Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy
By Tim Harford
Based on the series produced for the BBC World ServiceWho thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? How did the humble spreadsheet turn the world of finance upside-down?The world economy defies comprehension. A continuously-changing system of immense complexity, it offers over ten billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every fifteen years, and links almost every one of the planet's seven billion people. It delivers astonishing luxury to hundreds of millions. It also leaves hundreds of millions behind, puts tremendous strains on the ecosystem, and has an alarming habit of stalling. Nobody is in charge of it. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what's going on. How can we make sense of this bewildering system on which our lives depend?From the tally-stick to Bitcoin, the canal lock to the jumbo jet, each invention in Tim Harford's fascinating new book has its own curious, surprising and memorable story, a vignette against a grand backdrop. Step by step, readers will start to understand where we are, how we got here, and where we might be going next.Hidden connections will be laid bare: how the barcode undermined family corner shops; why the gramophone widened inequality; how barbed wire shaped America. We'll meet the characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, or were ruined by them. We'll trace the economic principles that help to explain their transformative effects. And we'll ask what lessons we can learn to make wise use of future inventions, in a world where the pace of innovation will only accelerate.
The Retreat of Western Liberalism
By Edward Luce
'A panorama of the unravelling world order as riveting as any beach read' New Yorker'Read this book: in the three hours it takes you will get a new, bracing and brilliant understanding of the dangers we in the democratic West now face. Luce is one of the smartest journalists working today, and his perceptions are priceless' Jane Mayer, staff writer on the New Yorker'No one was more prescient about the economic malaise and popular resentment that has hit the United States than Ed Luce in his previous book, Time to Start Thinking. His new book, Retreat of Western Liberalism, broadens that picture to cover the Western world. It is a must read for anyone trying to make sense of the waves of populism and nationalism we face today' Liaquat AhamedIn his widely acclaimed book Time to Start Thinking, Financial Times columnist and commentator Edward Luce charted the course of American economic and geopolitical decline, proving to be a prescient voice on our current social and political turmoil.In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of western hegemony and the crisis of democratic liberalism - of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a symptom. Luce argues that we are on a menacing trajectory brought about by ignorance of what it took to build the West, arrogance towards society's losers, and complacency about our system's durability - attitudes that have been emerging since the fall of the Berlin Wall, treated by the West as an absolute triumph over the East. We cannot move forward without a clear diagnosis of what has gone wrong. Luce contrasts Western democratic and economic ideals, which rest on an assumption of linear progress, with more cyclical views of economic strength - symbolized by the nineteenth-century fall and present-day rise of the Chinese and Indian economies - and with the dawn of a new multipolar age.Combining on-the-ground reporting with intelligent synthesis of the vast literature already available, Luce offers a detailed projection of the consequences of the Trump administration and a forward-thinking analysis of what those who believe in enlightenment values must do to defend them from the multiple onslaughts they face in the coming years.
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.
The End of Alchemy
By Mervyn King
'A fearless and important book . . . The End of Alchemy isn't just an elegant guide to the history of economic ideas. It also gives a genuine insider's account' TelegraphThe past twenty years saw unprecedented growth and stability followed by the worst financial crisis the industrialised world has ever witnessed. In the space of little more than a year what had been seen as the age of wisdom was viewed as the age of foolishness. Almost overnight, belief turned into incredulity. Most accounts of the recent crisis focus on the symptoms and not the underlying causes of what went wrong. But those events, vivid though they remain in our memories, comprised only the latest in a long series of financial crises since our present system of commerce became the cornerstone of modern capitalism. Alchemy explains why, ultimately, this was and remains a crisis not of banking - even if we need to reform the banking system - nor of policy-making - even if mistakes were made - but of ideas. In this refreshing and vitally important book, former governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King - an actor in this drama - proposes revolutionary new concepts to answer the central question: are money and banking a form of Alchemy or are they the Achilles heel of a modern capitalist economy?
By John Kampfner
From the Orwell Prize shortlisted author of Freedom for Sale, The Rich is the fascinating history of how economic elites from ancient Egypt to the present day have gained and spent their money.Starting with the Romans and Ancient Egypt and culminating with the oligarchies of modern Russia and China, it compares and contrasts the rich and powerful down the ages and around the world. What unites them? Have the same instincts of entrepreneurship, ambition, vanity, greed and philanthropy applied throughout?As contemporary politicians, economists and the public wrestle with the inequities of our time - the parallel world inhabited by the ultra-wealthy at a time of broader hardship - it is salutary to look to history for explanations. This book synthesises thousands of years of human behaviour and asks the question: is the development of the globalised super-rich over the past twenty years anything new?
Made In Britain
By Evan Davis
What are countries famous for making? For Japan, the answer might be electronic goods. For Germany, automobiles. For France, perhaps a Louis Vuitton bag. But what about Britain?Here, Evan Davis sets himself the task of finding out. Offering a fascinating look at our manufacturing industries and revealing the various companies that might not be household names, but are very much world leaders in their fields, he shows how we have learnt to specialise in high end and niche areas that are the envy of the world. Taking in our disappointments and successes, Made in Britain is a brilliantly readable tour of our economic history, exploring the curious blend of resilience, innovation and economic free-thinking that makes us who we are.
By Charlie Higson
Dennis 'The Menace' Pike, former wild man of Tottenham, is going grey and going straight. Anyway, it was hard work being a yob- the birds, the brawls, the endless beers- and he hasn't really got the energy any more for life on the edge. Then two old faces turn up from the past- the Bishop brothers, Chas and Noel. Famously inept, they were bad news then, and they haven't aged well. What's worse, they need Pike's expertise on a scheme wealth distribution really- offloading one of the old gang's ill-gotten millions. Robbing the robbers- now what's criminal about that?Pike, still haunted by what happened one wreckless night all those years ago, refuses to get involved. But old habits die hard, and when he suddenly finds his bank account tampered with, Pike is drawn back into a world he spent ten years escaping. Thug or mug, he is nevertheless forced to confront a man so psychotically unhinged that his own youth seems like mere kids' stuff...A slick, razor-sharp novel, FULL WHACK is packed full of searing wit, scurrilous characters and nefarious knock-about.
By Peter Guralnick
One of the most influential African American singers/songwriters in the late 1950s, Sam Cooke was among the first to blend gospel music and secular themes - the early foundation of soul music. He was the opposite of Elvis: a black performer who appealed to white audiences, who wrote his own songs, who controlled his own business destiny. In Dream Boogie, bestselling author Peter Guralnick captures Sam Cooke's remarkable accomplishment and chronicles his moving and important story, from Cooke's childhood as a choirboy to an adulthood when he was anything but that.
By Jonathan Schneer
The Thames is liquid history' John Burns MP (1858-1943)As the silver thread woven through Britain's centuries, the Thames is the subject of this significant biography. Following its course, geologically and chronologically, THE THAMES will chart the growing importance of the river and some of the dramatic historic events it was central to. Since Tudor times, the Thames has been a key factor in our understanding of the British nation. At Runnymede, in a field by the river, England's barons forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. At Tilbury, on the banks of the Thames, in 1588, Elizabeth exhorted her troops to defy the Spanish Armada. In dockland, in east London, in 1940, local residents absorbed the full fury of Hitler's dreaded Luftwaffe. Hitler tried, and failed, to destroy the Port of London, symbol of British commercial power, reservoir of the material needed to fuel and fund the British war effort. This is a book about a river, but also about the evolution, though not always smooth, of a national identity.
The Path To Freedom
By The Dalai Lama
FREEDOM IN EXILE - Here, in his own words, The Dalai Lama describes what it was like to grow up revered as a deity among his people, reveals his innermost feelings about his role, and discusses the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. He tells of secret deals struck with the CIA as Tibet continued to struggle for independence, talks freely of the many world leaders he has known, and talks of the West's malaise from his standpoint as a spirtual and temporal figure of world reknown.ANCIENT WISDOM, MODERN WORLD - With wit, gentle good sense and with penetrating insight, the Dalai Lama shows how the truths that have stood the test of generations of practise can provide us with the tools to live happy, fulfilled and meaningful lives. In the process, it becomes apparent that he does not merely espouse the 'feelgood' religiosity some accuse him of. The reader is left admiring not just the wisdom of the author, but the wisdom of the culture he represents. In ANCIENT WISDOM, MODERN WORLD, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses these issues, in a spiritual complement to his autobiography FREEDOM IN EXILE.
The Lives Of Strangers
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Chitra Divakaruni is well known for her highly acclaimed novel THE MISTRESS OF SPICES and her award winning short story collection ARRANGED MARRIAGE. In this new collection she weaves tales of India and of new settlers in America with touching perception and colour. A young girl protects her small brother from the wrath of her father and the stain of poverty, but when he flees the house to escape, she catches the bright white of his shirt flashing past the foliage of the Indian trees and finds she has to keep the greatest secret of them all: his fight for liberty; a widowed grandmother arrives in America to stay with her only son and his children, looking forward to a new life among those who love her most but soon discovers a world of materialism, familial strife and the loss of family ties.In this exquisite collection of stories, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni paints the realities of solitude, expectation, love and betrayal and deftly embroiders a colourful tapestry of life in the East and West.
Eight Men And A Duck
By Nick Thorpe
Nick Thorpe was innocently travelling around South America with his wife, Ali, when he came across an American adventurer planning to sail from Chile to Easter Island on a Bolivian boat made of reeds. Inspired by the great Thor Heyerdahl, Phil Buck had recruited seven men to join him on this experiment to discover whether it might have been possible that Polynesia was first settled from South America rather than Asia. But when one of them dropped out a place in the crew became available for Nick.What followed was a somewhat bizarre expedition undertaken by a rather makeshift vessel, a couple of ducks (one of which could have only guessed at its fate) and a group of men, who, when all was said and done, weren't quite sure how to sail a boat...Brilliantly told, EIGHT MEN AND A DUCK is a feel-good, hilarious tale of storms, amateur seamen and the occasional shark.
The Rise And Fall Of Napoleon Vol 2: The Fall
By Robert Asprey
In his early years, Napoleon was a Corsican nationalist who considered the French to be oppressors. Nevertheless,he was sent to military academies in France, and when he graduated in 1785, at the age of sixteen, he became a second lieutenant in the French army. Napoleon's military career presents a surprising paradox. His genius at tactical manoeuvring was dazzling, and if he were to be judged only by that, he might perhaps be considered the greatest general of all time. In the field of grand strategy, however, he was prone to making gross blunders, such as the invasion of Egypt and Russia. One criterion of a general's greatness is his ability to avoid disastrous errors. It is hard to second-guess the very greatest such as Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, whose armies were never defeated. Because Napoleon was defeated in the end, in 1815, all of his foreign conquests proved ephemeral. This second volume of Robert Asprey's long-awaited biography takes Napoleon from the zenith of his powers to their nadir, and brilliantly places Bonaparte in his full military context.