Book Reviews: Autobiographies & Biographies
I Was Bono's Doppelganger by Neil McCormack
Read by Natalie 2006
Natalie recommends this as very entertaining, whether you are a U2 fan or not, although it probably helps if you are!
I am a huge U2 fan so reading this was a no-brainer, but I think it would be interesting reading even if you weren't a fan. Neil McCormack grew up with and went to school with all 4 members of U2. All he wanted to be was a rock star, his brother was even briefly in U2 and Neil himself tried many times to form his own band. But instead he spent his life watching Bono and the rest of U2 succeed while he never seemed to get anywhere. Despite this, he and Bono remained friends having many an argument over music, religion and politics. Neil was even the recipient of one of Bono's famous telephone calls during a sold-out concert. A fascinating behind the scenes look at one of the World's biggest rock bands.
Undercover Prop by Dan Crowley
Read by Natalie 2006
Natalie recommends this as a very interesting read
Dan Crowley was an undercover cop in Queensland, specifically in the narcotics division. He also played rugby, in fact he was pretty good, and he ended up playing for the Wallabies (his position was that of prop). This is his story about life doing one of the toughest jobs out there and at the same time playing the game he loved more than anything, and it's pretty amazing. He tells of life as an undercover druggie, complete with track marks professionally inflicted by a doctor in order to convince some of the criminals he was trying to catch that he was legit, to travelling overseas to represent Australia in rugby. Amazingly, the Wallabies and the press managed to strike a deal so that Dan's face was never photographed and shown as it could risk his career as an undercover cop, as well as the life of his family. It's a pretty amazing story and while it helps to be interested in rugby, you can't help but be amazed at the things Dan managed to accomplish.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Read by Tracy 2006
Tracy recommends for an interesting look behind the culinary scenes
This isn't Masterchef with all its glamour and glitz. Bourdain has worked in kitchens for the last 25 years and this book unveils the sordid front line and what goes on behind the scenes which is as far from what you can imagine as possible. I know I now wonder if the chefs and other kitchen staff are strung out on drugs to cope with the long hours and pressure on keeping a restaurant running. Obviously this hedonistic work ethic wasn't good from a business perspective and it seems most restaurants Bourdain worked for went bust. He is now the executive chef of Brasserie Les Halles in New York where he can really indulge his passion for ingredients and the raw aesthetics of them. He has some great tips about food freshness, cleanliness and cooking methods that we, as diners, have no concept about. I wonder what his fellow chefs thought of this expose.
Kitchen Confidential was made into a TV Series.
You can visit Anthony Bourdain's own website to be kept up to date with books, public appearances and other media.
The Beginner's Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize by Peter Doherty
Read by Natalie 2006
Natalie recommends this as interesting although not entirely realistic reading
Peter Doherty is an Australian scientist who joint-won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 for work he did with Rolf Zinkernagel at the Australian National University. Their research interest was immunology and they shed light on T cells and how the body develops an immune response. The book is very interesting as it describes Doherty's unconventional childhood in Australia, his work with Rolf and subsequent moves to Melbourne and America. He also describes the work that won them the Nobel Prize, going into a lot of detail about the nature of an immune response, as well as providing tips to upcoming scientists on how to win a Nobel Prize and succeed in research. As a fellow research scientist, I found the book very interesting, but also a little unrealistic. While it is great to be passionate, think outside the box and driven about your work, so much of research can almost be down to luck. You could have the very best of intentions, a great hypothesis, a fantastic lab and excellent experiments that just amount to nothing. Throw in the fact that research is heavily under-funded and almost under-appreciated in Australia (trust me, I speak from experience about this) and it is a struggle just to stay afloat, let alone actually produce something life altering and worthy of winning a Nobel Prize. At the end of the book, I just didn't feel this portrayed the life of a research scientist in all of its truthful "glory".