J. (Nick) Enfield is Professor of Ethnolinguistics at Radboud University in the Netherlands, where he is leader of the European Research Council project ‘Human Sociality and Systems of Language Use’ (2010-14)..
Enfield's own empirical specialization is in the languages of mainland Southeast Asia, especially Lao and Kri and much of the data provided by Nick Enfield derives from his field work on language and social interaction in Laos.
This background is totally in evidence in this book which examines the intersection of language, cognition, social interaction and culture from three principal perspectives, all underpinned by his focus on human relationships.
His personal blog published on the website of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (where Enfield is a senior staff scientist) describes his research as addressing these three perspectives as
1. Semiotic structure and process
- Grammatical and semantic structure in language
- Structure of social interaction and context-situated understanding
- Composite nature of communication
2. Causal dependencies in semiotic systems
- The interplay between individual cognitive representations (and processes), actual communicative interactions, and higher-level systems such as languages
- The relation between different causal
frames or 'timescales' (microgenetic, ontogenetic, phylogenetic, enchronic,
3. Language and Human Sociality
- How language constitutes a primary resource for carrying out (joint) action in the social realm, and what these properties of language and its use tell us about human social intelligence (or Theory of Mind)
- The relation between social cognition and social action
As the sub-title of the book makes clear, Enfield concentrates on three points of conceptual focus, human agency, enchrony, and human sociality. The first refers to the combination of flexibility in goal-oriented behaviour and accountability for the planning, execution, and results of that behaviour. This provides the basis for the development of social life.
When we study social life within an enchronic frame, we are looking at sequences of social interaction in which the moves that constitute social actions occur as responses to other such moves, and in turn these give rise to further moves in response. In an address at the Max Planck Institute, Enfield has explained this as: "Psycholinguists have extensively studied what might be called microgenesis in language, that is, for example in the moment-by-moment course of development of utterances as they go 'from intention to articulation'. Alongside all of these distinct causal-temporal perspectives on language is the perspective of enchrony, which runs at a similar time course to microgenesis, but which critically involves a public semiotic process by which utterances serve as 'interpretants' of prior utterances, driving the progress of interaction."
The third is human sociality: a range of human propensities for social interaction and enduring social relations, grounded in collective commitment to shared norms, that is the set of standardised and organised rights and duties that define any social relation.
It would be absurd of me to deny that this is far from being the simplest and most easily assimilated book I have read recently, but it is certainly one of those that has most repaid study. In particular, I enjoyed the way the author so impeccably covered his subject via the disciplines of anthropology. semiotics, sociology and linguistics, and I have been left with much food for thought.
Change. What Really Leads to Lasting Personal Transformation by Jeffrey A. Kottle. Hardback. 284 pages. ISBN number 978-0-19-998138-0. Price £20.00. Published by Oxford University Press.
Kottler is the author of over 80 books, frequently in collaboration with others, mainly dealing with the subject of some form of transformation.
Normally this would be enough to “turn me off”. As someone once said to me about the Bruckner symphonies: “He didn’t write nine symphonies; he wrote one symphony nine times!” Not true, of course, but as with most cynical comments, therein resides a modicum of accuracy.
So nine symphonies . . . that was a pretty cruel comment. What then can one say about eighty (eight zero) books all on one form or another of transformation? Surely after you’ve said it once, how do you say it again? Unless, like Bruckner, you transpose, you re-phrase, you re-interpret. You can fool some of the people nine times, but how do you fool all the people 80 times?
Well, I don't know the answer to that one, but I haven't read the other 79, and I was pretty impressed with this book.
But how could I fail to be? And how could I fail to resonate to Professor Kottler's "no subject more interesting and useful than to study the process of change", when I have been so personally involved, throughout my lifetime, in reading, studying, lecturing and writing about that precise subject? Albeit, I hasten to add modestly, in a much lower key than Kottler.
Before settling down to read the book, I had "googled" Professor Kottler and came up with the following [click here]:
Very impressive stuff. I was reminded of the apocryphal account of Orson Welles addressing the mid-Western audience of a Ladies' Guild that was embarrassingly few in numbers. He described himself as an actor, director, producer, writer, broadcaster and then said: "What a pity there are so many of me, and so few of you." But this is a problem that Jeffrey Kottler does not have. He does possess a whole raft of attributes, qualifications, and accomplishments, as well as being a prolific writer. As distinct from the bit of apocrypha, however, he also enjoys a vast audience and this book is described by the publishers as representing "the culmination of [his] career, and is perhaps his final word on the nature of change."
Well certainly this is an extremely comprehensive work on many aspects of transformation, aiming to show how life changes can be made in many areas of behaviour and environment. It is wonderfully enhanced by a multiplicity of inspirational examples both from Kottler's personal experience (including, for instance, a very touching reference to the death of his mother) and from the hundreds of people he has interviewed and treated within a wide variety of backgrounds.
He begins with a chapter on the mystery of Change, proceeds through the challenges and obstacles to Change, and then provides a chapter of "Life-Changing Stories". The book is actually enlivened throughout by stories and examples taken from his personal research that serve to illustrate its sub-sections, be it on how to reduce stress and face fears, resolving conflicts in relationships, dealing with trauma, or making a spiritual journey. What is abundantly clear is that transformation is, by and large, only possible in the future. The present has already been determined by its past. Most of our history, both as individuals or as organisations, is carried with us. But what we do today can make future change easier to achieve. Today is part of tomorrow's history. As has been said, (incorrectly attributed to George Eliot), "It's never too late to be what you might have been."
Whether or not I ever get around to reading any of Professor Kottler's other 79 works, I will never regret having read this one. None of it was new to me. But in its entirety it revealed and reinforced much of what I had learned (and forgotten!) over the years, and for people younger than myself who are embarking, or only recently embarked, on the transformational journey, it is a book to treasure.
I am reminded of Eric Morecombe who, when seated at the piano massacring the Greig concerto, assures Andre Previn, with that look of angelic mischievousness of which he was uniquely capable, “I played all the right notes . . . I just played them in a different order.” Well, I believe Kottler has addressed all the wrong notes, but has placed them all in the correct order.
Jeffrey A. Kottler, PhD is Professor of the Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton. He has worked as a teacher, counselor, therapist, and researcher in a variety of settings including hospitals, mental health centers, schools, crisis centers, clinics, universities, corporations, and private practice. Dr. Kottler has been a Fulbright Scholar in Iceland and Peru, as well as having lectured extensively around the world. He is also President and Co-Founder of the Empower Nepali Girls Foundation which provides educational scholarships for lower caste girls in rural Nepal who would otherwise be unable to attend school.
Dr. Kottler has authored 80 books in psychology, education, and counseling. His books are directed towards a number of different audiences: 1) for practicing therapists and counselors about the inner world of helping others; 2) for teachers and educators about the human dimensions of helping; and 3) for students in education and helping professions. Kottler is also known for his provocative books about contemporary issues and human struggles, such as the forbidden world of what people do when they're alone, the phenomenon of crying and what it means in people's lives, the inner world of murder and the reasons why people are vicariously attracted to violence.
Attachment in Common Sense and Doodles by Miriam Silver. Paperback. 208 pages. ISBN number 978-1-84905-314-3 Price £13.99. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Attachment in Common Sense and Doodles, by Dr. Miriam Silver, claims to be a Practical Guide. It more than delivers on the promise!
Dr. Silver's experience, expertise, credentials and scholarship are impressive, including her involvement in running the British Psychological Society network for Clinical Psychologists working with Looked After and Adopted Children (CPLAAC), which enabled her to share good practice and keep up with latest research and other authors. The material in the book was developed whilst she was running workshops for adoptive parents and foster carers and their feedback, as well as input from colleagues, encouraged her to write the book.
The material is presented in a straight forward fashion.
Without 'dumbing down' in any way, Dr. Silver clarifies and simplifies what often tends to be obscure, if not arcane. She has a profound understanding of Attachment, and offers a wealth of ideas, guidelines and useful tips.
Her writing style replaces technical terminology with practical, accessible and concise information. She also translates information into visual form with numerous doodles. In order to maintain the 'simplicity', Dr. Silver includes sign posts for people who want to find out more. The numbered references to related academic papers in the text, along with numerous case studies will be of interest and benefit to readers and to the children they are involved with.
Parents, teachers, social workers, therapists and any professionals who work with troubled and troublesome children will find something of value that can help to make more sense of 'challenging' behaviour, and to find ways of responding that do not cause the child to become more anxious.
Research shows that under ten percent of children who've been exposed to trauma are securely attached when they arrive at a new placement, around 40 per cent of children are insecure but organised and 50 per cent or so would reach the disorganised category.
The author also flags up the fact that some clinicians diagnosis 'Attachment Disorder' in a particular child, or use the controversial label of Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Dr. Silver tends to avoid these labels because she does not believe that the disorder can be identified in the child as an individual in isolation, because the disorder is a pattern that plays out between the child and the people around them, particularly the primary caregiver(s). Her belief that attachment disorder is a normal response to abnormal circumstances and not something innate in the child, has profound implications for adults living and working with youngsters who have this disorder.Dr Silver favours Bessel van der Kolk's view of Chronic Developmental Trauma as a sub category of post-traumatic stress.
Camila Batmanghelidjh's foreword references the work of
Bowlby and Winnicott, pioneers whose ideas put Britain at the forefront of
Attachment Theory. Their wisdom has been 'further mobilised' by advances in neuro-imaging, which enables us to see the functional and structural damage
wreaked on brains deprived of love.
Attachment refers to our relationship with people we love, or whose esteem
we care about.
Although primarily focused on the needs and well being of children who, having experienced early trauma, neglect or abuse, have been placed away from their birth parents, the reader is invited to reflect on their own current and historical attachment patterns. That in itself can help adults to respond more empathically to difficult children. For example:
Reflection: Spotting your own patterns now.
Reflection:Spotting your own childhood patterns
Some of the 19 chapters answer questions posed at the chapter headings. For example:
Can Attachment Patterns Change?
What is 'Good Enough' Care and What Does It Do?
Information, advice, and various simple 'doodles' explain attachment and describe how parents and professionals can apply the information and techniques for recognising attachment difficulties and responding with empathy from a resourceful stance, with an abundance of great advice on how to repair attachment difficulties by building and sustaining secure, loving relationships.
An excellent book!
 Proportions in different attachment categories amongst traumatised/looked after children. See van Ijzendoorn et al (1999)
 Chronic developmental trauma (see van der Kolk (2005)
Can I Tell You About ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? by Jacqueline Rayner. Paperback. 64 pages. ISBN number 978-1-84905-452-2. Price £8.99. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
This is a user friendly book which, as the popular saying goes, does what it says on the cover. It explains simply and in words that even quite young children will understand, what it is like to have ME, and what it is like to have a person with ME in the family. The layout is very clear, with text on one page and eye-catching cartoon illustrations on the facing page. Underneath is a summary of the aspect of ME described on the opposite page.
The four family members -
each with initials of M or E - all describe a particular aspect of the illness
and how it affects day to day life; for example one of the children describes
how out of school activities can be curtailed as Mum is sometimes unable to
The book succeeds in giving the reader a comprehensive picture of living with ME from each family member’s point of view and includes tackling difficult areas such as public perceptions of ME. It also aims to expand awareness of some of the less obvious aspects of the condition; for example mood swings, bursts of energy which need to be paced, and sensitivity to light and sound.
This is a very good introduction to the subject and very comprehensive. It acknowledges the lack of certainty about how the condition might develop and some of the difficulties in researching this area. Every doctors' surgery should have a copy in its waiting room.
The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda by Fawaz A. Gerges. Paperbook. 261 pages. ISBN number 978-0-19-997468-9. Price £12.99. Published by Oxford University Press.
How amazing that this book, unrequested, should have landed on my front doormat as I am in the process of reading a "blockbuster" best-seller called The Panther from the prolific pen of Nelson DeMille. I admit a partiality for the style and content of DeMille's output, and also his habitually well-researched backgrounds; but must also confess that this particular title was purchased at an airport bookshop solely by virtue of its 700-plus pages of length. Just the thing, I thought, for a long-distance return flight to the UK. In the event, I barely rippled a dozen pages before somnolence struck, encouraged no doubt by the sheer effort of holding open a five centimetre thick book.
So, here I am, back in the UK trying to restrict my reading of The Panther to a few minutes each night, in order not to divert myself from more pressing matters when - as I say - The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda drops unbidden into my hands. The thing is, you see, that The Panther, while a work of fiction, has its setting located in Yemen and is concerned with American law-enforcement personnel (FBI, CIA, the Army and the Police) caught up in a struggle with al-Qaeda and the Jihadists. Now my curiosity has been piqued to discover how well-researched, albeit as a work of fiction, is the Nelson DeMille, and how much relevance to his treatment will be evidenced by the Fawaz A. Gerges work.
The preceding two paragraphs were written before I had read more than simply the back-cover "blurb" of the title being reviewed. I propose first to finish The Panther and then to read The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda before writing my review. I may then decide to delete the foregoing and adopt another approach. In which case, dear Reader, you won't have read any of this. Pity.
Good. You're still with me. In one major respect the DeMille work of fiction and the Gerges work of fact coincide precisely. One is almost tempted to ask whether fact is imitating fiction, fiction imitating fact, or is it all entirely fictitious? But it would appear to be effectively incontestable that al-Qaeda is no longer the force it once was and - indeed - was never quite the force with which public opinion identified it. The events of 9/11 inevitably gave it a massive sense of importance, and the abysmal efforts of American leaders to contain subsequent perceived and imagined dangers resulted in an escalation of anti-terrorist activity that was both vastly expensive and largely ineffective.
The first term of office of the present incumbent also tended to emulate the reluctance of his predecessors to do other than condemn and prolong the war against the perceived threat of al-Qaeda. It is only since the re-election of Obama that "there is a breath of fresh air coming from the White House" (p.23). "In his second term he seems to be indicating to the US public that the war against al-Qaeda is nearing the end."
Both the "thriller" The Panther, and this academic book being reviewed, make mention of the attack on the USS Cole a little more than one year before 9/11, when 17 American sailors were killed and 39 injured by a suicide bombing of the American warship at Aden. But whereas the novel treats the USS Cole incident as the basis for a revenge mission against the supposed al-Qaeda protagonist, Gerges mentions it only twice, briefly. The main thrust of the Gerges book is to show that al-Qaeda has been marginalised and no longer presents a major terrorist threat to the West.(5)
I wondered why this book would have a thirty-page long Introduction. Then I realised that the first edition was actually published three years ago, and so much has happened in the shadowy world of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the intervening period, that a considerable updating was required. I imagine the last chapter of the first edition: Conclusion: Down to Size – itself twenty-one pages long – could have been rewritten, but it is itself still largely relevant and valid., and I suppose has not been subject to much change from the first edition. And the earlier chapters are historical and do not need modifying. So the Introduction is, in fact, not simply important, but essential to an understanding of where Al-Qaeda, but, more importantly, jihadism is today.
And where it is, according to Fawaz A. Gerges, "is significantly smaller and primarily tactical" (p.195). He suggests a gap between between perception and reality. The former springs from the continuing belief in al-Qaeda (and others) as an ongoing, strategic, existential threat that "foments unnecessary fear and lubricates a costly national security-industrial complex that includes nearly a million individuals with high security clearances." (ibid) "Americans and Westerners [sic] are fed a constant diet of catastrophic scenarios and scare tactics" (p.196). Interestingly, DeMille paints a similar picture, but describes it as "smoke and mirrors". What I find most terrifying is the vast and ever-expanding expenditure on counter-terrorist measure and the growth in the number of agencies and personnel devoted to dealing with these "smoke-and-mirror-painted scenarios", primarily in America but also in other parts of the Western world. These are given considerably detailed treatment in Gerges' book.
But the truth of the situation would seem to be that more than a decade after the shocking events of 9/11 al-Qaeda is no longer the centralised movement it had been at that time. And, following the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, it is even less centralised with very little impact on global dynamics. Jihadism, of course, still exists, and it would be more useful to analyse the way in which al-Qaeda has metamorphosed beneath that umbrella. It seems to me, reading between the lines of The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda that a study of the forces that seek to maintain the concern with a continuing al-Qaeda (or others) threat may be more revealing and of greater worry than the al-Qaeda background itself. The worry is, in effect, that concentration on the status quo may blind us to other emerging dangers that are of far greater potential consequence.
It pleases me to round off this review somewhat elegantly with a reversion to DeMille's The Panther:
"When you’re dealing with people who have no moral centre, no loyalty to anyone but themselves, you don’t always get the logical results you expect or the truth that you paid for . . .
"In that respect Yemeni culture and the CIA culture were not too far apart, despite the CIA’s motto that the truth will set you free. And [the CIA person] had himself been corrupted by this culture of lying, and he thought he was better at it than the Yemenis, who he thought were stupid. I don’t know if they’re stupid, but I do know that they’re cunning. That’s how they’ve survived for three thousand years. And they’ll be here long after we’ve gone, which could be soon."
(5) I have a minor quibble with the author - or more precisely with the OUP editors of this book. Gerges has chosen, for some unfathomable reason, to distinguish between Americans and Westerners. On page 3 he writes [al-Qaeda] "has come to mean" [the very embodiment of terrorist organisation] "in the minds of Americans and Westerners alike". He repeats this distinction several times before (p.5) commenting that "few in the West - Americans specifically - realize that their fear of terrorism is misplaced", thus acknowledging that Americans are Westerners. I think it would have better to have written merely of Westerners or, where appropriate, "Westerners, and particularly Americans . . . ".
The Hidden Hand - a Brief History of the CIA by Richard H. Immerman. Hardback. 258 pages. Price £23.50. ISBN No. 978-1-4443-5137-8 Published by Wiley-Blackwell
Now, how weird is that?
You’re reading a book about CIA involvement in Yemen as an aftermath of the USS Cole jihadist attack, when the review copy of a book on the history of al-Qaeda comes through your letterbox. You no sooner finish reading the al-Qaeda book and writing the review, when you are confronted by a series of programmes entitled CIA Declassified on your television set , the first episode of which concerns CIA involvement in the USS Cole sabotage [sic]. Subsequent episodes concern Black Ops and Guatemala 1954, an assassination in Beirut in 1985, the CIA and Special Ops teaming up for an operation against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and finally - following the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi – the CIA bribing warlords to track down suspect Al-Qaeda fighters.
You are left wondering which is the work of fiction and which is the factual historical record. In fact, the apparent historically accurate records seem more dubious than the fictitious adventure novel.
And just when you think it can’t get any weirder, what do you call the arrival on your doormat of a review copy of a book entitled The Hidden Hand –A Brief History of the CIA? [Is somebody trying to tell me something? Just kidding!]
So, the first thing I did was to go to the Index and check out the references from the other written and televised works. And was immediately surprised – or perhaps not! –by the paucity of commentary on most of these events. A subsequent reading of the book made their absence somewhat clearer, and also opened up another “can of worms” that made fascinating reading.
But before revealing the contents of that can, let me just refer briefly to how the book differed in stance from that pursued by the TV programmes. The Index had no entry for USS Cole, Yemen, or Aden. On page 163, however, we learn that “On October 12, 2000, terrorists blew up the USS Cole, docked in the harbour of Aden, Yemen. Seventeen Americans died. It took several months for the CIA to determine that bin Laden was responsible.”
The only reference to Beirut (p.160) is “the bombing of the Marine barracks” in 1983. Nothing about any CIA planned, or sponsored, assassinations two years later. As for a CIA-inspired plot to use warlords in an attempt to locate Al-Qaeda suspects behind the Nairobi embassy bombing, there is merely a brief reference to the bombing as one of two embassy bombings (p.162) but I could not find any mention of a subsequent “plot”. Osama bin Laden was, however, identified “as the mastermind”.
But there is a five-page section on Guatemala (pp48=53) that is unsurprising, given that the author produced The CIA in Guatemala as his postgraduate dissertation. An interesting comment (p.50) is that “The operations in Iran and Guatemala served as cornerstones for a legend of invincibility that came to define the CIA by the end of Eisenhower’s two terms in office.”
Finally, as concerns the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Afghanistan there are (and it would have beggared belief if there were not) a vast number of references in the index. Out of curiosity I checked the percentage of the book devoted to pre-2001 and that devoted to post-2001. 170 pages have been written about CIA history from 1945 to 2000, and 55 pages from 2001 to 2013. This corresponds to 3 pages per year for the first period and 5 pages per year for the later section. In other words, 2001 was not merely the “wake-up” call that the CIA may have needed, but also a watershed.
So let’s get out the can opener.
The author, by virtue of his having signed a nondisclosure (commonly termed a secrecy agreement) as part of his employment conditions with a national intelligence agency, had to submit his manuscript to the CIA’s prepublication reviewers and parts of the manuscript were deemed inappropriate for publication. This is all explained in a lengthy Note on Redactions prior to the first chapter of the book. Redactions, incidentally, are editorial removal of words or sections of a manuscript. After several appeals, much of the rejected material was permitted to be restored, but much was also forbidden and this is evidenced by the “blacking-out” of words, phrases, and other sections of the book. This makes for a somewhat uncomfortable read, but also reinforces the conviction that the CIA is (and presumably with good reason) very sensitive of its public image and its many shortcomings. It is interesting that these redactions are few in number during the early part of the book but increase significantly towards the end.
Although the entire book made fascinating reading, I found the pre-2001 chapters much more interesting than post-9/11. So much has been written about the CIA and its methods in recent years that the main interest in this section was to determine where Immerman fits into this scenario. Or, perhaps more appropriately, where he fits the CIA into it.
But for the early years, from its inception in 1947, and particularly seeing the impact both on and by the successive Presidents, it was both instructive and – in places – quite eye-opening. Birth of an Enigma is how the author has entitled his opening chapter and this derives both from the mystery of its history and the secrecy with which it enshrouds itself. This despite its presence on several social networking sites. (I suppose if you have things to hide, it’s a useful tactic to appear to be unafraid of public exposure.)
It originated in the Office for Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II, abolished by President Truman in 1945, but by 1947 it was recognised that a centralised body was required and Truman approved the National Security Act establishing the Central Intelligence Agency. Subsequently, and driven by “the intensifying Cold War” the CIA developed from “an agency established to collect, analyse, and disseminate intelligence to an instrument for engaging in covert, frequently paramilitary operations.” (p.20/21) Subsequently “virtually by default . . . the administration added psychological warfare to the CIA’s portfolio as an ‘additional service of common concern’”.
If you have an interest in popular culture, you will enjoy Immerman’s discussion (albeit out of chronological sequence) of the popular movies that involve the CIA.
The second chapter takes us up to 1961 and includes the period of the Korean War. This was the first major opportunity for the CIA to “produce the goods” for which it had been established. As early as July 1949 the CIA had identified North Korea as a Soviet puppet regime. In October of the same year, the CIA reported road improvements and troop movements towards South Korea’s border that would enable an attack by the North. But, in June 1960 when North Korea crossed the 38th parallel, this came as a complete surprise to US intelligence. This was more than 50 years before 9/11. Plus ça change.
I was quite astonished to find three lines of text redacted in the end of chapter notes, attributed to Nicholas Dujmovic a lecturer at the School of International Service in Washington DC and a member of CIA’s “think tank”. One may wonder what it is that might have embarrassed the CIA .
Subsequent chapters, prior to 2001, are The CIA and its Discontents 1961-1976, A Time of Troubles 1977-1987 and Victory Without Redemption 1988-2000. The titles provide clues to the contents. 1961 to 1976 includes Vietnam, Chile, and The Bay of Pigs fiasco. I can appreciate the author’s use of the word “discontents”. The 1977-1987 period was indeed a troubling time for the CIA under its then Director William Colby, whose later death by drowning in 1996 has remained a mystery, although the official verdict was a heart attack while canoeing This was the period of the Iran-Contra fiasco. That last word might perhaps be inscribed in the CIA annals.
And, finally, the chapter before 9/11. This was the period of the end of the Cold War. It also included the Clinton presidency, the hostage crisis in Iran, and marked the beginning of the American involvement in Afghanistan. It should also have been the time in which the CIA could really have proved itself during the development of the jihadist and the al-Qaeda threats. But the CIA failed several times in this period to identify intelligence concerns and neither President Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush were well served by the Agency.
On reading the final two chapters, the first covering 9/11 of 2001 up to 2003, and the last chapter from 2005 to 2013, there is a striking contrast between the first which is totally devoid of a redaction, and the second which contains a great many redactions. I asked myself whether this was because the Twin Towers atrocity and its aftermath was too painful, or the period so full of attack and counter-attack by the agencies involved, the White House, and a variety of concerned individuals, that there was nothing to censor. It may just have been, as Immerman writes, “Americans, uniting in their common grief and anger, muted their criticism of the catastrophic intelligence failure. Taking their cue from the president, they sought revenge. . . Bush told reporters at the Pentagon, “I want justice. There’s an old poster out West that said ‘Wanted, dead or alive.’”
But there is a third possibility. The 9/11 Commission Report has been accused of not giving the whole story about the warnings that the U.S. received prior to the attacks. Benjamin DeMott in 2004 in Harpers Magazine wrote that the report “despite the vast quantity of labor behind it, is a cheat and a fraud. It stands as a series of evasive maneuvers that infantilize the audience, transform candor into iniquity, and conceal realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation. Because it is continuously engaged in scotching all attempts to distinguish better from worse leadership responses, the Commission can't discharge its duty to educate the audience about the habits of mind and temperament essential in those chosen to discharge command responsibility during crises.”
So the third possibility is that perhaps the CIA preferred to let sleeping dogs lie.
The last chapter, as I say, is replete with redactions. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, since the CIA has come in for so much criticism in recent years. This includes “non-consensual human experiments, extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques, targeted killings, assassinations and the funding and training of militants who would go on to kill civilians and non-combatants.”
The CIA now is apparently feeling much more bullish in its activities and any failures are more than matched by its successful combination of more accurate intelligence and more effective technology. In particular the use of the Predator drone aircraft equipped with Hellfire missiles has had some remarkable success in locating and eliminating Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The opposition’s voice, condemning the collateral losses that have been sustained, has generally been stilled.
It remains to be seen where the CIA will go from here. Meantime, as far as the book under review is concerned, It’s a very well written piece of history and well referenced with numerous end-of-chapter source notes. Pity, though, about the frustrating redactions. Maybe the third edition will be free of them.
Photography & Zen: Discovering Your True Nature through Photography by Stephen Bray, Introduction by Michael John Eldridge. 210 pages. Price £18.80. ISBN-13:978-1496086341 ISBN-10:1496086341. Published by Photography & Consciousness
At once fresh, witty, informative, challenging and always absorbing, Stephen has given us more than a glimpse of how we can see photography as a path to awakening.
Skipping through time, with one eye on other artists and photographers, one eye on himself and his own experience, he always draws together these strands to show how avoiding the experience and understanding of the inter-relatedness and inter-connection of all, leaves our lives in an airless and short-sighted claustrophobic cocoon. This is also the essence of the Buddha’s teachings.
Stephen’s daring and openness in allowing us an insight into his own life experiences and struggle for clear-seeing is heart-warming and shows what is possible if we also dare to take that leap - in life and with our photography.
BIODATA OF REVIEWERS
Joe Sinclair is Managing Editor of New Nurturing Potential as well as the publisher of Potential Unleashed. He is the author of twelve books including An ABC of NLP and co-author of Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake.
Mark Edwards lives in Exeter and works as a Primary Mental Health Worker in South Devon. He has a developing interest in working systemically and the focus of his work is with children and families. He runs a successful course for parents on Managing Challenging Behaviour
Michael Mallows coaches individuals and trains teams and groups in the voluntary, public and private sectors. He is the author of The Power to Use NLP and co-author of Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake.
Sep Meyer is a graduate of the London School of Economics and, since his retirement from a commercial life, has occupied himself with writing poetry and drama, as well as articles in the area of sociology, politics and current affairs. It is appropriate that he has contributed reviews of both The Rise and Fall of al-Qaeda and The Hidden Hand as there is a considerable overlap.
Terry Goodwin was a senior marketing executive at Finexport Ltd in London and Bangkok until his retirement in 1992, since when he has been in private practice as a marketing consultant.
Colin Tracy is a Buddhist and follows a path of meditation and contemplation and as a photographer uses the mindfulness and awareness techniques from this path to keep his mind fully present as he photographs. His website is www.fullyfocusedphotos.co.uk