jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Two more reviews of my book to report on. First, a nice one of the US edition in the San Francisco Chronicle, which you can find here. Then a strangely ambivalent one in Harpers, who mischievously got David Bird to do the job. Now, I don't know how you'd feel if you were in my shoes. I'd previously reviewed Bird's book on Understanding wine technology for Harpers, and as an honest reviewer, while I was complimentary about the content, I panned the home-spun design and general low budget appearance of the book. Bird was upset and wrote in to Harpers explaining this. Yet Harpers asked him to review my book. I feel like I have a good relationship with Harpers: they were the first to commission my work, and in recognition of this I have written for them regularly and haven't contributed to any of their competing trade titles. This is my first book, and it's important it gets a good reception with the trade - I've been delighted that so far all reviews have been extremely complimentary. Bird's isn't: he has a string of petty quibbles, yet he tries to balance these with positives, and as a result the whole review has a really odd feel to it. It's the nice reviewer/nasty reviewer routine. It's a bit of fun, perhaps, but I'm not sure it's the best tactic for winning friends and influencing people. I'm a forgiving sort of guy, though, but I hope that it doesn't mean that when I next come to review a book I have to modify my content for fear of the tables reversing: I still thing it's best to say what you think.


At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Jamie, I feel that you were a little unkind in your review of Bird's book.

I have been a fan of yours for several years, reading your features in "Harpers", but I thought it was unfair of Christian to ask you to review Bird. I have not read the latest "Harpers" yet, but believe that all is fair in love and war?!?

On another note, as a sideline I sell wine books here in NZ. I stock both Goode and Bird, though the price of your book is crazy because the publishers and their local rep deem it so. Bird looks much better value IMHO.

Please do not take these comments the wrong way...

Kind regards

Paul Tudor
Wine Writer, Auckland, NZ

At 8:44 AM, Blogger FiloBianco said...


it is obviously unfair to have bird reviewing your book. This is out of question. But:
- he is probably stand out as the only MIXED review out there amongst a score of positive ones
- most importantly, as your readers will tell you this is a genuinely good book. This is me and I believe thouasands of more people. Your readers count more than reviews.
- of course there are some improvement for a second edition but hey who's perfect these days ?

Btw another UNMISSABLE wine book is The Wines of the Northern Rhone by John Livingstone-Learmonth. It has in depth look at each subregion of Northern Ehone, tasting notes, comments on style and even maps. Kudos to the best wine book focused on a single region. By miles


Filippo Mattia Ginanni

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Paul, thanks for your honesty. In retrospect, I agree: it would have been better for me not to review his book. But you make it sound like the two are competitors. In fact, they're both very different books, aiming to do quite different things. Sorry that my book seems expensive - it's actually cheaper than David's on amazon.

Filio, thanks for your kind words.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Stuart Peskett said...

Am I missing something here?

Why is it "obviously unfair" for David Bird to review Jamie's book? Both are experts on wine and science, and people knowledgeable about these two topics are few and far between. Who else do you suggest we ask to review the book?

If you remember, the letters we received slating Jamie were not actually from Mr Bird, who wrote in merely to say that he was rather "upset" with the review.

Stuart Peskett

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Surely, given that Jamie reviewed David's book, it would have been unfair NOT to let David review Jamie's book. Among a sea of positive reviews, it's not going to affect sales or standing in the industry, is it? If anything, a bit of controversy might actually help sales...

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Ian W said...

As a WSET Diploma student I had to buy Bird for my course. I think that overall the content is fine, BUT I could rewrite it, to make it tighter, much more readable, remove the repetitions, and generally make it a much more useful book. Basically I think it obviously needed a good editor and a professional publisher!

As for Jamie's book, which I have borrowed from the University library, I find it fascinating, with many things that make me think. It isn't perfect, but what is?

I suspect that when I go to France in the summer to begin my year on a vineyard I will take both of them, probably wih a copy of Ron Jackson's Wine Science ... If I can raise the funds to buy them - I am a full-time student!

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Jathan said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:14 PM, Blogger Jathan said...


Congrats on the book. I read the Chronicle's review, and found it to be very well written, wetting my appetite to grab a copy for myself.

As far as Bird's review, hopefully he tried to keep his emotions out of it, but from the sound of it that was pretty hard to do. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.


At 12:40 AM, Blogger Richard Williams said...

I feel Harpers may have seen an opportunity for stirring up some controvesy (spelling?) here, but that shouldn't dissuade you from telling the truth as you see it.

Afterall, most people are intelligent enough to read several reviews and come to a balanced conclusions.

Guess you haven't got much to worry about on that score, eh?

All the best.



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