Friday, May 30, 2008

RSA Library Update - May 2008

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

000s – Generalities

Patrick Russell
Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950
BFI Video, 2008, 070.18 RUS
Featuring 40 films over four DVDs, this extensive collection is a major retrospective of the British documentary film movement during its period of greatest influence. These films - many of which are available here for the first time since their original release - capture the spirit and strength, concerns and resolve of Britain and its people before, during, and after the Second World War.

Sandhya Suri
I for India
ICA Films, 2008, 070.18 SUR
In 1965, Yash Pal Suri left India for the U.K. The first thing he does on his arrival in England is to buy two Super-8 cameras, two projectors and two reel to reel recorders. One set of equipment he sends to his family in India, the other he keeps for himself, and for 40 years he uses it to share his new life abroad with those back home, while in India, his relatives in turn, respond with their own 'cine-letters' telling tales of weddings, festivals and village life. A bitter-sweet time capsule of alienation, discovery, racism and belonging, I for India is a chronicle of immigration in sixties Britain and beyond, seen through the eyes of one Asian family and their movie camera.

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Dan Ariely
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions
HarperCollins, 2008, 153.83 ARI
Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions. Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions? In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for this is embedded in the very structure of our minds, showing that we can make better decisions in business, in matters of collective welfare, and in our everyday lives from drinking coffee to losing weight, buying a car to choosing a romantic partner.

Geoff Mulgan
Good and Bad Power: The Ideals and Betrayals of Government
Penguin, 2007, 172 MUL
The old democracies of western Europe and north America have achieved a rough balance between being too strong in their control of their citizens, and too weak in their ability to help them, yet still suffer from constant crises of moral purpose. There is a growing trend of anti-politics, manifest in falling turnouts and party membership, and an assumption that politicians represent the worst venality rather than the highest ideals. Something has gone badly wrong in our relationship with power. This book explains why we have arrived at this point, what can be done to change the world, and how the power of governments can be used for good.

200s – Religion

300s – Social Sciences

Paul Kingsnorth
Real England: The Battle Against the Bland
Portobello, 2008, 303.4480942 KIN
We see the signs around us every day: the chain cafés and mobile phone outlets that dominate our high streets; the decline of small farms and the loss of our rural post-offices; the headlines about yet another traditional industry going to the wall In Real England Paul Kingsnorth makes a connection between these isolated, incremental, local changes and the bigger picture of a nation whose identity is being eroded. As he travels around the country meeting fruit-growers, lock-keepers, stall-owners and the inhabitants of London’s Chinatown, Paul Kingsworth records the kind of conversations that are taking place in country pubs and corner shops across the land - while warning people that these quintessentially English institutions may soon cease to exist.

Malcolm McCullough
Digital Ground: Architecture, Pervasive Computing, and Environmental Knowing
MIT, 2005, 303.4834 MCC
Digital Ground is an architect's response to the design challenge posed by pervasive computing. As digital technology becomes invisibly embedded in everyday things, and an ever-increasing number of activities become mediated through electronic interactions, networks extend rather than replace architecture. Malcolm McCullough’s concept of digital ground expresses an alternative to anytime-anyplace sameness in computing, and shows that context not only shapes usability but ideally becomes the subject matter of interaction design and that environmental knowing is a process that technology may serve and not erode.

Dave Eggers, Lola Vollen and Chris Ying (eds.)
Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath
McSweeney’s Books, 2007, 303.48576335 EGG
Stranded in a city submerged, the narrators of Voices from the Storm survived the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina only to find themselves abandoned - and even victimised - by their own government. These thirteen men and women of New Orleans recount, in astonishing and heartrending detail, the worst natural disaster in American history.

Robert J. Shapiro
2020: A Global Blueprint
Profile, 2008, 303.49 SHA
The world is entering an unprecedented age. Rapid technological advances, globalisation, unparalleled demographic changes and the rise of China as a superpower mean that we are entering a unique era of history. Robert Shapiro employs his immense experience in international politics to sketch a blueprint for the coming fifteen years, tracing the path combined global forces may lead us. This is neither hopelessly idealistic nor a tale of woe and Armageddon: Shapiro is persistently lucid, penetrating and even-handed in delineating the world as it stands and predicting the way it will walk.

Matt Mason
The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism
Allen Lane, 2008, 305.235 MAS
What's the connection between the nun who invented disco, and the effect of file sharing? How does hip-hop manage to be an underground movement and a multi-billion dollar business at the same time? And how are pirates, of the kind who started commercial radio in the twentieth century, changing society in the 21st? The Pirate's Dilemma tells the stories of youth culture uncovering, for the first time, what it is that transforms underground scenes into global industries. Matt Mason, a successful entrepreneur, argues that from the youth culture, out on the edges of the mainstream, come the ideas that ultimately change the mainstream itself - whether it's graffiti, piracy, hacking, open source culture or remixing.

Matt Frei
Only in America
Fourth Estate, 2008, 306.09753 FRE
Matt Frei, the BBC's Washington correspondent, goes under the skin of America’s capital to discover the paradox of the world's last remaining superpower. It is a place that inspires awe, revulsion or analysis but rarely affection. Every newspaper editor tells his new Washington correspondent to travel outside 'the Beltway', to get under the skin of the real America beyond the 495 Interstate that snakes the city with its glutinous flow of traffic all day long. But after almost four years in Washington, Matt Frei has realised that the key to understanding America lies within the walls of the diamond shaped District of Columbia.

Loïc Wacquant
Urban Outcasts: A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality
Polity, 2007, 307.76 WAC
Breaking with the exoticizing cast of public discourse and conventional research, Urban Outcasts takes the reader inside the black ghetto of Chicago and the deindustrializing banlieue of Paris to show that urban marginality is not the same everywhere. Drawing on a wealth of original field, survey and historical data, Loïc Wacquant shows that the involution of America's urban core after the 1960s is due, not to the emergence of an 'underclass', but to the joint withdrawal of market and state fostered by public policies of racial separation and urban abandonment. In European cities, by contrast, the spread of districts of 'exclusion' does not herald the formation of ghettos, but instead stems from the decomposition of working-class territories under the press of mass unemployment, the casualization of work and the ethnic mixing of populations hitherto segregated, spawning urban formations akin to 'anti-ghettos'.

David Runciman
Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond
Princeton University Press, 2008, 320.101 RUN
What kind of hypocrite should voters choose as their next leader? The question seems utterly cynical but, as David Runciman suggests, it is actually much more cynical to pretend that politics can ever be completely sincere. The most dangerous form of political hypocrisy is to claim to have a politics without hypocrisy. Written in a lively style, this book will change how we look at political hypocrisy and how we answer some basic questions about politics: What are the limits of truthfulness in politics? And when, where, and how should we expect our politicians to be honest with us, and about what? Political Hypocrisy is a timely, and timeless, book on the problems of sincerity and truth in politics, and how we can deal with them without slipping into hypocrisy ourselves.

Deepak Lal
Reviving the Invisible Hand: The Case for Classical Liberalism in the Twenty-First Century
Princeton University Press, 2006, 320.512 LAL
Reviving the Invisible Hand is an uncompromising call for a global return to a classical liberal economic order, free of interference from governments and international organizations. Arguing for a revival of the invisible hand of free international trade and global capital, eminent economist Deepak Lal vigorously defends the view that statist attempts to ameliorate the impact of markets threaten global economic progress and stability. And in an unusual move, he not only defends globalization economically, but also answers the cultural and moral objections of antiglobalizers. Arguing that the new dirigisme is the thin edge of a wedge that could return the world to excessive economic intervention by states and international organizations, Lal does not shrink from controversial stands such as advocating the abolishment of these organizations and defending the existence of child labour in the Third World. Deepak Lal will be speaking at the RSA on 5 June 2008.

Gerry Hassan (ed.)
After Blair: Politics and the New Labour Decade
Lawrence & Wishart, 2006, 320.94109049 HAS
Analyzing the last 10 years of British parliament, contributors examine the age of Tony Blair as Prime Minister and the time of Labour Party dominance as it comes to an end. Comparing previous Labour Party governments to the current, scholars reflect on the past, present, and future of British politics and whether a Labour dominated government will outlast Blair's period in office. Offering opinions and political forecasting from some of the most respected experts in their fields, Blair's political history is examined and critiqued, contemplating the outcome and effects of his decisions and policies as Prime Minister since 1997.

Colin J. Bennett and Charles D. Raab
The Governance of Privacy: Policy Instruments in Global Perspective
MIT, 2006, 323.4 BEN
This work analyses privacy policy instruments available to contemporary industrial states, from government regulations and transnational regimes to self-regulation and privacy enhancing technologies. Privacy protection, according to Colin Bennett and Charles Raab, involves politics and public policy as much as it does law and technology. Moreover, the protection of our personal information in a globalised, borderless world means that privacy-related policies are inextricably interdependent. In The Governance of Privacy, Bennett and Raab analyse a broad range of privacy policy instruments available to contemporary advanced industrial states, from government regulations and transnational regimes to self-regulation and privacy enhancing technologies. The RSA will hold a symposium on social attitudes to privacy on 19 June 2008.

David J. Rothkopf
The Superclass; The Global Power Elite and the World they are Making
Little, Brown, 2008, 327.10905 ROT
David Rothkopf offers a provocative and trenchant examination of the overlapping international power clusters. He reveals who is a member of the global Superclass and who is likely to be joining it and transforming it in the years ahead. And he will explore how the aggressive pursuit of self-interest by some in this class helped to create a world in which inequity is greater than ever - something that may well threaten international stability in our lifetimes.

Tom Porteous
Britain in Africa: African Arguments
Zed Books, 2008, 327.4106 POR
Why has Africa become such an important priority for Britain's foreign policy under New Labour? What interests and values is the UK seeking to uphold by intervening? Why has aid to Africa more than tripled over the past decade? How has the UK's involvement in the War on Terror affected its efforts there? In Britain in Africa, Tom Porteous seeks to answer these and other questions about Britain's role in Africa since 1997. He provides an account of the key players, the policies they constructed in the shadow of the war in Iraq and the future of Britain's engagement with the continent. This book sets out the balance sheet of what Britain has achieved, and where and why it failed in Africa. A compelling read, whose importance for international politics reaches far beyond Britain or Africa.

Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness
Yale University Press, 2008, 330.01 THA
Every day we make decisions on topics ranging from the personal investments we select to the schools we pick for our children to the foods we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, as authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein astutely observe, we don't always choose well. The reason, the authors explain, is that we all are susceptible to cognitive biases and blunders that make us human, fallible, and prone to error. Thaler and Sunstein expand on their concept of libertarian paternalism (.PDF), inviting us to enter an alternative world, one that recognizes our humanness as a given. They show that the way we think can be used to our advantage: it is possible to design environments - ‘choice architectures’ - that make it more likely for us to act in our own interests.

Dai Rodrik
One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth
Princeton University Press, 2007, 338.9 ROD
In One Economics, Many Recipes, leading economist Dani Rodrik argues that neither globalisers nor antiglobalisers have got it right. Rodrik rejects the simplifications of both sides, showing that poor countries get rich not by copying what Washington technocrats preach or what others have done, but by overcoming their own highly specific constraints. And, far from conflicting with economic science, this is exactly what good economics teaches.

Philippe Sands
Torture Team: An Investigation into Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law
Allen Lane, 2008, 341.48 SAN
This is the biography of a one page memorandum signed by Donald Rumsfeld on 2nd December, 2002 authorising 18 techniques of interrogation not previously allowed by the United States. The memorandum was in effect for six weeks during which at least two detainees at Guantanamo and the US airbase at Bagram died and a third was tortured over a period of seven weeks. 18 Techniques traces the life of the memorandum and explores issues of individual responsibility. Four individuals dominate the story: Rumsfeld, US lawyer John Yoo, victim Mohammed al-Qahtani and X, an anonymous European prosecutor.

Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen (eds.)
Surviving Justice: America’s Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated
McSweeney's Books, 2005, 347.7312 EGG
After spending years behind bars, hundreds of men and women with incontrovertible proof of their innocence have been released from America's prisons. They were wrongfully convicted because of problems that plague many criminal proceedings -- inept defence lawyers, overzealous prosecutors, deceitful interrogation tactics, misidentifications, and more. Finally free, usually after more than a decade of incarceration, the wrongly condemned re-enter society with nothing but scars from prison life only to struggle for survival on the outside. The thirteen men and women portrayed here, and the hundreds of others who have been exonerated, are the tip of the iceberg. By all estimates, there are thousands of innocent victims in prison today. Surviving Justice tells their unimaginable and inspiring stories.

Patrick Diamond
Public Matters: The Renewal of the Public Realm
Politico's, 2007, 351.0941 DIA
The modernisation of public services is one of the central challenges facing any government. There are enormous expectations surrounding the public service reform agenda but also real anxieties - there have been prominent public management failings in recent years and the record of delivery in key areas remains patchy. Public Matters addresses the issues facing the public sector through clear, incisive, empirically rigorous and theoretically informed analysis of the issues from leading experts in the field. It covers general themes (inequality, choice, funding etc.) and specific areas (education, work, environment etc.) with equal authority.

John Seddon
Systems Thinking in the Public Sector
Triarchy, 2008, 351.41 SED
John Seddon here dissects the changes that have been made in a range of services, including housing benefits, social care and policing. His descriptions beggar belief, though they would be funnier if it wasn't our money that was being wasted. In place of the current mess, he advocates a Systems Thinking approach where individuals come first, waste is reduced and responsibility replaces blame. It's an approach that is proven, successful and relatively cheap - and one that governments around the world, and their advisers, need to adopt urgently.

Eugene Jarecki
Why we Fight
Axiom Films, 2008, 355.0213 JAR
Released as the American military continues to make its presence felt in Iraq and across the globe, Eugene Jarecki's Why we Fight asks some pertinent questions about the economic necessities of war. Speaking to a number of key figures including Republican Senator John McCain and author Gore Vidal, Jarecki's film is a bipartisan treatise that was inspired by Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 farewell address to the nation, warning against the military-industrial complex.

Tess Kingham
The Good Campaigns Guide: Campaigning for Impact
NCVO, 2005, 361.70681 KIN
The Good Campaigns Guide enables campaigners to use their skills, judgement and energy to transform available resources into positive social change, Using a range of newly developed tools, this guide examines how to achieve maximum impact.

Misha Glenny
McMafia: Crime without Frontiers
Bodley Head, 2008, 364.106 GLE
For three years, Misha Glenny has been recording the stories of gun runners in Ukraine, money launderers in Dubai, drug syndicates in Canada, cyber criminals in Brazil, racketeers in Japan and many more. During his investigation of the dark side, he has spoken to countless gangsters, policemen and victims of organised crime while also exploring the ferocious consumer demand for drugs, trafficked women, illegal labour and arms across five continents. This consistently riveting account unveils the nature of crime in today's world but it also offers profound insights into the pitfalls of a globalisation where the rules dividing the legal from the illegal are often far from clear. It also argues that conventional policing methods are no longer appropriate to deal with a problem whose roots lie in global poverty and the ever widening divisions between rich and poor.

René Allio
I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister and My Brother
Tartan Video, 364.1523 ALL
Based on documents compiled by Michel Foucault, this unique and original film charts the gruesome events which took place in a Normandy village in 1835, when a young man, Pierre Rivière, murdered his mother, sister and brother before fleeing to the countryside. With a cast made up of real-life villagers from the area where the events took place, the detailed re-enactments and careful attention to the gestures of their ancestors serve to create an intense and sometimes disturbing atmosphere of hyper-realism. Radical, bold and uncompromising, director René Allio's extraordinary work at once an ethnographic enquiry, an historical reconstruction, and an unflinching portrait of psychopathology and its aftermath. The RSA Library also holds Back to Normandy, a documentary about I, Pierre Rivière… by Nicolas Philibert, Allio's assistant on the film.

Colleen McLaughlin
Networking Practitioner Research
Routledge, 2007, 370.72 MCL
This book provides readers with a strong theoretical framework for school-based research as well as valuable advice on the ways in which networks of specialist groups can work together to create a broad-ranging approach to educational research. Through a critical examination of existing research and current thinking, the authors draw out implications for the effective policy and practice of school-based research. Illustrated throughout with case studies and including a full and detailed literature review, this book will be a vital resource for all academics pursuing research into education.

Julia Flutter and Jean Rudduck
Consulting Pupils
RoutledgeFalmer, 2004, 371.59 FLU
In this book, Jean Rudduck and Julia Flutter consider the potential benefits and implications of talking to students about teaching and learning in schools. Using examples of pupil consultation initiatives in primary and secondary schools, the authors demonstrate how an agenda for change based on pupils perspectives on teaching and learning can be used to improve classroom practice. This book will be a valuable resource for practitioners, students and researchers interested in exploring pupils' perspectives on teaching and learning.

Colleen McLaughlin
Researching Schools
Routledge, 2006, 378.103 MCL
There has been a debate in both academic and educational policy arenas around the generation and use of educational knowledge. In the UK, this has led to many recent and far-reaching initiatives, which aim to enhance the relationship between universities and schools and develop new ways of supporting practitioner research and enquiry. This book presents the work of a highly innovative partnership between the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, and eight secondary schools. This networked learning community has helped to define the use and production of educational knowledge and research within and between various partners. This book explores the central questions and gives examples of the outcomes of the development that will assist any researchers, especially teachers undertaking research, to develop school-university partnerships.

400s – Language

Steven Pinker
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
Allen Lane, 2007, 401.9 PIN
Steven Pinker analyses what words actually mean and how we use them, and he reveals what this can tell us about ourselves. He shows how we use space and motion as metaphors for more abstract ideas, and uncovers the deeper structures of human thought that have been shaped by evolutionary history. He also explores the emotional impact of language, from names to swear words, and shows us the full power that it can have over us. And, with this book, he also shows just how stimulating and entertaining language can be. Steve Pinker will be talking at the RSA on 5 June 2008.

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

George Johnson
The Ten most Beautiful Experiments
Bodley Head, 2008, 507.8 JOH
From the universally praised New York Times science writer George Johnson), an irresistible book on the ten most fascinating experiments in the history of science - moments when a curious soul posed a particularly eloquent question to nature and received a crisp, unambiguous reply. George Johnson will be talking at the RSA on 2 June 2008.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Paul M. Churchland
Neurophilosophy at Work
Cambridge University Press, 2007, 612.801 CHU
Paul Churchland explores the unfolding impact of the several empirical sciences of the mind, especially cognitive neurobiology and computational neuroscience on a variety of traditional issues central to the discipline of philosophy. Representing Churchland's most recent research, they continue his research program, launched over thirty years ago which has evolved into the field of neurophilosophy. Topics such as the nature of consciousness, the nature of cognition and intelligence, the nature of moral knowledge and moral reasoning, neurosemantics or world-representation in the brain, the nature of our subjective sensory qualia and their relation to objective science, and the future of philosophy itself are here addressed in a lively, graphical, and accessible manner. Throughout the volume, Churchland's view that science is as important as philosophy is emphasised. Several of the color figures in the volume will allow the reader to perform some novel phenomenological experiments on his/her own visual system.

700s – The Arts

Douglas Wolk
Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and what they Mean
Da Capo Press, 2007, 741.53 WOL
This is the first serious, readable, provocative, canon-smashing book of comics criticism by the leading critic in the field. Suddenly, comics are everywhere: a newly matured art form, filling bookshelves with brilliant, innovative work and shaping the ideas and images of the rest of contemporary culture. In Reading Comics, critic Douglas Wolk shows us why this is and how it came to be. Wolk illuminates the most dazzling creators of modern comics and introduces a critical theory that explains where each fits into the pantheon of art. Reading Comics is accessible to the hardcore fan and the curious newcomer; it is the first book for people who want to know not just what comics are worth reading, but also the ways to think and talk and argue about them.

David Friend and Terence Pepper
Vanity Fair Portraits
National Portrait Gallery, 2008, 770 FRI
Vanity Fair Portraits traces the cultural history of twentieth century portrait photography and celebrates the acknowledged masters of this great art form, from Edward Steichen and Cecil Beaton to Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino. The catalogue sets out the two eras of Vanity Fair's life. The first period from 1913 to 1936 covers subjects drawn from art, dance, music, film and architecture including personalities such as Pablo Picasso, Fred and Adele Astaire, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. The second period-from the reincarnation of the magazine in 1983 up to the present day-includes stars of film and theatre as well as writers, athletes, style icons, and business titans with portraits of Robert De Niro, Arthur Miller, Demi Moore, Margaret Thatcher and Lance Armstrong amongst many others. With forewords by Graydon Carter and Sandy Nairne, and essays by Christopher Hitchens and the exhibition curators, David Friend and Terence Pepper, the catalogue explores the power of the magazine that once promised to 'ignite a dinner party at fifty yards' as well as the history of celebrity portraiture.

Amy Raphael
Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh
Faber, 2008, 791.430233092 RAP/LEI
Five-time Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner, the only British director to have won the top prize at both Cannes (for Secrets and Lies) and Venice (for Vera Drake), Mike Leigh is unquestionably one of world cinema's pre-eminent figures. Now, in this definitive career-length interview, he reflects on all that has gone into the making of his unique body of work. Leigh's work has always reflected its times, whether the harsh studies of Meantime and Naked or the humor of the now-legendary Abigail's Party and Nuts in May. Above all, Leigh is an accomplished storyteller, and these films deal with universal themes: births, marriages and deaths, parenthood and failed relationships, families and their secrets and lies.

800s – Literature

Frank Luntz
Words that Work: It’s not what you Say, It’s what People Hear
Hyperion, 2008, 808.042 LUN
Communications expert Luntz offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the tactical use of words and phrases affects what we buy, who we vote for, and even what we believe in. Luntz has used his knowledge of words to help more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies grow. He tells us why Rupert Murdoch's six-billion-dollar decision to buy DirectTV was smart because satellite was more cutting edge than digital cable, and why pharmaceutical companies transitioned their message from treatment to prevention and wellness. If you ever wanted to learn how to talk your way out of a traffic ticket or talk your way into a raise, this book is for you.

Nina L. Krushcheva
Imagining Nabokov: Russia between Art and Politics
Yale University Press, 2008, 813.54 KRU
In Imagining Nabokov, Nina Khrushcheva offers the novel hypothesis that because of his migration from Russia to America, the works of Russian-turned-American Vladimir Nabokov are highly relevant to the political transformation underway in Russia today. Khrushcheva, a Russian living in America, finds in Nabokov's novels a useful guide for Russia's integration into the globalized world. Now one of Nabokov's 'Western' characters herself, she discusses the cultural and social realities of contemporary Russia that he foresaw a half-century earlier. In Pale Fire, Ada, or Ardor, Pnin and other works, Nabokov reinterpreted the traditions of Russian fiction, shifting emphasis from personal misery and communal life to the notion of forging one's own 'happy' destiny. In the twenty-first century, Russia faces a similar challenge, Khrushcheva contends, and Nabokov's work reveals how skills may be acquired to cope with the advent of democracy, capitalism, and open borders. Nina Khrushcheva will be speaking at the RSA on 25 June 2008.

900s – Geography & History

Elizabeth Eger
Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings
National Portrait Gallery, 2008, REF RSA 942.073 EGE
From Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Germaine Greer, influential women have lamented their lack of foremothers. But why has the remarkable group of creative and intellectual women who flourished in eighteenth-century Britain been overlooked? Publicly celebrated in their time, these women's achievements in the worlds of art, literature and even political thought came to symbolize the progress of a civilized and commercial nation. It accompanies an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, 13 March-15 June 2008.

Rosemary Baird
Goodwood: Art and Architecture, Sport and Family
Frances Lincoln, 2007, 942.2262 BAI
The estate of Goodwood is glorious not only for its famous racecourse and motor racing circuit but also for its magnificent art collection. Curator of the Goodwood Collection, Rosemary Baird tells the story of the Dukes of Richmond, from the birth of the 1st Duke (son of Louise de Keroualle and Charles II), who purchased Goodwood. She describes events such as the Duchess of Richmond's famous ball, from which officers were called to fight in the Battle of Waterloo ('some arrived at the field of battle in silk stockings and dancing shoes') and how, with wealth largely derived from a tax on coal leaving Newcastle, the Richmond family developed Goodwood and acquired works of art to adorn it.

Richard Ben Cramer
How Israel Lost: The Four Questions at the Heart of the Middle East Crisis
Free Press, 2005, 956.05 CRA
The ebbing support for Israel among Western governments is a major landmark in the history of the last decade. It is, without doubt, an issue that has already influenced many international events. Richard Ben Cramer, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Middle East, now presents readers with How Israel Lost, a brilliant polemic looking at four key questions that define this conflict and explaining how the policies of Ariel Sharon have ostracised his country in the eyes of the world. With the same meticulous research and intelligence that has made Richard Ben Cramer one of America's most highly regarded journalists, How Israel Lost is a timely, powerful and important look at one of the most pivotal points of the world -- and in history.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Featured Books - the "Voice of Witness" series

Dave Eggers and Lola Vollen (eds.)
The Voice of Witness Series

Novelist Dave Eggers and public health doctor Lola Vollen, a member of Physicians for Human Rights, founded the Voice of Witness series as a collaboration between the publisher McSweeney's and the UC Berkley School of Journalism, following Vollen's work on vaccination programmes in Somalia and identifying the bodies in Bosnia's mass graves.

Oral history has long served to highlight and promote otherwise marginalised voices, and preserve eye-witness accounts through recording and preserving interviews. The Voice of Witness series uses these techniques to highlight and illustrate human rights crises, transcribing interviews with their victims and presenting them, as Scott Turow says in a forward, not as "works of lofty philosophy or jurisprudence [but] humble first-person tales told in everyday terms, of how injustice happened, one blunder at a time." These books are a powerful record of the human cost of events and systems, from immigration law to the criminal justice system, that are often discussed in abstract terms, with little thought given to those who suffer at their margins.

There have been three books published so far, recording the experiences of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, wrongful imprisonment and the American immigration system. To borrow copies of these books, please contact the RSA Library.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Featured Book - "Political Hypocrisy"

David Runciman
Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond
Princeton University Press, 2008, 320.101 RUN

David Runciman doesn’t think about hypocrisy like other people do. He doesn’t, as Strauss did — and as The Power of Nightmares showed the American neocons do — that it serves a Machiavellin purpose in politics that trancendes the society in question. And he doesn’t, like most of us do, think that it is tanatmount to lying, and that lying is the worst thing a politician can do.

In his new book, Political Hypocrisy, as its introduction explains, Runciman shows that Machiavelli has little to do with our reaction to hypocrisy, but that, as a liberal society, we should look to those philosophers who can tell us something about how hypocrisy functions in a society that votes for individuals to fight for their causes at national and international levels.

Whether he’s discussing the 2006 Labour conference or the American Primary season, Runciman shows that it’s not a simple case hypocrisy = bad, but that different kinds of hypocrisies have different effects in different circumstances, and shows that to understand that is to better understand our liberal, democratic society.

David Runciman will be discussing these issues with Matthew Taylor here at John Adam Street on Thursday 15 May, at 1pm, and to borrow a copy of Political Hypocrisy, please email the RSA Library.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Featured Book - "The Kingdom of Infinite Space"

Raymond Tallis
The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around your Head
Atlantic, 2008, 128.2 TAL

Raymond Tallis — doctor, philosopher, author, and Kirsty young’s favourite Desert Island DJ — spent much of his working life at the practical end of neurology, but has spent his retirement writing a book about all the bits of the head that aren’t the brain.

Apparently once called My Head: Portrait in a Foxed Mirror, The Kingdom of Infinite Space contends that [t]here is no shortage of books on the brain. Indeed, I would venture that there is a serious lack of such a shortage,” and rather then add to the problem by chasing down consciousness in a single, physical organ, it instead carefully thinks through the various concious, preconcious and unconcious inputs our head recieves, via the senses, and signals it sends back out, through kissing, laughing, yawning, crying, and vomiting.

Tallis will be bringing his wide range of interests to the RSA on Tuesday 6th May. You can book your place for the talk here, and borrow a copy of The Kingdom of Infinite Space by emailing the RSA Library.