By Evan Davis
'A Malcolm Gladwell-style social psychology/behavioural economics primer' Evening StandardLow-level dishonesty is rife everywhere, in the form of exaggeration, selective use of facts, economy with the truth, careful drafting - from Trump and the Brexit debate to companies that tell us 'your call is important to us'. How did we get to a place where bullshit is not just rife but apparently so effective that it's become the communications strategy of our times? This brilliantly insightful book steps inside the panoply of deception employed in all walks of life and assesses how it has come to this. It sets out the surprising logic which explains why bullshit is both pervasive and persistent. Why are company annual reports often nonsense? Why should you not trust estate agents? And above all, why has political campaigning become the art of stretching the truth? Drawing on behavioural science, economics, psychology and of course his knowledge of the media, Evan ends by providing readers with a tool-kit to handle the kinds of deceptions we encounter every day, and charts a route through the muddy waters of the post-truth age.
By Eric Hobsbawm
Social agitation is as essential a part of public life today as it has ever been. In Eric Hobsbawm's masterful study, Primitive Rebels, he shines a light on the origins of contemporary rebellion: Robin Hood, secret societies, revolutionary peasants, Mafiosi, Spanish Civil War anarchy, pre-industrial mobs and riots - all of which have fed in to our notions of dissent in the modern world.Coining now familiar terms such as 'social banditry', Primitive Rebels shows how Hobsbawm was decades ahead of his time, and his insightful analysis of the history of social movements is critical to our understanding of movements such as UK Uncut, Black Lives Matter and the growing international resistance to Donald Trump's presidency.Reissued with a new introduction by Owen Jones, Primitive Rebels is the perfect guide to the revolutions that shaped western civilisation, and the bandits, reformers and anarchists who have fought to change the world.
Precious and Grace
By Alexander McCall Smith
One bright morning, Precious Ramotswe - head of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - receives a visitor: a woman from Australia. This woman asks Precious to take on a case: to find the nursemaid who raised her during her childhood in Botswana. The woman wants to thank her for being such an important part of her life. Precious has a history of successfully solving cases, but this one proves difficult and throws up a number of surprises and challenges. Back in her office, next door to the Speedy Motors Garage on Twokleng Road, Precious also has a team to manage: Mr Polopetsi, a part-time science teacher and new assistant at the agency; she mentors Charlie, a former apprentice and young man too handsome and charming for his own good - a man who has gotten himself in deep water; and then there is Precious's tumultuous but heart-warming friendship with her co-director, the fiery Grace Makutsi. Precious and Grace is a story about being a detective, the complexities of human nature, as well as lessons about gratitude and obligation.
The Perfect Theory
By Pedro G. Ferreira
Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement in modern physics. Anything that involves gravity, the force that powers everything on the largest, hottest or densest of scales, can be explained by it. From the moment Einstein first proposed the theory in 1915, it was received with enthusiasm yet also with tremendous resistance, and for the following ninety years was the source of a series of feuds, vendettas, ideological battles and persecutions featuring a colourful cast of characters. A gripping, vividly told story, A Perfect Theory entangles itself with the flashpoints of modern history and is the first complete popular history of the theory, showing how it has informed our understanding of exactly what the universe is made of and how much is still undiscovered: from the work of the giant telescopes in the deserts of Chile to our newest ideas about black holes and the Large Hadron Collider deep under French and Swiss soil.
Plague and Cholera
By Patrick Deville
Paris, May 1940. Nazi troops storm the city and at Le Bourget airport, on the last flight out, sits Dr Alexandre Yersin, his gaze politely turned away from his fellow passengers with their jewels sewn into their luggage. He is too old for the combat ahead, and besides he has already saved millions of lives. When he was the brilliant young protégé of Louis Pasteur, he focused his exceptional mind on a great medical conundrum: in 1894, on a Hong Kong hospital forecourt, he identified and vaccinated against bubonic plague, later named in his honour Yersinia pestis.Swiss by birth and trained in Germany and France, Yersin is the son of empiricism and endeavour; but he has a romantic hunger for adventure, fuelled by tales of Livingstone and Conrad, and sets sail for Asia. A true traveller of the century, he wishes to comprehend the universe. Medicine, agriculture, the engine of the new automobile, all must be opened up, examined and improved. Ceaselessly curious and courageous, Yersin stands, a lone genius,against a backdrop of world wars, pandemics, colonialism, progress and decadence. He is brought to vivid, thrilling life in Patrick Deville's captivating novel, which was a bestseller and shortlisted for every major literary award in France.
The Prime Minister's Ironing Board and Other State Secrets
By Adam Macqueen
Stored in Whitehall's archives are everything from blood-chilling warnings of imminent nuclear attack to comical details of daily life in the corridors of power. Concerned notes from ministers on the subject of the Heir to the Throne's potential brainwashing by Welsh terrorists are shelved alongside worries about housemaids 'on the wobble' at Chequers.Detailed and surprising plans for royal funerals sit beside reports on suspected spies in the showbiz world and bawdy poetry about the monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltar. And Mary Whitehouse's complaints about the sex education syllabus nestle next to thank-you notes from prisoner 13260/62, also known as Nelson Mandela.Adam Macqueen, author of the highly acclaimed bestseller Private Eye: The First 50 Years, has searched high and low to present us with some of the most unlikely revelations since the Official secrets act was inaugurated one hundred years ago. Not only about Mrs Thatcher's ironing board, but Ted Heath's car, Harold Macmillan's bedroom carpet, Imelda Marcos and her son Bong Bong's trip to Buckingham Palace and President Eisenhower's particular problem with Winston Churchill's trousers.
The People You Are
By Rita Carter
In THE PEOPLE YOU ARE, Rita Carter - award-winning science writer and international speaker - offers a new and vital understanding of personality. Rita explains that nearly every one of us is a team of personalities, working together, for the most part, to give the impression of a unified self. We are used to thinking of ourselves as one thing or the other - either introvert or extrovert, say - but things are rarely that simple for most of us. That's why we sometimes feel like a different person depending on mood, company and surroundings, why we sometimes suffer unaccountable memory lapses, why we buy something we then decide we didn't want in the first place, or why 'somebody else' turns off the alarm clock in the morning.Importantly, THE PEOPLE YOU ARE is also a practical guide to building a happy 'household' of personalities, explaining how to identify these different versions of ourselves and how to enable them to co-operate so that we can function successfully in life.THE PEOPLE YOU ARE is both an eye-opening and highly practical account of personality.
By Sarah Gainham
Private Worlds completes Sarah Gainham's masterly trilogy of twentieth-century Austria. Having survived the Second World War and Vienna's lethal post-war political intrigues, Julia Homburg, Vienna's most brilliant actress, and her trusted friend Georg Kerenyi can now return to their private worlds, restore their shattered lives and reaffirm the values that enabled them to transcend the hate, injustice and crimes of those war-torn years. They are determined to seek out the consolation of work, the sweetness of love, the joy of friendship -- but memories of the destruction and suffering they witnessed are not always easily buried . . .
A Place in the Country
By Sarah Gainham
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Vienna is a crucible of fear and superstition, tense with the beginnings of the Cold War and rife with double agents. Robert Inglis, a young British army officer, has been posted to the ruined city to assist in restoring order and control. In the bitter cold of that post-war winter, a mystery railway wagon arrives from the east carrying a cargo of starving, half-dead men, among them the talented journalist Georg Kerenyi. Inglis forms an uneasy friendship with Kerenyi, and it is through him that he meets and is captivated by Julia Homburg, once the star of Vienna's theatre and now hidden away in the Austrian countryside, engaged in her private struggle to overcome the sorrow and devastation of the war.
A Private Place
By Amanda Craig
Knotshead is a school catering for the children of the rich, famous, liberal - and deluded. With its progressive curriculum, complacent staff and beautiful grounds, it looks like Paradise. But the clever, the odd and the bookish are relentlessly persecuted as pupils make their own rules in a bubble of privilege and prejudice. When Alice, the Headmaster's intellectual step-daughter, and the much-expelled American millionaire Winthrop T Sheen join forces against the school bully, Grub Viner, a gifted pianist and school "joker", has to choose between love and loyalty, and black comedy escalates to murder.
By Valerie Martin
Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans, but most of all, she longs to be free of the suffocating domestic situation. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl who may have been given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie. This private drama is being played out against a brooding atmosphere of slave unrest and bloody uprisings. And if the attacks reach Manon's house, no one can be sure which way Sarah will turn . . .Beautifully written, Property is an intricately told tale of both individual stories and of a country in a time of change, where ownership is at once everything and nothing, and where belonging, by contrast, is all.
A Place in Italy
By Simon Mawer
'You can't go and live there,' a despairing friend remarked, 'it's not even in Rome.' And it certainly wasn't, but still the author and his wife went to Avea, tucked away amongst the woods and gorges of the Lazio countryside.There they found no Colosseum, or Pantheon; there were no Ferraris racing around the Palazzi Navona, Venezia or Farnese. Instead they discovered the true agony and beauty of Italy: the instinctive warmth of the Avea villagers, the camorra, Little Tony - Italy's answer to Elvis - the elegant and sophisticated Colasanti family and a landlord like no other, Pippo, the self-styled Duca di Avea. This is not a story of the high culture of Italy's big cities, instead of how two foreigners learned to eat the Italian way, drive the Italian way, survive the Italian way - even to have a child the Italian way - and how in doing it they came to love this hidden corner of the most visited and least understood country in Europe.
The Perils of Morning Coffee
By Alexander McCall Smith
Summer in Edinburgh is a season of delicate sunshine and showers, picnics with loved ones in blossoming gardens and genteel celebrations of art and music. But Isabel Dalhousie's peaceful idyll is broken when a single meeting over coffee with fellow philosopher Dr George McLeod brings an irate phone call from his wife, Roz, who implacably accuses Isabel of conducting an affair with her husband.Wounded by the injustice of Roz's wild allegation and concerned both for her standing among the gossipy group of her scholarly peers and for Roz's apparent state of hysteria, Isabel is minded to discover more about the McLeods and set the record straight before the bitterness in their marriage poisons her reputation. She turns to Millie, an old acquaintance and a university colleague of George's, for insight. Once again, in this engaging, intelligently observed novella, Alexander McCall Smith's sharp-eyed heroine Isabel is reminded to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions about the lives of others, and to value friendship wherever it's found.
Playing Cards In Cairo
By Hugh Miles
PLAYING CARDS IN CAIRO is a fly-on-the-wall account - like THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL - of life (for western readers) in a strange and exotic environment. Hugh Miles lives in Cairo and is engaged to an Egyptian woman. Twice a week he plays cards with a small group of Arab, Muslim women and through this medium he explores their lives in modern Cairo, the greatest of Arab cities. It is a secretive, romantic, often deprived but always soulful existence for the women as they struggle with abusive husbands and philandering boyfriends. The book is a window onto a city - and a way of life - which is at a crucial juncture in its history. Hugh Miles, who knows the Arab world intimately, is the perfect guide.
Prayers For Rain
By Dennis Lehane
When Boston private investigator Patrick Kenzie meets Karen Nichols, she strikes him as an innocent from a protected upbringing. But six months later when Karen takes her own life, Patrick is left wondering what can change so drastically and so quickly that suicide seems the only option?Through the final weeks of a stifling summer, and with the help of his ex-partner, Angela Gennaro, and his friend, the lethally unbalanced Bubba Rogowski, Patrick enters into psychological warfare with a brilliant sociopath who, instead of merely killing his victims, prefers to make them wish they were dead.As the stakes grow higher and more personal, they find themselves fighting a losing battle with an enemy the law can't touch, who is always one step ahead, who is gradually discovering their weaknesses, their loves, and is determined to tear their world apart.
By Christopher Brookmyre
The senior pupils of St Peter's High School are on retreat to a secluded outdoor activity centre, coming to terms with the murder of a fellow pupil through the means you would expect: counselling, contemplation, candid discussion and even prayer - not to mention booze, drugs, clandestine liaisons and as much partying as they can get away with.Not so far away, the commanders of a top-secret military experiment, long-since spiralled out of control, fear they may have literally unleashed the forces of Hell.Two very different worlds are on a collision course, and will clash in an earthly battle between science and the supernatural, philosophy and faith, civilisation and savagery.The bookies are offering evens.
The People On Privilege Hill
By Jane Gardam
It is a wet day in Dorset, and walking to a luncheon party is Sir Edward Feathers QC, followed by two elderly friends: his scruffy neighbour and sparring partner, Veneering, and Fiscal-Smith, the meanest lawyer ever to make a fortune at the Bar. Fans of Jane Gardam's bestselling novel, OLD FILTH, will be delighted to encounter Filth, now almost ninety, making his immaculate way to Privilege Hill, named perhaps for the Prive-Lieges who arrived with the Normans, but more probably for the village privies. Ranging from a Victorian mansion converted into a home for unmarried mothers to a wartime hospital in the middle of the Blitz, from ghost stories to brilliant observations of love and loneliness in their various manifestations - including, in 'Pangbourne', a woman who falls in love with a gorilla - to reflections on the haphazard nature of intellect and memories in 'The Last Reunion', the stories in this collection mix Jane Gardam's trademark sardonic wit with a delicate tenderness and a touch of the surreal.
Plain Tales From The British Empire
By Charles Allen
PLAIN TALES FROM THE BRITISH EMPIRE gathers together Charles Allen's best loved books on the British experience across the Empire: PLAIN TALES FROM THE RAJ, TALES FROM THE SOUTH CHINA SEAS and TALES FROM THE DARK CONTINENT. These vivid stories and recollections give an evocative and unique glimpse into the lost days of the Empire across India, Africa and the territories fringing the South China Sea.'A hugely valuable record of colonial life in India, Africa and the Far East -- intimate, vivid and immensely enjoyable'Antonia Fraser
A Passage To Africa
By George Alagiah
As a five-year-old, George Alagiah emigrated with his family to Ghana - the first African country to attain independence from the British Empire. A PASSAGE TO AFRICA is Alagiah's shattering catalogue of atrocities crafted into a portrait of Africa that is infused with hope, insight and outrage. In vivid and evocative prose and with a fine eye for detail Alagiah's viewpoint is spiked with the freshness of the young George on his arrival in Ghana, the wonder with which he recounts his first impressions of Africa and the affection with which he dresses his stories of his early family life. A sense of possibility lingers, even though the book is full of uncomfortable truths. It is a book neatly balanced on his integrity and sense of obligation in his role as a writer and reporter. The shock of recognition is always there, but it is the personal element that gives A PASSAGE TO AFRICA its originality. Africa becomes not only a group of nations or a vast continent, but an epic of individual pride and suffering.
The Plimsoll Sensation
By Nicolette Jones
This enthusiastically reviewed, scrupulously researched and prize-winning book, which was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, chronicles a resonant episode of Victorian history. It is the tale of the agitation led by Samuel Plimsoll MP, 'The Sailor's Friend', and by his wife Eliza, who worked together to defend sailors against nefarious practices including overloading and the use of unseaworthy 'coffin-ships'. The backlash of libel cases and vilification almost ruined Plimsoll, but his drive and passion made him feverishly popular with the public; he was the subject of plays, novels, street ballads and music hall songs. With the demonstrative support of the nation, he faced down his enemies, came close to ousting Disraeli's government and achieved lasting safety measures for merchant sailors, including the load line that bears his name. Nicolette Jones throws light on a cross-section of Victorian society and tells the story of an epic legal, social, and political battle for justice, which is still an inspiring example of how the altruism and courage of determined individuals can make the world a better place.