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Posts from the ‘non-fiction’ Category


#Non-fiction A Time of Gifts




  1. If you are looking for a nice rambling
  2. …colorful travelogue this is not the book for you.
  3. The travel diaries (1933) have been combed through
  4. and embellished to create this book in 1976.
  5. The narrative lacks a spark of spontaneity because
  6. Fermor’s travel thoughts have been resting for many years
  7. and the book suffers from many rewrites before it was
  8. …finally published.
  9. In all fairness, the book was received with
  10. tremendous enthusiasm (1976).
  11. It won:
  12. Thomas Cook Travel Award
  13. International PEN/Time Life Silver Pen Award
  14. W.H. Smith Prize (1978)
  15. So…you may still like this book
  16. …but I did not.


Strong point:

  1. Nicest passages are during Fermor’s walks
  2. through the countryside from village to village.
  3. No history, no hangovers, no libraries, no castles with
  4. moat and polished wood floors
  5. …just nature.


Strong point:

  1. Book oozes a special kind of personalized disorder!
  2. Fermor blends history, literature, biography, myth
  3. with his visits to cathedrals, libraries, pubs  with or
  4. without a hangover!


Strong point:   ‘The Hook”…that kept me reading

  1. Ch 1: Low Countries: good…
  2. Vivid images of boat leaving the estuary of the Thames River
  3. …describing Dutch landscape and interiors with comparisons
  4. of great paintings Brueghelish
  5. ….skaters, hunters in the snow.
  6. Fermor keeps his writing centered on his travels
  7. …no long daydreams or history.


Weak point:

  1. Up the Rhine:
  2. The book does not flow
  3. ….gets bogged down
  4. in Fermor’s musings:
  5. Fermor interjects the travel narrative
  6. ….with memories, historical trivia:
  7. …going back fourteen years  (pg 43)
  8. …memories of school learning  (pg 82)
  9. …theater for so much history  (pg 92)
  10. …landsknechts in time of Emperor Max I  (pg 96-101)


  1. Winterreise:
  2. Fermor admits it himself
  3. …slowing the narrative down!
  4. “…I must try to convey, even if it slows things
  5. up for a couple of pages.” (pg 123-133)


  1. The Danube: Seasons and Castles
  2. Brooding over one’s ignorance of painting (pg 147-156)
  3. …again slowing down.
  4. The Danube: Approach to a Kaiserstadt
  5. …let us run quickly through
  6. ..the relevant part of the story (The Tempest)
  7. …again slowing down (pg 170-171)


Fermor fills Vienna (3 week visit)

  1. …with anecdotes
  2. …not much wandering around the town.
  3. Hangover after last days of Carnival
  4. …visit to Akademie Library…
  5. …more musings about history and maps.


The Edge of the Slav World = …all history



  1. Cathedrals are always important part of the narrative
  2. (Cologne, Vienna, Prague)
  3. …but we end up with …another hangover
  4. …another library in The Old University
  5. …more history.


Slovakia: A Step Forward at Last

  1. Sorry, my eyes glazed over during this chapter
  2. ??


Marches of Hungary

  1. Fermor …cites direct long passages of  his diary
  2. …perhaps he was too tired ( as I am now) to elucidate
  3. on this chapter.


Book ends…

  1. As a young man, the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor
  2. walked from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34.
  3. A Time of Gifts (vol 1) ends on the
  4. Maria Valeria Bridge in Slovakia.
  5. Fermor has difficulty leaving Slovakia
  6. and plunging into Hungry
  7. …but he must move on.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I’ve really lost interest (57%)
  2. I kept up with Fermor from
  3. December 1933 …leaving England
  4. and just lost interest in February 1934
  5. in the little village of Maidling Im Tal, Austria
  6. Just skimming to finish the book.
  7. The BEST travel book I’ve read  was
  8. Deep South (2015)  by Paul Theroux!
  9. Now, that was an excellent book
  10. …worth your reading time!







#Non-Fiction America’s War


Structure: 480 pages
Part 1 – The Preliminaries ch 1-7
Part 2 – Entr’acte (“between the acts”) ch 8 – 11
Part 3 – Main Card ch 12-18


My Notes:


USA fights wars:

…1776 for independence
…1861 for slavery
…1980 US embarks upon a war for oil


Central irony:  

  1. For America’s War for the Greater Middle East
  2. US’s tendency to focus on solving one problem,
  3. to exacerbate a second and plant the seeds of a third.”
  4. See: Wikipedia ‘Operation Cyclone”



  1. I noticed in chapter 1
  2. sound bites used in 1980s that
  3. …are now used by Trump!
  4. US didn’t want a distressed angel (Carter)
  5. ….passing judgement on their failings.
  6. The US wanted a president who would fix things!  (MAGA)
  7. Carter viewed himself as “an agent of the Lord’
  8. Trump referred to himself as ‘the chosen one’
  9. …while speaking
  10. on his role in the ongoing trade war
  11. between the US and China. (21 Aug 2019)


Note: Ch 6:

  1. Especially interesting was the conscious
  2. effort by the US in 1982
  3. ….to open a secret channel
  4. ….to provide Baghdad with sensitive intel,
  5. satellite images, PC’s  hell’s  and heavy trucks etc.


What was USA’s plan….long term?

  1. US needed Saddam…..
  2. ….and with this non-military help
  3. it enabled Iraq to avoid outright defeat in Iraq-Iran war.
  4. But why?  
  5. “…US had a compelling interest in positioning Iraq as a
  6. counterweight to a dangerous Islamic Republic.”


Note: Ch 7:

  1. The book comes alive for me with the
  2. US to hunkering down in Saudi Arabia and
  3. preparing to remove Saddam from Kuwait.
  4. My favorite no nonsense General
  5. “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf jr.
  6. He planned and led Operation Desert Storm—
  7. which defeated the Iraqi Army and liberated Kuwait
  8. Pg 117 this would be:
  9. “…Vietnam done right,
  10. …with a decisive victory the result.
  11. No shilly-shallying allowed.”



  1. Don’t worry about memorizing all the names, dates, etc
  2. focus on the big picture…the important stuff will stick.
  3. This book is a wonderful re-cap of
  4. the history of the War for the Greater Middle East.
  5. Strong point: Bacevich makes non-fiction read like a novel!
  6. Great read…for history buffs!
  7. I was very impressed with Bacevich
  8. …his writing is crisp insight and info that is not in news articles.
  9. I enjoyed his comments about Gaddafi
  10. “…erratic buffoon less a serious
  11. …menace than a perennial pain in the behind!”
  12. …and I learned whatgunboat diplomacy is’.
  13. Part 3…you could probably easily skim this
  14. picking nuggets of info but most has
  15. been recently in the news (Obama, Osama Bin Laden).
  16. Loved to see names popping up who were in headlines
  17. …and now have faded away.
  18. Remember L. Paul Bremer, diplomat
  19. running the show in The Green Zone Baghdad?
  20. ….he earns extra cash now as a ski-instructor!
  21. Huh?


Last Thoughts:

  1. What was the MOST important thing I learned?
  2. …the 4 reasons why USA is still waging the
  3. War for the Greater Middle East.
  4. War has the seal of approval of Republicans and Democrats
  5. Aspiring Presidential candidates find it expedient to ‘support the troops’ (war)
  6. Individuals/institutions benefit from a long conflict (military industrial complex)
  7. MOST importantly…
  8. Americans appear oblivious to what is occurring.
  9. All the more reason
  10. ….to read this book!

Bacevich is a West Point graduate. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University before joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998


#Essays Best American Essays 2017



  1. I’ve reviewed the first 5 essays
  2. …and will let you discover the rest.
  3. The BEST essay was by Rachel Ghansah.
  4. “The Weight”
  5. Try to read anything by this Pulitzer Prize winner
  6. ….you won’t be disappointed.


Last Thoughts:

  1. Personally I was  NOT impressed with the selected essays.
  2. They lacked creativity, insight and
  3. there were too many long personal essays.
  4. I’m not interested with your family relationships!
  5. I’ve read other collections that are WELL worth your reading time:
  6. Zadie Smith – Feel Free

  1. Ashleigh Young – Can You Tolerate This?

  1. Fiona Wright – Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger

  1. Best Australian Essays 2016

  1. Best Australian Science Writing 2018


My notes:

  1. Two Shallow Graves  C+
  2. Jason Arment…
  3. served in Operation Iraqi Freedom
  4. as a Machine Gunner in the USMC.
  5. He’s earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction
  6. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
  7. Arment is a warrior as witness who writes down things we don’t want to know.
  8. Reading time: 22 minutes
  9. Conclusion:
  10. This is not an essay
  11. …it is probably a chapter from
  12. Arment’s published book in 2017  Musalaheen (memoir)
  13. Arment writes vividly
  14. …but I’m not interested in war literature.


  1. The Weight  A++++++
  2. Rachel K. Ghansah…
  3. is an American award-winning essayist.
  4. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2018 for her profile of
  5. white supremacist and mass murderer Dylann Roof
  6. who killed nine black people at a church in South Carolina.
  7. Gahnsah writes about her past reluctance
  8. to revere James Baldwin in this essay.
  9. She wants to provide a model others can build upon so that they
  10. …do not buckle under “The Weight” of Baldwin’s legacy.
  11. The man can finally rest in peace.
  12. Reading time: 38 minutes
  13. Conclusion:
  14. This essay is absolutely stunning!
  15. I suggest you read anything you can find
  16. by Rachel K. Ghansah!


  1. White Horse     D- 
  2. Elise Goldbach...
  3. She writes  a courageous personal essay about  a
  4. campus sexual attack and its aftermath.
  5. After 6 minutes I realize this is not the
  6. …essay I want to spend time reading.
  7. Reading time:   — minutes
  8. Conclusion:
  9. This essay is difficult to read….so DNF!


  1. The City That Bleeds  D-
  2. Lawrence Jackson…
  3. is a professor of English and history at
  4. Johns Hopkins University.
  5. He is a  literary critic and compelling biographer.
  6. Essay starts out as a description of police officers
  7. on trial for brutality…and suddenly is a essay about
  8. L. Jackson’s ancestors in Baltimore.
  9. Reading time:  15 minutes
  10. Conclusion:
  11. This essay is makes valid points on
  12. the state affairs in Baltimore
  13. …the city that bleeds
  14. …but it did not hold my interest.
  15. It felt like Jackson shifts words here and there
  16. and tells me things I read in the news.
  17. The essay lacks depth.


  1. We Are Orphans Here   C+
  2. Rachel Kushner…
  3. is an author of several novels
  4. The Flamethrowers (2013) and The Mars Room (2018)
  5. Ms Kushner spends a weekend in the Shuafat Refugee
  6. Camp in East Jerusalem.
  7. The essay is probably not simply about a place or a journey,
  8. but rather is about what she may discover
  9. about people, life on that journey and in that place.
  10. Reading time:  15 minutes
  11. Conclusion:
  12. This essay is travel essay
  13. The hard part was trying to find
  14. Kushner’s quest…
  15. …the reason for writing this essay.
  16. I think she wanted to confront the image
  17. that the international media uses to depict
  18. Shuafat Camp…
  19. ” …as the most dangerous place in Jerusalem”
  20. with her personal experience pg 66
  21. “…how wonderful it was in Shuafat Camp…how safe I felt.”
  22. The essay was….average.
  23. Unfortunately, it did not appeal to me

#Non-fiction The Coddling of the American Mind

  • Author: G. Lukianhoff, J. Haidt
  • Ttile: The Coddling of the American Mind
  • Published: 2018  (352 pg)
  • Trivia: 2018 shortlist National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #TBR 2019   5/43



  1. This is a book for anyone who is confused by
  2. what is happening on college campuses today,
  3. ….or is concerned about the growing inability of
  4. Americans to live, work, and cooperate across party lines.



  1. Rising political polarization (harassment by off campus right wing groups)
  2. Rise of teen depression and anxiety (especially women)
  3. Helicopter parenting (overprotective)
  4. Decline of free play (now…play is alone with computers, gaming)
  5. Rise of campus bureaucracy (eliminate courses from syllabus to avoid complaints)
  6. Rising passion for justice after major national events (campus politically engaged)



  1. This book details some problems of progress (list of topics).
  2. I was very impressed by
  3. Part 3: How did we Get Here?
  4. Just because we feel offended does not automatically
  5. mean the other person is an aggressor/bad person.
  6. While reading this chapter I kept in mind the
  7. political climate in USA.
  8. I know the presidential campaigns 2020 will probably
  9. be very nasty…now I know what to look for!
  10. #MustRead



  1. Regardless of political persuasion,
  2. Americans today are deeply susceptible to a renunciation of reason
  3. …and celebration of ignorance.  (ouch!)
  4. They know what they know without reading,
  5. …discussing or engaging those who might disagree with them.



  1. They reject calm logic, eager to embrace the
  2. alternative news that supports their prejudices.
  3. SVP: Read: Strangers in Their Own Land (A. Hochschild)
  4. Americans must relearn how to engage civilly with one another,
  5. something hard to do with a bullying president as a role model.



  1. Gone are the days of moving speeches and well referenced debate.
  2. We have no Vidal and Buckley exchanges.
  3. Where are the Adlai Stevenson’s, the Dirkesens’s and Kennedy’s.
  4. A few hundred characters  (tweet) or a
  5. ten second sound bite is what we get…
  6. shutting down the other side
  7. instead … of defeating with logic and reason.



  1. American politics is driven LESS by hope
  2. and more by the untruth of “US vs THEM”.
  3. THEY must be stopped at all costs.



  1. Norms for civility and bipartisanship
  2. between the two parties (Rep-Dem)
  3. …have nearly disappeared.



  1. Years before this stark polarization
  2. voters rushed to the polls to choose
  3. their favorite candidate of their beloved political party.
  4. Today….it is the hostility towards the OUT party that
  5. make people more inclined to vote.
  6. In other words….
  7. Americans are motivated to get off their couches
  8. and get involved in political action
  9. not by LOVE for their party’s candidate
  10. but by HATRED for the other party’s candidate.



  1. Via Twitter and Facebook voters
  2. …encase themselves in an echo chamber.
  3. Filter bubbles are search engines
  4. …and You Tube algorithms
  5. designed to give you more
  6. …of what you seemed be interested in.
  7. This leads conservatives and liberals
  8. into disconnected ‘moral network’ backed up by
  9. contradictory informational worlds.



  1. Physical and electronic isolation
  2. …from people we disagree with
  3. allows the forces of…
  4. bias
  5. group think
  6. tribalism
  7. …to push us further apart.



Political Map 1960 – Presidential race JFK vs Nixon


Prognose of political map 2020




#Non-fiction biography James Tiptree jr.



  1. Literary tastes were changing in the 1960s.
  2. Women were searching for new books
  3. …they were tired of romances, doctors and stories about horses.
  4. Fantasy and SF introduced some very talented writers.
  5. James Tiptree Jr. was born…nom de plume Alice Sheldon.
  6. Tiptree  burst onto the science fiction scene
  7. ….in the 1970s with a series of hard-edged, provocative short stories.
  8. Tiptree was hailed as a brilliant masculine writer.
  9. Ms Sheldon kept her JT persona very secret:
  10. no photo’s, no public appearances and
  11. most confusing was “his” strong
  12. feminist slant in his tales.
  13. For example The Women Men Don’t See.
  14. Women characters felt so alienated and powerless in society they
  15. choose to board a space ship with aliens rather than remain on earth!
  16. Strong point: This fascinating biography by Julie Phillips
  17. was ten years in the making.
  18. Julie Phillips takes us behind the scenes to learn the
  19. of the privileged yet troubled life of Alice Sheldon.
  20. With this information Sheldon’s short stories take on a new cachet.
  21. This book is considered one of the best biographies about a SF writer.




#Non-fiction Stamped From the Beginning



  1. Stamped From the Beginning is a magnificent book!
  2. Winner National Book Award 2016 for Non-fiction.
  3. Part 1 on is 1600s…get through it because in
  4. Part 2 with the introduction of Jefferson the book starts to sparkle!
  5. Part 3 Abolitionists…again get through is because
  6. Part 4 will take you from W.E. Du Bois up to Obama…riveting!



  1. If you’ve never read anything about racism in USA…
  2. ..this probably would  be the best place to start!
  3. The book is a #MustRead for
  4. …anyone interested in understanding
  5. contemporary issues in America.
  6. Ibram X. Kendi is stunningly clear and straightforward.
  7. The book reads much like a conversation….
  8. from from pre-colonial times to the present
  9. …from the slave trade boat to Obama.


  1. This is an excellent book that all Americans should read.
  2. …especially in the light of the
  3. …approaching presidential election 2020.
  4. It is a long book….requires some commitment.
  5. I learned that the tactics may have changed but the goal
  6. …has remained depressingly the same:
  7. Do not let them vote!”
  8. “…If you can find a way to stop them,
  9. ….stop them!” (black Americans)
  10. This resulted in  2000 Bush winning Florida by 537 votes
  11. …and being  elected president!
  12. This book certainly has made me reflect
  13. …on and rethink my own views about race.
  14. I wonder what will happen in elections 2020 to prevent
  15. …black Americans voicing their choice.


Last thoughts:

  1. This is a very informative and educational  read.
  2. This book should be on every high-school reading list!
  3. It is interesting to compare and
  4. note the similarities of racism in 19th and 20th C
  5. …that continue to exist  even in the 21st century.


  • Interview with Ibram X. Kendi
  • …..explaining the title of the book


#Non-fiction Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom



Ch 1-16 Exposition…

  1. Childhood, slave work, escape
  2. from Maryland  to the North, New York.
  3. Douglass was a renowned orator.
  4. He spent years on speaking tours
  5. in US and Europe against slavery.

Ch 17- 21  the book begins to sparkle…

  1. Douglass asks the question
  2. we are still asking…more than 150 years later:
  3. Why deprive the right to vote for black Americans?
  4. …what is the world afraid of?


Douglass meets Lincoln in the White House.

  1. Lincoln – the emancipator
  2. the elegant restraint of a statesman
  3. …spoke with an eye on legality and public opinion
  4. Douglass – the national evangelist
  5. …with the fiery tones of a prophet.


Ch 22 – 31 Reconstruction….

  1. Douglass made no distinction between
  2. Andrew Johnson’s white supremacy and slavery itself…
  3. ….as long as Johnson controlled
  4. reconstruction the war was not over.
  5. Douglass speaking about President Andrew Johnson is an
  6. “…unmitigated calamity and a
  7. disgrace the country must stagger under.”
  8. Frederick Douglass was a
  9. frightening black man with brains
  10. …President Andrew Johnson’s basic nightmare!


Last thoughts:

  1. This is the best way to learn history…read biography.
  2. We read that progress has been made
  3. …but still America is polarized on the color line.
  4. The routine suppression of black voters
  5. is far-reaching and  has devastating consequences.
  6. We cannot be silent about it.


Best quote….and worth thinking about

  1. There is NO negro problem.
  2. The problem is whether the American people have
  3. honesty enough, loyalty enough, patriotism enough
  4. to  live up to their Constitution.



#Non-fiction Conclusion: The Mueller Report


  1. I may be very quiet for a while because I’m…
  2. Taking a break from my reading about plays and theatre.
  3. I may live in Netherlands but I still keep a close eye on US politics.
  4. We all should read this book The Mueller Report
  5. …and ask ourselves… in heavens name did Trump
  6. ….become the most powerful leader of the free world.
  7. Is there a democrat candidate who can stop him!
  8. #USA election November 3 2020.
  9. I’ll be up all night watching the results!


Update: 04.06.2019

  1. Reading the introduction by the Washington Post is like
  2. going down memory lane! Names that have drifted off the
  3. TV news: Quarles, McCabe, Comey, Sessions, retired Gen Flynn.
  4. I finally have learned what the Steele Dossier is!
  5. Well, after reading how many fake
  6. …Twitter and FB accounts were
  7. created to promote Trump’s campaign
  8. ...I’ll never believe a tweet again!
  9. Finished: volume 1 very detailed back round 2015-2018
  10. Not a fluid read….I had to force myself to keep paying attention


Update: 05.06.2019

  1. Trump has monopolized the TV during his #USStateVisit to UK this week.
  2. Seemed the right time to start the long awaited The Mueller Report.
  3. Volume 1  contains many  details about  the
  4. GRU  = Russian military intelligence agency
  5. sending spearphishing emails.
  6. The GRU wanted to gain access to email accounts of
  7. Clinton Campaign advisors and employees of the DNC (Dem Nat Convention)
  8. It also highlighted the role of Wikileaks during Trump’s campaign.
  9. Strong points vol 1:
  10. Book reminds me
  11. I should read the NEWS about POTUS more carefully.
  12. Trump is on a mission.
  13. Book makes me
  14. …that I should be more aware of Jared Kushner (son-in-law)
  15. #TheDealmaker
  16. He does not say much on camera
  17. …but he is always circling around the president.

Update: …starting volume 2 today.
  1. Reading pages and pages of Trump demanding that
  2. Comey ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russian investigation.
  3. Trumps insists Comey make  clear
  4. that Trump is NOT under investigation.
  5. Comey refused.
  6. May 9 2017: Trump fires the FBI director Comey
  7. …but he can not fire the FBI.
  8. The investigation continued…..
  9. To quote Shakespeare:
  10. “The lady (…in this case Trump) 
  11. …doth protest too much, methinks…”



  1. Vol 2 indicates the Trump has a pattern of trying to
  2. influence people  in his entourage when they are involved
  3. in criminal investigations by Congress.
  4. I found this quote by James Comey
  5. …in 01.05.2019 Opinion, New York Times
  6. “Accomplished people lacking inner strength
  7. can’t resist the compromises
  8. …necessary to survive this president.”
  9. Flynn, Cohen, Manafort….
  10. There are numerous tweets Trump
  11. sends to his loyal advisors under investigation:
  12. “the boss loves you”,”hang in there”
  13. “thanks for what you do”, ” stay strong”
  14. “a brave man” for refusing to “break” ( Manafort)
  15. But once the person decides to cooperate with the
  16. government (Cohen give congressional testimony 2019)
  17. ….he is suddenly a RAT.
  18. What will happen now?
  19. I agree with Robert Mueller:



#AWW2019 Lesley Williams

  • Author:  Lesley and Tammy Williams
  • Title: Not Just Black and White
  • Published: 2015
  • Genre: indigenous issues non-fiction
  • Trivia: 2016 Queensland Premier’s Award work of State Significance
  • Trivia  2014 David Unaipon Award Winner
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2019
  • @AusWomenWriters



  1. This is a writing collaboration between
  2. mother (Lesley) and daughter (Tammy).
  3. Lesley Williams was forced to leave the
  4. Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement
  5. …at a young age to work as a domestic servant.
  6. Lesley never saw her wages.
  7. They were kept ‘safe’ by the government.
  8. This book relates her nine-year journey for answers:
  9. where is all that money she earned?
  10. Lesley confronts the government
  11. …in a judicial wrestling match!



  1. Mrs Williams describes her youth
  2. while giving the reader a clear mental image
  3. of the backdrop Cherbourg settlement.
  4. It was difficult to read about her life
  5. under  cruel Protection Act that uprooted
  6. thousands of Aboriginal people.
  7. because of her strong character and vision
  8. she was able overcome many hardships.


  1. There were several messages in the book that
  2. resonated to me:
  3. Williams feels a strong sense of Aboriginal community. (safety network)
  4. Williams struggles to fight injustice (racial, financial)
  5. Williams reminds all people who suffer racism…


  1. Best quote:
  2. “There are two ways to fight racism:
  3. — fight with your fists
  4. — fight with your talents and achievements”
  5. Nothing hurts a racist more
  6. …when they see you achieving


Last thoughts

  1. Good literature unnerves you…..
  2. …or takes you somewhere to consider things
  3. ….things that you might not have considered
  4. thinking about before.
  5. This book took me into the Cherbourg Settlement.
  6. It showed me the strength of family…
  7. that remained unbroken for Lesley Williams.
  8. It has only been in the last generations
  9. …that Aboriginal writers have been published.
  10. They now are  able to tell their stories, their truths.
  11. #ReadDiversity



#NSW Premier’s 2019 Special Award B. Boochani

  • Author: B. Boochani
  • Title: No Friend But The Moutains
  • Published: 2018
  • Genre: non-fiction
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @MacmillianAus
  • @Picadorbooks
  • Trivia:
  • A special award of $10,000 was made to
  • Manus Island refugee Behrooz Boochani
  • for his book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.
  • Boochani’s book was ineligible for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
  • which require authors to be Australian citizens.
  • Trivia:
  • The book won the top prize at the
  • Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in January 2019.
  • This year was an exception made to the eligibility requirements.
  • Trivia: WINNER
  • .Australia National Biography Award 2019



  1. Prison literature is always a difficult read.
  2. For instance the Pulitzer Prize Winner History 2017
  3. Blood in the Water  by H. Thompson (worth your reading time!)
  4. But it is necessary to know the disturbing truths
  5. ….that are not always in the news.
  6. Boochani’s book was not a pleasure to read.
  7. I persevered to force myself out of my comfort zone.
  8. My review is in fragments.
  9. I could not add any commentary to this
  10. confrontational book.
  11. According to PEN International
  12. “Manus Island has become notorious for its
  13. …ill-treatment of detainees where violence,
  14. sexual abuse and self-harm are reportedly common.
  15. No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison
  16. is an autobiographical account
  17. …of Boochani’s  perilous journey
  18. from Indonesia to Christmas Island and thence to Manus.
  19. He  tells of what life is like for the detained men.
  20. #LiteratureDoesHavePower



The trip to Manus (ch 1-4)
Boochani enters Manus Prison (ch 5-6)

25% – 60%:

  1. Once a concept is mentioned
  2. it is repeated over and over
  3. …again for several paragraphs:
  4. stench of hairy man’s breath (ch 7)
  5. smell of putrid soil
  6. fans
  7. mosquitos
  8. rooms
  9. pissing
  10. filthy toilets
  11. distress caused by saying ‘hi’
  12. bellowing of profanities
  13. prison becomes hive of killer bees
  14. prisoners become wolves…threat to everyone else
  15. Generator (cuts off water and electricity)
  16. ….manipulates minds


Queuing for food (ch 8)

  1. everything is micromanaged and mechanical
  2. meat is like pieces of car tyre
  3. guards like shepherds guiding a herd of sheep
  4. Nicknames: the Cow…first one entering dining area
  5. starvation has a smell…
  6. officers and cooks work 2 week shifts
  7. …then leave the island to be replaced
  8. answer to all the prisoners question:
  9. …”The Boss has given orders.”
  10. queue in the telephone room


Father’s Day…men struggle for the telephone (ch 9)

  1. …this leads to bruises and bodily harm.
  2. power of biceps can determine many situations
  3. distributing cakes….devoured right off the cardboard
  4. …mayhem but Boochiani does not move.
  5. …he knows “I am an animal that has already lost the game.”



  1. I am a child of war. (ch 10)
  2. Boochani describes the guards crushing a unruly prisoner.
  3. This chapter reminds me of a mind becoming unhinged.


It’s hard to discern a genuine smile…  (ch 11)

  1. Toothache…terrible pain…worse treatment!
  2. Self-harm in the prison becomes a cultural practice.
  3. When prisonor spills his blood he appears to enter into ecstasy.
  4. It is a moment emitting the scent of death.
  5. According to Boochani every prisoner must
  6. …look out for the prisoner standing next to him.
  7. The most important thing is they must challenge the
  8. Kyriarchal System of the prison.
  9. …Kyriarchy is a system that creates webs of privilege and exclusion.


Revolt in Mike Prison…August 2014. (ch 12)

  1. Death of Reza…the gentle giant.


Last thoughts:

  1. Despite winning the prestigious
  2. New South Wales Special Literary Award 2019
  3. with a prize worth $10.000 dollars
  4. Boochani may not leave Manus Island
  5. …and his future is unknown.