06 June 2016 UK Non-fiction

June 2016 : New Titles

Chris Bickerton | The European Union : A Citizen’s Guide | Pelican 978014983097 | £8.99 | 2nd

The essential Pelican introduction to the European Union – its history, its politics, and its role today.

For most of us today, ‘Europe’ refers to the European Union. At the centre of a seemingly never-ending crisis, the EU remains a black box, closed to public understanding. Is Europe ruled by Germany or by European bureaucrats? Does a single European economy exist after all these years of economic integration? And should the EU have been awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2012? Critics tell us the EU undermines democracy. Are they right?

In this provocative volume, political scientist Chris Bickerton provides an answer to all these key questions and more at a time when understanding what the EU is and what it does is more important than ever before.

9780750965118

Nicholas Booth | Lucifer Rising | The History Press 9780750965118 | £20 | 6th

Lucifer Rising unravels for the first time the myths surrounding the most surreal yet, ultimately, seriously-intended secret operations of the Second World War when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Featuring an eccentric cast of characters, including the creator of James Bond, the self-proclaimed ‘wickedest man in the world’, a cross-dressing astrologer and the Deputy Führer, bestselling author Nicholas Booth weaves together an incredible narrative about spying, sabotage, weird inventions, black propaganda and even the attempted harnessing of the occult as the British secret service sought desperately to gain the upper hand over the Nazis by whatever means possible. Using hitherto secret files – many only recently released – Lucifer Rising shows how nothing was considered too outrageous in the desperate fight against the Nazi regime, including the attempted manipulation of the occult and astrology with often unintentionally hilarious results.

Chris Goodall | The Switch | Profile 9781781256350 | £9.99 | 2nd

How will the world be powered in ten years’ time? Not by fossil fuels. Energy experts are all saying the same thing: solar photovoltaics (PV) is our future. Reports from universities, investment banks, international institutions and large investors agree. It’s not about whether the switch from fossil fuels to solar power will happen, but when.
Solar panels are being made that will last longer than ever hoped; investors are seeing the benefits of the long-term rewards provided by investing in solar; in the Middle East, a contractor can now offer solar-powered electricity far cheaper than that of a coal-fired power station. The Switch tracks the transition away from coal, oil and gas to a world in which the limitless energy of the sun provides much of the energy the 10 billion people of this planet will need. It examines both the solar future and how we will get there, and the ways in which we will provide stored power when the sun isn’t shining.

We learn about artificial photosynthesis from a start-up in the US that is making petrol from just CO2 and sunlight; ideas on energy storage are drawn from a company in Germany that makes batteries for homes; in the UK, a small company in Swindon has the story of wind turbines; and in Switzerland, a developer shows how we can use hydrogen to make ‘renewable’ natural gas for heating.
Told through the stories of entrepreneurs, inventors and scientists from around the world, and using the latest research and studies, The Switch provides a positive solution to the climate change crisis, and looks to a brighter future ahead.

Acknowledgements  : Amazon.co.uk

Christopher Gosch | The Penguin History of Modern Vietnam | Allen Lane 9781846143106 | £30 | 30th

The Vietnamese are in the unusual situation of being both colonizers themselves and the victims of colonization by others. Their country expanded, shrunk, split and sometimes disappeared, often under circumstances way beyond their control. Despite these often overwhelming pressures Vietnam has survived and is universally recognized as forming one of Asia’s most striking and complex cultures.

As more and more visitors come to this extraordinary country, there has been for some years a need for a major history – a book which allows the outsider to understand the many complex layers left by earlier emperors, rebels, priests and colonizers. Vietnam’s role in one of the Cold War’s longest conflicts has meant that its past has been endlessly abused for propaganda purposes and it is perhaps only now that the events which created the modern state can be seen through a truly historical perspective.

Christopher Goscha is a leading expert on Vietnam, and this book draws on the latest research and discoveries in Vietnamese, French and English. It is a major achievement, describing both the grand narrative of Vietnam’s story but also many of the remarkable byways and what ifs, and is particularly strong on the countless minority groups who have done so much over the centuries to define the many versions of Vietnam.

Sarah Gristwood | The Story of Beatrix Potter | National Trust 9781909881808 | £16.99 | 9th

This highly illustrated biography looks at the iconic work and fascinating life of one of our national treasures – Beatrix Potter. Bestselling historian Sarah Gristwood follows Potter from her constricted Victorian childhood to the success and tragedy of the years 1901-13, when she published nearly all her major books yet was denied love by the death of her fiance. Finally, she traces the last 30 years of Potter’s life, when she abandoned books to become a working farmer and pioneer of the conservation movement in the early days of the National Trust. Special features throughout the book will show how Beatrix Potter developed many of her most famous characters, including Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jemima Puddleduck.

Acknowledgements : Amazon.co.uk

Hugh Kennedy | The Caliphate | Pelican 9780141981406 | £8.99 | 2nd

What is a caliphate? Who can be caliph? And how are contemporary ideologues such as ISIS reviving – and abusing – the term today?

In the first modern account of a subject of critical importance today, acclaimed historian Hugh Kennedy answers these questions by chronicling the rich history of the caliphate, from the death of Muhammad to the present. At its height, the caliphate stretched from Spain to China and was the most powerful political entity in western Eurasia. In an era when Paris and London boasted a few thousand inhabitants, Baghdad and Cairo were sophisticated centres of trade and culture, and the Ummayad and Abbasid caliphates were distinguished by extraordinary advances in science, medicine and architecture. By ending with the recent re-emergence of caliphal ideology within fundamentalist Islam, The Caliphate underscores why it is crucial that we understand this form of Islamic government before groups such as ISIS distort its practice completely.

Darian Leader | Hands – What We Do With Them, and Why | Hamish Hamilton 9780241216477 | £12.99 | 2nd

A fresh, thought-provoking and wide-ranging study of how mankind uses its hands.

Why do zombies walk with their arms outstretched? How can newborn babies grip an adult finger tightly enough to dangle unsupported from it? And why is everyone constantly texting, tapping and scrolling?

For anyone curious about how human beings work, the answers are hidden in plain sight: in our hands. From early tools to machinery — from fists to knives to guns — from papyrus to QWERTY to a swipeable screen — the history of civilization is a history of what humans do with their hands. We have always kept our hands occupied, and if mankind’s story is marked out by profound changes in how we use our hands, it is also marked by underlying patterns that never change. And as much as the things we do with our hands reflect our psychological state, they can also change that state profoundly…

Drawing examples from popular culture, art history, psychoanalysis, modern technology and clinical research, Darian Leader presents a unique and fascinating odyssey through the history of what human beings do with their hands – and why.
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Catie Marron | City Squares | Harper 9780062380203 | £20 | 2nd

Eighteen writers on the spirit and significance of squares around the world.

 

Giles Milton | The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare | John Murray 9781444798951 | £20 | 30th

Six gentlemen, one goal – the destruction of Hitler’s war machine

In the spring of 1939, a top secret organisation was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler’s war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage.

The guerrilla campaign that followed was to prove every bit as extraordinary as the six gentlemen who directed it. Winston Churchill selected them because they were wildly creative and thoroughly ungentlemanly. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler’s favourite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another member of the team, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world’s leading expert in silent killing. He was hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines.

Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men – along with three others – formed a secret inner circle that planned the most audacious sabotage attacks of the Second World War. Winston Churchill called it his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. The six ‘ministers’, aided by a group of formidable ladies, were so effective that they single-handedly changed the course of the war.

Told with Giles Milton’s trademark verve and eye for detail, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is thoroughly researched and based on hitherto unknown archival material. It is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and
derring-do and is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War.

 

Being British

Chris Parish | Being British | Chronos Books 9781785353284 | £16.99 | 24th

Being British: Our Once & Future Selves is a journey into British culture and identity today, outlining a welcome new story for ourselves in these times of lack of belonging.

It’s a book for the liberally minded, and those who feel themselves to be post-traditional, not defined by nationality. The book takes a thought-provoking angle, which is neither Left nor Right, but instead brings the novel lens of a developmental view. It connects the dots between past, present and future, integrating the shadow side, and draws on many unusual examples.

This is a fresh story of what it means to be British, where the author is included in the narrative. Without being nostalgic, it restores a sense of rootedness and helps us appreciate our British qualities, incrementally built over a millennium and a half. It celebrates being British as elective and not based on race, and demonstrates how to have pride in our nationality in a post-traditional way.

 

June 2016 : New Paperbacks

Jacky Colliss Harvey | Red – A Natural History of the Redhead | Allen & Unwin 9781925266399 | £9.99 | 2nd

With an obsessive fascination that is as contagious as it is compelling, Jacky Colliss Harvey explores red hair in the ancient world, the prejudice manifested against redheads across medieval Europe, and red hair during the Renaissance as both an indicator of Jewishness and the height of fashion in Protestant England, thanks to Elizabeth I.

Colliss Harvey also examines depictions of red hair in art and literature, looks at modern medicine and the genetic decoding of redheads, and considers red hair in contemporary culture, from advertising to ‘gingerism’ and bullying.

More than just a book for redheads, Red is a fascinating social and cultural celebration of a rich and mysterious genetic quirk.

Gordon Corera | Intercept | W&N 9781780227849 | £8.99 | 6th

The computer was born to spy, and now computers are transforming espionage. But who are the spies and who is being spied on in today’s interconnected world?

This is the exhilarating secret history of the melding of technology and espionage. Gordon Corera’s compelling narrative, rich with historical details and characters, takes us from the Second World War to the internet age, revealing the astonishing extent of cyberespionage carried out today. Drawing on unique access to intelligence agencies, heads of state, hackers and spies of all stripes, INTERCEPT is a ground-breaking exploration of the new space in which the worlds of espionage, geopolitics, diplomacy, international business, science and technology collide. Together, computers and spies are shaping the future. What was once the preserve of a few intelligence agencies now matters for us all.

David Crystal | The Disappearing Dictionary | Pan 9781509801763 | £8.99 | 16th

Wherever you go in the English-speaking world, there are linguistic riches from times past awaiting rediscovery. All you have to do is choose a location, find some old documents, and dig a little.

In The Disappearing Dictionary, linguistics expert Professor David Crystal collects together delightful dialect words that either provide an insight into an older way of life, or simply have an irresistible phonetic appeal. Like a mirror image of The Meaning of Liff that just happens to be true, The Disappearing Dictionary unearths some lovely old gems of the English language, dusts them down and makes them live again for a new generation.

dabberlick [noun, Scotland]

A mildly insulting way of talking about someone who is tall and skinny. ‘Where’s that dabberlick of a child?’

fubsy [adjective, Lancashire]

Plump, in a nice sort of way.

squinch [noun, Devon]

A narrow crack in a wall or a space between floorboards. ‘I lost sixpence through a squinch in the floor’.

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Ronan Fanning | Éamon de Valera | Faber 9780571312061 | £9.99 | 6th

Éamon de Valera is the most remarkable man in the history of modern Ireland. Much as Churchill personified British resistance to Hitler and de Gaulle personified the freedom of France, de Valera personified Irish independence.

From his emergence in the aftermath of the 1916 rebellion as the republican leader, he bestrode Irish politics like a colossus for more than fifty years.

On the eve of the centenary of the Irish Revolution, one of Ireland’s most eminent historians explains why Éamon de Valera was such a divisive figure that he has never – until now – received the recognition he deserves.

This biography reconciles an acknowledgement of de Valera’s catastrophic failure in 1921-22, when his petulant rejection of the Anglo-Irish Treaty shaped the dimensions of a bloody civil war, with an appreciation of his subsequent greatness as the statesman who single-handedly severed the ties with Britain and defined nationalist Ireland’s sense of itself.

Neil Hegarty | Frost – That Was the Life That Was | WH Allen 9780753556726 | £9.99 | 6th

Sir David Frost, who died suddenly in August 2013, was the only person to have met and interviewed every British Prime Minister since Harold Wilson as well as seven Presidents of the United States. Other world leaders he interviewed included Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, Henry Kissinger, Benazir Bhutto, Shimon Peres, Yasser Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu. Many of these encounters were set amid the turbulence of world events with the interviews becoming defining moments of history themselves. And yet there was so much more than politics: Frost’s interviews saw him lock horns with film stars, royalty, musicians, comedians, authors and sporting heroes. His range was unique and extraordinary and is unlikely ever to be equalled.

From his humble background as the son of a Methodist minister, through his defining years at Cambridge and then quickly onwards through the 1960s to when Frost became the most successful TV host in the world, his work defined the mood of the moment. During that period, Frost didn’t just report the news, he made the news. This would be a trait he carried throughout his life and career.

Frost: That Was The Life That Was, written in collaboration with Sir David Frost’s wife and three sons, features many unpublished writings from Frost and exclusive access to his vast archive. It also offers opinions on Frost from his extraordinary list of friends. Frost is an epic story of personal achievement set amidst a rapidly changing world, encountering the great and the good that have dominated news and entertainment over the last fifty years.

AE Hotchner | Hemingway in Love | Picador 9781447299912 | £8.99 | 16th

In June of 1961, A.E. Hotchner visited an old friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary’s Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke–a few weeks later, Ernest Hemingway was released home, where he took his own life. Their final conversation was also the final installment in a story whose telling Hemingway had spread over more than a decade.
In characteristically pragmatic terms, Hemingway revealed to Hotchner the details of the affair that destroyed his first marriage: the truth of his romantic life in Paris and how he lost Hadley, the true part of each literary woman he’d later create and the great love he spent the rest of his life seeking. And he told of the mischief that made him a legend: of impotence cured in a house of God; of a plane crash in the African bush, from which Hemingway stumbled with a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin in hand; of F. Scott Fitzgerald dispensing romantic advice and champagne in the buff with Josephine Baker; of adventure, human error, and life after lost love. This is Hemingway as you’ve never known him–humble, thoughtful, and full of regret.

To protect the feelings of Ernest’s wife–Mary, also a close friend–Hotch held back, keeping the conversations to himself for decades. Now, for the first time, he tells the whole story, mostly in Hemingway’s own words. Hemingway in Love is the intimate and repentantly candid chapter missing from the definitive biography of a literary giant.

Greg Jenner | A Million Years in a Day | W&N 9781780225654 | £8.99 | 2nd

Every day, from the moment our alarm clock wakes us in the morning until our head hits our pillow at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old. In this gloriously entertaining romp through human history, BBC Horrible Histories consultant Greg Jenner explores the hidden stories behind these daily routines.

This is not a story of politics, wars or great events, instead Greg Jenner has scoured Roman rubbish bins, Egyptian tombs and Victorian sewers to bring us the most intriguing, surprising and sometimes downright silly nuggets from our past.

It is a history of all those things you always wondered – and many you have never considered. It is the story of our lives, one million years in the making.

Tom Mitchell | The Penguin Lessons | Penguin 9781405921800 | £7.99 | 16th

I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time’

Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endless summer holidays. He even has a motorbike, Che Guevara style. What he doesn’t need is a pet. What he really doesn’t need is a pet penguin.

Set against Argentina’s turbulent years following the collapse of the corrupt Perónist regime, this is the heart-warming story of Juan Salvador the penguin, rescued by Tom from an oil slick in Uruguay just days before a new term. When the bird refuses to leave Tom’s side, the young teacher has no choice but to smuggle it across the border, through customs, and back to school. Whether it’s as the rugby team’s mascot, the housekeeper’s confidant, the host at Tom’s parties or the most flamboyant swimming coach in world history, Juan Salvador transforms the lives of all he meets – in particular one homesick school boy. And as for Tom, he discovers in Juan Salvador a compadre like no other…

Alastair Sooke | Pop Art | Penguin 9780241973066 | £8.99 | 6th 

Pop Art by the BBC’s Alastair Sooke – an essential but snappy new guide to our favourite art movement

Pop Art is the most important 20th-century art movement. It brought Modernism to the masses, making art sexy and fun with coke cans and comics. Today, in our age of selfies and social networking, we are still living in a world defined by Pop.

Full of brand new interviews and research, Sooke describes the great works by Warhol, Lichtenstein and other key figures, but also re-examines the movement for the 21st century and asks if it is still art? He reveals a global story, tracing Pop’s surprising origins in 19th-century Paris to uncovering the forgotten female artists of the 1960s.