New Non-Fiction arrivals

Prime Movers book cover

A very interesting mix of books this month, including one on Adam Smith, an MI6 spy inside al-Qaeda and ‘The perfectionists : how precision engineers created the modern world’.

Prime movers : from Pericles to Gandhi : twelve great political thinkers and what’s wrong with each of them / Mount, Ferdinand
“The lives of men such as Jesus Christ, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke , and Thomas Jefferson are discussed and comparisons are drawn between the various approaches each figure promoted in their works – whether philosophical, or political theories.” (Syndetics summary, adapted)

Text, lies and cataloging : ethical treatment of deceptive works in the library / Brubaker, Jana
“The library profession values objectivity and accuracy, qualities that can be difficult to reconcile when a work is controversial. This book addresses ethical considerations, particularly for cataloguers, and proposes cataloguing solutions. The approaches suggested are provocative and designed to spark debate. … Deceptive literary works mislead readers and present librarians with a dilemma. Whether making recommendations to patrons or creating catalog records, objectivity and accuracy are crucial–and can be difficult to reconcile when a book’s authorship or veracity is in doubt… (Catalogue (adapted))

Internet celebrity : understanding fame online / Abidin, Crystal
“…The face of internet celebrity is rapidly diversifying and evolving. Online and mainstream celebrity culture are now weaving together, such that breakout stars from one-hit viral videos are able to turn their transient fame into a full-time career. This book presents a framework for thinking about the different forms of internet celebrity that have emerged over the last decade, taking examples from the Global North and South, to consolidate key ideas about cultures of online fame…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Nine lives : my time as MI6’s top spy inside al-Qaeda / Dean, Aimen
“A compelling and invaluable account of life inside al-Qaeda through the eyes of a first-rate spy. As one of al-Qaeda’s most respected scholars and bomb-makers, Aimen Dean rubbed shoulders with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden himself. His job was already one of the most dangerous in the world. But what the others didn’t know was that he was working undercover for MI6. This is the story of a young Muslim determined to defend his faith, even if it meant dying for the cause, the terrible disillusionment that followed when he realised he was fighting on the wrong side, and the fateful decision to work undercover with his sworn enemy.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Rethinking school : how to take charge of your child’s education / Bauer, Susan Wise
“With boldness, experience, and humor, Susan Wise Bauer turns conventional wisdom on its head. When a serious problem arises at school, the fault is more likely to lie with the school, or the educational system itself, than with the child. In five illuminating sections, Bauer teaches parents how to flex the K-12 system, rather than the child. As the author of the classic book on home-schooling, The Well-Trained Mind, Bauer knows how children learn and how schools work. Her advice here is comprehensive and anecdotal, including material drawn from experience with her own four children and more than twenty years of educational consulting and university teaching.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Politics for the new dark age : staying positive amidst disorder / Skews, Anthony
“Our societies are growing more unequal, more hierarchical, meaner and less human every year. Voters appalled by the direction of current politics respond to leaders that articulate a cohesive and genuine progressivism. This book provides the framework for politicians and activists to deliver that vision, organised around the themes of cooperative solutions to social problem-solving and a social contract centered on rights and the equal dignity of all people.” (Catalogue)

The perfectionists : how precision engineers created the modern world / Winchester, Simon
“New York Times best-selling Winchester charts the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age with an eye to a single factor: precision. Standards of measurement, machines that made machines, the Hadron Collider-all have required and engendered ever greater precision. But are we missing the importance of craft and art and the messy reality of the world? (Catalogue (adapted))

Authentocrats : culture, politics and the new seriousness / Kennedy, Joe
Authentocrats critiques the manner in which post-liberal ideas have been mobilised underhandedly by centrist politicians who, at least notionally, are hostile to the likes of Donald Trump and UKIP. It examines the forms this populism of the centre has taken in the United Kingdom and situates the moderate withdrawal from liberalism within a story which begins in the early 1990s. In this book, we see how this spurious concern for “real people” is part of a broader turn within British culture by which the mainstream withdraws from the openness of the Nineties under the bad-faith supposition that there’s nowhere to go but backwards. Authentocrats charges liberals themselves with fuelling the post-liberal turn, and asks where the space might be found for an alternative.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Fair shot : rethinking inequality and how we earn / Hughes, Chris
“To help people who are struggling, Hughes proposes a simple, bold solution: a guaranteed income for working people, including unpaid caregivers and students, paid for by the one percent. Hughes believes that a guaranteed income is the most powerful tool we have to combat poverty.” (Book jacket)

Adam Smith : what he thought, and why it matters / Norman, Jesse
“This book is not only a biography. It dispels the myths and debunks the caricatures that have grown up around Adam Smith. It explores Smith’s ideas in detail, from ethics to law to economics and government, and the impact of those ideas on thinkers as diverse as Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. At a time when economics and politics are ever more polarized between left and right, this book, by offering a Smithian analysis of contemporary markets, predatory capitalism and the 2008 financial crash, returns us to first principles and shows how the lost centre of modern public debate can be recreated.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Invisible countries : journeys to the edge of nationhood / Keating, Joshua
“What is a country? While certain basic criteria–borders, a government, and recognition from other countries–seem obvious, journalist Joshua Keating’s book explores exceptions to these rules, including self-proclaimed countries such as Abkhazia, Kurdistan, and Somaliland, a Mohawk reservation straddling the U.S.-Canada border, and an island nation whose very existence is threatened by climate change. Through stories about these would-be countries’ efforts at self-determination, as well as their respective challenges, Keating shows that there is no universal legal authority determining what a country is. He argues that although our current world map appears fairly static, economic, cultural, and environmental forces in the places he describes may spark change.” (Catalogue)

New & interesting Economics books

The first of our new, interesting Economics books is The Euro from the Nobel Prize-winning economist and best-selling author Joseph Stiglitz.

Syndetics book coverThe euro : how a common currency threatens the future of Europe / Joseph E. Stiglitz.
“In 2010, the 2008 global financial crisis morphed into the “eurocrisis”. It has not abated. The 19 countries of Europe that share the euro currency – the Eurozone – have been rocked by economic stagnation and debt crises. Some countries have been in depression for years while the governing powers of the Eurozone have careened from emergency to emergency, most notably in Greece.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverEconomics : an A-Z guide / Matthew Bishop.
“Economics is all around us, essential to every aspect of our lives. But just how much does the average person understand about what Economics is for, how it underpins crucial decisions taken every day and how it continues to evolve? Step forward the Economist’s guide to Economics, written with the clarity and wit for which the newspaper is renowned and featuring bite-sized overviews of the most important economic ideas, concepts and terms…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRethinking capitalism : economics and policy for sustainable and inclusive growth / edited by Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato.
“…Western capitalism is in crisis. For decades investment has been falling, living standards have stagnated or declined, and inequality has risen dramatically. Economic policy has neither reformed the financial system nor restored stable growth. Climate change meanwhile poses increasing risks to future prosperity. In this book some of the world s leading economists propose new ways of thinking about capitalism. In clear and compelling prose, each chapter shows how today’s deep economic problems reflect the inadequacies of orthodox economic theory and the failure of policies informed by it…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great invention : the story of GDP and the making and unmaking of the modern world / Ehsan Masood.
“…The Great Invention reveals how in just a few decades GDP became the world’s most powerful formula: how six algebraic symbols forged in the fires of the 1930’s economic crisis helped Europe and America prosper, how the remedy now risks killing the patient it once saved, and how this fundamentally flawed metric is creating the illusion of global prosperity–and why many world leaders want to be able to ignore it but so far remain powerless to do so…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe inner lives of markets : how people shape them–and they shape us / Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan.
“America’s economic revolution isn’t just driven by technology. It’s about markets… Breakthrough companies like Amazon and Uber have disrupted the old ways and made the economy work better–all thanks to technology. At least that’s how the story of the modern economy is usually told. But in this lucid, wry book, Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan show that the revolution is bigger than tech: it is really a story about the transformation of markets. From the auction theories that power Google’s ad sales algorithms to the models that online retailers use to prevent internet fraud, even the most high-tech modern businesses are empowered by theory first envisioned by economists…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRaising the floor : how a universal basic income can renew our economy and rebuild the American dream / Andy Stern with Lee Kravitz.
“The former president of the Service Employees International Union draws on extensive interviews with economists, labor leaders, bankers and others on how advances in technology are creating better products at the expense of the middle class, outlining strategies focused on a controversial “universal basic income” that provides for near-future needs.” (NoveList)

Popular new non-fiction books in April, with the spotlight on economics

New books this month include the best selling Ta-Nehisi Coates book Between the world and me.

Syndetics book coverThe age of stagnation : why perpetual growth is unattainable and the global economy is in peril / Satyajit Das.
“Das, selected by Bloomberg Markets as one of the 50 most influential financial thinkers, provides an accessible and deeply alarming look at the current world economy and anticipated future downward trends. After a concise summary of the post-WWII era, which he terms “the New Gilded Age,” Das reviews the 2007 financial crisis, providing a perspective that will be useful even for well-informed readers…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEnd game : tipping point for planet Earth? / Anthony D. Barnosky and Elizabeth A. Hadly.
In End Game, world-renowned scientists Anthony Barnosky and Elizabeth Hadly draw on their work to explain the growing threats to humanity as the planet edges towards a resource war for remaining space, food, oil and water. And as they show, these wars are not the nightmares of a dystopian future but are already happening today… Finally, they ask: at what point will inaction become the break-up of the intricate workings of the global society? The planet is in danger now, but the solutions, as Barnosky and Hadly show, are still available. We still have the chance to avoid the tipping point and to make the future better… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis is an uprising : how nonviolent revolt is shaping the twenty-first century / Mark Engler and Paul Engler.
“How do short-term uprisings become long-term movements? Why are some protests sensationalized while others are forgotten? Mark Engler and Paul Engler answer these questions successfully while profiling the work of Gene Sharp, a theorist of nonviolent action. Although nonviolence was popularized by Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March (1930) and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birmingham Campaign (1963), the ideology dates to ancient Rome. The authors emphasize that uprisings don’t have to triumph, they simply have to bring awareness to an issue, and when nonviolence is met with violence, it garners public sympathy… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe profiteers : Bechtel and the men who built the world / Sally Denton.
“The tale of the Bechtel family dynasty is a classic American business story. It begins with Warren A. “Dad” Bechtel, who led a consortium that constructed the Hoover Dam. From that auspicious start, the family and its eponymous company would go on to “build the world,” from the construction of airports in Hong Kong and Doha, to pipelines and tunnels in Alaska and Europe, to mining and energy operations around the globe. Today Bechtel is one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, enriched and empowered by a long history of government contracts and the privatization of public works, made possible by an unprecedented revolving door between its San Francisco headquarters and Washington. Bechtel executives John McCone, Caspar Weinberger, and George P. Shultz segued from leadership at the company to positions as Director of the CIA, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, respectively…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe only game in town : central banks, instability, and avoiding the next collapse / Mohamed A. El-Erian.
“Our current economic path is coming to an end. Where we go when we reach this inflection point – toward renewed growth and prosperity, or toward increased malaise and financial chaos – is not pre-destined. It is up to us; to our assessment of the situation and our actions, both as individuals and collectively. Now El-Erian, one of the most influential and highly regarded thinkers in the world, provides us with a diagnosis and roadmap to understanding where we are today, how and why our central banks have become the essential actors in the current global economy, but cannot remain so, and where we can – indeed, should and must – go from here as individual investors, households, economies, societies, and governments” (Provided by publisher).

Syndetics book coverShredded : inside RBS, the bank that broke Britain / Ian Fraser.
“The Royal Bank of Scotland was once one of the most successful and profitable financial institutions in the world; revered, admired and trusted by millions of savers and investors. A trusted employer for tens of thousands of people, with branches on nearly every high street in the land. Now, the very mention of the bank’s name causes fury and resentment, and the former CEO, Fred Goodwin, is regarded by many as the one of the principal culprits of the worst financial crash since 1929. Now, for the first time, award-winning financial journalist Ian Fraser reveals how the ‘light touch, limited touch’ approach to financial regulation of New Labour and the aggressive, confrontational, autocratic and reckless style of Fred Goodwin led to disaster, not just for the Royal Bank of Scotland, but for everyone in the UK…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClimate change, capitalism, and corporations : processes of creative self-destruction / Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg.
“Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, a definitive manifestation of the well-worn links between progress and devastation. This book explores the complex relationship that the corporate world has with climate change and examines the central role of corporations in shaping political and social responses to the climate crisis. The principal message of the book is that despite the need for dramatic economic and political change, corporate capitalism continues to rely on the maintenance of ‘business as usual’. The authors explore the different processes through which corporations engage with climate change. Key discussion points include climate change as business risk, corporate climate politics, the role of justification and compromise, and managerial identity and emotional reactions to climate change…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe end of alchemy : money, banking and the future of the global economy / Mervyn King.
“Most accounts of the recent (financial) crisis focus on the symptoms and not the underlying causes of what went wrong. But those events, vivid though they remain in our memories, comprised only the latest in a long series of financial crises since our present system of commerce became the cornerstone of modern capitalism. The End of Alchemy explains why, ultimately, this was and remains a crisis not of banking – even if we need to reform the banking system – nor of policy-making – even if mistakes were made – but of ideas.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverEmpire of things : how we became a world of consumers, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first / Frank Trentmann.
“What we consume has become a central–perhaps the central–feature of modern life. Our economies live or die by spending, we increasingly define ourselves by our possessions, and this ever-richer lifestyle has had an extraordinary impact on our planet. How have we come to live with so much stuff, and how has this changed the course of history? In Empire of Things, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary story of our modern material world, from Renaissance Italy and late Ming China to today’s global economy. With an eye to the present and future, Frank Trentmann provides a long view on the global challenges of our relentless pursuit of more–from waste and debt to stress and inequality.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween the world and me / Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“…In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men – bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInventing the future : postcapitalism and a world without work / Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams.
“”A bold new manifesto for life after capitalism. Against the confused understanding of our high-tech world by both the right and the left, this book claims that the emancipatory and future-oriented possibilities of our society can be reclaimed. Instead of running from a complex future, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams demand a postcapitalist economy capable of advancing standards, liberating humanity from work and developing technologies that expand our freedoms”– Page 4 of cover.” (Syndetics summary)

New Non-Fiction: The big issues, from fracking to Julia Caesar & the Kevin Sutra

This month’s selection of new non-fiction books spans a variety of environmental and political issues.  From a new addition on fracking to a hilarious romp through the three years of the Gillard/Rudd government (Beyond satire : Julia Caesar & the Kevin Sutra), this month you’re spoilt for choice.

Syndetics book coverThe looting of America : how Wall Street’s game of fantasy finance destroyed our jobs, pensions, and prosperity, and what we can do about it / Les Leopold.
“Deeming himself the “Main Streeter” to explain the economic crisis to average Americans, author and researcher Leopold (The Men Who Hated Work and Loved Labor) does a cagey job explaining credit derivative obligations (CDOs), and their role in the financial meltdown, in populist terms. His astute arguments make it clear that the blame earned by Wall Street and (to some degree) the government has been displaced onto ordinary Americans.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world as it is : dispatches on the myth of human progress / Chris Hedges.
“This latest volume from famed war correspondent and columnist Chris Hedges presents a series of essays, previously published on the blog Truthdig, exploring a wide range of problems facing the left and progressive movements around the world. Topics discussed include the war in Afghanistan, the conflict in Israel-Palestine, the American left and President Obama, media collusion with corporate America, and the decline of the American empire. Hedges provides a pointed and cogent analysis of the current state of world affairs and a clear and well written explanation of what he believes is necessary to “right the ship.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe far enemy : why Jihad went global / Fawaz A. Gerges.
“With its up-to-the-minute, insider’s perspective, this groundbreaking book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the true nature of the international jihadist movement, based on interviews with jihadists, documents, and unpublished manifestos.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInquiries into the nature of slow money : investing as if food, farms, and fertility mattered / Woody Tasch ; [foreword by Carlo Petrini].
Inquiries into the nature of slow money presents the path for bringing money back down to earth – philosophically, strategically, and pragmatically – and with an entreprenurial spirit that is informed by decades of work by the thousands of CEOs, investers, grantmakers, food producers and consumers who are seeding the retorative economy.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverSua sponte : the forging of a modern American Ranger / Dick Couch.
“The title of this gripping volume means ‘of free will’. It is the motto of the U.S. Army’s 75th Infantry Regiment, the Rangers. Couch, a former SEALs and CIA man, brings high expertise to his subject and has had exceptional cooperation from the army in general and the Ranger community, active and retired, in studying the Rangers. The Rangers are pure warriors and try to recruit people willing to become such to fight frequently against the odds but with a wide range of highly-developed skills that usually evens the combat.” (adpted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWonder women : sex, power, and the quest for perfection / Debora L. Spar.
“Barnard College president Spar (The Baby Business) skillfully addresses the state of feminism and suggests that, despite historic gains in education, the workforce, and equal rights, American women suffer under “an excruciating set of mutually exclusive expectations” resulting, paradoxically, from the proliferation of options that feminism made possible. Drawing on her experiences as well as extensive research, Spar lucidly traces how the movement’s “expansive and revolutionary” political goals have evolved into a set of “vast and towering expectations” that trouble women at every stage of their lives. Wisely forgoing hostility or blame, Spar finds women struggling, if anything, with the fantasy of “having it all.” “We’re doing this to ourselves,” she writes. Her solutions call for sanity and simplicity: to kill “the myths of female perfection” and recommit to the goals of early feminism, abandoning the “individualized quest” in favor of organizational and collective change.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond satire : Julia Caesar & the Kevin Sutra / Rowan Dean.
“Romping hilariously through the three years of the Gillard/Rudd government, Rowan Dean’s sharp pen and eagle eye chronicle the finest and funniest moments of what has been an exhilarating roller-coaster ride. From the back-stabbing intrigues of Julia Caesar in ancient Rome to the reincarnation of Kevin VII and the latest positions of the Kevin Sutra, from Mission Impossible exploits of forged credit cards and high class hookers to evil climate change denier monsters and ‘the world’s greatest treasurer’, from people smugglers to pink batts to politician pop stars, the most entertaining political story in Australian history finally gets the book it richly deserves. Whether you’re keen to learn how Kevin finally pulled it off, or to complete a course in dismantling democracy, or to brush up on your spin and media manipulation techniques, Beyond Satire will bring tears to your eyes of laughter. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe default line / Faisal Islam.
“Why did Greece have to use military aeroplanes to fly in Euros at the height of its debt crisis? How can a banking system become so unregulated that it offers a gold credit card to a dog? For Channel 4’s Economics Editor Faisal Islam, these are examples of nations, institutions, and individuals crossing the ‘default line’, the point at which the optimism of economic boom flips into fiscal madness.
Having exposed the Icelandic banking crisis, watched Lehman Bros crash, investigated emerging economies in India and China and interviewed a host of key international players from the Governor of the Bank of England to the head of the the Chinese sovereign wealth fund, Faisal Islam is the perfect guide to the global economic crisis.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalk in their shoes : can one person change the world? / Jim Ziolkowski, founder of buildOn with James S. Hirsch.
“Twenty-one years ago, Ziolkowski, then a student in the financial management program at GE Capital, was being groomed for a promising career, but after a backpacking trip in Nepal showed him how simple generosity could change the lives of the impoverished, he quit the course and founded the nonprofit buildOn, which brings education to inner-city teens, and transforms them into community service leaders in the U.S. and abroad. After struggling to secure funding and organize volunteers, Ziolkowski begins traveling the globe, documenting injustices in apartheid-era South Africa and among the street children of Brazil, while rallying the community to come together and build schools for their children. Ziolkowski balances sobering facts with an approachable writing style. His unflinching determination drove him to establish over 500 schools, turning buildOn from a nascent dream into a multimillion-dollar phenomenon. He believed that one person could indeed change the world, and his story may inspire others to do the same.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPractice to deceive / Ann Rule.
“This is Rule’s twenty-fourth true-crime book. Her latest extends an analogy she has often used: how an investigation into homicide takes, basically, a stick drawing of a person, the victim, and with each piece of evidence and parts of interviews, transforms the stick figure into a rounded, complex human being whose life holds the key to his or her death. In 2003, a man’s body was discovered in a car parked in front of a cabin on Whidbey Island, Washington. The victim, Russel Douglas, had a single gunshot wound to his head. The investigation took years to complete (it took a decade to come to trial) and wound through seven states and Mexico. Rule is at her best in tracing Douglas’ frantic, depression-fueled changes in the years preceding his murder. This account delivers quite a punch in its final revelations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMob boss : the life of Little Al D’Arco, the man who brought down the Mafia / Jerry Capeci and Tom Robbins.
“D’Arco was born and raised in a part of Brooklyn where becoming a gangster was almost expected. He was a good soldier who always tried to follow the “old school” edicts (e.g., no drug dealing and no threatening or hurting innocent family members). A bit of a straight arrow, unlike some of his fellow gangsters, D’Arco did not indulge in the vices of gambling, adultery, drug use, or excessive drinking. He was a good father and husband whose work ethic motivated him to ascend to acting boss of the Luchese family when the boss and underboss went into hiding. When D’Arco learned that he was next on the hit list, he turned FBI informant in 1991 and testified in over a dozen trials that resulted in more than 50 convictions. In 2002, he was sentenced to time served; he and his family currently live in an undisclosed location under witness protection. An incredibly detailed look at New York gangsters that rings true.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRunning with the blood god : down and dirty with freedom fighters, rebels and misfits / Matthew Thompson.
“Troubled by a growing sense that life’s vastness is shrinking as the physical and imaginative limits of our crowded, polluted, late-in-the-day civilization close in, Matthew Thompson roams the world seeking out those who would force the horizons back – the mavericks. In doing so, he hits the streets to explore the agony of totalitarianism in Iran, the delusional wretchedness and inbred colonial passivism of the Philippines and the historical rubble of Serbia, as well as what happens in Portland, Oregon: his own father’s home town and hub of modern American anarchism. RUNNING WITH THE BLOOD GOD is a hell-raising ride which leaves his MY COLOMBIAN DEATH shaking in its wake. In this incredible work of reportage, written with the pace of a thriller, Thompson walks the line where the liberty of individuality is often a matter of life or death.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCountdown : our last, best hope for a future on Earth? / Alan Weisman.
“Journalist Weisman (The World Without Us) here highlights the critical connection between human population growth and ecological degradation, a subject that’s not on the table at environmental summit meetings. The author takes up the issue popularized by Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb. Human proliferation (the global population presently numbers seven billion, plus 220,000 more births per day) is a major factor in resource depletion, pollution, and climate change. Even “green revolution” hybrid crops have limitations, and climate change is beginning to effect yields, so feeding a projected peak population of ten billion sustainably looks impossible.”
(adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe frackers : the outrageous inside story of the new energy revolution / Gregory Zuckerman.
The Frackers is a riveting narrative of how a group of risk-takers ushered in a new energy age. These individuals transformed the economic, environmental and geopolitical course of the US and the world, making a fortune in the process. US oil and gas output is up about twenty percent since 2007, making the country the world’s fastest growing energy producer. Daily production is expected to hit ten million barrels by the end of 2015, equal to what Saudi Arabia currently produces. But some of the very drilling methods that have been a boon to consumers and businesses, such as fracking, also have brought potential environmental danger. A debate is heating up about how serious the dangers are and whether the individuals at the vanguard of the movement will be remembered as much for their environmental impact as the remarkable blessings they’ve brought.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New non-fiction books: “How to Make a Zombie”

New non-fiction books. How the introduction of Australia’s carbon pricing scheme provided the fuel to bring down Julia Gillard, (no pun intended).

Syndetics book coverHow to make a zombie : the real life (and death) science of reanimation and mind control / Frank Swain.
“Swain (founder, SciencePunk blog) reviews the science behind historical attempts at creating zombies, i.e., reanimated persons and other animals, as well as such variants on the theme as mind control of people. From reviewing 19th-century stories of zombies in the Caribbean to 20th-century experiments at resuscitation of humans and dogs, Swain looks at our fascination with seeking to bring the dead to life. He also examines various forms of mind control from mind-dulling drugs and hypnotism to the evolution of what we now call lobotomies. He points out actual creatures capable of inducing zombielike effects on their prey, including parasitic wasps and rabid animals.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe stalking of Julia Gillard / Kerry-Anne Walsh.
“This is the story of one of the most extraordinary episodes in recent Australian political history, of how a powerful media pack, a vicious commentariat and some of those within her own party conspired to bring down Australia’s first woman prime minister.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNuclear war and environmental catastrophe / Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk.
“Though Chomsky sharply critiques America’s lack of green technology, blames America for nuclear damage in Iraq, and attacks its arrogant attempt to control the arms race, these are hardly the two central themes of the book. However, the volume is still rich with Chomsky’s opinions; he debunks present day hysterias like overblown threats from Iran or aggressive posturing by China. Perhaps the most interesting part of the Q & A format is Polk’s constant attempts to bait Chomsky into Republican-specific attacks (the Koch brothers, Santorum, the religious right), a simplistic trap that Chomsky doesn’t fall into. In the end, Chomsky argues that environmentalist hopes lay with one of the world’s poorest countries, Bolivia – which has passed laws granting rights to nature – while America, the richest, fracks the very ground beneath its feet.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe green boat : reviving ourselves in our capsized culture / Mary Pipher.
“Psychologist Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) brings her wisdom about how individuals interact with culture to this compassionate, beautiful, and personal approach to acknowledging the global environmental crisis while maintaining mental balance and hope. As Pipher lucidly explains, the overwhelming amount of information about the desperate state of our planet leads to stress, avoiding discussion, willful ignorance, and outright denial, while the activist’s call of “Wake up!” is an ineffective remedy. Instead, Piper distinguishes between “distractionable intelligence,” which makes us feel helpless, and “actionable intelligence,” which combines information with suggestions for addressing problems, thus creating hope, motivation, and change.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParting shots / Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson.
“Up until 2006 a British Ambassador leaving his post was encouraged to write what was known as a valedictory despatch, to be circulated to a small number of influential people in government. This was the parting shot, an opportunity to offer a personal and frank view of the host country, the manners and morals of its people, their institutions, the state of their cooking and their drains. But it was also a chance to let rip at the Foreign Office itself and to look back on a career spent in the service of a sometimes ungrateful nation. Combining gems from the archives with more recent despatches obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Parting Shots is a treasure trove of wit, venom and serious analysis.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRussia’s Cold War : from the October Revolution to the fall of the wall / Jonathan Haslam.
“Haslam (history of international relations, Cambridge) has written a brilliant survey and analysis of the Cold War, particularly Russia’s role in that seminal event. With verve, clarity, logic, and access to the rich archives of Russia, Europe, and the US, he has produced a definitive study that will stand for years to come, much like Adam Ulam’s earlier Expansion and Coexistence. Unlike US historians, Haslam shows that the Cold War actually started in 1917 and was, at its heart, a clash of fundamental values. He documents that President Roosevelt was, after all, quite naive in dealing with Stalin and eventually realized it on his deathbed.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLive the life you love at 50+ : a handbook for career and life success / Keren Smedley.
“Age no longer defines what you can or can’t do: don’t fear it, embrace it! It is possible for someone who has entered the secong half of their life to start a new career, get remarried, have a young family, run a marathon, travel the world, take up a new high-risk sport or start a new business.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe world is a carpet : four seasons in an Afghan village / Anna Badkhen.
” Journalist Badkhen traveled to the northern Afghan village of Oqa (so remote that Google can’t find it) and immersed herself in the villagers’ lives over four seasons as she watched Turkoman women weave one of their legendary rugs. In the sparest of language, she tells a heartbreakingly familiar story: the village is suffering its second year of drought; hunger is common; addiction to opium, used to mask hunger pangs, begins at birth; and war is simply another day of life. The carpet is a work of art, the family’s financial salvation, and the hallmark of a woman’s value. The irony is that, as their carpets garner great sums, money never reaches the place where they are created or those who need the money so desperately.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBroke : who killed the middle classes? / David Boyle.
“Something is killing the middle classes. They find themselves priced out of the streets they grew up in, their children in desperate competition for places at league table-topping schools. Banking salaries make a mockery of their professions, their pensions are shrinking. Today’s middle classes will struggle to enjoy the same standard of living as their parents’ generation. But can the middle classes be revived? Should they be?” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverWhen the money runs out : the end of western affluence / Stephen D. King.
“HSBC chief economist King (Losing Control) presents a concise description of the West’s current economic problems with warnings and suggestions for the future. While he asserts “when the money runs out” is “a turn of phrase, not the literal truth,” he analyzes what may happen if the economy doesn’t recover. He contends that the expected economic cycle is not the present problem but rather that there is a lack of trust and a deterioration in structural economic performance. He claims the current economic stagnation will predominate if people continue to have entitlement expectations governments may no longer be able to meet.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Non-Fiction books: “How to Change the World”

New non-fiction books this month dealing with change on global and personal levels,  including revolution and a self-deprecating tale of middle-age.

Syndetics book coverHow to change the world / John-Paul Flintoff.
“What difference can you make in the world? We all want to live in a better world, but sometimes it feels that we lack the ability or influence to make a difference. John-Paul Flintoff offers a powerful reminder that through the generations, society has been transformed by the actions of individuals who understood that if they didn’t like something, they could change it. Combining fresh new insights from history, politics and modern culture, this book will give you a sense of what might just be possible, as well as the inspiration and the courage you need to go about improving and changing the world we live in.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDigital revolutions : activism in the Internet age / Symon Hill.
“From Occupy to Uncut, from the Arab Spring to the Slutwalk movement, few questions about recent activism raise as much controversy as the role of the internet. This book suggests that the internet is a tool, not a cause, of social change. It has profoundly affected the way people communicate, making it easier to find the truth, to learn from activists on the other side of the world, to co-ordinate campaigns without hierarchy and to expose governments and corporations to public ridicule. But it has also helped those same governments and corporations to spy on activists, to disrupt campaigns and to create illusions of popular support. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe courage quotient : how science can make you braver / Robert Biswas-Diener.
“Scientific studies confirm what most of us have suspected all along: that those who are bold enough to go after what they want enjoy greater success and happiness. Biswas-Diener begins with the premise that courage is more about managing fear than not feeling it. As he shows, all of us display some from of bravery in out daily lives (in fact, studies reveal that women exhibit courage in higher numbers than men). He then goes on to describe the different types of people who demonstrate bravery, from general and individual courage to civil courage.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe precariat : the new dangerous class / Guy Standing.
“The “precariat” is a “class-in-the-making,” lacking labor-related security and resulting from the neoliberal insistence on labor market flexibility, according to Standing (economic security, U. of Bath, UK), who argues that it is a dangerous class that is prone to listen to and mobilize behind ugly political voices of populism and neo-fascism. He describes the causes and characteristics of the precariat, the particular place of migrants within the precariat, and political responses to the anomie and anxiety within the precariat (including the scapegoating of immigrants). He also proposes “mildly utopian” political measures for addressing the emergence of the precariat that are guided by an ethos of social solidarity and universalism. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe burning question : we can’t burn half the world’s oil, coal and gas, so how do we quit? / Mike Berners-Lee & Duncan Clark.
The Burning Question reveals climate change to be the most fascinating scientific, political and social puzzle in history…. The simple truth is that tackling global warming will mean persuading the world to abandon oil, coal and gas reserves worth many trillions of dollars – at least until we have the means to put carbon back in the ground.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverSlavery inc : the untold story of international sex trafficking / Lydia Cacho ; foreword by Roberto Saviano ; [English translation, Elizabeth Boburg].
“Illegal, inhumane, and impervious to recession, there is one trade that continues to thrive, just out of sight. The international sex trade spans the entire globe, a sinister network made up of criminal masterminds, local handlers, corrupt policemen, wilfully blind politicians, eager comsumers, and countless hapless women and children… (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverRadical / Maajid Nawaz with Tom Bromley.
“Born and raised in Essex, Maajid Nawaz was recruited into politicised Islam as a teenager. He was recruited into Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Liberation Party) where he played a leading and international role in the shaping and dissemination of an aggressive anti-West narrative. Arriving in Egypt the day before 9/11 his views soon led to his arrest, imprisonment and mental torture, before being thrown into solitary confinement in a Cairo jail reserved for political prisoners. There, while mixing with everyone from the assassins of Egypt’s president to Liberal reformists, he underwent an intellectual transformation and on his release after four years, he publically renounced the Islamist ideology that had defined his life. Five years after his release, Maajid now works all over the world to counter Islamism and to promote democratic ideals through his organisation, The Quilliam Foundation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDirty money : the economics of sex and love / by Marina Adshade.
“In this witty and revalatory investigation of the so-called dismal science, University of Columbia professor Marina Adshade skips the usual widgets and uncovers how the market comes to bear on our most intimate decisions: sex, dating, courtship, love, marriage, and even breaking up.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverAfrica’s future : darkness to destiny : how the past is shaping Africa’s economic evolution / Duncan Clarke.
Africa’s Future tells the tale of Africa’s economic evolution, revealing unique prisms for understanding the continent’s panoramic story, one of triumph over the lasting influences of nature and multiple political tragedies. Modern Africa developed diverse economic pathways to betterment – yet survivalist economies litter the landscape. Its paradox of “subsistence with many faces” coexists amidst the tiny middle class, growing rich, and many more poor expected in the future. Clarke provides seasoned views on a continent of unlocked potential which has witnessed many false dawns. Not “poor” but poorly managed, Africa holds greater promise, its destiny revealed by its history.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe body economic : why austerity kills / David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu.
“The global financial crisis has had a seismic impact upon the wealth of nations. But we have little sense of how it affects one of the most fundamental issues of all: our physical and mental health. This highly significant new book, based on the authors own groundbreaking research, looks at the daily lives of people affected by financial crisis, from the Great Depression of the 1930s, to post-communist Russia, to the US foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s. The conclusions it draws are both surprising and compelling: remarkably, when faced with similar crises, the health of some societies – like Iceland – improves, while that of others, such as Greece, deteriorates. Even amid the worst economic disasters, negative public health effects are not inevitable: it’s how communities respond to challenges of debt and market turmoil that counts. The Body Economic puts forward a radical proposition. Austerity, it argues, is seriously bad for your health.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove bombing : reset your child’s emotional thermostat / Oliver James.
“Love Bombing is a radical new method for resetting the emotional thermostats of troubled children and their parents, setting them on a much happier trajectory. It is simple to do, easily explained and works for both severe and mild problems from aged three to early teenage.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMusings from middle age / Kerre Woodham.
“A laugh-out-loud account of one woman’s journey to the brink of middle age as she discovers her new place in the grand scheme of things. Is there an invisible line we cross at a certain age when we become ‘un-chat-up-able’ and become someone’s mum? When do barmen and supermarket check-out operators start calling us ‘madam’ and why do some women have the unnatural urge to cut their own hair with nail scissors or run away to Buddhist retreats when they hit 40? In this hilarious collection of stories from the brink of middle age, Kerre shares her insights into what makes us tick as women ‘of a certain age’. Topics explored include coping with the empty nest, shoes and other indulgences, when is it futile to dress to impress, is there such a thing as a female mid-life crisis, and many more. Told in Kerre’s frank and self-deprecating style, this is a hilarious account of living life to the fullest, no matter what your age” (adapted from publisher’s information)

New books on economics

New books on economics including ‘The big win : learning from the legends’, New Zealander Owen Glenn’s ‘Making a Difference’, and the perennial favourite ‘What color is your parachute?’

Syndetics book coverGrand pursuit : the story of economic genius / Sylvia Nasar.
“From the author of “A Beautiful Mind,” a sweeping history of the invention of modern economics that takes you from Dickens’ London to modern Calcutta.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaking a difference : how one New Zealander created a global business, and his thoughts on the country’s direction / Owen Glenn ; with Michael Larsen.
“From humble beginnings in New Zealand Owen Glenn built up a highly successful global business empire and now he is focusing his wealth to deliver significant philanthropic benefits here and overseas. This fascinating memoir gives insight into Owen’s business philosophies and commercial strategies especially with regard to international business expansion and success. It also describes how Owen is now using his considerable energies to contribute to the world in a philanthropic sense. In addition, it covers some of Owen’s ideas as to the best way forward for New Zealand. He is keen to see the country he loves succeed. This is a great read, inspiring and aspirational for every New Zealander.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWhat color is your parachute? : a practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers / Richard N. Bolles.
“As unemployment stretches on and people face new challenges in this economy, they turn to What Color Is Your Parachute? to help them find meaningful work. Combining classic elements like the famed Flower Exercise with updated advice on social media and the job market, this revised edition outlines what works – and what doesn’t. Career guru Richard N. Bolles demystifies the entire job-search process, from resumes to interviewing to networking. Recently named to Time magazine’s list of All-Time 100 Best Non-fiction Books, What Color Is Your Parachute? is a book of practical wisdom that should be required reading for all.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe big win : learning from the legends to become a more successful investor / Stephen L. Weiss.
“In his first book, The Billion Dollar Mistake, author Stephen L. Weiss showcased the biggest blunders of some of the world’s legendary investors – which lost them billions of dollars on a single investment. Incredibly, the mistakes they made were the same mistakes made by everyday investors but for the magnitude of the loss. Weiss’s second book, The Big Win: Legendary Investors and the Secrets of Their Smartest Moves, highlights financial successes, explaining how the world’s most successful investors make a fortune and how you can do the same. As with the missteps Weiss profiled in his first book, the strategies used by these legendary investors are available to all, regardless of size or sophistication.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Year Up : how a pioneering program teaches young adults real skills for real jobs–with real success / Gerald Chertavian.
“…A Year Up is a yearlong program in which qualified urban youth spend six months learning marketable job skills and professional business skills followed by six months in a full-time internship – all while earning a stipend. Chertavian tells a compelling story of the creation and growth of Year Up, from its start in 2001 with 22 students to today, with nine locations and more than 1300 students. He focuses not only on successful outcomes but also on the lessons he learned and the changes he made in the program. Interwoven with his firsthand account are the individual voices of one class of Year Up students, giving context to the program…. [See Prepub Alert, 2/5/12.]-Jane Scott, George Fox Univ. Lib., Newberg, OR (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverPeople money : the promise of regional currencies.
People money describes a global movement of people creating their own currencies to support regional business and strengthen their communities. These currencies operate legally alongside Bank Money and Government Money, giving people new choices in an age of transition from out-worn financial sturctures to an era of sustainable abundance.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverMoney and power : how Goldman Sachs came to rule the world / William D. Cohan.
“…William D. Cohan has gained unprecedented access to Goldman’s inner circle – both on and off the record. In an astonishing story of clashing egos, backstabbing, sex scandals, private investigators, court cases and government cabals, he reveals what really lies beneath their gold-plated image. ‘Cohan portrays a firm that has grown so large and hungry that it’s no longer long-term greedy but short-term vicious. And that’s the wonder – and horror – of Goldman Sachs.’ Businessweek’ ‘Cohan’s book tells of bitter power struggles and business cock-ups.’ Guardian ‘A definitive account of the most profitable and influential investment bank of the modern era.’ The New York Times Book Review” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverA company of one : insecurity, independence, and the new world of white-collar unemployment / Carrie M. Lane.
“Lane (California State Univ., Fullerton), a cultural anthropologist, describes the behaviors and attitudes of white-collar workers who became unemployed in Dallas in the high-tech recession of the early 21st century. She conducted several interviews with 75 individuals over three years. …. The interviewees believed in the free market, not government intervention, and they did not expect rewards for prior hard work or loyalty. Lane wondered if these attitudes would continue, so she reinterviewed nine individuals during the 2008-09 recession. …Lane was surprised that most retained their positive view of individual responsibility for success, and few blamed organizations or government…. F. Reitman emerita, Pace UniversityCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverOil’s endless bid : taming the unreliable price of oil to secure the economy / Dan Dicker.
“…Leading energy industry analyst Dan Dicker recalls his twenty yeas as an oil trader and describes the huge changes that have taken place in the market over the past decade. He details the impact of the Commodities Futures Modernization Act on the oil market and how the financialization of oil transformed a sleepy niche market into a global Ponzi scheme. He explains how investment banks, energy hedge funds, managed future funds, and ETFs came to dominate energy trading and wreak havoc on the oil market and the world economy…. ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of being unreasonable : lessons in unconventional thinking / Eli Broad, with Swati Pandey ; [foreword by Michael Bloomberg].
“…Eli Broad′s embrace of “unreasonable thinking” has helped him build two Fortune 500 companies, amass personal billions, and use his wealth to create a new approach to philanthropy. He has helped to fund scientific research institutes, K-12 education reform, and some of the world′s greatest contemporary art museums. By contrast, “reasonable” people come up with all the reasons something new and different can′t be done, because, after all, no one else has done it that way. This book shares the “unreasonable” principles – from negotiating to risk-taking, from investing to hiring – that have made Eli Broad such a success.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Economics: enough!

The newest economics books to arrive at our library. Economic philosophy, consumer habits and “the current economic climate”, it’s all here!

Syndetics book coverThe economics of enough : how to run the economy as if the future matters / Diane Coyle.
“”Unlike many economists, Diane Coyle is a worldly philosopher! This nuanced book provides an illuminating analysis of the key debate over whether free market growth translates into improvements in our quality of life.”–Matthew E. Kahn, University of California, Los Angeles” This is a fine and interesting book with plenty of wise observations and good economic analysis. Diane Coyle is a terrific writer and an economist of real insight.”–Edward Glaeser, Harvard University” Diane Coyle has written a lively and challenging examination of the state of economic policymaking following the recent financial crisis.”–Nicholas Crafts, Warwick University” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe crisis of neoliberalism / Gérard Duménil, Dominique Lévy.
“In the view of the authors (both directors of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France), the current global economic crisis has revealed the unsustainable character of the neoliberal strategy of the US, which has undermined the “capability of the United States to grow, maintain the leadership of its financial institutions worldwide, and ensure the dominance of its currency,” and is therefore justifiably considered a crisis of neoliberalism. This crisis of neoliberalism, they argue, is the fourth structural crisis in capitalism since the late 19th century and will likewise lead to the establishment of a new social order and deeply altered international relations, although the actual shape of these coming events are difficult to determine and dependent on such issues as the interventions of popular classes, the policies pursued by national elites, etc. …Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe consuming instinct : what juicy burgers, Ferraris, pornography, and gift giving reveal about human nature / Gad Saad.
“In this book, the author, founder of the new field of evolutionary consumption, illuminates the relevance of our biological heritage to our daily lives as consumers. While culture is important, he shows that innate evolutionary forces deeply influence the foods we eat, the gifts we offer, the cosmetics and clothing styles we choose to make ourselves more attractive to potential mates, and even the cultural products that stimulate our imaginations (such as art, music, and religion).” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI’m feeling lucky : the confessions of Google employee number 59 / Douglas Edwards.
“An affectionate, compulsively readable recounting of the early years (1999-2005) of Google from Edwards, its first marketing executive. Accustomed to a traditional corporate environment, Edwards found himself over his head when he came on board at Google, stymied by the hierarchy-free flat company that boasted about 50 employees (working at desks consisting of large wooden doors mounted on metal sawhorses) whose engine was doing 11 million searches a day, barely a blip against Yahoo, AOL, and MSN. The author describes the meteoric rise of a company where all assumptions were challenged, where every problem was viewed as solvable and skirmishes sprang from convictions, not ego, and where an idiosyncratic corporate culture (in-house massages and doctors, bacchanalian parties) reigned from its earliest days. … (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe constant economy : how to create a stable society / Zac Goldsmith.
“The earth’s natural resources are running out and if we are to stave off the consequences of climate change, we must drastically rethink the way we consume them. The longer we delay, the more we will be at the mercy of events and the harsher the eventual adjustments. Zac Goldsmith’s book demonstrates that there is an alternative: we must strive to create a constant economy.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverEndgame : the end of the debt supercycle and how it changes everything / John Mauldin and Jonathan Tepper.
“In “The End Game,” Mauldin takes an exhaustive look at world markets and why the economy has been so unpredictable. The Debt Supercycle when the easily managed, decades-long growth of debt results in a massive sovereign debt and credit crisis is affecting developed countries around the world, including the United States. For these countries, there are only two options, and neither is good; restructure the debt or reduce it through austerity measures.” (Syndetics summary)