Popular non-fiction books in January

From books about making money to books about making war: economics, the human condition and rearing teenagers, there’s something for everyone in this month’s collection of new non-fiction books!

Syndetics book coverThe spies of winter : the GCHQ codebreakers who fought the Cold War / by Sinclair McKay.
“…Fascinating and insightful revelations from deep within the archives of this secret organisation reveal the story of the tumultuous early years of GCHQ as it navigated its way through an era of double agents, deception and betrayals. From the defection of the Cambridge Five and the treachery of the atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs, to the collapse of the British Empire, the ascension of Chairman Mao and the emergence of the US as a superpower, McKay deftly explores the impact these events had on the fledgling organisation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDefeating Jihad : the winnable war / Dr. Sebastian Gorka.
“Since September 11, 2001, America has been at war. And that’s about all anyone can say with certainty about a conflict that has cost 7,000 American lives and almost $2 trillion. As long as the most basic strategic questions–Who is the enemy? Why are we fighting?–remain unanswered, victory is impossible. Yet this war is eminently winnable if we remove our ideological blinders, accurately name our enemy, and draw up a strategy to defeat him. So says Dr. Sebastian Gorka, one of the most experienced and sought-after authorities on counterterrorism…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDo humankind’s best days lie ahead? / Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley, Alain de Botton, Malcolm Gladwell ; edited by Rudyard Griffiths.
“From the Enlightenment onwards, the West has had an enduring belief that through the evolution of institutions, innovations, and ideas, the human condition is improving… But is progress inevitable? What is seen as a breakthrough or innovation in one period becomes a setback or limitation in another. In short, progress is an ideology not a fact; a way of thinking about the world as opposed to a description of reality. So is the cup half full or half empty? As part of the Munk Debates series, held in Toronto biannually, pioneering cognitive scientist Steven Pinker and bestselling author Matt Ridley squared off against noted philosopher Alain de Botton and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, giving us an entertaining and thought-provoking face-off between four of the world’s most renowned thinkers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe econocracy : the perils of leaving economics to the experts / Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins.
“One hundred years ago the idea of ‘the economy’ didn’t exist. Now, improving the economy has come to be seen as perhaps the most important task facing modern societies. Politics and policymaking are conducted in the language of economics and economic logic shapes how political issues are thought about and addressed. The result is that the majority of citizens, who cannot speak this language, are locked out of politics while political decisions are increasingly devolved to experts. The econocracy explains how economics came to be seen this way – and the damaging consequences. It opens up the discipline and demonstrates its inner workings to the wider public so that the task of reclaiming democracy can begin.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSex, likes and social media : talking to our teens in the digital age / Allison Harvey and Deana Puccio.
“Welcome to the world of the Digital Native, where self-esteem is measured in Likes, everyone is sexting and ‘Pimps and Hoes’ is an acceptable party theme. Dates have been replaced with swipes, rape jokes are hilarious and ‘No’ means ‘Yes’. For most parents, the digital landscape that our kids and teens are growing up in is uncharted territory. How do we know if they’re happy? How do we talk to them about sex and relationships? How do we give them the new tools they need when we don’t have them ourselves? This book is here to help. Based on their professional work with young people, parents and teachers – and their experiences with their own children – Deana Puccio and Allison Havey give you the tools.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProperty entrepreneur : the wealth dragon way to build a successful property business / Vincent Wong.
“…Author Vincent Wong is one of the UK’s most dynamic and respected property entrepreneurs, and this book outlines his approach to creating wealth through property investing for both seasoned and aspiring investors. Emphasising the importance of treating property investing as a business, the author shares the wisdom of his first-hand experience and his investment techniques to help you navigate the ever-shifting property market and become a true property entrepreneur…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMolecular red : theory for the Anthropocene / McKenzie Wark.
“In Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark creates philosophical tools for the Anthropocene, our new planetary epoch, in which human and natural forces are so entwined that the future of one determines that of the other. …From the scientific pioneers who were trying to transform science during the Russia Revolution, to visionaries contemplating cyborg possibilities and science fiction dreams in late twentieth-century California, Molecular Red not only looks at the crisis of climate change that we face but also how we might be able to understand it, and how we might salvage some hope out of the wreckage.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUtopia is creepy : and other provocations / Nicholas Carr.
“With a razor wit, Nicholas Carr cuts through Silicon Valley’s unsettlingly cheery vision of the technological future to ask a hard question: Have we been seduced by a lie? Gathering a decade’s worth of posts from his blog, Rough Type, as well as his seminal essays, Utopia Is Creepy offers an alternative history of the digital age, chronicling its roller-coaster crazes and crashes, its blind triumphs, and its unintended consequences. …In famous essays including “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Privacy,” Carr dissects the logic behind Silicon Valley’s “liberation mythology,” showing how technology has both enriched and imprisoned us–often at the same time…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe unnatural world : the race to remake civilization in Earth’s newest age / David Biello.
“A Science Friday and Smithsonian Magazine Best Science Book of the Year. With the historical perspective of ‘The Song of the Dodo’ and the urgency of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, a brilliant young environmental journalist argues that we must innovate and adapt to save planet Earth. Civilization is in crisis, facing disasters of our own making on the only planet known to bear life in the vast void of the universe. We have become unwitting gardeners of the Earth, not in control, but setting the conditions under which all of life flourishes–or not. Truly, it’s survival of the innovators.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRe-imagining capitalism / edited by Dominic Barton, Dezsö Horváth, and Matthias Kipping.
“Capitalism has been an unprecedented engine of wealth creation for many centuries, leading to sustained productivity gains and long-term growth and lifting an increasing part of humanity out of poverty and subsistence. But its effects, and hence its future, have come increasingly under question: Is capitalism still improving the wealth and well-being for the many? Or, has it become destructive for the economy, where long-term value creation is being sacrificed to the pressures of short-termism; for society, where the gap between rich and poor has increased and opportunities to lift oneself out of poverty have dwindled; and for the natural environment, which seems increasingly under threat with unforeseen consequences for prosperity and global order? This volume reflects both the urgency of the needed action and the opportunity to achieve a wide-ranging agreement and lasting movement towards a more responsible, equitable, and sustainable model of capitalism in order to ensure its very survival. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)