An eclectic mix this month, with something for everyone!
The book : a cover-to-cover exploration of the most powerful object of our time / Keith Houston.
“From discussing papyrus to perfect binding, Houston (Shady Characters) takes readers on an exploration of the origins and evolution of the book. …a fascinating story enriched with descriptions of technical innovation, the curious experiments of printers and entrepreneurs, and a close examination of how the language, art, and science of bookmaking has developed (and in some cases remained the same) over centuries.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Easternisation : war and peace in the Asian century / Gideon Rachman.
“Easternisation is the defining trend of our age–the growing wealth of Asian nations is transforming the international balance of power. This shift to the East is shaping the lives of people all over the world, the fate of nations, and the great questions of war and peace. A troubled but rising China is now challenging America’s supremacy, and the ambitions of other Asian powers–including Japan, North Korea, India, and Pakistan–have the potential to shake the whole world. Meanwhile the West is struggling with economic malaise and political populism, the Arab world is in turmoil, and Russia longs to reclaim its status as a great power…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Frackopoly : the battle for the future of energy and the environment / Wenonah Hauter.
“Over the past decade a new and controversial energy extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has rocketed to the forefront of U.S. energy production. With fracking, millions of gallons of water, dangerous chemicals, and sand are injected under high pressure deep into the earth, fracturing hard rock to release oil and gas. Wenonah Hauter, one of the nation’s leading public interest advocates, argues that the rush to fracking is dangerous to the environment and treacherous to human health.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Engineers of jihad : the curious connection between violent extremism and education / Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog.
“The violent actions of a few extremists can alter the course of history, yet there persists a yawning gap between the potential impact of these individuals and what we understand about them. In Engineers of Jihad, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog uncover two unexpected facts, which they imaginatively leverage to narrow that gap: they find that a disproportionate share of Islamist radicals come from an engineering background, and that Islamist and right-wing extremism have more in common than either does with left-wing extremism, in which engineers are absent while social scientists and humanities students are prominent.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Why the future is workless / Tim Dunlop.
“In this timely and provocative book, Tim Dunlop argues that by embracing the changes ahead we might even find ourselves better off. Workless goes beyond the gadgetry and hype to examine the social and political ramifications of work throughout history and into the future. It argues we need to think big now, not wait until we’re in a dystopian world of mass unemployment and wealth held in the hands of a minority.” (Syndetics summary)
The kingdom of speech / Tom Wolfe.
“Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. The Kingdom of Speech is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech – not evolution – is responsible for humanity’s complex societies and achievements. From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in our Kingdom of Speech.” (Syndetics summary)
Sixty : a diary of my sixty-first year : the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? / Ian Brown.
“As Ian Brown’s sixtieth birthday loomed, every moment seemed to present a choice: Confront, or deny, the biological fact that the end was now closer than the beginning. True, he was beginning to notice memory lapses, creaking knees, and a certain social invisibility–and yet, it troubled him that many people think of sixty as “old,” because he rarely felt older than at forty. An award-winning writer, Brown instead chose to notice every moment, try to understand it, capture it . . . all without panicking…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The Panama papers : breaking the story of how the rich & powerful hide their money / Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier.
“Late one evening, investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer receives an anonymous message offering him access to secret data. Through encrypted channels, he then receives documents revealing how the president of Argentina has sequestered millions of dollars of state money for private use. This is just the beginning. Obermayer and fellow Süddeutsche journalist Frederik Obermaier find themselves immersed in the secret world where complex networks of letterbox companies help the super-rich to hide their money…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
In defense of housing : the politics of crisis / David Madden, Peter Marcuse.
“In every major city in the world there is a housing crisis. How did this happen and what can we do about it? …today our homes are being transformed into commodities, making the inequalities of the city ever more acute. Pro fit has become more important than social need. The poor are forced to pay more for worse housing. Communities are faced with the violence of displacement and gentrification. And the benefits of decent housing are only available for those who can afford it.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Invisible China : a journey through ethnic borderlands / Colin Legerton and Jacob Rawson.
“In this eye-opening adventure narrative, Colin Legerton and Jacob Rawson bring an unrevealed side of China to light. They journey to the farthest reaches of the country to engage in a heated discussion of human rights with Daur and Ewenki village cadres; celebrate Muhammad’s birthday with Dongxiang hajjis; and hike around Lugu Lake to farm with the matrilineal Mosuo women. These encounters with China’s hidden minorities reveal their complex position in Chinese society.” (Syndetics summary)