White Boy Running
Having been raised in an Irish family in South Africa, the poet-novelist Christopher Hope grew up with a deep insight into apartheid. He returned to the country, after twelve years’ absence, during the 1987 whites-only election. Recalling a childhood road trip (as a white boy running through the landscape) he gives an objective account of the historic grievances of both Afrikaners and the black townships.
A Tokyo Romance
Writer, historian and journalist Ian Buruma arrived in Tokyo as a film student in 1975, aged 23. There he discovered a surreal mix of traditional and modern culture: temples and shrines alongside neon signs, Japanese pop, murky old bars and cabarets. He recalls his exploits in the world of avant-garde theatre, encounters with carnival acts and fashion photographers, and moments on set with Akira Kurosawa.
The Murdoch Method
Notes on Running a Media Empire
Rupert Murdoch has had a huge impact on the modern media landscape and Irwin Stelzer was an adviser to him for 35 years. He describes Murdoch’s predilection for risk-taking, mistrust of the establishment and unconventional management style, while analysing turning points in his career, from his purchase of British newspapers (the News of the World, followed by the Sun) and News Corp’s takeover of Twentieth Century Fox to Myspace’s decline and the tabloid phone-hacking scandal.
The Lies of the Land
An Honest History of Political Deceit
This dry, humorous look at the biggest political lies of recent decades, by Private Eye journalist Adam Macqueen, includes the cover-up of Churchill’s stroke, sex scandals such as the Profumo affair, and the misleading claims behind the Iraq war and the Brexit referendum. Given that politicians have always lied, Macqueen asks how and why, in this ‘post-truth era’, we have become so compliant with fake news.
The Jamestown Brides
The Untold Story of England's 'Maids for Virginia'
In 1621 the near-bankrupt Virginia Company of London made a profit by shipping across the Atlantic 56 young women who had been hand-picked as brides for the planters of its new colony. Using archival sources including the company’s own records, Potter gives voice to these women, asking why they agreed to make the dangerous journey, how they adapted to their new lives, how they chose their husbands and what happened to them in the end.
It's All a Game
A Short History of Board Games
Board games have existed for millennia and, despite the allure of smartphones, remain hugely popular, even giving birth to the recent phenomenon of board-game cafés. From the ancient Egyptian Senet (‘a playable guide to the afterlife’), via such classics as Monopoly (which originally used a circular board), this book explores why they captivate us and traces their development up to the latest innovative ‘Eurogames’.
The Equations of Life
The Hidden Rules Shaping Evolution
Professor Charles Cockell argues that evolution and natural selection have always been constrained by basic physical laws, from an atomic level to the animal realm. For instance, there are sound scientific reasons why creatures can’t evolve with wheels instead of legs, and why carbon-based cells are ideal for trapping energy, so life on Earth is far more understandable and predictable than we might imagine.
The Café de Move-on Blues
In Search of the New South Africa
A quarter of a century after the end of apartheid, Christopher Hope embarks on a road trip through his homeland from Cape Town to the Zimbabwean border, meeting exploited black miners and embittered white nationalists. In the face of persisting economic inequality and interracial bitterness, he concludes that Nelson Mandela’s dream of a ‘rainbow nation’ is fading, and it might be the turn of the whites to hear what anti-apartheid politician Oliver Tambo called ‘the Move-on Blues’.
The Age of the Horse
An Equine Journey Through Human History
Susanna Forrest’s ‘equine journey’ comprises several different itineraries, guiding the reader through the various ways in which humankind has used the horse. In each chapter she sets out from a site visited quite recently – among them a Mongolian steppe, a manège in Versailles, an American sale barn, a polo field outside Beijing and a Portuguese bullring – to explore how the horse has been ridden, harnessed, eaten, kept as a pet, raced for sport or sent to war.
Histories of the Unexpected
How Everything has a History
‘History is like a maze’, write the authors as they embark on this journey through 30 topics, inspired by their podcast series that promotes non-linear historical thinking. They reveal how our everyday world connects with the past in surprising, thought-provoking ways, including the use of paper clips as an anti-Nazi symbol, cats’ significance for the French Revolution and the links between letters, marriage, the Royal Navy and eggs.
And How You Can Make it Happen
As Minister for Women and Equalities in the coalition government, Jo Swinson learned the hard way that gender imbalance was ‘the most intractable and biggest of problems to address’ – and not only for government. In this book, she explains how inequality permeates our lives and institutions and, focusing on how power is conferred in favour of men, her ‘call to arms’ offers ways for the individual to make a difference.
What the Romans Can Tell us About Old Age & Death
How did the Romans confront mortality in a world where only eight per cent of the population lived past 60 and medicine offered little defence against disease? This surprisingly entertaining discussion of the subject uses the philosophical reflections of elite authors and the evidence from ordinary Romans’ epitaphs to explore their attitudes to youth and ageing, and their beliefs about fate, death and the afterlife.
A Miscarriage of Justice and the Fight to End the Death Penalty
The case of Oklahoma death-row inmate Richard Glossip has caused an international outcry, since even those who prosecuted him for murder admit he killed no one. The British reporter who became his close friend tells the story of Glossip’s campaign against three scheduled executions. Slightly off-mint.