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The Independent Culture
Blast from the Past

Read by Michael Maloney

Chivers, c.8hrs, pounds 15.95

TWO READINGS of Ben Elton's snappy novel of modern times have just appeared: an abridgement (3 hrs) from HarperCollins, read by Andrew Sachs, and this unabridged version(mail order: freephone 0800 136 919). As listening experiences, there is no comparison. I normally like Andrew Sachs's voice, but his avuncular calm is quite inappropriate for this tautly-plotted story of a woman who is an object of obsession for a small- minded stalker and a US general. By contrast Michael Maloney, whose reading of Captain Corelli's Mandolin (Chivers) I praised to the skies, throws himself so convincingly into the parts, it's almost like listening to a full dramatisation.

++++++

East and West

Chris Patten

Macmillan, 3hrs, pounds 8.99

Listening to politicians telling their own side of a story unhampered by interpretation by investigative journalists or broadsides from the like of Jeremy Paxton can be both nauseating and illuminating. There is also the danger of being converted. I embarked on listening to the thoughts of Governor Patten on Hong Kong in particular and China in general with some suspicion, and certainly the first side or two of his apologia for his record in Hong Kong between 1992 and 1997, lived up to expectations. Everyone except Patten, it seems, got China wrong, be they lily-livered civil servants, knowall old China hands or trading allies eager to kow- tow or offer baksheesh to what might one day to be the world's" biggest market. But I ended up genuinely interested in his perception that China does in the end respect those countries who stick to their own principles more than those who bend their own rules.

ENDS-

yh-PA

East and West

Read by Chris Patten

Macmillan, 3hrs, pounds 8.99

LISTENING TO politicians telling their own story unhampered by investigative journalists or broadsides from the likes of Jeremy Paxman can be both nauseating and illuminating. There is also the danger of conversion. I embarked on the thoughts of ex-Governor Patten about Hong Kong and China with some suspicion, and the first side or two of this apologia for his record from 1992 to 1997 lived up to expectations. Everyone except Patten, it seems, got China wrong: lily-livered civil servants, old China hands, and trading allies eager to kow-tow to what might be the world's biggest market. But I ended up genuinely interested in his perception that China does, in the end, respect those countries which stick to their own principles.

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