Popular Reads: New Non-Fiction

In the wake of a recent scary article from Nature about Climate Change, and the recent IPCC warning document, our leading book this month asks Can democracy handle climate change? It is followed by a book that bemoans the present unwillingness of people to believe in scientific evidence.

Can democracy handle climate change? / Fiorino, Daniel J.
“Global climate change poses an unprecedented challenge for governments across the world. In this incisive book, Daniel Fiorino challenges the assumptions and evidence offered by sceptics of democracy and its capacity to handle climate change. Democracies, he explains, typically enjoy higher levels of environmental performance and produce greater innovation in technology, policy, and climate governance than autocracies. Rather than less democracy, Fiorino calls for a more accountable and responsive politics that will provide democratically-elected governments with the enhanced capacity for collective action on climate and other environmental issues.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Denialism : the dangers of irrational thinking and ignoring science experts / Specter, Michael
“There is so much confusing and conflicting information about the world in which we live that the truth can be impossible to find. The rise of modern scepticism against fake news is to be celebrated, but this cultural shift has led to a world where opinion is as valuable as fact. The existence of climate change; the safety behind eating genetically modified foods; and the effectiveness of herbal remedies over newly developed medicines are all hotly debated subjects and yet the science, rather than the rhetoric, is almost unanimous. Denialism brilliantly exposes the irrational pseudoscience and scare-mongering that increasingly get in the way of the truth and sensible decision-making. Specter demonstrates how key areas of modern life from basic health, to the environment and overall scientific progress are being dangerously misdirected and why facts must be put back to the heart of our judgements and belief.” (Catalogue)

Talking to women / Dunn, Nell
“In 1964, Nell Dunn spoke to nine of her friends over a bottle of wine about men, sex, work, money, babies, freedom and love. Novelist Edna O’Brien remembers being ‘very frightened’ of having her nipples touched. The Pop Artist Pauline Boty says she got married to the ‘first man I could talk very freely to'” (Catalogue (adapted))

No place like home : repairing Australia’s housing crisis / Mares, Peter
“It is generally accepted that Australia is in the grip of a housing crisis. But we are divided – along class, generational and political lines – about what to do about it. Award-winning journalist Peter Mares draws on academic research, statistical data and personal interviews to create a clear picture of Australia’s housing problems and to offer practical solutions. Expertly informed and eminently readable, No Place Like Home cuts through the noise and asks the common-sense questions about why we do housing the way we do, and what the alternatives might be.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Cyberwar : how Russian hackers and trolls helped elect a president : what we don’t, can’t, and do know / Jamieson, Kathleen Hall
“In Cyberwar, the eminent scholar Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who sifted through a vast amount of polling and voting data, is able to conclude with a reasonable degree of certainty that Russian help was crucial in elevating Trump to the Oval Office. The question of how Donald Trump won the 2016 election looms over all of the many controversies that continue to swirl around him to this day. In particular, was his victory the result of Russian meddling in our political system? Up until now, the answer to that has been equivocal at best given how difficult it is to prove.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Disrupt and deny : spies, special forces, and the secret pursuit of British foreign policy / Cormac, Rory
“The untold story of Britain’s covert military and intelligence operations since the end of World War II, and its secret scheming against enemies, as well as friends… In Disrupt and Deny, Rory Cormac tells the remarkable true story of Britain’s secret scheming against its enemies, as well as its friends; of intrigue and manoeuvring within the darkest corridors of Whitehall, where officials fought to maintain control of this most sensitive and seductive work; and, above all, of Britain’s attempt to use smoke and mirrors to mask decline. He reveals hitherto secret operations, the slush funds that paid for them, and the battles in Whitehall that shaped them.” (Catalogue (adapted))

The mushroom at the end of the world : on the possibility of life in capitalist ruins / Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt
“A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

I’m absolutely fine! : a manual for imperfect women / Rivkin, Annabel
“I’m absolutely fine but I slightly need to pee, I followed the road less travelled and now I don’t know where the hell I am, I may bleed to death shaving my legs, I just ate the fridge, my soul aches, ducking hell, my sock is slipping off inside my shoe, another week has ended without me becoming accidentally rich, I just put my keys in the fridge, my jeans hate me, unexpected object in the bagging area, I haven’t slept since 2012, I’ve got road rage, I’ll have a café mocha vodka valium latte to go please, where’s my phone? My anxieties have anxieties, no… not like that – here, I’ll do it, do I have to do everything? WTF? Is it just me? We gnaw on that, don’t we? Is it just me? Well, look around. Look at the egg-freezing, the brain freezing, the soul freezing, the terror, the Tinder, the rage, the resolution, the ‘hear me roar’, the panic, the power, the regret, the chin hairs, the hyper-connectedness, the divorce, the shame, the empathy, the conversation, the sheer potential. Welcome to Midulthood: a place where we recognise that we are all more alike than we are unalike. Of course it’s not just you. If we’re not in it together, we’re not in it at all…” (Catalogue)

A good time to be a girl : don’t lean in, change the system / Morrissey, Helena
“Five years have passed since women were exhorted to ‘Lean In’. Over that time, the world has transformed beyond all expectations. But why should anyone ‘lean in’ to a patriarchal system that is out of date? Why not change it entirely for the good of us all?” (Catalogue)

The Skripal files : the life and near death of a Russian spy / Urban, Mark
The Skripal Files is the definitive account of how Skripal’s story fits into the wider context of the new spy war between Russia and the West. The Skripal Files explores the time Skripal spent as a spy in the Russian Military Intelligence, how he was turned to work as an agent by MI6, his imprisonment in Russia and his eventual release as part of a spy-swap that would bring him to Salisbury, where on that fateful day he and his daughter found themselves fighting for their lives.” (Catalogue)

The spy and the traitor : the greatest espionage story of the Cold War / Macintyre, Ben
“A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain’s greatest historians. On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket. The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever…” (Catalogue)

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