By James Harkin
Once there was no text messaging. No email and no social network sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. The way we live has apparently been transformed by new ways of communicating. But where did these trends start? And if they can change our behaviour, can they also change the way we think?In Cyburbia James Harkin describes how the architecture of our digital lives was built over seventy years. In a brilliant narrative that encompasses the work of crackpots, inventors and visionaries, it shows how a concept that began with the need to shoot down German bombers has evolved to govern almost everything - from our lives online to modern films like Memento and 21 Grams, from TV shows and plays to military strategy. Gripping, revelatory and fiercely intelligent, this extraordinary book will change forever the way you think about everything you do.
By Trevor Royle
The Battle of Culloden has gone down in history as the last major battle fought on British soil: a vicious confrontation between Scottish forces supporting the Stuart claim to the throne and the English Royal Army. But this wasn't just a conflict between the Scots and the English, the battle was also part of a much larger campaign to protect the British Isles from the growing threat of a French invasion. In Trevor Royle's vivid and evocative narrative, we are drawn into the ranks, on both sides, alongside doomed Jacobites fighting fellow Scots dressed in the red coats of the Duke of Cumberland's Royal Army. And we meet the Duke himself, a skilled warrior who would gain notoriety due to the reprisals on Highland clans in the battle's aftermath. Royle also takes us beyond the battle as the men of the Royal Army, galvanized by its success at Culloden, expand dramatically and start to fight campaigns overseas in America and India in order to secure British interests; we see the revolutionary use of fighting techniques first implemented at Culloden; and the creation of professional fighting forces. Culloden changed the course of British history by ending all hope of the Stuarts reclaiming the throne, cementing Hanoverian rule and forming the bedrock for the creation of the British Empire. Royle's lively and provocative history looks afresh at the period and unveils its true significance, not only as the end of a struggle for the throne but the beginning of a new global power.
Cuba: The Land Of Miracles
By Stephen Smith
For a growing number of British holidaymakers, Cuba is a Caribbean paradise, but it is also a land of cutbacks and economic instability. Stephen Smith comes to live on the island, and his search for the real Cuba inevitably becomes a search for Fidel Castro too. Before meeting his quarry, Smith travels extensively through the 'land of miracles' in an old American automobile. His highly-personalised account features a bloody initiation into a voodoo-like cult, dining on giant rat, and checking into the Love Hotel. And he goes on manoeuvres in the Everglades with armed, but not especially competent, Cuban exiles dreaming of a second Bay of Pigs. With disarming wit and considerable insight, Stephen Smith investigates a country where communism and voodoo coexist, and where the influence of its leader of forty years continues to throw a long shadow.
By Jane Gardam
In 1904, when she was six, Polly Flint went to live with her two holy aunts at the yellow house by the marsh - so close to the sea that it seemed to toss like a ship, so isolated that she might have been marooned on an island. And there she stayed for eighty-one years, while the century raged around her, while lamplight and Victorian order became chaos and nuclear dred. Crusoe's Daughter, ambitious, moving and wholly original, is her story.
A Cruel and Shocking Act
By Philip Shenon
The questions have haunted our nation for half a century: Was the President killed by a single gunman? Was Lee Harvey Oswald part of a conspiracy? Did the Warren Commission discover the whole truth of what happened on November 22, 1963?Philip Shenon, a veteran investigative journalist who spent most of his career at The New York Times, finally provides many of the answers. Though A CRUEL AND SHOCKING ACT began as Shenon's attempt to write the first insider's history of the Warren Commission, it quickly became something much larger and more important when he discovered startling information that was withheld from the Warren Commission by the CIA, FBI and others in power in Washington. Shenon shows how the commission's ten-month investigation was doomed to fail because the man leading it - Chief Justice Earl Warren - was more committed to protecting the Kennedy family than getting to the full truth about what happened on that tragic day. A taut, page-turning narrative, Shenon's book features some of the most compelling figures of the twentieth century-Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, Chief Justice Warren, CIA spymasters Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, as well as the CIA's treacherous 'molehunter,' James Jesus Angleton.Based on hundreds of interviews and unprecedented access to the surviving commission staffers and many other key players, Philip Shenon's authoritative, scrupulously researched book will forever change the way we think about the Kennedy assassination and about the deeply flawed investigation that followed.
The Crow Road
By Iain Banks
'His masterpiece' Jay Rayner'One of the best opening lines of any novel... a warm, witty and ultimately very poignant book' GuardianAn outstanding contemporary novel, about which readers say:'Banks' masterpiece''Iain Banks at his best''Read this immediately''A story full of wonderful characters''It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach.'Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances...
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
By Wang Du Lu, Justin Hill
When master warrior Shulien learns of the death of her family's patron, she abandons retirement and returns to the capital to protect Green Legend, a sword renowned for its historic triumphs. But much has happened in the years she has been in seclusion, and she finds herself beset on all sides with hidden enemies, and the tragic past which she had hoped to forget returns to haunts her.In her hour of need arrives a beautiful young warrior, Snow Vase, who is seeking a master. But the new apprentice is not all that she seems. When she falls in love with the bandit Wei-fang, a secret is revealed that makes all of them question who is friend and who is foe. In an age of thwarted love, can these two youths find happiness? Based on the original novels by Wang Du Lu, this is a beautiful love story set in the fading years of nineteenth century Imperial China.
By Maurizio de Giovanni
Transferred to Naples after a tangle with the Sicilian Mafia, Detective Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono feels that he's marking time, waiting out an awkward scandal.But when the bloodied bodies of teenagers start appearing around the city, victims of a strange and sinister killer whom police and locals take to calling The Crocodile, it soon becomes clear to Lojacono that the killings are more than simple Mafia hits, and that the labyrinthine streets of Naples are more deadly than he'd dared imagine.Can he catch the assassin in time to save the city's innocents?A bestseller in Italy, The Crocodile is a dark, bloody story of murder and revenge that will grip and thrill you.
By Trevor Royle
The Crimean War is one of the most compelling subjects in British history. Everyone knows about the Charge of the Light Brigade and men like Raglan and Cardigan, have become household names. The story of Florence Nightingale, 'the Lady with the Lamp', and the heroic reporting of William Russell, THE TIMES' intrepid correspondent, and the sonorous names of the battles, are ingrained deep within the British military consciousness - Sebastopol, Inkerman, Balaclava and the Alma.Trevor Royle demonstrates how the Crimean War was a watershed in world history: coming between the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 and the opening shots of the First World War in 1914 it pointed the way to what mass warfare would be like for soldiers in the twentieth century.
By Gore Vidal
Vidal's historical novel set in the 5th century BC and narrated by Cyrus Spitama, son of a Persian prince and Greek sorceress, grandson of the prophet Zoroaster, and ambassador to the courts of India, China and Greece. Pericles, Thucydides, Sophocles and Confucius are among the book's characters.
By Richard Grant
No-one travels like the renowned writer-adventurer Richard Grant and, really, no-one should. Having narrowly escaped death at the hands of Mexican drug barons in Bandit Roads, he now plunges with his trademark recklessness and curiosity into Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of a previously unexplored river in Tanzania, he gets waylaid by thieves, whores and a degenerate former golf pro in Zanzibar, then crosses the Indian Ocean in a cargo dhow before the real adventure begins on the Malagarasi river. Travelling by raft, dodging bullets, hippos, lions and crocodiles, hacking through swamps and succumbing to fevers, Grant's gripping, illuminating and often hilarious book will thrill his devoted readers and bring him to an even broader audience.
By Patrick Hamilton
'All his novels are terrific' Sarah WatersIn Craven House, among the shifting, uncertain world of the English boarding house, with its sad population of the shabby genteel on the way down - and the eternal optimists who would never get up or on - the young Patrick Hamilton, with loving, horrified fascination, first mapped out the territory that he would make, uniquely, his own. Although many of Hamilton's lifelong interests are here, they are handled with a youthful brio and optimism conspicuously absent from his later work. The inmates of Craven House have their foibles, but most are indulgently treated by an author whose world view has yet to harden from scepticism into cynicism. The generational conflicts of Hamilton's own youth thread throughout the narrative, with hair bobbing and dancing as the battle lines. That perennial of the 1920s bourgeoisie, the 'servant problem', is never far from the surface, and tensions crescendo gradually to a resolution one climactic dinnertime.
The Cranes That Build The Cranes
By Jeremy Dyson
Jeremy Dyson is a master of the macabre, of stories brimming with black humour and the promise of something sinister just around the corner. In his new collection he explores the dark depths of the human condition, offering tales of death, disaster and - just occasionally - redemption. An unhappy, near-autistic bookseller acquires miraculous powers over life and death and exacts his revenge on the world - in a cruel and unexpected way.Alone in their isolated boarding school, three boys explore the mysterious cellar that is officially off-limits, only to discover something far worse than they expected about the building and themselves.A pathological fear of violent crime drives a wealthy property developer to purchase a private island and build himself a home of absolute security. Unfortunately he succeeds in attracting the very thing he fears the most.In these and other tales of suspense and horror, Jeremy Dyson introduces the reader to a world that is at once mysterious and strangely familiar . . .
Country Of The Blind
By Christopher Brookmyre
The murder of a media moghul in his country mansion appears to be the result of him disturbing a gang of would-be thieves. The robbers are swiftly caught, but when they are unexpectedly moved to a different prison they escape. Back in Edinburgh, a young solicitor reveals to the press that one of the subjects had left a letter with her some time before the break-in which proves his innocence. Jack Parlabane, journo-extraordinaire, is intrigued, but when he approaches the lawyer he discovers someone else is trying to get near her - someone with evil intent, political connections of the highest order and a corrupt agenda. Fast-moving, blackly humorous and intriguingly credible.
By Carl Sagan
* Spacecraft missions to nearby planets* The Library of ancient Alexandria* The human brain* Egyptian hieroglyphics* The origin of life* The death of the sun* The evolution of galaxies* The origins of matter, suns and worldsThe story of fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transforming matter and life into consciousness, of how science and civilisation grew up together, and of the forces and individuals who helped shape modern science. A story told with Carl Sagan's remarkable ability to make scientific ideas both comprehensible and exciting.
By Dennis Lehane
A small southern town gives birth to a dangerous man with a broken heart and a high-powered rifle... A young girl, caught up in an inner-city gang war, crosses the line from victim to avenger... An innocent man is hunted by government agents for an unspecified crime... A boy and a girl fall in love while ransacking a rich man's house during the waning days of the Vietnam War... A compromised psychiatrist confronts the unstable patient he slept with... A father and a son wage a lethal battle of wits over the whereabouts of a stolen diamond and a missing woman.In turn suspenseful, surreal, romantic, and tragically comic, these tales journey headlong into the heart of our myths - about class, gender, freedom, and regeneration through violence - and reveal that the truth waiting for us there is not what we'd expect.
By Charles Allen
COROMANDEL. A name which has been long applied by Europeans to the Northern Tamil Country, or (more comprehensively) to the eastern coast of the Peninsula of India.This is the India highly acclaimed historian Charles Allen visits in this fascinating book. Coromandel journeys south, exploring the less well known, often neglected and very different history and identity of the pre-Aryan Dravidian south. During Allen's exploration of the Indian south he meets local historians, gurus and politicians and with their help uncovers some extraordinary stories about the past. His sweeping narrative takes in the archaeology, religion, linguistics and anthropology of the region - and how these have influenced contemporary politics. Known for his vivid storytelling, for decades Allen has travelled the length and breadth of India, revealing the spirit of the sub-continent through its history and people. In Coromandel, he moves through modern-day India, discovering as much about the present as he does about the past.
A Corkscrew Is Most Useful
By Nicholas Murray
In the early 19th century there was a huge surge forward in travel of all kinds. Queen Victoria's accession in 1837 came barely a year after John Murray's first guidebook was published. Then in 1838 Bradshaw's famous portable railway timetable appeared. In 1841 Thomas Cook, the world's first travel agent, organised its first tour (from London to Leicester and back by train). The age of mass tourism had arrived. Side by side with it another phenomenom began to develop: exploration to wilder shores and uncharted lands. This is the focus of Nicholas Murray's fascinating book which draws upon the extraordinary stories of Livingstone's journey across Africa; Burton and Speke reaching Lake Tanganyika; John Stuart crossing Australia from south to north; Livingstone reaching the Zambezi; Richard Burton's travels across Arabia, and countless others' extraordinary and brave expeditions.
By Alexander McCall Smith
Welcome to Corduroy Mansions in Pimlico: a temple of Arts and Crafts architecture, with comforting, weathered brickwork and frankly frivolous dormer windows, it is home to a delightfully eccentric cast of Londoners.In the top flat lives William, with a faithful ex-vegetarian dog named Freddie de la Hay and a freeloading son who he hopes will soon fly the nest. Four lively young women share the first-floor flat, including twinset-and-pearls Caroline from Cheltenham, Dee, vitamin addict and avid subscriber to Anti-oxidant News, and Jenny, a put-upon PA. And round the corner lives Oedipus Snark MP, possibly the world's only loathsome Lib Dem, who has succeeded in offending everyone he knows, and many others besides. But what dark revenge is being plotted by his mother, Berthea Snark, and by his girlfriend, Barbara Ragg...?
By Steve Jones
While writing this book, Steve Jones had beside him the coral brooch that his sea captain grandfather brought back across the Indian Ocean as a gift for his wife. This simple object is a starting point for a dazzling narrative that touches on a number of the most important issues facing us today. Following in the footsteps of Darwin and Captain Cook, Jones reveals what coral has to tell us about the human genome project, cloning, and the possibility of a cure for cancer and genetic diseases; what insights it can offer us into the future of trade in oil and other forms of carbon; how it is linked to the fluctuations in weather patterns that have lead to destruction along the coasts of the Americas and the Far East. Finally, Jones considers what coral - exploited and destroyed in many ways and under siege from climate change - tells us about the likely future of the planet and humankind: it is a warning that both may be close to the point of no return. CORAL: A PESSIMIST IN PARADISE is an inspired, eclectic book that links science with history, literature, politics and myth. It belongs to a vivid tradition of thinking and writing about humankind and its place in nature.