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)

Sneak in some reading time for these new books on politics & spies

From well-heeled suffragettes to the undercover ‘Contractor’, real fashion victims and ‘What Happened’ by Hillary Rodham Clinton, there is a mix of book on politics, spies and victims in this month’s non-fiction picks.

Image from fishpond.co.nzThe contractor : 6 true tales of counter terrorism / as told to Mark Abernethy.
‘I fix things. I can build you a house or remodel your bathroom. I can also make bad situations – and bad people – disappear.’ Meet Mike. Runs a building site, drives a ute, likes a beer, loves his nail-gun. But Mike is hiding in plain sight. When the Pentagon call him in as ‘Big Unit’, he’s another kind of contractor – one as handy with a Colt M4 as he is with a Skilsaw, a man as accustomed to danger, death, and pain as he is to a hammer and nails. In six action-packed true stories we follow a man who left foreign intelligence for a life ‘on the tools’, only to discover there’s too many dangerous scenarios and terrible people still out there.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe anatomy of a traitor : a history of espionage and betrayal / Michael Smith.
“In this compelling investigation, Michael Smith explores the critical moment in a spy’s life: that split-second decision to embrace a double life; to cheat and hide and hurt; to risk disgrace – even death – without any guarantee of being rewarded or even recognised. Through in-depth insider knowledge, Michael Smith also uncovers new and unknown cases, including ISIS, President Trump’s links with Russia and Edward Snowden’s role as a whistleblower to offer compelling psychological portrait of these men and women, homing unerringly on the fault-lines and shady corners of their characters, their weaknesses and their strengths, the lies they tell other people, and the lies they always end up telling themselves.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAgent M : the lives and spies of MI5’s Maxwell Knight / Henry Hemming.
“Maxwell Knight was perhaps the greatest spymaster in history, rumored to be the real-life inspiration for the James Bond character “M.” He did more than anyone in his era to combat the rising threat of fascism in Britain during World War II, in spite of his own history inside this movement. He was also truly eccentric–a thrice-married jazz aficionado who kept a menagerie of exotic pets–and almost totally unqualified for espionage. Yet he had a gift for turning practically anyone into a fearless secret agent. Knight’s work revolutionized British intelligence, pioneering the use of female agents, among other accomplishments. Drawing on original sources, Agent M reveals not only the story of one of the world’s greatest intelligence operators, but the sacrifices and courage required to confront fascism during a nation’s darkest time.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGame of thorns : the inside story of Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign and Donald Trump’s winning strategy / Doug Wead.
“This first authoritative account of the precipitous fall of Hillary Clinton and the rise of Donald Trump describes how the scandals of a lifetime finally reached critical mass for both candidates, though with differing results. It shows how, during the last few days of the campaign, some on Clinton’s staff saw the ghostly fog of defeat creeping up on them but were helpless to act, frozen by the self-denial.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFashion victims : the dangers of dress past and present / Alison Matthews David.
“From insidious murder weapons to blaze-igniting crinolines, clothing has been the cause of death, disease and madness throughout history, by accident and design. Clothing is designed to protect, shield and comfort us, yet lurking amongst seemingly innocuous garments we find hats laced with mercury, frocks laden with arsenic and literally ‘drop-dead gorgeous’ gowns. Fabulously gory and gruesome, Fashion Victims takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the lethal history of women’s, men’s and children’s dress, in myth and reality.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGilded suffragists : the New York socialites who fought for women’s right to vote / Johanna Neuman.
“In the early twentieth century over two hundred of New York’s most glamorous socialites joined the suffrage movement. Their names–Astor, Belmont, Rockefeller, Tiffany, Vanderbilt, Whitney and the like–carried enormous public value. These women were the media darlings of their day because of the extravagance of their costume balls and the opulence of the French couture clothes, and they leveraged their social celebrity for political power, turning women’s right to vote into a fashionable cause… In the end, as Neuman says, when change was in the air, these women helped push women’s suffrage over the finish line.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDemocracy and its crisis / A. C. Grayling.
“Prompted by the EU referendum in the UK and the presidential election in the USA, A. C. Grayling investigates why the institutions of representative democracy seem unable to hold up against forces they were designed to manage, and why, crucially, it matters. With the advent of authoritarian leaders and the simultaneous rise of populism, representative democracy appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place, yet it is this space that it must occupy, says Grayling, if a civilized society, that looks after all its people, is to flourish.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat happened / Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAsia’s reckoning : China, Japan, and the fate of U.S. power in the Pacific century / Richard McGregor.
“Richard McGregor’s Asia’s Reckoning is a compelling account of the widening geopolitical cracks in a region that has flourished under an American security umbrella for more than half a century. The toxic rivalry between China and Japan, two Asian giants consumed with endless history wars and ruled by entrenched political dynasties, is threatening to upend the peace underwritten by Pax Americana since World War II. Combined with Donald Trump’s disdain for America’s old alliances and China’s own regional ambitions, east Asia is entering a new era of instability and conflict… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA farewell to ice : a report from the Arctic / Peter Wadhams.
“Peter Wadhams has been studying ice first-hand since 1970, completing 50 trips to the world’s poles and observing for himself the changes over the course of nearly five decades. His conclusions are stark: the ice caps are melting. Following the hottest summer on record, sea ice in September 2016 was the thinnest in recorded history. There is now the probability that within a few years the North Pole will be ice-free for the first time in 10,000 years. A sobering but urgent and engaging book, A Farewell to Ice shows us ice’s role on our planet, its history, and the true dimensions of the current global crisis, offering readers concrete advice about what they can do, and what must be done.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Interesting new books about Politics

We have to wonder if we are able to learn from history. Wells’ The Rights of Man seems to apply as much today as when it was written 75 years ago.

Syndetics book coverThe rights of man ; or, What are we fighting for? / H.G. Wells.
“H. G. Wells wrote The Rights of Man in 1940, partly in response to the ongoing war with Germany. The fearlessly progressive ideas he set out were instrumental in the creation of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU’s European Convention on Human Rights and the UK’s Human Rights Act. When first published, this manifesto was an urgently topical reaction to a global miscarriage of justice. It was intended to stimulate debate and make a clear statement of mankind’s immutable responsibilities to itself. Seventy-five years have passed and once again we face a humanitarian crisis. In the UK our human rights are under threat in ways that they never have been before and overseas peoples are being displaced from their homelands in their millions…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSocial media and everyday politics / Tim Highfield.
“In Social media and everyday politics, Tim Highfield examines political thought as everyday occurrences on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Tumblr, Instagram and more.
He considers the personal and the political, the serious and the silly, and the everyday within the extraordinary as politics arises form seemingly banal and irreverent topics. The analysis features international examples and evolving practices…” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverIslamic exceptionalism : how the struggle over Islam is reshaping the world / Shadi Hamid.
“In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, “exceptional” in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. …Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying–and alarmingly successful–example of ISIS… Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam’s past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpooked : how the CIA manipulates the media and hoodwinks Hollywood / Nicholas Schou ; foreword by David Talbot.
“The American people depend on a free press to keep a close and impartial watch on the national security operations that are carried out in our name. While the press remains silent about its corrupting relationship with the intelligence community relationship that dates back to the Cold War, Schou will name names and shine a spotlight on flagrant examples of collusion, when respected reporters have crossed the line and sold out to powerful agencies. The book will also document how the CIA has embedded itself in liberal Hollywood to ensure that its fictional spies get the hero treatment on screen…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAgainst elections : the case for democracy / David van Reybrouck ; translated by Liz Waters.
“Democracy is in bad health. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis and an ancient remedy. Fear-mongering populists, distrust in the establishment, personality contests instead of reasoned debate: these are the results of the latest elections. In fact, as this ingenious book shows, the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them. Yet for most of its 3000-year history, democracy did not involve elections at all: members of the public were appointed to positions in government through a combination of volunteering and lottery…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMāori and Parliament : diverse strategies and compromises / edited by Maria Bargh.
Maori and Parliament provides a comprehensive and enlightening context for understanding both the historical and contemporary relationship between Maori and Parliament and highlights many of the issues which would arise in any discussion of New Zealand constitutional reform. There are three events looming which suggest that the status of Maori in Parliament is in for some significant challenges. The first is the impending review of constitutional issues and the Maori seats. Secondly, the proposed referendum on the future of the mixed member proportional system (MMP). Finally, the longer term question of whether New Zealand should become a republic, which would also necessitate lengthy debates about the place of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements in relation to Maori rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverListen, liberal, or, What ever happened to the party of the people? / Thomas Frank.
“It is a widespread belief among liberals that if only Democrats can continue to dominate national elections, if only those awful Republicans are beaten into submission, the country will be on the right course. But this is to fundamentally misunderstand the modern Democratic Party. Drawing on years of research and first-hand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. In this critical election year, Frank recalls the Democrats to their historic goals-the only way to reverse the ever-deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow did we get into this mess? : politics, equality, nature / George Monbiot.
How Did We Get into this Mess? assesses the state we are now in: the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do. While Monbiot’s diagnosis of the problems in front of us is clear-sighted and reasonable, he also develops solutions to challenge the politics of fear. How do we stand up to the powerful when they seem to have all the weapons? What can we do to prepare our children for an uncertain future? Controversial, clear but always rigorously argued, How Did We Get into this Mess? makes a persuasive case for change in our everyday lives, our politics and economics, the ways we treat each other and the natural world.” (adapted from Book cover)

Hotere: Honouring an Icon

Ralph Hotere, or Hone Papita Raukura, was a prominent Māori artist and widely recognised as one of New Zealand’s most important artists. He was born in Mitimiti, Northland and was of Te Aupōuri and Te Rarawa decent. Known as a “warrior artist”, he was renowned for his passionately political artworks, as he provocatively portrayed some of New Zealand’s most divisive historical events. He is attributed with having helped shape New Zealand’s cultural identity, and was accordingly appointed to the Order of New Zealand in the New Year Honours 2012 for services to New Zealand. He passed away on 24 February 2013 at age 81, and was mourned and remembered in a large service in Dunedin on 28 February.

We have many books about Ralph Hotere here at the library:

Syndetics book coverRalph Hotere : black light : major works, including collaborations with Bill Culbert / [editors, Cilla McQueen … [et al.]]

Syndetics book coverRalph Hotere / with Kriselle Baker & Vincent O’Sullivan.

Syndetics book coverHotere : empty of shadows and making a shadow : lithographs by Ralph Hotere / Peter Vangioni, Jillian Cassidy ; introduction by Marian Maguire.

Syndetics book coverThe desire of the line : Ralph Hotere figurative works / Kriselle Baker.

As well as these, we have a DVD about Ralph Hotere:

Ralph Hotere / directed by Darcy Lange.

And even a video!

Hotere [videorecording] / a Paradise Films production ; written & directed by Merata Mita.
Discusses the artwork of New Zealand’s most famous contemporary Māori artist, Ralph Hotere. Suggested audience: general.

We also have a full collection at Central Library of Art New Zealand magazines, dating back to 1976. Ralph Hotere features in a huge number of them. If you need assistance to access the collection, just ask at any of our Central Library enquiries desks and we’ll be glad to help.