Friday, March 28, 2008

RSA Library Update - March 2008

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of March 2008. Fellows are welcome to e-mail if they wish to borrow any of these items, or search the library catalogue for thousands of other titles....

000s – Generalities

Michael Chanan
The Politics of Documentary
BFI, 2008, 070.18 CHA
Michael Chanan traces the history of the documentary from the first Lumière films to Grierson and his contemporaries, through to Free Cinema, Cinéma vérité and Direct Cinema, up to the current resurgence of documentary with high profile films such as those by Michael Moore. Drawing on examples of documentary cinema in Japan, Iran and Latin America as well as Europe and the USA, Chanan argues that documentary provides a crucial public space in which ideas are debated, opinion is formed and those in authority are held to account.

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Mark Vernon
What Not to Say: Finding the Right Words at Difficult Moments
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, 100 VER
For those who are a little tired of feel-good self-help, or a little wary of too much psycho-babble, it offers an alternative based on the reality of cool analysis and genuine insight. What Not to Say is witty and thought-provoking, and whilst never moralising, does have a serious aim. First, to enable readers to speak more truthfully in difficult situations. Second, to allow readers to talk about personal problems in a wider perspective that can often ease the pain. Third, to gain greater clarity when discussing what to do in the future: to ask the question, How to live? In short, it is an aid in the search for the right and wise thing to say.

Jerome Kagan
What is Emotion? History, Measures and Meanings
Yale University Press, 2007, 152.4 KAG
In this sophisticated overview of human emotions, a widely respected psychologist Jerome Kagan addresses the ambiguities and embraces the controversies that surround this intriguing subject. He examines what exactly we do know about emotions, which popular assumptions about emotions are incorrect, and how scientific study must proceed if we are to uncover the answers to persistent and evasive questions about emotions.

G. E. R. Lloyd
Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind
Clarendon, 2007, 153 LLO
Sir Geoffrey Lloyd presents a cross-disciplinary study of the problems posed by the unity and diversity of the human mind. On the one hand, as humans we all share broadly the same anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and certain psychological capabilities - the capacity to learn a language, for instance. On the other, different individuals and groups have very different talents, tastes, and beliefs, for instance about how they see themselves, other humans and the world around them. These issues are highly charged, for any denial of psychic unity savours of racism, while many assertions of psychic diversity raise the spectres of arbitrary relativism, the incommensurability of beliefs systems and their mutual unintelligibility.

Albert Bandura
Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control
W.H. Freeman, 1997, 155.2 BAN
This volume is the result of over 20 years of psychological research by the author. It argues that those with high self-efficacy expectancies (the belief that one can achieve what one sets out to achieve) are healthier, more effective, and generally more successful than those with low self-efficacy expectancies. After a discussion of what self-efficacy is and where it comes from, the text discusses how belief in one's abilities affects developmental, mental functioning, and health; as well as its applications to the areas of psychopathology, athletics, business, and international issues.

Slavoj Žižek
Violence: Six Sideways Reflections
Profile, 2008, 179.7 ŽIŽ
The premise of Slavoj Žižek’s new theory is that the subjective violence we see - violence with a clear identifiable agent - is only the tip of an iceberg made up of 'systemic' violence, which is essentially the catastrophic consequence of the smooth functioning of our economic and political systems. With the help of Marx, Engels, Sartre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Lacan, Brecht and many more, Žižek examines the hidden causes of violence, delving into the supposed 'divine violence' which propels suicide bombers and the unseen 'systemic' violence which lies behind outbursts, from Parisian suburbia to New Orleans. For Žižek, the controversial truth is that sometimes doing nothing is the most violent thing you can do. He calls for a forceful confrontation with the vacuity of today's democracies - using an unconventional plethora of references: Hitchcock, Orwell, Fukuyama, Freud and more.

200s – Religion

Vali Nasr
The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future
W. W. Norton, 2007, 297.8 NAS
In this smart, clear and timely book Vali Nasr, one of America's leading commentators on the Middle East, dissects the political and theological antagonisms within Islam. His concise and coherent analysis provides an objective understanding of the 1,400-year struggle between Shias and Sunnis, and sheds light on its modern-day consequences.

300s – Social Sciences

Dan Gardner
Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear
Virgin, 2008, 302.12 GAR
Every day, we suffer a barrage of information about the threat of terrorism, war and apocalypse. But while we are preoccupied by our fears, the real risk of these obscure annihilating events taking place is about as likely as winning the lottery. In this ground-breaking new book, Dan Gardner explains our 'risk perception' through our brain’s two simultaneous responses to risk - the ancient 'fight or flight' instinct and the rational considered response. How do we make choices amidst the bombardment of information we experience every day? And to what extent is that information manipulated to provoke a particular reaction from the public? To discover the answers, Dan Gardner speaks to economists, politicians, psychologists and media commentators, with entertaining and often surprising results.

Clay Shirky
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organisation without Organisations
Allen Lane, 2008, 303.4833 SHI
Everywhere you look, groups of people are coming together to share with one another, work together, or take some kind of public action. For the first time in history, we have tools that truly allow for this. In the same way the printing press amplified the individual mind and the telephone amplified two-way conversation, now a host of new tools, from instant messages and mobile phones to weblogs and wikis, amplify group communication. And because we are natively good at working in groups, this amplification of group effort will change more than business models: it will change society. What does it mean that someone with a laptop can spark a movement that changes the fortunes of a billion-dollar-industry or help topple a government? This profound and larger social impact is only now being explored. In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky, one of the new culture's wisest observers, give us his lucid and penetrating analysis on what the impact of this social revolution will be - for better or worse - on what we do, and who we are.

Gene Smith
Tagging: People-Powered Metadata for the Social Web
New Riders, 2008, 303.4833 SMI
Tagging is fast becoming one of the primary ways people organize and manage digital information. Tagging complements traditional organizational tools like folders and search on users’ desktops as well as on the web. These developments mean that tagging has broad implications for information management, information architecture and interface design. And its reach extends beyond these technical domains to our culture at large. This book explains the value of tagging, explores why people tag, how tagging works and when it can be used to improve the user experience. It exposes tagging's superficial simplicity to reveal interesting issues related to usability, information architecture, online community and collective intelligence.

Jenna Bailey
Can any Mother Help Me?
Faber & Faber, 2008, 305.409410904 BAI
In 1935, a young woman wrote a letter to Nursery World magazine, expressing her feelings of isolation and loneliness. Women from all over the country experiencing similar frustrations wrote back. To create an outlet for their abundant ideas and opinions they started a private magazine, The Cooperative Correspondence Club. The deep friendships formed through its pages ensured the magazine continued until 1990, fifty-five years after the first issue was put together.

Charles Leadbeater
We-think: The Power of Mass Creativity
Profile, 2008, 306 LEA
Society is based not on mass consumption now but on mass, innovative participation - as is clear in phenomena from Wikipedia, Youtube and Craigslist to new forms of scientific research and political campaigning. This new mode of 'We-think' is reshaping the way we work, play and communicate. We-think is about what the rise of these phenomena (not all to do with the internet) means for the way we organise ourselves - not just in digital businesses but in schools and hospitals, cities and mainstream corporations.

Damian Thompson
Atlantic, 2008, 306 THO
We are being swamped by dangerous nonsense. From 9/11 conspiracy theories to Holocaust denial, creationism to alternative medicine, we are all experiencing an epidemic of demonstrably untrue descriptions of the world. For Damian Thompson, these unproven theories and spurious claims are forms of 'counterknowledge', and, helped by the internet, they are creating a global generation of misguided adherents who repeat these untruths and lend them credence. 'The sleep of reason brings forth monsters', warns the title of Francisco Goya's famous etching of 1799. As Damian Thompson demonstrates, unless the defenders of enlightenment values fight back soon, the counterknowledge industry has the potential to create new political, social and economic disasters.

James Mason
The London Nobody Knows
Optimum, 2008, 306.09421 MAS
The London Nobody Knows exposes the real London of the Swinging Sixties, turning its back on familiar sights to explore the hidden details of a crumbling metropolis, from abandoned music-halls to egg breaking factories.

Alan Macfarlane
Japan Through the Looking Glass
Profile, 2007, 306.0952 MAC
This entertaining and endlessly surprising book takes us on an exploration into every aspect of Japanese society from the most public to the most intimate. A series of meticulous investigations gradually uncovers the multi-faceted nature of a country and people who are even more extraordinary than they seem. Our journey encompasses religion, ritual, martial arts, manners, eating, drinking, hot baths, geishas, family, home, singing, wrestling, dancing, performing, clans, education, aspiration, sexes, generations, race, crime, gangs, terror, war, kindness, cruelty, money, art, imperialism, emperor, countryside, city, politics, government, law and a language that varies according to whom you are speaking. Clear-sighted, persistent, affectionate, unsentimental and honest - Alan Macfarlane shows us Japan as it has never been seen before.

Daniel Miller (ed.)
Duke University Press, 2005, 306.46 MIL
Throughout history and across social and cultural contexts, most systems of belief - whether religious or secular - have ascribed wisdom to those who see reality as that which transcends the merely material. Yet humans are defined, to an extraordinary degree, by their expressions of immaterial ideals through material forms. The essays in Materiality explore varied manifestations of materiality from ancient times to the present. In assessing the fundamental role of materiality in shaping humanity, they signal the need to de-center the social within social anthropology in order to make room for the material. Considering topics as seemingly diverse as theology, technology, finance, and art, the contributors - most of whom are anthropologists - examine the many different ways in which materiality has been understood and the consequences of these differences.

Vic Gatrell
City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-century London
Atlantic, 2007, 306.70942109033 GAT
Between 1770 and 1830, London was the world's largest and richest city, the centre of hectic social ferment and of spectacular sexual liberation. It prompted revolutionary modes of thought, novel sensibilities and constant debate about the relations between the sexes, and nowhere was London's lewdness and iconoclasm more vividly represented than in its satire. Combining words and images to offer a brilliantly original panorama of that time, City of Laughter is a ground-breaking reappraisal of a period of seismic change and a unique account of the origins of our attitudes to sex, celebrity and satire today.

Drew Westen
The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation
PublicAffairs, 2007, 324.9730019 WES
This book presents a groundbreaking and surprising scientific investigation into how the mind works, how the brain works and what this means for why candidates win and lose elections. Since the 18th century, the idea of mind that has captured the imagination of philosophers, cognitive scientists, economists and political scientists is of a dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing evidence and reasoning to make the most valid conclusions. It bears no relation to how the mind and brain actually work. In this landmark book, Professor Drew Westen - a scientist and psychologist who has led a pioneering investigation into how the brain processes political information - shows through a whirlwind tour of American political leaders how electorates vote not with their heads, but with their hearts. The book, which examines data across several Presidential elections from the 1950s to the present day, is a serious and groundbreaking investigation into the role of emotion in driving voting behaviour.

Edward Lucas
The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces both Russia and the West
Bloomsbury, 2008, 327.4 LUC
In the 1990s, Russia was the sick man of Europe, but the rise to power of former KGB officer Vladimir Putin in 1999 coincided with a huge hike in world oil and gas prices, and after Yeltsin's downfall Putin set about re-establishing Russian autocracy. Using gas and oil reserves, Russia has paid off its debts and amassed huge cash reserves, investing these in easily accessible European businesses and using its valuable natural resources to develop power over Europe. Russia has so far sidelined America, its most formidable opponent in the last cold war: America needs Russia co-operation on North Korea, Iran and the Middle East, leaving the way clear for the Kremlin. The New Cold War explains both the Kremlin's tactics and the West's weaknesses. Why we are perilously close to defeat and - and how we can still win.

Firoze Madatally Manji
African Perspectives on China in Africa
Fahamu, 2007, 327.6051 MAN
Much of the commentary on China in Africa focuses either on assessing how the interests of Western capital might be affected, or on denouncing China for practises that have for centuries been the norm for US and European powers. Lost in that cacophony has been the voice of independent African analysts and activists. They are heard in this unique collection of essays from the prize-winning weekly electronic newsletter Pambazuka News.

Manuel Perez Paredes
Che Guevara As You Have Never Seen Him Before
Network, 2007, 335.4 PAR
This documentary pieces together the story of Che’s life, from early childgood to his revolutionary activities in Cuba, the Congo and Bolivia. Using previously unseen archive footage and stills, this remarkable diary of events includes interview footage with his father Ernesto, Fidel Castro and many other people who met and worked with him throughout his lifetime.

Robert Service
Comrades: A World History of Communism
Macmillan, 2007, 335.4 SER
Comrades tells the story of communism from its inception to the present day. It offers a succession of incisive pen-portraits of outstanding leaders and decisive events and spans the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, drawing on material from many national collections and several major languages and is the most up-to-date account produced since the 1960s. Service demonstrates that, while communism in its primordial form is now dead in most countries, the causes of its ability to gather support among intellectuals and ordinary people have not vanished: economic poverty and political oppression. The lasting message of the book is that something must be done to eradicate poverty and oppression if the world is to avoid a repetition of totalitarianism in some new form.

Sherene H. Razack
Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics
University of Toronto Press, 2008, 340.112 RAZ
Three stereotypical figures have come to represent the 'war on terror' - the 'dangerous' Muslim man, the 'imperilled' Muslim woman, and the 'civilized' European who anchors them. Casting Out explores the use of these figures in the formation of a story about a family of civilized white nations obliged to use force and terror to defend itself against a menacing cultural Other. It argues that this myth is promoted to justify the expulsion of Muslims from the political community; a process that takes the form of stigmatization, surveillance, incarceration, torture, and bombing. This is a study of great immediacy that uses the treatment of security detainees in the West, the flaunting of rights of Muslim populations in the name of protecting Muslim women, and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib to show that the framing of Western-Muslim relations is actually part of a racial construct of long standing.

Jasvinder Sanghera
Hodder Paperbacks, 2007, 362.8292092 SAN
When she was fourteen, Jasvinder Sanghera was shown a photo of the man chosen to be her husband. She was terrified. She'd witnessed the torment her sisters endured in their arranged marriages, so she ran away from home, grief-stricken when her parents disowned her. Shame is the heart-rending true story of a young girl's attempt to escape from a cruel, claustrophobic world where family honour mattered more than anything - sometimes more than life itself. Jasvinder's story is one of terrible oppression, a harrowing struggle against a punitive code of honour - and, finally, triumph over adversity.

Robert Reiner
Law and Order: An Honest Citizen’s Guide to Crime and Control
Polity Press, 2007, 364.941 REI
This book offers an up-to-date analysis of the twin trends of declining crime rates and rising fear of crime, providing all honest and concerned citizens with a concise yet comprehensive survey of the sources of current problems and anxieties about crime. It shows that the dominant tough law and order approach to crime is based on fallacies about its nature, sources, and what works in terms of crime control. Instead, it argues that the growth of crime has deep-seated causes, so that policing and penal policy at best can only temporarily hold a lid down on offending.

400s – Language
500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

David Attenborough
Life in Cold Blood
BBC DVD, 2008, 590 ATT
The focus of Life in Cold Blood is on reptiles and amphibians, bringing into focus a series of creatures very much of all shapes and sizes. Across the episodes that make up the series - all of which are contained in this DVD set - the programme makers delve into the lives and mannerisms of its subjects. They do so with some quite stunning camera work, bringing to our screens things that have quite simply never been seen before.

Claude Nuridsany and Jean-Marc Perennou
Second Sight Films, 2008, 590 NUR
A French meadow on a summer’s day is the setting for this incredible, highly-acclaimed film that takes its microscopic cameras into the heart of the insect world. In this miniature environment where a single raindrop can cause havoc, we are treated to an array of jaw-dropping moments: an underwater spider makes a home out of an air bubble, a colony of ants face a massacre when a pheasant attacks, a determined beetle struggles to relocate his ball of dung, two snails get amorous and a mosquito is born. There’s drama, comedy, action and even a little love in this astonishing film that invites us to share the trials and tribulations of its wonderful cast.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

James Hamilton
London Lights: The Minds that Moved the City that Shook the World
John Murray, 2007, 609.22421 HAM
From the time of Nelson's death at Trafalgar to the opening of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park nearly fifty years later, London spread like a disease across the fields of Middlesex and Surrey. Foul and dangerous though it was to inhabit, in these decades London developed a new confidence in the intellectual purpose and lucrative promise of art, technology and science. This book is about the men and women who, through their genius and courage, luck and misfortune, anger and charm, put London at the cutting edge of cultural change. They worked in basements and drawing rooms, in studios and museums, in learned societies and in the squalor of the debtors' prison. Although it took fifty years to achieve maturity and direction, in the early decades of the nineteenth century London set itself on course to become the financial, entrepreneurial and intellectual capital of the world.

Gerald M. Edelman
Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
Yale University Press, 2007, 612.82 EDE
Burgeoning advances in brain science are opening up new perspectives on how we acquire knowledge. Indeed, it is now possible to explore consciousness - the very centre of human concern - by scientific means. In this illuminating book, Dr. Gerald M. Edelman offers a new theory of knowledge based on striking scientific findings about how the brain works. And he addresses the related compelling question: does the latest research imply that all knowledge can be reduced to scientific description? Edelman's brain-based approach to knowledge has rich implications for our understanding of creativity, of the normal and abnormal functioning of the brain, and of the connections among the different ways we have of knowing. While the gulf between science and the humanities and their respective views of the world has seemed enormous in the past, the author shows that their differences can be dissolved by considering their origins in brain functions. He foresees a day when brain-based devices will be conscious, and he reflects on this and other fascinating ideas about how we come to know the world and ourselves.

Steven Johnson
The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and Two Men who Battled to Save Victorian London
Penguin, 2008, 614.514 JOH
In Ghost Map, Steven Johnson tells the story of the terrifying cholera epidemic that engulfed London in 1854, and the two unlikely heroes - anaesthetist Doctor John Snow and affable clergyman Reverend Henry Whitehead - who defeated the disease through a combination of local knowledge, scientific research and map-making. In telling their extraordinary story, Johnson also explores a whole world of ideas and connections, from urban terror to microbes, ecosystems to the Great Stink, cultural phenomena to street life. Re-creating a London full of dirt, dust heaps, slaughterhouses and scavengers, Ghost Map is about how huge populations live together, how cities can kill - and how they can save us.

Adam Zeman
A Portrait of the Brain
Yale University Press, 2008, 616.8 ZEM
In this compelling book, neurologist Adam Zeman tells the stories of patients with a variety of neurological disorders, some familiar (epilepsy, chronic fatigue, stroke, memory loss) and others relatively mysterious (narcolepsy, chronic deja vu, compulsive fidgeting, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). On every page Zeman both entertains and informs, and readers will find themselves pondering the enigmas of brain and mind long after closing the covers of this thought-provoking volume.

Eric R. Kandel
In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
W. W. Norton, 2007, 616.80092 KAN
Eric R. Kandel illuminates how behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology have converged into a powerful new science of mind, providing nuanced insights into normal mental functioning and disease, and simultaneously opens pathways to more effective healing. Beginning with his childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna, In Search of Memory chronicles Kandel's outstanding career from his initial fascination with history and psychoanalysis to his groundbreaking work on the biological process of memory, which earned him the Nobel Prize.

Charlotte Gray
Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention
Arcade, 2006, 621.385092 GRA
A major new biography of one of the giants of the golden age of invention whose innovations revolutionized the modern world.

Mark Lynas
Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
Harper Perennial, 2008, 363.73874 LYN
The nightmare scenarios in Mark Lynas's incredible new book are not science-fiction; nor are they sensationalist. The titular 6° refers to the terrifying possibility that average temperatures will rise by up to six degrees within the next hundred years. This is the first time we have had a reliable picture of how the collapse of our civilisation will unfold unless urgent action is taken. Most vitally, Lynas's book serves to highlight the fact that the world of 2100 doesn't have to be one of horror and chaos.

Peter Cook
Sex, Leadership and Rock N’ Roll
Crown House, 2006, 658.4092 COO
At last, a book that cuts through the jargon of leadership and personal development. It offers a real world source of inspiration and provocation in areas such as: creativity, innovation, relationships, motivation, leadership, high performance, learning, and reinvention. Peter Cook has been able to skilfully synthesise leading edge management concepts with wisdom of the street in the form of rock music because of his background, both as a business academic, MBA graduate and tutor, strategy consultant and thought leader and also as a musician, writing and performing music, in rock bands. The book examines the issues using the language of 'Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll' rather than that of prophets, consultants, and gurus. This book has kindly been donated to the Library by its author, a Fellow of the RSA.

Robin Ryde
Thought Leadership: Moving Hearts and Minds
Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, 658.4092 RYD
All leadership starts with thinking - about problems, about possibilities and about organisational capabilities, but thinking never occurs in a vacuum. Long gone are the days when a chief executive would disappear for weeks with a towel over his head, only to reappear to announce 'the answer' to the organization. Modern leadership is about shaping the social process of engagement, strategizing and decision-making so that workers can create immeasurable value. This book is about what executives can do to transform the thinking of those around them. It is about the circuitry that lies beneath the change process and the habits and norms that govern business conversations. This book will give you exemplary decision-making, quicker organizational change and focussed leadership.

700s – The Arts

Paul Goldberger
Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture and the Rebuilding of New York
Random House Trade, 2005, 725.23097471 GOL
In Up from Zero, Paul Goldberger, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, tells the inside story of the quest to rebuild one of the most important symbolic sites in the world, the sixteen acres where the towers of the former World Trade Center stood. A story of power, politics, architecture, community, and culture, Up from Zero takes us inside the controversial struggle to create and build one of the most challenging urban-design projects in history. From the decision to reintegrate the site into the dense fabric of lower Manhattan, to the choice of Daniel Libeskind as master planner, to the appointment of a memorial jury, the process has been marked by moments of bold vision, effective community activism, and personal instinct, punctuating the often contentious politics of public participation. Up from Zero takes in the full sweep of this tremendous effort. Goldberger presents a drama of creative minds at work, solving seemingly insurmountable clashes of taste, interests, and ideas.

Oliver Sacks
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Picador, 2007, 781.11 SAC
Oliver Sacks has been hailed by the New York Times as 'one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century' and in this book, the subject of his uniquely literate scrutiny is music: our relationship with it, our facility for it, and what this most universal of passions says about us. In chapters examining savants and synaesthetics, depressives and musical dreamers, Sacks succeeds not only in articulating the musical experience but in locating it in the human brain. He shows that music is not simply about sound, but also movement, visualization, and silence.

Jason Wood
Nick Broomfield: Documenting Icons
Faber & Faber, 2005, 791.430233092 WOO
Over the past twenty-five years Nick Broomfield has established himself as Britain’s best-known and most unflaggingly controversial director of documentaries. He has pursued the likes of South African supremacist Eugene Terre’Blanche, comedian Lily Tomlin and rock star Courntey Love, as well as investigating Army barracks, brothels and S&M parlours. This is Broomfield in his own words, as frank and revealing as his inimitable films.

800s – Literature

James Wood
How Fiction Works
Jonathan Cape, 2008, 809.3 WOD
How Fiction Works is a scintillating and searching study of the main elements of fiction, such as narrative, detail, characterization, dialogue, realism, and style. In his first full-length book of criticism, one of the most prominent critics of our time is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, it incisively sums up two decades of bold, often controversial, and now classic critical work, and will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone interested in what happens on the page.

Anna Beer
Milton: Poet, Pamphleteer and Patriot
Bloomsbury, 2008, 821.4 BEE
Of all the major English poets, John Milton was by far the most deeply involved in the political and religious controversies of his time, writing a series of pamphlets on free speech, divorce and religious, political and social rights that forced a complete rethinking of the nature and practice not only of government, but of human freedom itself. Not only did he write, but he was also actively engaged with the business of government, working as Cromwell's international secretary for all his dealings with Europe and the wider world. For centuries, Milton has emerged from biographies either as a woman-hating domestic tyrant or as a saintly figure removed from the messy business of personal affections. Neither tyrant nor saint, he was a man who had intense and often troubled relationships with both men and women throughout his life. His ideals (such as chaste love between men or intellectual companionship between men and women) invariably proved unlivable, but he emerges from Anna Beer's ground-breaking biography for the first time as a fully rounded human being.

Charles Nicholl
The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street
Allen Lane, 2007, 822.33 NIC
'One Mr Shakespeare that lay in the house...' In 1612 Shakespeare gave evidence at the Court of Requests in Westminster - it is the only occasion his spoken words are recorded. The case seems routine - a dispute over an unpaid marriage-dowry - but it opens up an unexpected window into the dramatist's famously obscure life-story. Charles Nicholl applies a powerful biographical magnifying glass to this fascinating episode in Shakespeare's life. Marshalling evidence from a wide variety of sources, including previously unknown documentary material on the Mountjoys, he conjures up a detailed and compelling description of the circumstances in which Shakespeare lived and worked, and in which he wrote such plays as Othello, Measure for Measure, and King Lear.

Julian Barnes
Nothing to be Frightened of
Jonathan Cape, 2008, 828.914 BAR
'I don't believe in God, but I miss Him'. Julian Barnes' new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard. Though he warns us that 'this is not my autobiography', the result is like a tour of the mind of one of our most brilliant writers. When Angela Carter reviewed Barnes' first novel, Metroland, she praised the mature way he wrote about death. Now, nearly thirty years later, he returns to the subject in a wise, funny and constantly surprising book, which defies category and classification - except as Barnesian.

900s – Geography & History

Stephen Rippon
Historic Landscape Analysis: Deciphering the Countryside
Council for British Archaeology, 2005, 911.41 RIP
This handbook introduces some of the techniques that archaeologists, historians, historical geographers and planners can use to unravel the complex history of the countryside. A series of case studies demonstrate practical applications of historic landscape analysis for a broad range of uses and at a variety of national and regional levels. This well-illustrated and clear guide will be essential reading for anyone trying to understand the origins and development of regional variation in historic landscape character.

Rob Gifford
China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power
Bloomsbury, 2007, 915.1046 GIF
China is a country on the move, and Route 312 - China's Route 66 - is the artery along which 150 million Chinese travel daily in search of work and a better life. Running 3,000 miles from the east-coast boomtown of Shanghai to the border of Kazakhstan in the northwest, crossing many ethnic and provincial boundaries, Rob Gifford travels the intercontinental road to get to the heart of the new China, and his ability to talk to everyone across the social spectrum - from truckers and prostitutes to yuppies and travelling salesmen - makes China Road an outstanding travel narrative.

Norma Clarke
Dr. Johnson’s Women
Pimlico, 2005, 828.609 CLA
Dr Johnson's friendships with the leading women writers of the day was an important feature of his life and theirs. He was willing to treat women as intellectual equals and to promote their careers: something ignored by his main biographer, James Boswell. Dr Johnson's Women investigates the lives and writings of six leading female authors Johnson knew well: Elizabeth Carter, Charlotte Lennox, Elizabeth Montagu, Hester Thrale, Hannah More and Fanny Burney. It explores their relationships with Johnson, with each other and with the world of letters. It shows what it was like to be a woman writer in the 'Age of Johnson'. It is often assumed that women writers in the eighteenth century suffered the same restrictions and obstacles that confronted their Victorian successors. Norma Clarke shows that this was by no means the case. Highlighting the opportunities available to women of talent in the eighteenth century, Dr Johnson's Women makes clear just how impressive and varied their achievements were.

Matthew Johnson
Ideas of Landscape
Blackwell, 2006, 936.2 JOH
Drawing on his local experience, Matthew Johnson focuses on the so-called English landscape tradition and discusses why it is so distinctive: it stands at some distance from North American and other approaches, in which theory plays a more prominent role. Johnson identifies the origins of this tradition in English Romanticism, through the influence of the father of landscape history W.G. Hoskins among others, and argues that the strengths and weaknesses of landscape archaeology can be traced back to the underlying theoretical discontents of the Romantic movement. He offers an alternative agenda, which maps more closely on to the established empirical strengths of landscape study and is more relevant both to the thrust of interdisciplinary landscape studies and to contemporary social concerns. Passionately and accessibly written, this engaging book takes up a crucial strand in archaeological thinking and examines it critically for the first time.

Richard Trank
I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal
Stax Entertainment, 2007, 940.5318 TRA
Simon Weisenthal, a Holocaust survivor, helped track down numerous Nazi war criminals following World War II and then spent the latter decades of his life fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice against all people. His life’s quest began after the Americans liberated the Mauthausen death camp in Austria where Wiesenthal was a prisoner in May 1945. It was his fifth death camp among the dozen Nazi camps in which he was imprisoned, and he weighed just 99 lb when he was freed. Wiesenthal said he quickly realised “there is no freedom without justice,” and decided to dedicate “a few years” to seeking justice.

Sandra Koa Wing
Our Longest Days: A People’s History of the Second World War
Profile, 2008, 941.084 WIN
A powerful, detailed and warming story of the Second World War - told through the previously unheard voices of those who described the home front for the Mass Observation project. Using diaries that have never been published before, this book tells the story of the war - the military conflict, and, mainly, life on the home front - through the lives of the Home Front’s volunteers.

Ian Mortimer
The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330
Pimlico, 2004, 942.036092 MOR
One night in August 1323 a captive rebel baron, Sir Roger Mortimer, drugged his guards and escaped from the Tower of London. With the king's men-at-arms in pursuit he fled to the south coast, and sailed to France. There he was joined by Isabella, the Queen of England, who threw herself into his arms. A year later, as lovers, they returned with an invading army: King Edward II's forces crumbled before them, and Mortimer took power. He removed Edward II in the first deposition of a monarch in British history. Until now no one has appreciated the full evil genius of the man. This first biography reveals not only the man's career as a feudal lord, a governor of Ireland, a rebel leader and a dictator of England.

Rosemary Ashton
142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London
Vintage, 2008, 942.10810922 ASH
142 Strand was the home of the brilliant, unconventional young publisher John Chapman. The Strand was packed with booksellers, magazine publishers, theatres, clubs, and quack doctors. Just behind lay the brothels of Covent Garden and the disreputable pornographers of Holywell Street, while Westminster and the Houses of Parliament were a short distance away. Chapman's circle touched all these worlds, and the vivid story of these unconventional lives and unorthodox views - marvellously told by Rosemary Ashton - takes us to the heart of Victorian culture, uncovering its surprising energy, its doubts and arguments, and, above all, its passionate reforming spirit.

Julian Barnes
Letters from London
Picador, 2005, 942.10859 BAR
Since 1990 Julian Barnes has written a regular 'Letter from London' for the New Yorker magazine. These already celebrated pieces cover subjects as diverse as the Lloyd's insurance disaster, the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher, the troubles of the Royal Family and the hapless Nigel Short in his battle with Gary Kasparov in the 1993 World Chess Finals. With an incisive assessment of Salman Rushdie's plight and an analysis of the implications of being linked to the Continent via the Channel Tunnel, Letters from London provides a vivid and telling portrait of Britain in the Nineties.

Mark Leonard
What Does China Think?
HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, 951.06 LEO
Mark Leonard asks us to forget everything we thought we knew about China and start again. He introduces us to the thinkers that are shaping China's wide open future and opens up a hidden world of intellectual debate that is driving a new Chinese revolution and changing the face of the world.

Nick Broomfield
Battle for Haditha
Contender Home Entertainment, 2008, 956.7 BRO
Documentary-maker Nick Broomfield’s first move into dramatisations tells the aftermath of an insurgent’s roadside bomb for the Marines caught by it, and the local families caught by the Marines, using Iraqi refugees in Jordan and ex-Marines in similar situations to those who involved in the incident, and reconstructed using the report the official enquiry.

Mike Tucker
Gunner Palace
Elephant Video, 2007, 956.7 LON
In this striking documentary shot in 2003, early on in the US-led war on Iraq, a group of American soldiers in Baghdad who have taken over a bombed-out palace that belonged to Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, offer the camera a view on their world. While they party poolside for most of the day and lead raids on homes of suspected bomb-builders most nights, they also have a lot to say about the war and their situation. Their youth and immaturity is striking, as is the war itself and the nebulous reasons that they are stationed there. While the primary purpose of Gunner Palace is to give the perspective of the soldiers, viewers also get a glimpse of Iraqi civilians and how they react to the US military presence--some are terrified, others are sceptical, still others are compliant and grateful if not totally sure why.

Charles Tripp
A History of Iraq: Third Edition
Cambridge University Press, 2007, 956.704 TRI
Charles Tripp's thesis is that the history of Iraq throughout the twentieth-century has made it what it is today, but also provides alternative futures. Unless this is properly understood, many of the themes explored in this book - patron-client relations, organized violence, sectarian, ethnic and tribal difference - will continue to exert a hold over the future of Iraq as they did over its past.

Charles Ferguson
No End in Sight: Iraq’s Descent into Chaos
PublicAffairs, 2008, 956.70443 FER
The first book of its kind to chronicle the reasons behind Iraq's descent into guerrilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy, No End in Sight is a shocking story of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality. Presenting the research behind the award-winning documentary, this book provides a candid and alarming retelling of the events following the fall of Baghdad in 2003. It features verbatim interviews with high ranking officials including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine (in charge of Baghdad during the Spring of 2003), Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, and General Jay Garner (in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003) as well as Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, and prominent analysts.

Gareth R. V. Stansfield
Iraq: People, History, Politics
Polity, 2007, 956.70443 STA
This book asks why is it that a state which, on paper, would seem to have immense potential, became a pariah, deemed to be a threat to its own people, or to its neighbours? Can the answers be found in the peculiar psychological make-up of particular political leaders, or are there structural weaknesses inherent within the construct of the state itself? What is the social, political and economic impact on the people of this tortured state of years of war, deprivation and hardship in addition to existing under the oppressive totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein?

Jonathan Steele
Defect: Why they Lost Iraq
I. B. Tauris, 2007, 956.70443 STE
As the dreadful reality of the Coalition's defeat in Iraq begins to sink in, one question dominates Washington and London: why? In this controversial new book, award-winning journalist Jonathan Steele provides a stark and arresting answer: Bush and Blair were defeated from the day they decided to occupy the country. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with ordinary Iraqis, Steele shows for the first time how the staging posts of the conflict so familiar to Western newspaper readers were seen by the Iraqis themselves.

Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda Blimes
The Three Trillion Dollar War
Allen Lane, 2008, 956.704431 STI
The Three Trillion Dollar War is a devastating reckoning of the true cost of the Iraq war - quite apart from its tragic human toll - which the Bush administration has estimated at $50 billion, but which Stiglitz and Bilmes will show underestimates the real figure by approximately six times. The authors expose the gigantic expenses which have so far not been officially accounted for, including not only big ticket items like replacing military equipment (being used up at six times the peacetime rate) but also the cost of caring for thousands of wounded veterans - for the rest of their lives.Shifting to a global perspective, the authors investigate the cost in lives and damage within Iraq and the Middle East generally. With chilling precision, they calculate what the money spent on the war would have produced had it been further invested in the growth of the economy, in the US and around the world, and in infrastructure building. Stiglitz and Bilmes write in simple language, which makes the details they present, and the sums they add up, all the more disturbing. This book will change forever the way we think about the Iraq war - and about the cost of war generally.

Will Eisner
Last Day in Vietnam
Dark Horse Comics, 2000, 959.7043 EIS
Last Day in Vietnam is Will Eisner’s memoir of stories about soldiers who are engaged not only in the daily hostilities of war but also in larger, more personal combat. During Eisner’s years in the militaryk, and particularly during the many field trips he made for P.S. Magazine, he observed and reported on camp life at close range.

Jacob Weisberg
The Bush Tragedy
Bloomsbury, 2008, 973.931092 WEI
Jacob Weisberg analyses Bush through his response to the failures and accomplishments of his younger self, his idolisation of Ronald Reagan, and his devout Christianity that has led to widely condemned policy decisions that have fundamentally changed the role and position of the United States in the modern world. This original interpretation of Bush also studies seriously the much-mocked language that he uses as a political tool, helping to carve out the vision of himself as a wartime leader. In the run-up to the presidential elections, this is the starting point for a worldwide debate about undoing the damage.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Featured Book - "Here Comes Everybody"

Clay Shirky
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organisation without Organisations
Allen Lane, 2008, 303.4833 SHI

Like Charles Leadbeater’s recently-published We-Think, Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody is both a manifesto for a networked culture, highlighting the benefits that come from the instantaneous and highly accessible communication the internet offers and, more importantly, is full of anecdotes demonstrating the strength and effectiveness of these networks in action.

The antithesis of arguments such as Andrew Keen’s in his The Cult of the Amateur, Shirky has already engaged his critics. To join in the conversation. you can try the ideas in his book out for yourself at the RSA’s social organisation platform RSA Networks, discuss the book in the comments of the various celebrity blogger reviews the book has already received, see Shirky make his case at the RSA next Tuesday, or borrow a copy of Here Comes Everybody by emailing the RSA Library.