Friday, October 31, 2008

RSA Library Update - October 2008

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of October 2008. Fellows are welcome to e-mail the Library if they wish to borrow any of these items.

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

200s – Religion

John Cornwell
Darwin’s Angel: An Angelic Riposte to The God Delusion
Profile, 2008, 211.8 COR
Richard Dawkins' apologia for atheism has attracted huge attention, and sales, all over the world. In a telling critique cast in the classical form of a letter to Dawkins John Cornwell takes issue with it. John Cornwell's Darwin's Angel is not so much a combative repudiation of Dawkins' arguments as a playful conversation with them, posing alternative viewpoints, exposing lapses in logic and errors of fact, from the vantage point of a friendly Guardian Angel.

Geoffrey Moorhouse
The Last Office: 1539 and the Dissolution of a Monastery
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008, 271.0094 MOO
What happened to the monks, their orders and the communities they served after Henry VIII's break with Rome in 1536? In The Last Office, Geoffrey Moorhouse reveals how the Dissolution of the Monasteries affected the great Benedictine priory at Durham, drawing for his sources on material that has lain forgotten in the recesses of one of our great cathedrals.

300s – Social Sciences

Michael Hanlon
Eternity: Humanity’s Next Billion Years
Macmillan Science, 2008, 304.20112 HAN
Humankind is not doomed - we may be around for millions of years yet, having already survived one of the most extraordinary planet-wide catastrophes - the Ice Ages. Michael Hanlon argues that the species will survive as the planet changes around us. Not only is humankind not doomed, but that we may be around for millions, if not hundreds of millions of years. We have already survived one of the most extraordinary planet-wide catastrophes - the great Ice Ages. Equipped with the simplest technology, Homo sapiens sailed through the great glaciations, and profited from them.

Ziauddin Sardar
Balti Britain: Journeys through the British Asian Experience
Granta, 2008, 305.8914041 SAR
Ziauddin Sardar travels to the main Asian communities in the UK, to Leicester and Birmingham, Glasgow and Bradford, Tower Hamlets and Oldham, to tell the history of Asians in Britain - from the arrival of the first Indian in Britain in 1614, through the entagled days of colonialism, to the young extremists in Walthamstow mosque in 2006. He interweaves throughout an illuminating account of his own life, describing his carefree childhood in Pakistan, his family's emigration to racist 1950s Britain, and his adulthood straddling two cultures. Along the way he questions: are arranged marriages a good thing? Does the term 'Asian' obscure more than it conveys? Do Vindaloo and Balti actually exist? How far does 'the disease that is in us is of us and within us' describe Islamic terrorism? And is multiculturalism an impossible dream? Funny, surprising, touching and controversial, Balti Britain is a fascinating blend of history, reportage and memoir, which will make all Britons, Asian or otherwise, see their country through fresh eyes.

Michael Bywater
Big Babies, or, Why Can’t we just Grow Up?
Granta, 2006, 306 BYW
Michael Bywater turns his penetrating eye on the state of Western culture, from politics and the media to show business and science, and concludes we are all Big Babies now. He argues that the Baby-Boom generation is now running the show, and its own commitment to perpetual infantility is reflected in its unstoppable drive to infantilize the rest of us. Ranging from the White House to Buckingham Palace, from MTV to the BBC, from mission statements to Viagra spam, Bywater examines advertising, music, politics, the health industry, education, religion, fashion, sport and publishing, and makes a fierce and often hilarious case that, in almost every area of our lives, we are inexorably becoming...Big Babies.

Francis Gilbert
Yob Nation: The Truth about Britain’s Yob Culture
Piatkus, 2007, 306.10941 GIL
Francis Gilbert's new book shows how the relentless march of yobbery has infected every aspect of our lives; violent crime has quadrupled since 1979, and foul language and abusive behaviour has permeated the whole of society. It's not just football hooligans (and footballers) who've gloried in yobbish behaviour; politicians like Alistair Campbell and John Prescott have played their part. With the old moral codes no longer existing, society has become engulfed with fear and distrust. Francis Gilbert draws on his own experiences (working in a tough inner-city comprehensive), and of people all round Britain, to vividly illustrate his thesis. This item was donated to the Library by its author, a Fellow of the RSA.

Niall Ferguson
The Ascent of Money: A Financial history of the World
Allen Lane, 2008, 330.9 FER
Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labour. But in The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential back-story behind all history. The evolution of credit and debt was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilization, with banks provided the material basis for the splendours of the Italian Renaissance, while the bond market was the decisive factor in conflicts from the Seven Years' War to the American Civil War. The most important lesson of the financial history is that sooner or later every bubble bursts - sooner or later the bearish sellers outnumber the bullish buyers - sooner or later greed flips into fear. And that's why, whether you're scraping by or rolling in it, there's never been a better time to understand the ascent of money.

Hsiao-Hung Pai
Chinese Whispers: The True Story behind Britain’s Hidden Army of Labour
Penguin, 2008, 331.6251041 PAI
There are hundreds of thousands of undocumented Chinese immigrants in Britain. They've travelled here because of desperate poverty, and must keep their heads down and work themselves to the bone. Hsiao-Hung Pai, the only journalist who knows this community, went undercover to hear the stories of this hidden work force. She reveals a scary, shadowy world where human beings are exploited in ways unimaginable in our civilized twenty-first century. Chinese Whispers exposes the truth behind the lives of a hidden work force here in Britain. You owe it to yourself, and them, to read it.

Selwyn Parker
The Great Crash: How the Stock Market Crash of 1929 Plunged the World into Depression
Piatkus, 2008, 338.54209042 PAR
This is the story of the financial cataclysm that started with the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929, and set in motion a series of economic, political and social events that affected many millions of people in America, Britain, Europe and Australia. The Crash rolled across the world like a tidal wave, toppling governments, spreading the wave of dictatorships in Italy and Germany, infecting entire industries and plunging millions into unemployment and poverty. By the time it began to lift in 1935, the lives of people in scores of countries had changed forever. Selwyn Parker's book also poses the question: could it happen again?

Amar Bhide
The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a more Connected World
Princeton University Press, 2008, 338.926 BHI
Many warn that the next stage of globalization, the offshoring of research and development to China and India, threatens the foundations of Western prosperity. But in The Venturesome Economy, acclaimed business and economics scholar Amar Bhide shows how wrong the doomsayers are. Using extensive field studies on venture-capital-backed businesses to examine how technology really advances in modern economies, Bhide explains why know-how developed abroad enhances, not diminishes, prosperity at home, and why trying to maintain the U.S. lead by subsidizing more research or training more scientists will do more harm than good.

Gilles Kepel
Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East
Belknap, 2008, 363.3250956 KEP
President Bush's War on Terror masks a complex political agenda in the Middle East - enforcing democracy, accessing Iraqi oil, securing Israel, and seeking regime change in Iran. Osama bin Laden's call for martyrs to rise up against the apostate and hasten the dawn of a universal Islamic state papers over a fractured, fragmented Islamic world that is waging war against itself. Beyond Terror and Martyrdom sounds the alarm to the West and to Islam that both of these exhausted narratives are bankrupt - neither productive of democratic change in the Middle East nor of unity in Islam. Gilles Kepel urges us to escape the ideological quagmire of terrorism and martyrdom and explore the terms of a new and constructive dialogue between Islam and the West, one for which Europe, with its expanding and restless Muslim populations, may be the proving ground.

The Howard League for Penal Reform
Community Programmes Handbook
The Howard league for Penal Reform, 2008, 370 HLPR
The Howard League for Penal Reform has compiled Community Programmes Handbook which identifies positive, creative and effective community programmes from around the UK. This handbook has detailed information about more than 20 different schemes: some working with children, others with high-risk offenders; some use restorative justice techniques while others help develop skills or find employment to help reduce the risk of re-offending. This is an essential read for practitioners and students as well as those commissioning and designing services.

Francis Gilbert
Parent Power: The Complete Guide to Getting the Best Education for you Child
Portrait, 2008, 370.941 GIL
Francis Gilbert explains that many schools are actually selective when they pretend not to be, and shows you how to get your child into the best school. He also highlights the bullying and backstabbing that can blight the lives of pupils and their parents, and shows how you can help your children to deal with it. This item was donated to the Library by its author, a Fellow of the RSA.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Richard Holmes
The Age of Wonder
HarperPress, 2008, 509.4109033 HOL
Richard Holmes's exuberant group biography celebrates the scientific revolution that preceded and outsoared the political one, changing life, the universe and everything in the last decades of the 18th century, proposing a radical vision of science before Darwin, exploring the earliest ideas of deep time and deep space, the creative rivalry with the French scientific establishment, and the startling impact of discovery on great writers and poets such as Mary Shelley, Coleridge, Byron and Keats.

Rupert Wright
Take Me to the Source: In Search of Water
Harvill Secker, 2008, 553.7 WRI
We cannot live without it, yet it kills six thousand children a day. It is the ultimate renewable resource, but we pollute it on a heroic scale. In this enthralling voyage of discovery, Rupert Wright sets out to discover exactly what water is and why it plays such an important role in history, culture, art and literature. Why, if water is so valuable does nobody want to pay for it unless it comes in a designer bottle? Is it really the oil of the twenty-first century? Will we all soon be fighting over it, or can it lead countries into co-operation rather than conflict? Part cultural history, part reportage and part personal journey, Take Me to the Source is the fascinating story of the substance that makes life on earth possible.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Scott E. Page
The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies
Princeton University Press, 2007, 658.3008 PAG
In this landmark book, Scott Page redefines the way we understand ourselves in relation to one another. The Difference is about how we think in groups - and how our collective wisdom exceeds the sum of its parts. Why can teams of people find better solutions than brilliant individuals working alone? And why are the best group decisions and predictions those that draw upon the very qualities that make each of us unique? The answers lie in diversity - not what we look like outside, but what we look like within, our distinct tools and abilities. Page changes the way we understand diversity - how to harness its untapped potential, how to understand and avoid its traps, and how we can leverage our differences for the benefit of all.

Tom Himpe
Advertising is Dead - Long Live Advertising!
Thames & Hudson, 2006, 659.1 HIM
As more and more conventional advertising channels become blocked, brands are beginning to renounce routine practice and take alternative and more exclusive routes. Here is a book that provides a comprehensive overview of these revolutionary new techniques, media and ideas. As the only fully illustrated survey of the global shift affecting all kinds of business, this book will be vital reading for every advertising, marketing, design and communication professional and student.

700s – The Arts

Edward W. Said
Music at the Limits
Bloomsbury, 2008, 780.9 SAI
Addressing the work of a wide variety of composers, musicians, and performers, from Mozart to Alfred Brendel, Edward Said analyses music's social, political, and cultural contexts and, as a classically trained pianist, provides rich and often surprising assessments of classical music and opera. This book offers both a fresh perspective on well-known pieces and a celebration of neglected works. Said wrote his incisive critiques as both an insider and an authority. Always eloquent and often surprising, Music at the Limits preserves an important dimension of Said's brilliant intellectual work and cements his reputation as one of the most influential and groundbreaking writers of the twentieth century.

Michael Holroyd
A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families
Chatto & Windus, 2008, 792.028092241 HOL
At the Lyceum Theatre in London, Ellen Terry and Henry Irving created a grand Cathedral of the Arts. Their intimately-involved lives exceeded in plot the Shakespearean dramas they performed on stage - and indeed were curiously affected by them. They also influenced the life and work of their remarkable children, Ellen's children in particular. Edy Craig, who founded a feminist theatre group, The Pioneer Players, established a lesbian community whose complex love-affairs make those of the Bloomsbury Group appear quite conventional. Her brother, Edward Gordon Craig, the revolutionary stage designer who collaborated with Stanislavski on a spectacular production of Hamlet in Moscow, is revealed by this book to be the forgotten man of modernism. He had 13 children by 8 women (including the famous American dancer Isadora Duncan) - perhaps the most extraordinary man Michael Holroyd has ever written about.

Katie Salen (ed.)
The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games and Learning
MIT, 2008, 794.8 SAL
This book offers an exploration of games as systems in which young people participate as gamers, producers, and learners. In the many studies of games and young people's use of them, little has been written about an overall ecology of gaming, game design and play - mapping the ways that all the various elements, from coding to social practices to aesthetics, coexist in the game world. This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate, as gamers, producers, and learners, and aims to expand upon and add nuance to the debate over the value of games - which so far has been vociferous but overly polemical and surprisingly shallow. Game play is credited with fostering new forms of social organization and new ways of thinking and interacting; the contributors work to situate this within a dynamic media ecology that has the participatory nature of gaming at its core. They look at the ways in which youth are empowered through their participation in the creation, uptake, and revision of games; emergent gaming literacies, including modding, world-building, and learning how to navigate a complex system; and how games act as points of departure for other forms of knowledge, literacy, and social organization.

800s – Literature

Umberto Eco
Turning Back the Clock
Vintage, 2008, 854.914 ECO
After the Cold War, the 'Hot War' has made its comeback in Afghanistan and Iraq. Exhuming Kipling's Great Game, we have gone back to the clash between Islam and Christianity. The ghost of the Yellow Peril has been resurrected, the nineteenth-century anti-Darwin debate has been reopened, right-wing governments predominate. It almost seems like history, tired of the big steps forward it has taken in the past two millennia, has gone into reverse. With his customary sharpness and wit, Eco proposes, not so much that we resume a forward march, but at the very least that we cease marching backwards.

900s – Geography & History

Daniel Dorling, Mark Newman and Anna Barford
The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way we Live
Thames & Hudson, 2008, 912 DOR
This is one of the most significant works of reference ever published. Here is our planet as you've never seen it before: 366 digitally modified maps known as cartograms depict the areas and countries of the world not by their physical size, but by their demographic importance on a vast range of topics, ranging from basic data on population, health, wealth and occupation to how many toys we import and who's eating their vegetables. Created by the team behind, this compelling reference is an invaluable resource for anyone involved in understanding the new world order: how trends and statistics determine our planets future and success.

Friday, October 03, 2008

RSA Library Update - September 2008

RSA Library Update - September 2008

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of September 2008. Fellows are welcome to e-mail the Library if they wish to borrow any of these items.

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Gary Marcus
Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
Faber, 2008, 153 MAR
A 'kluge' is an engineering term for a makeshift solution, an inelegant construction that somehow works. This is Gary Marcus' analogy for the way the human mind has evolved. Arguing against a whole tradition that praises our human minds as the most perfect result of evolution, Marcus shows how imperfect and ill-adapted our brains really are. They have had to adapt from the environment of our early hominid origins to a complex world in which our penchant for short-term satisfactions is literally fatal. We are prone to rages, addictions and other habits that limit our capacity for rational action in every sphere, from food to politics.

Jurgen Wolff
Focus: The Power of Targeted Thinking
Prentice Hall Life, 2008, 153.733 WOL
Time management has evolved. No longer can traditional methods, the type suited to making repetitive tasks more efficient, be used. The age of 24/7 connectivity and constant demands has lead to frantic multi-tasking and fire-fighting. The result: lots of activity, not much achievement. Most time management books are written for left-brain people who are already organized and see things in an analytical way, and some still use age-old techniques. With Focus, you are exposed to recent discoveries that allow you to achieve a state of flow that can lead to maximum achievement in minimum time.

A. C. Grayling
The Choice of Hercules: Pleasure, Duty and the Good Life in the 21st Century
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, 171.2 GRA
Duty or Pleasure? This was the legendary choice which faced Hercules, and which pre-eminent philosopher AC Grayling uses as the starting point of his masterful new book. He shows us how much more people can understand about themselves and their world by reflecting on today's moral challenges. Above all, he explores the idea that certain demands and certain pleasures are necessary, not just because of their intrinsic merits but because of what they do for each other. The Good Life or the good life? With exceptional clarity and unrivalled prose, Grayling addresses the everyday ethical choices which confront us all.

200s – Religion

Mark Vernon
After Atheism: Science, Religion and the Meaning of Life
Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 211.7 VER
The broadside against religion launched by a new breed of evangelical atheists has generated much heat but little light. Locked in battle against their Christian opponents the argument goes nowhere fast, and in an age of extremism, nurtures the dangerous vice of intolerance. Mark Vernon was an Anglican priest, left a conviction atheist, but now finds himself to be a committed and increasingly passionate agnostic. Part personal story, part philosophical search, After Atheism argues that the contemporary lust for certainty is demeaning of our humanity. The key to wisdom - as Socrates, the great theologians and the best scientists know - is understanding the limits of our knowledge.

300s – Social Sciences

Hans Lrause Hansen and Jens Hoff (eds.)
Digital Governance, Networked Societies: Creating Authority, Community and Identity in a Globalized World
Samfundslitteratur, 2006, 302.231 SAN
This volume explores the role of the Internet in the creation and reconfiguration of political authority, community and identity in a globalising world. A string of case studies demonstrates how the Internet and connectivity facilitate the creation of political authorities 'within' and 'beyond' the nation state, and how it lies at the core of the formation of automated forms of power and the emergence of a plethora of communities with global reach and outlook, affecting identity formation processes and social dynamics. These developments have important repercussions for politics and democracy. Politics in the Information Age becomes a 'politics of presence' and a 'politics of becoming', as expressed through multiple practices, connections and organisational forms, as well as the complex formation of political identities. In such a set-up, democracy comes to depend more on ethics and less on procedures. This volume lays the foundation for further work on politics and democracy in the Information Age.

Bruno Latour
Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory
Oxford University Press, 2007, 302.3 LAT
Reassembling the Social is a fundamental challenge from one of the world's leading social theorists to how we understand society and the 'social'. Bruno Latour's contention is that the word 'social', as used by Social Scientists, has become laden with assumptions to the point where it is a misnomer. Rather than simply indicating what is already assembled together, it is now used in a way that makes assumptions about the nature of what is assembled. It has become a word that designates two distinct things: a process of assembling; and a type of material, distinct from others. Latour shows why 'the social' cannot be thought of as a kind of material or domain, and disputes attempts to provide a 'social explanations' of other states of affairs. Drawing on his extensive work examining the 'assemblages' of nature, Latour finds it necessary to scrutinize thoroughly the exact content of what is assembled under the umbrella of Society. This approach, a 'sociology of associations', has become known as Actor-Network-Theory.

David Nye
Technology Matters: Questions to Live With
MIT, 2007, 303.483 NYE
We use technology to shape our world, yet we think little about the choices we are making. In Technology Matters, Nye tackles ten central questions about our relationship to technology, integrating a half-century of ideas about technology into ten cogent and concise chapters, with wide-ranging historical examples from many societies. Among them: Does technology shape us, or do we shape it? Is technology inevitable or unpredictable? Are we using modern technology to create cultural uniformity, or diversity? To create abundance, or an ecological crisis? To destroy jobs, or create new opportunities? Should the market choose our technologies? Does ubiquitous technology expand our mental horizons, or encapsulate us in artifice? These large questions may have no final answers yet, but we need to wrestle with them - to live them, so that we may, as Rilke puts it, live along some distant day into the answers.

Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Harvard Business Press, 2008, 303.4833 BER
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff define 'the groundswell' as a social structure in which technology puts power into the hands of individuals and communities, not institutions. We see examples of this all around us: Second Life, You Tube, Twitter, etc. The technology that is enabling this has created a permanent, long lasting shift in the way the world works. This compelling, research-based book will not only identify the emerging components of this shift, but will also help companies build their businesses around it with data and advice, regardless of what specific new technologies come along. Li and Bernoff, well-known thought leaders in the area of social technology, have used their considerable resources at Forrester Research to generate hard consumer data that quantifies a viable business opportunity. Based on their work with dozens of companies presented in the book, the authors are able to credibly describe how business can participate in the new social medium in order to communicate with, energize, support, and learn from their customers.

Richard Watson
Future Files: 5 Trends for the next 50 Years
Nicholas Brealey, 2008, 303.49 WAT
Filled with provocative forecasts about how the world might change in the next half century, Future Files examines emerging patterns and developments in society, technology, economy, and business, and makes educated speculations as to where they might take us. It is indispensable to business analysts, strategists and organisations who need to stay ahead of the game as well as providing rich and fascinating material for dinner party conversations.

Julia Neuberger
Not Dead Yet: A Manifesto for Old Age
HarperCollins, 2008, 305.260941 NEU
Britain is getting old -- and fast. Due to the combination of a decline in birth rates and an increase in life expectancy we are rapidly heading towards a crisis -- in health, housing, finance and long-term care. Despite this seismic shift in our demographic makeup, the way we view and treat the old has barely adjusted. It is shocking, for example, that despite less than 1 in 20 British people wanting to reside in a care home in their old age, 1 in 5 die in one. It is time that we examined how we look after ourselves as we age -- and address the issues that when young we take for granted as a right, not a privilege.

Hugh Miles
Playing Cards in Cairo
Abacus, 2008, 305.486970962 MIL
Recently installed in Cairo as a freelance journalist and expat barfly, Hugh Miles soon meets and falls in love with Roda, a beautiful Egyptian doctor, who introduces him to Egypt's favourite pastime, the card game tarneeb, to her all-female card circle, and to a previously unseen side of life in the Middle East's greatest city. While the women cut and shuffle, Miles listens to their stories and learns about what it means to be a young Muslim woman, dating, dieting and divorcing in a country where traditional Islamic values are in the ascendant. Yosra struggles with an addiction to prescription drugs; Nadia copes with a baby and an abusive husband; neighbour Reem comes to terms with plastic surgery gone wrong; while her sister attempts to conceal her secret love-marriage from her family and to breathe life into a clothes shop run by a regime apparatchik with an Islamist vision of retail. Hugh Miles takes a fascinating sideways look at the lives of young Egyptians, and finds himself on a romantic adventure that will lead him to Islam and bind him to the Arab world for ever.

Amy Spencer
DIY: The Rise of Lo-fi Culture
Marion Boyars, 2008, 306.48426 SPE
Since the ‘90s, hundreds of zines, records and CDs have been produced by individuals in reaction to the shortcomings of the mainstream media. The central message: if you can find the cultural experience you are looking for, create your own alternative! This exploration of lo-fi culture traces the origin of the DIY ethics back to the sci-fi zines of the ‘30s, the self-publishing of the beats, the skiffle movement of the ‘50s, and the ‘70s punk scne.

David Marquand
Britain Since 1918: The Strange Career of British Democracy
Orion, 2008, 320.94109042 MAR
The story of British democracy opens more than 350 years ago: The Levellers of the 17th century, 18th-century radicals, the Chartists and the Reform Acts are all part of the unsteady and fiercely contested progress towards a democratic constitution and universal male suffrage in 1918. Dreams, visions and ideals are important too - of George Orwell, and Enoch Powell, Milton, Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke, Churchill and Lord Salisbury, Aneurin Bevan and Tony Benn - for they have also shaped our outlook. BRITAIN SINCE 1918 is a formidable combination of narrative and analysis: entertaining, instructive and thought-provoking.

Michael Moore
Mike’s Election Guide 2008
Penguin Books, 2008, 324.60973 MOO
Michael Moore returns to give you the low-down on the ins and outs of voting, answering all those pressing questions you've always wondered about, such as, Why should I vote? It only encourages them. Can my vote be bought (and what's the starting price)? The candidates seem to think I'm stupid. Should I just go along to keep them happy? It seems like just anyone can run for office. Is that a good idea? For anyone who thought voting was just a load of ballots, this is the book you need to read before marking your X. Enfranchisement has never been so exciting!

Polly Toynbee and David Walker
Unjust Rewards: Exposing Greed and Inequality in Britain Today
Granta, 2008, 339.20941 TOY
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. City workers earn millions and manual workers earn less than they did thirty years ago. The widening gap is tearing apart the fabric of our society. In this urgent polemic, Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee and the Guardian's economics editor David Walker present a worrying portrait of Britain today. Their gripping investigation takes them to a Cable and Wireless AGM, a chairman of a FTSE 100 company, a council estate, an inner city school and a Sure-Start programme. High earners have little idea that half of British people earn less that GBP22,300, and are amazed to learn that a third of the population live below the poverty line. Unjust Rewards sets the agenda for the next general election.

Trevor Paglen
I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me
Melville House Publishing, 2008, 355.13420973 PAG
They're on the shoulder of all military personnel: patches that symbolize what a soldier's unit does. But what happens if it's top secret? Although the actual projects represented here (such as the notorious Area 51) are classified, these patches, worn by military units working on classified missions, are precisely photographed, strangely hinting at a world about which little is known. By submitting hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, the author has also assembled an extensive and readable guide to the patches included here, making this volume one of the best available surveys of the military's black world - a $27 billion industry that has quietly grown by almost 50 percent since 9/11. Trevor Paglen is a geographer by training, and an expert on clandestine military installations, and leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American West.

Catherine Arnold
Bedlam: London and Madness
Simon & Schuster, 2008, 362.209421 ARN
'Bedlam!' The very name conjures up graphic images of naked patients chained among filthy straw, or parading untended wards deluded that they are Napoleon or Jesus Christ. We owe this image of madness to William Hogarth, who, in plate eight of his 1735 Rake's Progress series, depicts the anti-hero in Bedlam, the latest addition to a freak show providing entertainment for Londoners between trips to the Tower Zoo, puppet shows and public executions. Following the historical narrative structure of her acclaimed Necropolis, Bedlam examines the capital's treatment of the insane over the centuries, from the founding of Bethlehem Hospital in 1247 through the heyday of the great Victorian asylums to the more enlightened attitudes that prevail today.

David Simon
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
Canongate, 2008, 363.25952097526 SIM
The scene is Baltimore. Twice every three days another citizen is shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned to death. At the centre of this hurricane of crime is the city's homicide unit, a small brotherhood of men confronted by the darkest of American visions. David Simon was the first reporter ever to gain unlimited access to a homicide unit, and his remarkable book is both a compelling account of casework and an investigation into our culture of violence. The narrative follows Donald Worden, a veteran investigator nearing the end of his career; Harry Edgerton, an iconoclastic black detective in a mostly white unit; and Tom Pellegrini, an earnest rookie who takes on the year's most difficult case, the brutal rape and murder of an eleven-year-old girl.

Kelly Grovier
The Gaol: The Story of Newgate, London’s Most Notorious Prison
John Murray, 2008, 365.9421 GRO
For over 800 years, Newgate was the grimy axel around which British society slowly twisted. This is where such legendary outlaws as Robin Hood and Captain Kidd met their fates, where the rapier-wielding playwrights Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe sharpened their quills, and where flamboyant highwaymen like Claude Duval and James Maclaine made legions of women swoon. While London’s theatres came and went, the gaol endured as its unofficial stage. By piecing together the lives of forgotten figures as well as re-examining the prisons links with more famous individuals, from Dick Whittington to Charles Dickens, this thrilling history goes in search of a ghostly place, erased by time, which has inspired more poems and plays, paintings and novels, than any other structure in British history.

Guy Claxton
What’s the Point of School? Rediscovering the Heart of Education
Oneworld, 2008, 370.1 CLA
With their emphasis on regurgitated knowledge and stressful exams, today's schools actually do more harm than good. Guiding readers past the sterile debates about City Academies and dumbed-down exams, Claxton proves that education's key responsibility should be to create enthusiastic learners who will go on to thrive as adults in a swiftly-changing, dynamic world. Students must be encouraged to sharpen their wits, ask questions, and think for themselves - all without chucking out Shakespeare or the Periodic Table. Blending down-to-earth examples with the latest advances in brain science, and written with passion, wit, and authority, this brilliant book will inspire teachers, parents, and readers of all backgrounds to join a practical revolution and foster in the next generation a natural curiosity and the spirit of adventure.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Marcus Chown
Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You
Faber, 2008, 530.12 CHO
The two towering achievements of modern physics are quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity. But, almost a century after their advent, most people haven't the slightest clue what either is about. Did you know that there's so much empty space inside matter that the entire human race could be squeezed into the volume of a sugar cube? Or that you grow old more quickly on the top floor of a building than on the ground floor? Get set for the most entertaining science book of the year.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Lisa Appignanesi
Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present
Virago, 2008, 616.890082 APP
This is the story of how we have understood extreme states of mind over the last two hundred years and how we conceive of them today, when more and more of our inner life and emotions have become a matter for medics and therapists. Here, too, is the story of the professions that have grown up to offer treatment, of how over the years symptoms and diagnoses have developed together to create fashions in illness and how treatments have succeeded or sometimes failed, even when those providing care were women too. Mad, Bad and Sad takes us on a fascinating journey through the fragile, extraordinary human mind.

Tom Vanderbilt
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way we do (and What it Says about Us)
Allen Lane, 2008, 629.283 VAN
Why does the other lane always seem to be moving faster? Why are people so different inside their cars than they are outside them? Is traffic a microcosm of society, or does the road make its own rules? Traffic speaks volumes: bringing together people from every walk of life. In this hugely enjoyable, curiosity-filled book, Tom Vanderbilt explains why traffic problems are really people problems. Traffic shows that how we behave walking the streets, on our bikes and in our cars is an astonishing cultural indicator; a living, constantly surprising model, what physicists call 'emergent collective behaviour'. Vanderbilt chauffeurs us through why it's so hard to pay attention in traffic, why women cause more congestion than men, what factors make us more likely to honk our horns amongst a host of eye-opening highway conundrums. This book will change the way you view the world and help you better navigate it.

Luke Johnson
The Maverick: Dispatches from an Unrepentant Capitalist
Harriman House, 2007, 650 JOH
For eight years between 1998 and 2006, Luke Johnson wrote a regular column as The Maverick in The Sunday Telegraph. His short, pithy essays tackled subjects ranging from rich lists to bankrupt companies, from high finance to investment techniques, from philanthropy to trophy wives, bringing a practitioner's eye to the commercial world and the people in it. The Maverick quickly developed a cult following among readers who wanted to understand the blunt truth about investment, entrepreneurs, business history, and corporate life. This book brings together 84 of the best articles, with updates, in a single volume. What makes them unique is that Luke Johnson is not just a first-class writer, he is also one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs. He is the Chairman of Channel 4, and made his name with Pizza Express, has run and owned businesses in many different sectors, and now takes stakes in fast-growing businesses through his company, Risk Capital Partners. The diversity of his experience enables him to write with insight and perspective about the very serious matter of making and losing money. If you are in business, you will find The Maverick entertaining, informative and inspiring. If you are not in business, you will discover what makes business people tick, the hurdles they have to overcome to succeed, and the substantial benefits they bring to society.

Jeff Howe
Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business
Random House Business, 2008, 658.405802854678 HOW
First identified by journalist Jeff Howe in an article in Wired in June 2006, Crowdsourcing describes the process by which the power of the many can be harnessed together on the internet to build and to innovate. Now he shows precisely how this has become possible - how complex social, technological and economic developments have fused together to make Crowdsourcing an increasingly powerful force in more and more areas of our daily lives. Crowdsourcing is now a part of our lives, whether we're aware of it or not. If we're to benefit from what it can achieve, we need to understand where it's come from and how it works - and where it's taking us.

Peter M. Senge
The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organisations are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World
Nicholas Brealey, 2008, 658.408 SEN
The Necessary Revolution reveals how corporations and organizations are, in the face of looming environmental crises and pressure from social issues, finding solutions that ensure both long- term survival and real-time business success. It is destined to become the essential handbook for everyone who understands the need to act and work together now to create a sustainable world for ourselves and the generations to come. The Necessary Revolution contains a wealth of strategies to help anyone, regardless of role or title, build the confidence and competence to respond effectively to the greatest challenge of our time. It is destined to become the essential handbook for everyone who understands the need to act and work together-now-to create a sustainable world for ourselves and the generations to follow.

Julie Perigo
Winners in the Second Half: A Guide for Executives at the Top of their Game
John Wiley, 2008, 658.409 PER
Later career, 'the second half of the game', is not, as it is often perceived to be, a period of decline or a black hole, but an inspirational time of Generative Leadership and a challenging opportunity for better tactics. This book explores common fears and uncertainties about the second half of the game, enabling you to feel comfortable exploring opportunities previously outside of your comfort zone and feel confident about your future.

700s – The Arts

Don Thompson
The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Auction Houses
Aurum, 2008, 706.88 THO
The Twelve Million Dollar Stuffed Shark is the first book to look at the economics of the modern art world and the marketing strategies which power the market to produce such astronomical prices. Don Thompson, an economics professor specializing in art and auctions, talks to auction houses, dealers, and collectors to find out the source of Charles Saatchi's Midas touch, and how far a gallery like White Cube has contributed to Damien Hirst becoming the highest-earning artist in the world. He unravels the Byzantine sale procedures by which the top auction houses maintain both premium prices for what they sell and their own pre-eminence, but also shows us a market whose most spectacular excesses are driven just as often by far simpler human urges like lust and self-aggrandizement. It is a world in which brand is all-important, and which in many ways has most in common with the branded world of luxury fashion. The result is a fascinating, shrewd and highly readable insight into a modern-day phenomenon.

Tom McCarthy
Tintin and the Secret of Literature
Granta, 2007, 741.59493 MCC
Herge's Tintin cartoon adventures have been translated into more than fifty languages and read by tens of millions of children aged, as their publishers like to say, 'from 7 to 77.' Arguing that their characters are as strong and their plots as complex as any dreamt up by the great novelists, Tom McCarthy asks a simple question: is Tintin literature? McCarthy takes a cue from Tintin himself, who spends much of his time tracking down illicit radio signals, entering crypts and decoding puzzles and suggests that we too need to 'tune in' and decode if we want to capture what's going on in Herge's work. What emerges is a remarkable story of hushed-up royal descent, in both Herge's work and his own family history. McCarthy shows how the themes this story generates - expulsion from home, violation of the sacred, the host-guest relationship turned sour, and anxieties around questions of forgery and fakeness - are the same that have fuelled and troubled writers from the classical era to the present day. His startling conclusion is that Tintin's ultimate 'secret' is that of literature itself.

Michael Peppiatt
Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma
Constable, 2008, 759.2 PEP
Published in 1996, Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma was the first in-depth study of the artist's life. It has not been superseded. In this substantially revised, updated edition to coincide with the artist's centenary, Peppiatt has incorporated confidential material Bacon gave him, which he did not include in the first edition. This valuable, first-hand information comes from the hundreds of conversations Bacon had with Peppiatt, often late into the night, over thirty years, particularly during the periods Bacon spent living and working in Paris. It includes insights into Bacon's intimate relationships, his artistic convictions and his general view of life, as well as his acerbic comments on his contemporaries. Similarly, his recent research into the artist's background - his tortured affair with the sadistic Peter Lacy in Tangier, for instance, and the baffling circumstances of his death in Madrid - shed light on unexplored areas of Bacon's life and work.

Daniel Barenboim
Everything is Connected: The Power of Music
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008, 780 BAR
Daniel Barenboim's new book vividly describes his lifelong pursuit of knowledge and understanding, not only of music and of life, but of one through the other. As he himself says in the introduction,” This is not a book for musicians, nor is it one for non-musicians, but rather for the curious mind that wishes to discover the parallels between music and life and the wisdom that becomes audible to the thinking ear.” From the problems of timing - whether in a piece of music or a political process - to the philosophy of Spinoza and its relevance to musical interpretation, Barenboim advocates the integration of music and musical thought into our everyday lives.

Sarah Street
British National Cinema
Routledge, 2008, 791.430941 STR
With films as diverse as Bhaji on the Beach, The Dam Busters, Trainspotting, The Draughtsman's Contract, Prick Up Your Ears, Ratcatcher, This Is England and Atonement, British cinema has produced wide-ranging notions of British culture, identity and nationhood. British National Cinema is a comprehensive introduction to the British film industry within an economic, political and social context.

Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman
Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
MIT, 2003, 794.8 SAL
As pop culture, games are as important as film or television--but game design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary. In Rules of Play, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman present a much-needed primer for this emerging field. They offer a unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games, and Rules of Play is a catalyst for innovation, filled with new concepts, strategies, and methodologies for creating and understanding games.. Building an aesthetics of interactive systems, Salen and Zimmerman define core concepts like play, design, and interactivity.

John Carlin
Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation
Atlantic, 2008, 796.3330964 CAR
24 June 1995. Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The Springboks versus The All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final. Nelson Mandela steps onto the pitch wearing a Springboks shirt and, before a global audience of millions, a new country is born. This book tells the incredible story of Mandela's journey to that moment. As the day of the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup dawned, and the Springboks faced New Zealand's all-conquering All Blacks, more was at stake than a sporting trophy. When Nelson Mandela appeared wearing a Springboks jersey and led the all-white Afrikaner-dominated team in singing South Africa's new national anthem, he conquered white South Africa. Playing the Enemy tells the extraordinary human story of how that moment became possible. It shows how a sport, once the preserve of South Africa's Afrikaans-speaking minority, came to unify the new rainbow nation, and tells of how - just occasionally - something as simple as a game really can help people to rise above themselves and see beyond their differences.

800s – Literature

Michael Chabon
Maps and Legends
McSweeney's Publishing, 2008, 801.95 CHA
The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay pens a work of literary non-fiction--a series of linked essays in praise of reading and writing.

Haruki Murakami
What I Talk about when I Talk about Running
Harvill Secker, 2008, 895.635 MUR
In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he'd completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a slew of critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and on his writing. Equal parts travelogue, training log, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and settings ranging from Tokyo's Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvellous lens of sport emerges a cornucopia of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.

900s – Geography & History

David Andress
1789: The Threshold of the Modern Age
Little, Brown, 2008, 909.7 AND
In 1789 the world stood at the threshold of the modern age. While the French Revolution and the election of George Washington seemed to herald a new global order, Britain stood shocked at the new world unfolding before her. Two documents were drafted which would change the very meanings of citizens and statehood: the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. The age of royal despotism had ended. But beneath this veneer of progress, darker forces were at work: the French Revolution spiralled out of control, American slavery expanded and the armed forces of the British Empire were unleashed in India. From 'mad' King George III to J.J. Rousseau and Thomas Paine, from Pitt the Younger to Robespierre, David Andress illuminates a world on the brink through the men who held its future in their hands.

Chris Patten
What Next? Surviving the Twenty-first Century
Allen Lane, 2008, 909.83 PAT
Globalisation, energy, international crime, Weapons of Mass Destruction, nuclear proliferation, small arms proliferation, international drugs trafficking, climate change, water shortage, migration, epidemic disease, the fraying of the nation state: the list of challenges facing our world is itself proliferating rapidly, and nobody seems to have much of a grip on what is going on. Digesting vast amounts of information from a multiplicity of sources, and drawing on his experience at the highest levels of national and international politics, Chris Patten analyses what we know in each of these areas and argues how in each of them we could get somewhere we might want to be. Very little, he says, has turned out as we might have expected twenty years ago, but there is plenty we can still do. Readers of Patten's previous books will know what a penetrating analyst and engaging writer he is. This is his most ambitious and impressive yet.

Andrew Mueller
I Wouldn’t Start from Here: The 21st Century and where it all went wrong
Portobello, 2008, 909.831 MUE
What is a jaded rock journalist doing in the company of mercenaries, terrorists, warmongers and hitmen? Andrew Mueller doesn’t consider himself a ‘proper’ reporter; yet somehow he’s found himself skidding around the globe from failed state to ravaged warzone to desolate no-man’s-land in an attempt to unpick why we humans seem so prone to plucking war from the jaws of peace, why so much that can go wrong does go wrong, and why some conflicts suddenly seem to find themselves resolved. Here we travel with him as he ducks for cover in Gaza, runs roadblocks in Iraq, hang out with Hezbollah, and gets arrested in Cameroon.

London through a Lens
Time Out, 2008, 914.2100222 TIM
The capital like you've never seen it before. London through a Lens brings together over 200 images of the city from the birth of photography to the present. Based on the popular slot in the weekly Time Out magazine, it avoids the usual tourist cliches in favour of beautiful, shocking, intriguing and amusing pictures - each with explanatory text - that create a vibrant portrait of London's many faces. Taken from the vast archives of Getty Images, the photos mix the momentous and the mundane, cultural highs and sporting lows, iconic buildings and forgotten streets, famous figures and ordinary Londoners. Some are by acclaimed photographers, some by anonymous snappers, and many are rare or never published. The result: a rich and arresting visual biography - and the perfect gift for anyone interested in London.

Frank Westerman
Harvill Secker, 2008, 915.662 WES
Ararat is a breathtaking journey along the fault-line between religion and science, a pilgrimage by a non-believer that takes Frank Westerman to Mount Ararat where, as biblical tradition has it, Noah's Ark ran aground and God made his covenant with mankind. Mount Ararat is now a geographical, political and cultural crossroads, bound up with the centuries-old history of warfare between different cultures in this region.As Westerman stands at its foot it poses both a physical and a religious challenge: where is the God from my children's bible? Who or what has taken his place? Can one free oneself of a religious upbringing? He meets geologists, priests, and, on the mountain's high slopes, an expedition in search of the Ark's remains. And also a Russian astronaut who observes that 'there is something between heaven and earth about which we humans know nothing'. Ararat is a dazzling, highly personal book about science, religion and all that lies between, by one of Europe's most celebrated young writers.

Richard Grant
Bandit Roads: Into the Lawless Heart of Mexico
Little, Brown, 2008, 917.21 GRA
There are many ways to die in the Sierra Madre, a notorious nine-hundred-mile mountain range in northern Mexico where AK-47s are fetish objects, the law is almost non-existent and power lies in the hands of brutal drug mafias. Thousands of tons of opium and marijuana are produced there every year. Richard Grant thought it would be a good idea to travel the length of the Sierra Madre and write a book about it. He was warned before he left that he would be killed. But driven by what he calls 'an unfortunate fascination' for this mysterious region, Grant sets off anyway. In a remarkable piece of investigative writing, he evokes a sinister, surreal landscape of lonely mesas, canyons sometimes deeper than the Grand Canyon, hostile villages and an outlaw culture where homicide is the most common cause of death and grandmothers sell cocaine. Finally his luck runs out and he finds himself fleeing for his life, pursued by men who would murder a stranger in their territory 'to please the trigger finger'.

Ophelia Field
The Kit-Cat Club: Friends who Imagined a Nation
HarperPress, 2008, 941.0680922 FIE
The fascinating history of the male-only members of the Kit-Cat Club, the unofficial centre of Whig power in 17th century Britain, and home to the greatest political and artistic thinkers of a generation. The Kit-Cat Club was founded in the late 1690s when London bookseller Jacob Tonson forged a partnership with pie-maker Christopher (Kit) Cat. What began as an eccentric publishing rights deal - Tonson paying to feed talented young writers and receiving first option on their works - developed into a unique gathering of intellects and interests, then into an unofficial centre of Whig power during the reigns of William & Mary, Anne and George I. With consummate skill, Ophelia Field portrays this formative period in British history through the club's intimate lens, describing the vicious Tory-Whig 'paper wars' and the mechanics of aristocratic patronage, the London theatre world and its battles over sexual morality, England's Union with Scotland and the hurly-burly of Westminster politics. Tracing the Kit-Cat Club's far-reaching influence for the first time, this group biography illuminates a period when the British were searching for, and just beginning to find, a new national identity.

Orlando Figes
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia
Penguin, 2008, 947.0842 FIG
Drawing on a huge range of sources, Orlando Figes tells the story of how Russians tried to endure life under Stalin. Those who shaped the political system became, very frequently, its victims. Those who were its victims were frequently quite blameless. The Whisperers recreates the sort of maze in which Russians found themselves, where an unwitting wrong turn could either destroy a family or, perversely, later save it: a society in which everyone spoke in whispers - whether to protect themselves, their families, neighbours or friends - or to inform on them.

Richard Dowden
Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
Portobello, 2008, 960.32 DOW
Richard Dowden is a leading Africa correspondent; since first arriving in Idi Amin’s Uganda in 1971, he has never stopped learning about and reporting on real Africans and the realities of lie in Africa’s many and varied lands. Dowden combines on a novelist’s gift for atmosphere with the unblinking scholar’s grasp of historical change to produce one of the most compelling and revealing accounts of modern sub-Saharan Africa yet. His experiences there required him to re-evaluate all he had been taught to believe, and his landmark book enables its readers to see and understand this miraculous continent in a new light.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Featured Book - "What's the Point of School?"

Guy Claxton
What's the Point of School? Rediscovering the Heart of Education
Oneworld, 2008, 370.1 CLA

With the opening of the RSA Academy in Tipton this September, the first school in the country to be designed and built around the principles of our Opening Minds curriculum, it's timely that the RSA is hosting a discussion of Guy Claxton's new book, What's the Point of School? Rediscovering the Heart of Education.

Claxton, a profressor in Education as well as fellow of the British Psychological Society, has long advocated learning styles similar to Opening Mind's competency-based teaching, arguing for the replacment of the traditional three-R's with a new set of four: resilience, resourcefulness, reflection, and relationships, and as co-director of Winchester University's Centre for Real-world Learning, he has worked to understand how people learn the skills to that they need to accomplish real-world tasks, from writing stories to resolving heated arguments.

Guy Claxton will be in discussion with educationalists Mike Gibbons, deputy director of The Innovation Unit and Dylan William on 2 October 2008, at 1pm, as part of our RSA Thursday strand. Follow this link to book your place, and email the RSA Library to borrow a copy of What's the Point of School? and other Claxton publications.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Open House London 2008

Open House
Open House London: Architecture Up Close
Open House Press, 2008, REF 720 OPE

On Sunday 21st September, the doors of 8 John Adam Street will be opened up to the public as the RSA once again takes part in the annual London Open House weekend.

Open House is an architecture education organisation that runs a public programme of events which aims to raise the standard of London’s built environment and encourage people to experience and engage with good design. The premier event on their calendar, the annual London Open House weekend is London’s largest architectural ‘exhibition’ and gives everyone the opportunity to visit over 700 buildings old and new across London – many of which are normally closed to the public.

For London Open House, not only will you be able to tour the Adam brothers- designed properties of their Adelphi Development that the RSA now inhabits, including a pub, some wine cellars and an underground street, but there will be a display of materials from our Archive, detailing this history of the Society; staff from our Projects department will be there to explain the work we do now; and our Fellowship team will be there to discuss how you can get involved in its future.

The full 70 page colour guide to the event can be purchase or downloaded from Open House’s shop, for £4.50 and £3.50 respectively. Alternatively, copies are available free of charge from participating London Borough libraries, or for RSA Fellows, from the RSA Library, and you can search their listings here.

The RSA House will be open from 12pm to 5pm on Sunday 21 September, with last entry at 4.30pm, no booking is required. All building taking part in London Open House can be viewed free of charge, however a significant number of them require advanced bookings.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

RSA Library Update - August 2008

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of August 2008. Fellows are welcome to e-mail the Library if they wish to borrow any of these items.

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

200s – Religion

Alister E. McGrath
The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine
SPCK, 2007, 211.8 MCG
World-renowned scientist Richard Dawkins writes in The God Delusion, “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.” Once an atheist himself, Alister McGrath gained a doctorate in molecular biophysics before going on to become a leading Christian theologian. He wonders how two people, who have reflected at length on substantially the same world, could possibly have come to such different conclusions about God, asking if faith is intellectual nonsense, if science and religion locked in a battle to the death and can the roots of Christianity be explained away scientifically?

300s – Social Sciences

Stephen Gundle
Glamour: A History
Oxford University Press, 2008, 306.4 GUN
Glamour is one of the most tantalizing and bewitching aspects of contemporary culture - but also one of the most elusive. The aura of celebrity, the style of the fashion world, the vanity of the rich and beautiful, and the publicity-driven rites of cafe society are all imbued with its irresistible magnetism. But what exactly is glamour? Where does it come from? How old is it? And can anyone quite capture its magic? Stephen Gundle answers all these questions and more in this first ever history of the phenomenon, from Paris in the tumultuous final decades of the eighteenth century through to Hollywood, New York, and Monte Carlo. Throughout, the book captures the excitement and sex appeal of glamour while exposing its mechanisms and exploring its sleazy and sometimes tragic underside. As Gundle shows, while glamour is exciting and magnetic, its promise is ultimately an illusion that can only ever be partially fulfilled.

Jennifer Worth
Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the1950s
Phoenix, 2008, 306.87439421 WOR
Jennifer Worth came from a sheltered background when she became a midwife in the Docklands in the 1950s. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying, not only because of their grimly impoverished surroundings, but also because of what they were expected to endure. But while Jennifer witnessed brutality and tragedy, she also met with amazing kindness and understanding, tempered by a great deal of Cockney humour. She also earned the confidences of some whose lives were truly stranger, more poignant and more terrifying than could ever be recounted in fiction. Attached to an order of nuns who had been working in the slums since the 1870s, Jennifer tells the story not only of the women she treated, but also of the community of nuns (including one who was accused of stealing jewels from Hatton Garden) and the camaraderie of the midwives with whom she trained. Funny, disturbing and incredibly moving, Jennifer's stories bring to life the colourful world of the East End in the 1950s.

Diane Duncan
Teaching Children’s Literature
Routledge, 2008, 372.64 DUN
Drawing on a series of recently conducted classroom workshops and live interviews with the authors, this inspiring book examines five popular children's authors: Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Browne, Jacqueline Wilson and the genre of comic books. Teaching Children's Literature provides detailed literary knowledge about the chosen authors and genres alongside clear, structured guidelines and creative ideas to help teachers, student teachers and classroom assistants make some immensely popular children's books come alive in the classroom. This accessible and inspiring text for teachers, parents, student teachers and students of children's literature includes a variety of discussion, drama, writing and drawing activities, with ideas for Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning which can be used to plan a unit of work or series of interrelated lessons for pupils aged between seven and fourteen years. It provides detailed, literary knowledge about the authors, their works, language, plot and characterisation, including exclusive transcripts of interviews with three contemporary children's book authors, and shows teachers how pupils can be encouraged to become more critical and knowledgeable about screen, picture and comic narratives as well as written narratives. Teaching Children’s Literature has kindly been donated to the Library by Diane Duncan, a Fellow of the RSA.

Oliver Tickell
Kyoto2: How to Manage the Global Greenhouse
Zed, 2008, 363.738746 TIC
The Kyoto Protocol, the world's first tentative step towards avoiding the threat of climate change, has failed. We urgently need a new course of action. In Kyoto2, the writer, journalist and broadcaster Oliver Tickell puts forward a strikingly original new solution. Using a system of finite production rights for greenhouse gases, which would be traded by organisations on a global auction, Kyoto2 seeks to succeed where the original agreement failed. Regulated by an independent body, the funds could be poured back into healing the wounds inflicted by climate change. In his combination of idealism with realistic proposals, Tickell exposes the flaws in current approaches, and envisions a fairer and more effective system. Kyoto2 promises to banish the dejection of the post-Kyoto era, reviving hope that the cure for the crisis facing our planet is still achievable.

Carolyn Steel
Hungry City: How Food Shapes our Lives
Chatto & Windus, 2008, 363.8 STE
Cities were shaped by food and its demands, and to ignore this as we plan the urban future is to pervert the basis of our social existence - and to risk the future of the planet. Hungry City examines the way in which modern food production has damaged the balance of human existence. It reveals that we have yet to solve a centuries-old dilemma - one which holds the key to a host of 21st century ills, from obesity, social exclusion and poverty, to the destruction of the natural world. Carolyn Steel follows food on its journey - from the farms where it is grown, through the public and private spaces of the city and back to the land - showing how our environment is being manipulated by the dictates of modern food production, and explaining how we can change things for the better.

Charles Leadbeater
What’s Next? 21 Ideas for a 21st Century Learning
The Innovation Unit, 2008, 370 LEA
How can we build on the most racial innovations in today’s schools to create a new approach to learning fit for the century to come? Charles Leadbeater argues that the current approach to educational reform is running out of steam. Improvements in results have reached a plateau, and educational inequality remains stubbornly high. What’s Next? makes 21 recommendations to create an approach centred on children learning with, as well as from, teachers at schools that would feel smaller and offer more personalised learning. But just as important, Leadbeater’s vision of relationships for learning embraces the family, workplace and community as well as the school as centres for learning.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

700s – The Arts

Miles Wynn Cato
WelshArt, 2008, 757 CAT
William Parry was a familiar figure in the artistic community of late 18th century London. Most crucially, he was also well known to many of the major gentry families of north Wales, especially those with connections to the Williams Wynns. Yet his reputation fell into obscurity after his death and he has never before been the subject of in-depth academic study. Parry’s output as an artist appears to have been relatively small. Many of his paintings and drawings have been lost and the majority of those that have survived have been attributed to other important British artists of the period such as Wheatley, Opie and Wilson. A number of his most important surviving works have been re-identified in the course of researching this book and are published for the first time. Miles Wynn Cato read history at Cambridge and is the author of two other Welsh history books – Old Blood of Merioneth and A Perfect Patriarch.

800s – Literature

900s – Geography & History

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

RSA Library Update - July 2008

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of July 2008. Fellows are welcome to e-mail the Library if they wish to borrow any of these items.

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence
Bantam Books, 2005, 152.4 GOL
Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman's brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our two minds--the rational and the emotional--and how they together shape our destiny. Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence, and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. What emerges is an entirely new way to talk about being smart. The best news is that emotional literacy is not fixed early in life. Every parent, every teacher, every business leader, and everyone interested in a more civil society, has a stake in this compelling vision of human possibility.

Noah Goldstein, Steve Marin and Robert Cialdini
Yes! What Science tells us about how to be Persuasive
Profile, 2007, 153.852 GOL
Most of us are only too aware that, whatever roles we have in today's fast-moving world, much of our success lies in getting others to say 'yes' to our requests. What many people might not be aware of, though, is the vast amount of research that has been conducted on the influence process. What factors cause one person to say 'yes' to the request of another? Yes! is full of practical tips based on recent academic research that shows how the psychology of persuasion can provide valuable insights for anyone interested in improving their ability to persuade others - whether in the workplace, at home or even on the internet.

200s – Religion

Trevor Beeson
Round the Church in Fifty Years: An Intimate Journey
SCM Press, 2007, 283.4209045 BEE
One of the most perceptive and entertaining of writers, Trevor Beeson, takes us on a fascinating and amusing journey through the Church of England in the last fifty years. From the publication of Honest to God and to the ordination of women and rows over sexuality, it has been an extraordinary time, with its moments of exhilaration and absurdity. We travel a decade a time, taking in the Swinging Sixties and the Gay Nineties, enjoying an overview of both momentous change and obscure events in the Church, on the international stage and at a local level. In the Thatcher years, when the Church was the government's most effective opposition, what foolish or trivial things were exciting the minds of local preachers and editors of parish magazines? This wonderful book embraces both. Each section comprises 50 vignettes that capture the spirit of the age in which they were written.

300s – Social Sciences

Chip and Dan Heath
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck
Arrow Books, 2008, 302.2 HEA
What is that makes urban myths so persistent but many everyday truths so eminently forgettable? How do newspapers set about ensuring that their headlines make you want to read on? And why do we remember complicated stories but not complicated facts? In the course of over ten years of study, Chip and Dan Heath have established what it is that determines whether particular ideas or stories stick in our minds or not, and Made to Stick is the fascinating outcome of their painstaking research. Packed full of case histories and thought-provoking anecdotes, it shows, among other things, how one Australian scientist convinced the world he'd discovered the cause of stomach ulcers by drinking a glass filled with bacteria, and how a gifted sports reporter got people to watch a football match by showing them the outside of the stadium. Entertaining and informative by turns, this is a fascinating and multi-faceted account of a key area of human behaviour. At the same time, by showing how we can all use such cleverly devised strategies as the 'Velcro Theory of Memory' and 'curiosity gaps', it offers superbly practical insights, setting out principles we all can adopt to make sure that we get our ideas across effectively.

Richard Seyler Ling
New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion
MIT, 2008, 303.4833 LIN
This book looks at how cell phones and mobile communication may in many cases strengthen social cohesion. The message of this book is simple: the mobile phone strengthens social bonds among family and friends. With a traditional land-line telephone, we place calls to a location and ask hopefully if someone is there; with a mobile phone, we have instant and perpetual access to friends and family regardless of where they are. But when we are engaged in these intimate conversations with absent friends, what happens to our relationship with the people who are actually in the same room with us? In New Tech, New Ties , Rich Ling examines how the mobile telephone affects both kinds of interactions - those mediated by mobile communication and those that are face to face. He looks at the evidence, including interviews and observations from around the world, which documents the effect of mobile communication on social bonding and also examines some of the other possibly problematic issues raised by tighter social cohesion in small groups.

Kenan Malik
Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate
Oneworld, 2008, 305.8 MAL
The debate about race is back - and with a vengeance. In the past, scientific ideas of race reflected political ideas of inferiority and superiority, whereas today it reflects contemporary notions of diversity. Kenan Malik challenges both sides of the race debate, controversially revealing that it is not through the scientific study of human differences but through our political obsession with identity and diversity that racial ideas are once more catching fire. Weaving together politics, history, science, and philosophy, Strange Fruit discusses issues ranging from the science of skull measurement to the politics of the Holocaust; from diabetes rates among Hispanics to the fate of the Elgin Marbles; from the genetics of altruism to the struggle for Aboriginal rights; and, from the successes of Human Genome Project to the failures of multiculturalism. Huge in its reach and powerful in its grasp, the book uproots the conventional ways of thinking about race, science, and identity.

John Naish
Hodder & Stoughton, 2008, 306.3 NAI
For millions of years, humankind has used a brilliantly successful survival strategy. If we like something, we chase after more of it: more status, more food, more info, more stuff. Then we chase again. It's how we survived famine, disease and disaster to colonise the world. But now, thanks to technology, we've suddenly got more of everything than we can ever use, enjoy or afford. That doesn't stop us from striving though and it's making us sick, tired, overweight, angry and in debt. It burns up our personal ecologies and the planet's ecology too. We urgently need to develop a sense of 'enough'. Our culture keeps telling us that we don't yet have all we need to be happy, but in fact we need to nurture a new skill -- the ability to bask in the bounties all around us. Enough explores how our Neolithic brain-wiring spurs us to build a world of overabundance that keeps us hooked on 'more'. John explains how, through adopting the art of enoughness, we can break from this wrecking cycle. With ten chapters on topics such as Enough food, Enough stuff, Enough hurry and Enough information, he explores how we created the problem and gives us practical ways to make our lives better.

Stella Creast (ed.)
Participation Nation: Reconnecting Citizens to the Public Realm
The Involve Foundation, 2007, 323.042 CRE
Whether through online consultations, deliberative focus groups or citizens’ juries, never before have there been so many opportunities for citizens to influence public services. There is now a growing consensus that the state can no longer direct the actions of citizens without their cooperation any more than the market alone can be relied upon to address the challenges of modernity. Whether in dealing with climate change, public health concerns or tackling international terrorism and promoting pro-social behaviour, we are entering an era in which progress can only be made in a society in which individuals, communities and public services are each able and willing to play their own part. For this to happen, public participation must become the core, not the counterpart, of the future of public service decision marking. The time has come, it appears, for people power.

John Bolton
Surrender is not an Option: Defending American at the United Nations and Abroad
Simon & Schuster, 2007, 341.2373 BOL
The son of a Baltimore fireman and the first person in his family to go to university, with scholarships to Yale College and Yale Law School, John Bolton candidly recounts his sixteen month tenure as US Ambassador to the United Nations, his Senate confirmation battle, and the highlights of his career in public service in two prior Republican administrations. In this explosive book, Bolton details how he made sure that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan did not run for a third term and that another 'secular Pope' did not succeed him and why no country except the United States has done much about ending the genocide in Darfur. With a no-holds barred approach, John Bolton provides a unique insight into the workings of this monolithic institution and America's place within it.

Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
The Devil Came on Horseback
Dogwoof Pictures, 2008, 355.0218 STE
An up-close, honest, and uncompromising look at the crisis in Darfur, The Devil Came on Horseback exposes the on-going tragedy taking place in Sudan as seen through the eyes of one American witness. Using the exclusive photographs and first-hand testimony of former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle, the film goes on an emotionally charged journey into the heart of Darfurm Sudan, where in 2004 Steidle became witness to a genocide that to date has claimed over 400,000 lives. As an official military observer, Steidle had access to parts of the country that no journalist could penetrate. A film which demands to be watched by as many people as possible, The Devil Came on Horseback is a heartfelt account of what this particular American witness saw and, just as important, what he did afterwards.

Christopher Booker and Richard North
Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming, How Scares are Costing us the Earth
Continuum, 2007, 363.1 BOO
From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird 'flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, 'scares' have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world. This book for the first time tells the inside story of each of the major scares of the past two decades, showing how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern. It analyses the crucial role played in each case by scientists who have misread or manipulated the evidence; by the media and lobbyists who eagerly promote the scare without regard to the facts; and finally by the politicians and officials who come up with an absurdly disproportionate response, leaving us all to pay a colossal price, which may run into billions or even hundreds of billions of pounds. In an epilogue the authors compare our credulity in falling for scares to mass-hysterias of previous ages such as the post-mediaeval 'witch craze', describing our time as a 'new age of superstition'.

Robert Kunzig and Wallace S. Broecker
Fixing Climate: The Story of Climate Science, and How to Stop Global Warming
GreenProfile, 2008, 363.738747 KUN
We've heard a lot about climate change - but what can we do about it? Wallace Broecker, the eminent scientist who coined the term global warming way back in 1975, believes in a solution emerging on the horizon: 'artificial trees' designed to remove CO2 directly from the air. Penned by Broeker with award-winning science writer Robert Kunzig, this riveting and important book looks back at Earth's volatile climate history to shed light on the challenges we face ahead. Ice ages, planetary orbits, a giant 'conveyor belt' in the's a story full of extraordinary discoveries and maverick thinkers. Broecker likens climate to a slumbering beast, ready to react to the smallest of prods. And prodding it we are, by pumping 70 million tonnes of CO2 into the air each year. Fixing Climate explains why we need not just to reduce emissions but to start removing our carbon waste from our atmosphere. And in a thrilling last section of the book, we learn how this could become reality, using 'artificial trees' and underground storage.

Jane Martin and Ann Holt
Joined-up Governance: Making Sense of the Role of the School Governor
Adamson, 2007, 371.2011 MAR
Written by two leading experts on governance, Joined-up Governance establishes the underlying principles of the governors’ work and links them to their responsibilities. The result is to reveal and pattern and a purpose which will help governors to focus on the essential tasks and give them the confidence to do less of what others could or should be doing.

Alex Gibney
Taxi to the Dark Side
Revolver Entertainment, 2008, 399 GIB
As US Soldiers occupied war-torn Afghanistan in 2002, a young Afghan taxi driver called Dilawar was arrested, along with his passengers, at a checkpoint for an alleged involvement in a Taliban rocket attack. Confined to a solitary cell at Bagram, Dilawar was chained and exposed to continuous beatings and torture from the US soldiers. Five days after his arrest, Dilawar died.

400s – Language

Maryanne Wolf
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
Icon, 2008, 418.4019 WOL
'We were never born to read', says Maryanne Wolf. 'No specific genes ever dictated reading's development. Human beings invented reading only a few thousand years ago. And with this invention, we changed the very organisation of our brain, which in turn expanded the ways we were able to think, which altered the intellectual evolution of our species.' In Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf explores our brains' near-miraculous ability to arrange and re-arrange themselves in response to external circumstances. She examines how this 'open architecture', the elasticity of our brains, helps and hinders humans in their attempts to learn to read, and to process the written language. She also investigates what happens to people whose brains make it difficult to acquire these skills, such as those with dyslexia .Wolf, a world expert on the reading brain, brings both a personal passion and deft style to this, the story of the reading brain. It is a pop science masterpiece on a subject that anyone who loves reading will be sure to find fascinating.

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Michio Kaku
Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Tour beyond Science Fiction, Fantasy and Magic
Allen Lane, 2008, 509.05 KAK
Physics of the Impossible takes us on a journey to the frontiers of science and beyond, giving us an exhilarating insight into what we can really hope to achieve in the future. Everyday we see that what was once declared 'impossible' by scientists has become part of our everyday lives: fax machines, glass sky-scrapers, gas-powered automobiles, a worldwide communications network and high-speed elevated trains. Here, internationally bestselling author Micho Kaku confidently hurdles today's frontier of science, presenting the first truly authoritative exploration of the real science of tomorrow; a field normally left to writers of science fiction. He reveals the actual possibilities of perpetual motion, force fields, invisibility, ray guns, anti-gravity and anti-matter, teleportation, telepathy, psychokinesis, robots and cyborgs, faster than light travel, time travel, zero-point energy, extraterrestrial life, even clairvoyance. And he shows how few of these ideas actually violate the laws of physics. The real differences between the impossible, the unlikely and the imminent have never been so clear.

Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack
The View from the Centre of the Universe
Fourth Estate, 2006, 523.1 ABR
Ever since Galileo discovered that Earth is not the centre of the universe, we've thought of 'the universe' as either an enormous ice-cold vacuum or a setting for science fiction. Now, thanks to startling discoveries in astronomy and physics, we can see that the universe is far more coherent than anyone ever imagined it to be. For the first time in history, we have the necessary tools, theories and thinking to create a science-based cosmology (the study of the origin and structure of the universe) that explains not only how the universe works but what our place in it really is. This emerging cosmology explains how the universe operates, what the universe is made of, where it may have come from, how it is evolving and why it makes sense that humans are on Earth at all. Authors Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams, a world-renowned astrophysicist and a science philosopher, explain these astonishing new ideas in ways that will literally change how we view the world, showing us how intellectually thrilling and intuitively meaningful these new concepts are.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Julia Middleton
Beyond Authority: Leadership in a Changing World
Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 658.4092 MID
Many leaders have established their reputation in the internal silo environment of their organization. When they extend their leadership role beyond the organization, authority and legitimacy are constantly in question. Julia Middleton argues that new leaders need to be confident to legitimize themselves and challenge old ways. They need to develop a leadership style that will enable them to lead beyond the traditional boundaries and constraints of the organization. This book provides many challenging and compelling ideas and examples.

700s – The Arts

Rebecca Jenkins
The First London Olympics, 1908
Portrait, 2008, 796.48 JEN
A hundred years ago a 140-acre site of scrubland in London was transformed into the White City, which housed the 1908 Franco British Exhibition and a state-of-the-art stadium built to house the first London Olympics. The Olympics were organised by volunteers in 18 months, at a fraction of the cost of the modern Olympics and yet, just as today, the sport was overshadowed by doping scandals, and the protests of an occupied nation seeking independence. The British team were pitted against a US team dominated by Irish Americans and lost. The Games culminated in the historic marathon when Italian baker Dorando Pietri was disqualified, after he was helped across the finish line. Rebecca Jenkins's book, aided by over 70 charming illustrations, is a fascinating slice of social and sporting history and provides a thought-provoking contrast to the forthcoming London Olympics of 2012.

800s – Literature

David Foster Wallace
Consider the Lobster
Abacus, 2007, 814.54 WAL
Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a sick sense of humour? What is John Updike's deal anyway? And who won the Adult Video News' Female Performer of the Year Award the same year Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in his new book of hilarious non-fiction. For this collection, David Foster Wallace immerses himself in the three-ring circus that is the presidential race in order to document one of the most vicious campaigns in recent history. Later he strolls from booth to booth at a lobster festival in Maine and risks life and limb to get to the bottom of the lobster question. Then he wheedles his way into an L.A. radio studio, armed with tubs of chicken, to get the behind-the-scenes view of a conservative talkshow featuring a host with an unnatural penchant for clothing that only looks good on the radio. In what is sure to be a much-talked-about exploration of distinctly modern subjects, one of the sharpest minds of our time delves into some of life's most delicious topics.

900s – Geography & History

Fareed Zakaria
The Post-American World
Allen Lane, 2008, 909.83 ZAK
'This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else'. So begins Fareed Zakaria's important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the 'rise of the rest' - the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others - as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.

Simon Foxell
Mapping London: Making Sense of the City
Black Dog, 2007, 911.421 FOX
Mapping London: Making Sense of the City is a beautiful, compelling anthology that explores over six centuries of London maps. The book is a cartographic journey through the city, tracing its fascinating evolution and exploring the hopes and fears of its inhabitants as events unfold. Mapping London is lavishly illustrated with over 150 maps - from the earliest Roman and Saxon maps, contemporary town planning, literary imaginings and utopian prophecies through to the renderings of artists and comics, as well as timeless icons such as the London Underground map and the Monopoly board.

Sukhdev Sandhu
Night Haunts
Artangel/Verso, 2007, 914.210486 SAN
London at night, from Shakespeare's time to Dickens to Jack the Ripper, was always seen as a lawless orgy of depravity and pestilence, teeming with rogues and bandits. But is it now as bland and unthreatening as any new town? Sukhdev Sandhu journeys across London to find out whether the London night really has been rendered neutral by street lighting and CCTV cameras. Sandhu's forays see him prospecting in the London night with the people who drive its pulse, from the avian police to security guards, zookeepers and exorcists. He wades through the sewers, hangs out with pirate DJs and accompanies the marine patrol looking for midnight corpses. In a beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated book he seeks to reclaim the mystery and romance of the city - to revitalise the great myth of London for a new century.

Sarah Wise
The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum
Bodley Head, 2008, 942.1081 WIS
In 1887, Government inspectors were sent to explore the horrifying - often lethal - living conditions of the Old Nichol, a notorious 15-acre slum in London's East End. Among much else they found that the rotting 100-year-old houses were some of the most lucrative properties in the capital for their absent slumlords. Peers of the Realm, local politicians, churchmen and lawyers were making profits on these death-traps of as much as 150 per cent per annum. Before long, the Old Nichol became a focus of public attention, with journalists, the clergy, charity workers and others condemned its 6,000 inhabitants for their drunkenness and criminality. The solution to this 'problem' lay in internment camps, said some, or forced emigration - even policies designed to prevent breeding. Concentrating on the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century, The Blackest Streets is set in a turbulent period in London's history, when revolution was very much in the air - when unemployment, agricultural depression and a crackdown on parish relief provided a breeding ground for Communists and Anarchists. Sarah Wise explores the real lives behind the statistics - the woodworkers, fish smokers, street hawkers and many more. She excavates the Old Nichol from the ruins of history, laying bare the social and political conditions that created and sustained this black hole which lay at the very heart of the Empire.

Jonathan Fenby
The Britannica Guide to Modern China
Robinson, 2008, 951 FEN
In 2008, as Beijing hosts the Olympic Games, the world's attention is focused on China - yet the most populous nation on the planet is still something of a mystery for many. This comprehensive introduction to the country gives an unbiased and lively overview of China's people, its culture and recent history. In an illuminating account of the rise of modern China, The Britannica Guide shows how this former peasant economy has been transformed in the last three decades to achieve its present position as a super-power - and the future looks set to be even more impressive. Drawing together the most up-to-date material, and presenting it in a clear, reader-friendly style, it is the perfect companion for travellers who wish to know the country beyond the tourist trail, students and business people who need an overview of the culture and society, and of course the general reader, who wants to understand China's remarkable legacy and potent future.

Danny Postel
Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran: Iran and the Future of Liberalism
Prickly Paradigm Press, 2007, 955 POS
The Iran depicted in the headlines is a rogue state ruled by ever-more-defiant Islamic fundamentalists. Yet inside the borders, an unheralded transformation of a wholly different political bent is occurring. A liberal renaissance, as one Iranian thinker terms it, is emerging in Iran, and in this pamphlet, Danny Postel charts the contours of the intellectual upheaval. Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran examines the conflicted positions of the Left toward Iran since 1979, and, in particular, critically reconsiders Foucault's connection to the Iranian Revolution. Postel explores the various elements of the subtle liberal revolution and proposes a host of potential implications of this transformation for Western liberalism. He examines the appeal of Jurgen Habermas, Hannah Arendt, and Isaiah Berlin among Iranian intellectuals and ponders how their ideas appear back to us when refracted through a Persian prism. Postel closes with a thought-provoking conversation with eminent Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo. A provocative and incisive polemic highly relevant to our times, Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran will be of interest to anyone who wants to get beyond alarmist rhetoric and truly understand contemporary Iran.