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 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)

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: The Models edition…

New non-fiction books, including “52 models to explain our world”; and a model created “for developing economies to achieve success and sustainability”.

Syndetics book coverBeyond the Arab spring : authoritarianism & democratization in the Arab world / Rex Brynen … [et al.].
“”The popular uprisings that shook the Arab world in 2011 were remarkable both in their scope and in their intensity. They unleashed decades of frustration by popular forces and average citizens who had been thwarted in the realization of their sociopolitical and economic aspirations by brutal dictatorial regimes, many of which were staunch allies of the West. Appeals for dignity, justice, and accountability were common themes of all of these uprisings. In countries like Tunisia and Egypt, Western-supported dictatorships were overthrown mostly by peaceful means, while in Libya and Yemen regime change came through violence. Arab monarchies in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have so far withstood popular uprisings among their own populations by resorting to violence and brute force. … Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe quest for prosperity : how developing economies can take off / Justin Yifu Lin.
“”Here, Lin, … a former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, explains here in detail the model he created there for developing economies to achieve success and sustainability. …Within Lin’s model, much of the power to make decisions about both capital (e.g., the ability to choose from whom to borrow) and industry (e.g., the ability to encourage certain sectors or businesses) belongs to developing nations. The book is well organized and thus it is easy for readers to find information discussed throughout the book as a whole. VERDICT Lin’s use of history and popular culture metaphors make complex economic concepts more accessible to lay readers, especially in his analysis of global economics…. Meghan -Dowell, New York (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover2052 : a global forecast for the next forty years / Jorgan Randers.
“”In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Limits to Growth (CH, Nov’73), Randers …forecasts changes in population, consumption, energy use, emissions, quality of life, and climate over the next 40 years. …Regional scenarios highlight the distribution of benefits and costs from climate change across the globe, underscoring the distinct consequences on the developed and developing world. The author emphasizes that shortsighted decision making associated with democracy is ill suited to handle climate change, given its long-term outcomes. A novel feature of this work is the inclusion of predictions from more than two dozen experts…(and) are woven into the larger story to provide comparison with the author’s predictions. … K. S. Evans St. Lawrence UniversityCopyright American Library Association, used with permission.” (CHOICE)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great convergence : Asia, the West, and the logic of one world / Kishore Mahbubani.
“The world is coming together with a reconfiguration of power that the West should accommodate, …Mahbubani surveys hopeful statistics on global peace and prosperity, showing that wars are growing less frequent while poverty worldwide is declining and trade, education, tourism, and the middle class are swelling. That “new global civilization,” he contends, creates new problems: global warming; alienation in the Muslim world; anxieties over China’s influence; most of all, the West’s continuing disproportionate power over international institutions and failure to adjust self-interested policies… to global needs. …Agent: Janklow & Nesbit. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) ” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe economics book / [Niall Kishtainy, consultant editor ; George Abbot … [et al.], contributors].
“”*Starred Review* … The Economics Book takes a unique approach to elucidating this often murky subject through well-written entries. Arranged by both subtopic and time frame, the history of economic theory, notable world events, and biographies of key players are presented in six chapters… The book’s brilliance lies in its packaging of economic theory into easily digestible essays (e.g. The Economy is a Yo-Yo: Boom and Bust ; Make the Polluter Pay: External Costs ; Crowds Breed Collective Insanity: Economic Bubbles ). Overall, this book will make economics not only accessible but potentially even fascinating to a wide range of readers at and above a high-school reading level.–Michaelson, Jennifer Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOverheated : the human cost of climate change / Andrew T. Guzman.
“”Guzman offers a clearly written explanation of the devastating effects of global climate change on human society. Even the optimistic prediction of a two-degree rise in temperature, he explains, will have profound negative effects on humans and the environment. Rising sea levels will cause the disappearance of some Pacific island nations, as well as losses of land along low-lying coastal nations such as Bangladesh. Salt-water seepage into fresh-water supplies will also affect agricultural production. Millions of hungry, thirsty, displaced refugees will destabilize already weak governments and menace others in what the author describes as climate wars. Guzman also scrutinizes the spread of infectious diseases and global pandemics likely to arise and be compounded by the warming climate…. VERDICT This fact-filled, thought-provoking book will appeal to general readers and offers insight on a complex topic.-Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe change book / Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschäppeler ; translated by Jenny Piening ; with illustrations by Philip Earnhart and Dag Grødal.
“52 models to explain our world…. Drawing on expert advice and often complex theories, the authors of the bestselling Decision Book present 52 simple and effective models to help us make sense of change in our world. It is happening all around us, in every sphere from the personal and political to economics and the environment. In The Change Book you’ll find models explaining the financial crisis, why biotechnology is the industry of the future and why cities are the new nations. Whether you’re buying a new car, deciding who to vote for, or making an investment, this smart little black book will offer surprisingly simple explanations of our complicated world – and radically challenge some of your preconceived ideas.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe future / Al Gore.
“”Former Vice President Gore draws links and offers cautionary advice for individuals and governments alike in this exhaustive, historically-grounded argument about six concepts that he believes will exert the greatest influence on humanity’s future. The global economy, the proliferation of the Internet and intelligent machines, a shift in the balance of global power, unsustainable growth and consumption, the rise of biotechnology, and the relationship between man and Earth’s ecological systems are the broad areas explored here. With echoes of his previous books’ calls for restrained consumption and the reestablishment of a “healthy and balanced relationship” between humanity and the natural world, Gore makes the seemingly contradictory argument that a properly restrained democratic capitalism “can serve the world better than any other economic system.”… Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPower systems : conversations on global democratic uprisings and the new challenges to U.S. empire : interviews with David Barsamian / Noam Chomsky.
“”For decades, famed MIT linguist and political critic Chomsky has provided a sober perspective on U.S. policy. In this set of interviews (from 2010 to 2012) with journalist Barsamian (director of Alternative Radio), Chomsky (Hegemony or Survival) cuts through bipartisan centrism while exploring such urgent concerns as the power shift from sovereign nations to multinational corporate entities, “from the global workforce to the owners of the world: transnational capital, global financial institutions.” (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFortress Europe : dispatches from a gated continent / Matthew Carr.
“In this expose of European immigration policy and its devastating effects, British journalist Carr… investigates the “contradictory character” of the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which opened borders between 25 European states with the idealistic aim of transforming the European Union into a common “‘area of freedom, security, and justice.'” However, according to Carr, Schengen required countries on the outer edge to seal their borders against unwanted visitors and enforce the E.U.’s immigration restrictions to address concerns about national security…. Carr travels to remote borderlands of Poland, Spain, Greece, and Malta; Schengen-bordering countries like Turkey and Morocco that collaborate in enforcement; and the heart of western Europe and Britain to meet immigrants stuck in remote detention centers or “living rough” on city streets for years, as well as temporary workers and sex slaves abused by their handlers and abandoned by governments. But Carr also depicts ordinary Europeans who have gone to great lengths to help these stranded travelers. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover50 ways to protect your identity in a digital age : new financial threats you need to know and how to avoid them / Steve Weisman.
“”It is better to stop identity theft from happening in the first place than have to fix or repair the situation afterwards. Steve Weisman reveals the threats of new identity theft attacks based on use of Facebook, iPad, iPhone, Android, cloud apps, iPod, and other new technologies — and shows you how to protect yourself, or how to fix the damage if you’ve already been attacked! Discover why ID theft is more dangerous than ever, and discover today’s most dangerous new threats…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)”

China’s silent army : the pioneers, traders, fixers and workers who are remaking the world in Beijing’s image / Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo ; translated by Catherine Mansfield ; photographs by Luis de las Alas.
China’s Silent Army is a revealing and gripping piece of investigative journalism into the unknown extent of China’s global power, from China-based reporters Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo. This book stems from the remarkable, determined work of these two China-based journalists who, frustrated by the facile, pro-business commentary of so much writing on China and the evasions of Beijing’s official pronouncements, took a drastic decision: to see for themselves just how rapidly China is spreading its influence around the world. Many thousands of miles and twenty-five countries later, China’s Silent Army is the result: an unprecedented attempt to meet the many Chinese who, through hard work, ingenuity and ruthless business practices are rapidly moving much of the world into Beijing’s orbit. ….” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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.

True spy stories, and other books on Politics

Below is our list of new non-fiction books on Politics

Syndetics book coverBridge of spies : a true story of the Cold War / Giles Whittell.
Bridge of Spies is the true story of three extraordinary characters – William Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, a British born KGB agent arrested by the FBI in New York City and jailed as a Soviet superspy for trying to steal America’s most precious nuclear secrets; Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the closed cities of central Russia; and Frederic Pryor, a young American graduate student in Berlin mistakenly identified as a spy, arrested and held without charge by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police.” (

Syndetics book coverInside Wikileaks : my time with Julian Assange at the world’s most dangerous website / Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
“Since its launch in 2006, WikiLeaks has rapidly grown into the most powerful and influential whistleblowing organisation ever. Its status as a repository and publisher of leaked sensitive and confidential governmental, corporate, organisational or religious documents while preserving the anonymity and untraceability of its contributors, and the statements and behaviour of its leader Julian Assange have made WikiLeaks both daily front page news and a topic of enormous controversy.” (

Syndetics book coverThe new road to serfdom : a letter of warning to America / Daniel Hannan.
“In March 2009, British conservative Daniel Hannan became a celebrity overnight when he assailed prime minister Gordon Brown on the floor of the European Parliament. The YouTube clip went viral, leading to whirlwind appearances on FOX News and other conservative media outlets. A thoughtful and articulate spokesman for conservative ideas, Hannan is better versed in America’s traditions and founding documents than many Americans are. In The New Road to Serfdom, Hannan argues forcefully and passionately that Americans must not allow Barack Obama to take them down the road to European Union–style social democracy.” (

Syndetics book coverStride toward freedom : the Montgomery story / Martin Luther King, Jr. ; [introduction by Claybourne Carson].
“Martin Luther King, Jr.’s account of the first successful large-scale application of nonviolence resistance in America is comprehensive, revelatory, and intimate. King described his book as “the chronicle of fifty thousand Negroes who took to heart the principles of nonviolence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth.” It… shows how the 28 yr old Dr. King, with his conviction for equality and nonviolence, helped transformed the nation – and the world.” (

Syndetics book coverThe terminal spy : a true story of espionage, betrayal, and murder / Alan S. Cowell.
“Who Was Alexander Litvinenko? …And how did he really die? The life of Alexander Litvinenko provides a riveting narrative in its own right, culminating in an event that rang alarm bells among western governments at the ease with which radioactive materials were deployed in a major western capital to commit a unique crime. But it also evokes a wide range of other issues: Russia’s lurch to authoritarianism, the return of the KGB to the Kremlin, the perils of a new cold war driven by Russia’s oil riches and Vladimir Putin’s thirst for power. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEvidence for policy and decision-making : a practical guide / edited by George Argyrous.
“The need to base policy on evidence has placed pressure on decision-makers to support proposals with well-grounded research and information. However, no practical guide with a focus on public sector policy and decision-making for doing this exists. This edited text fills the gap by providing a practical and comprehensive manual for people working in policy areas. It is aimed at practitioners with little or no experience in research and analysis but who require skills in managing, assessing and critically evaluating evidence use in the public sector. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)