Monday, November 1, 2010

Life at the Bottom, Theodore Dalrymple

I spend my mornings reading. I read a lot of interesting books and I would like to share some of them. None of my books are on the best sellers list, or very rarely on this list. They are all non-fiction. Also, since the Canadian Banks have reported their 2009 results, I will be updating my spreadsheets and reviewing them over the next few days. I follow 4 of the big 5 Canadian Banks.

Now back to Theodore Dalrymple. Theodore is a British doctor who was working in a British inter-city hospital and prison when he wrote the essays in this book. He also writes a column for the London Spectator. See He also writes for the City Journal. See City Journal. Most of his books are a collection of essays he has written.

This book has stories of women and men trapped in destructive behaviors and environments. It is a look at the underclass life in Britain and the stories are not pretty. The story I want to talk about is the first essay called “The Knife Went In”. This story is about men in prison who are there for killing another person with a knife. However, they take no responsibility for their actions.

He first talks about a murderer who thought he was unlucky and that was why he was in prison for murder. It was not his fault, but the fault of the victim who was stabbed. If he had not been where he was at the time of the murder, the murder would not have happened. It was the murderer who was the victim in all of this. The stabbing is described as “The knife went in.” He really was not at fault. It was all due to circumstances beyond his control.

In this essay, he first talks about it being a mistake to believe that all men want to be free. He says on the contrary, if freedom entails responsibility, many people want none of it. The men he meets in prison, he says think of themselves as putty in the hands of fate. They do not believe that their choices or actions have any bearing on what happens to them.

With the men he talks to in prison, they feel that it is not their fault that they are in prison for such things as robbery. He says that they echo the police who increasing blame theft on the owners of property for failing to take proper precautions to protect their property. Like one man who stole from churches, because they were easy pickings. It was not his fault, the fault lies in the fact that the churches are poorly secured and easy to break into.

This is not the only book of Theodore Dalrymple’s that I have read. I find him an extremely interesting to read. He has very different opinions on what is wrong with our society and I am sure not everyone likes him for his opinions. But I always find his books interesting and entertaining. Why else would I read him?

Theodore Dalrymple is a pen name. He used this name to disguise whom he was talking about. His real name is Anthony Daniels. He is in Wikipedia, see Anthony Daniels . He is also on YouTube, see Theodore Dalrymple in Buitenhof for an interview. He also gave a speech in New York at the Harvard Club. See Theodore Dalrymple - Our Culture, What's Left of It - June 2005 .

This book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews. Also on my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Dalrymple.

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