E-books and audiobooks

Review: e-books and audiobooks: non-fiction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 June, 2015, 6:45pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 June, 2015, 6:45pm

You’ll want to watch the documentary connected to this book, about a black woman’s tenacious search for her Chinese family. By Paula Williams Madison, who grew up in New York’s Harlem, Finding Samuel Lowe tells of her quest to find her grandfather, a Hakka immigrant to Jamaica in 1905 who fathered children with different women there and in his homeland, where he returned during the 1930s. His first partner (Madison’s grandmother, a Jamaican) moved to the US after their break-up, with their threeyear- old daughter Nell Vera Lowe (Madison’s mother). “My mother looked Chinese and my brothers and I look African-American,” writes Madison. Extracting information about her heritage from her “half Chiney” mother was to hit a brick wall. Truth was not simpler than fiction for the former NBC executive, whose dogged detective work will give pause to those researching their family tree. Madison’s search takes her to her family village near Shenzhen. Lowe Shui Hap is now the largest Hakka cultural “museum” in China.

Finding Samuel Lowe by Paula Williams Madison (Amistad) e-book


He doesn't have the louche appeal of Richard E. Grant or the knowledge of Anthony Bourdain. But still Kevin Michael wants to entertain readers with tales in the spirit of Hotel Secrets and Kitchen Confidential - which is why readers will find Deep Fried, the stories of a "culinary underdog", dissatisfying. Sure, it's an attempt to show what it's like in those businesses from the viewpoint of the lowest people on the food chain (busboy, dish washer, "delivery dude", and so on), but there's little in the book that will surprise or edify. You will find out what generous folk at a five-star hotel might tip. But that nugget is diluted by the fact the author doesn't reveal who dropped the cash or the name of the hotel where that happened. Ditto the restaurants where Michael has worked. To be fair, readers will benefit from certain tips, such as why it's rarely a good reason to eat out on a Friday or Saturday night (busy kitchens mean substandard food). This book may also open the eyes of high-school or university dropouts. The main message seems to be that getting by on a minimum wage is no fun.

Deep Fried by Kevin Michael (Amazon Digital Services) e-book


Siri may have been a waste of time, but the same can't be said of later-generation bots, which have surpassed their historical roles as tools to substitute for workers. Martin Ford points out that machines taking over jobs is not a new fear. Which is why, this time, he is asking whether accelerating technology can so disrupt our entire system that a fundamental restructuring is needed for prosperity to continue. No longer is it safe to think automation will make redundant only those workers with low-level skills: even the highly qualified will be vulnerable to electronic offshoring, he writes, and technology will accelerate inequality in industrialised countries. Narrated by Jeff Cummings, whose gee-whiz style of reading may not be to everyone's taste, Rise of the Robots offers interesting ideas on how to shore up broad-based consumption in the face of a decline in jobs. Ford argues that a direct redistribution of purchasing power is necessary for growth to continue and guaranteed income is the best solution to the advance of automation. Robots wouldn't mind.

Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford (read by Jeff Cummings) Brilliance Audio