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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Leith, William: The Hungry Years

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

William Leith's The Hungry Years, written in smooth, stream-of-consciousness prose, is a chronicle of the author's addictions, principally to food but also to alcohol and drugs. Leith writes about bingeing and being fat (a word he injects into the narrative at every opportunity), about feeling fat even during his thin periods, about dieting--losing weight and gaining more back, losing and gaining. His history is punctuated by lapses into unthinking consumption, gluttony on a scale that may surprise his more abstemious readers. During the period covered in the book Leith is attempting to lose weight on yet another diet, this time the low-carbohydrate Atkins plan. While chronicling his progress and backsliding on Atkins Leith gives a fractured account of his life, which in turn illuminates his addictions: unhappy years in boarding school, a series of unhappy relationships. Throughout, Leith is searching for the underlying cause of his addictions: he is smart enough to recognize that whatever his current condition--fat or thin or drunk or not--however successfully he may be treating his symptoms, he is basically unhappy. However much he loses this time on Atkins, in other words, diet alone can't truly help him.

In the course of writing this staggeringly personal, and sometimes amusing, account of himself, Leith wanders also into related topics. He writes about French fry production and celebrity diets (Robbie Coltrane, "Hagrid" in the Harry Potter films, will not appreciate his mentions here), about pain killers and plastic surgery. (Leith's graphic description of the last should dissuade any but the most intractably vain from undergoing elective procedures.) In the end, Leith's various ruminations come together into a coherent whole. The book succeeds as a readable exploration of both the West's culture of consumption and its author's demons--wounded by book's end, if not yet slain.

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