At the Edge of Infinity and Beyond
Aleph-null is the cardinality, or size, of the set of natural numbers, and is a ‘countably infinite cardinal’. Remarkably, whereas 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + aleph-null = aleph-null. The authors of this advanced maths explainer utilize plain English in an attempt to understand difficult mathematical concepts, including large numbers, higher dimensions, computation and primes, fusing historical, philosophical and anecdotal aspects of each concept with the decidedly technical. Slightly off-mint.
War and the Death of News
Reflections of a Grade B Reporter
Martin Bell has seen war from both sides, first as a soldier and then as a journalist, reporting from some of the grimmest conflicts of recent decades. In this compelling personal account, he describes his experiences in Vietnam, Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and reflects on the way that journalism has changed. In the face of ‘embedded’ reporting, ‘infotainment’, social media and ‘post-truth’, he issues an impassioned call to put substance back into the news. Slightly off-mint.
A History of Britain in 21 Women
A Personal Selection
Jenni Murray, the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Women’s Hour, counter’s Carlyle’s assertion that history ‘is but the biography of great men’ with a personal selection of inspirational women who have made significant contributions to British history. In 21 short biographies, Murray includes just one queen, Elizabeth I, among writers, artists and scientists, social reformers and politicians from Boadicea to Nicola Sturgeon.
The Tiger and the Ruby
A Journey to the Other Side of British India
In 1841, Nigel Holleck left Britain to work as a clerk in the East India Company. After eight years in the post, he disappeared without trace in Nepal. A century and a half later, Kief Hillsbery set out to find the final resting place of his ancestor. The result is this remarkable tale of a clash of civilizations, a quest to discover one’s own identity, and a moving story of one man against an empire.
By Endurance We Conquer
Ernest Shackleton was one of the greatest of polar explorers, calm and courageous in the face of adversity, who led his men to safety against all odds after their ship Endurance was crushed by ice. Yet his personal life was as chaotic as his public exploits were level-headed and assured. Drawing on extensive original research, this balanced and yet sympathetic biography explores the formative experiences that shaped a flawed hero.
The Ends of the World
Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans And Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
At five moments in our planet’s history, catastrophic events caused mass extinctions, when more than half of its species were lost. New technologies now enable scientists both to study these ancient disasters and to predict what lies ahead in a new phase of habitat destruction and climate change. Ranging across half a billion years, from the fossil record’s extraordinary creatures to today’s coral reefs, this book explains these new, urgent insights into Earth’s fragile ecosystems.
Sounds and Sweet Airs
The Forgotten Women of Classical Music
For centuries female composers have been unjustly ignored and patronized, since they worked within a male-dominated musical culture that sought to exclude them, even to the extent of questioning their music’s authorship. The eight composers profiled here all challenged this prejudice with courage and pragmatism, from Francesca Caccini, who manipulated the gender politics of the Medici court, to Vaughan Williams’ pupil Elizabeth Maconchy, who fought back against sexism by working with ‘rigid self-discipline’.
The New Testament
A Beginner's Guide
This introduction to Christianity’s foundational documents is also a guide to the main approaches that scholars have used in discussing them. Telford begins by describing the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts of the early church. He then outlines the dating and classification of the New Testament’s 27 books before providing a closer analysis of the Synoptic Gospels and the sources of their traditions about Jesus.
In the course of its long existence, Iraq has been both the cradle of civilizations and a crucible of war. This history charts the fortunes of the land and its peoples from the ancient empires of Babylon and Assyria, through the cultural and scientific achievements of medieval Islam, to the colonial era, the discovery of oil, the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and the US-led invasion of 2003. The narrative concludes with an assessment of the country’s prospects.
A Very Dangerous Woman
The Lives, Loves and Lies of Russia's Most Seductive Spy
Adventurer, seductress and spy, the Russian baroness Moura Budberg embarked on a passionate affair in 1918 with Robert Bruce Lockhart, a British agent plotting Lenin’s downfall. Based on previously unexamined letters, diaries and documents, and narrated with the pace of a thriller, this first-ever biography tells the incredible story of a woman whose lovers included Maxim Gorky and HG Wells, and who became embroiled in the web of scandal surrounding the Cambridge Five.
Who Lost Russia?
How the World Entered a New Cold War
As a Reuters correspondent in Moscow from 1988 to 1995, Peter Conradi witnessed first-hand the collapse of communism and how ‘something wild, new and untested emerged to take its place’. In this book, he tracks the changes that have taken place in Russia since the 1990s through its relations with the West, from the end of the Cold War, through years of tentative cooperation to a new confrontation.
Censoring Queen Victoria
How Two Gentlemen Edited a Queen and Created an Icon
After Queen Victoria’s death, it was decided to publish her correspondence. Based on unprecedented access to royal archives, this work of historical detection profiles the men chosen to edit the letters: the depressive schoolmaster Arthur Benson, and Viscount Esher, a royal confidant obsessed with Eton schoolboys. It shows how their decisions shaped our perception of Victoria, and reveals aspects of the queen not intended for public scrutiny.
What a Fish Knows
The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins
Do goldfish really have a three-second memory? How does an archerfish hone its hunting skills? Can fish recognize human faces, appreciate music or feel pain? By presenting the fascinating findings of scientific research into their cognitive and sensory worlds, their sex lives and social structures, Balcombe prompts us to reconsider the intellectual abilities of our aquatic cousins so that we can more easily feel compassion towards them.
The Trials of the King of Hampshire
Madness, Secrecy and Betrayal in Georgian England
Every family has its skeletons, but in 1823 the aristocratic Wallops were about to have theirs laid bare to the world. This compulsively written, meticulously researched biography tells the dramatic story of the Third Earl of Portsmouth. Wealthy and well-connected, a friend of Byron and Jane Austen, he was widely considered a harmless eccentric until – amid accusations of blackmail, abduction and sodomy – his own family set out to have him declared insane in a trial that scandalized the nation.
The Philosophical Life
Twelve Great Thinkers and the Search for Wisdom, From Socrates to Nietzsche
Starting with Socrates who, with his injunction to ‘know thyself’, has provided many thinkers with a model of the philosophical life, and ending with Nietzsche, James Miller provides brief biographies of twelve philosophers. The selection includes both canonical figures such as Augustine, Descartes and Kant, and less obvious thinkers including Diogenes, Montaigne and Emerson, but every one of them has ‘struggled to live his life according to a deliberately chosen set of precepts and beliefs’.
Ministers at War
Winston Churchill and His War Cabinet
In this study of Winston Churchill and the small group of men – the 'team of rivals' – that he chose to help him guide Britain through the grave crisis it faced in May 1940, Schneer examines Churchill's leadership and the relations between the War Cabinet ministers – among them Eden, Beaverbrook, Bevin, Attlee, Morrison and Stafford Cripps. He also looks beyond the war to the Cabinet's response to public expectations after six years of hardship – domestic issues which demanded a new kind of leadership.
The Man with the Poison Gun
A Cold War Spy Story
In August 1961, on the day before his baby son’s funeral, KGB agent Bohdan Stashynsky boarded an S-Bahn train into West Berlin. By nightfall he had defected into the hands of the American military, confessing to murdering two Ukrainian dissidents using a cyanide-loaded poison gun. Drawing on recently declassified material from CIA and KGB archives, Plokhy’s thrilling story charts Stashynsky’s rise as a willing assassin, his nail-biting escape and its impact on Cold War politics.
The Secret Lives of Hair
As well as wigs, toupees and extensions, there are many uses for and beliefs about human hair. Indian traders call it ‘black gold’; in China a protein derived from it was once used in soy sauce; and in 1920s America there was a craze for using it to make ‘invisible’ hairnets. Anthropologist Emma Tarlo travelled the world to search out the facts and here presents the many remarkable hair-related stories she uncovered.
Dr James Barry
A Woman Ahead of Her Time
Dr James Barry was, among other things, Inspector of General Hospitals, an army surgeon, and the first British Empire doctor to successfully perform a caesarean. Only at the end of his colourful life, in 1865, was the truth revealed: Dr Barry was in fact a woman – the UK’s first female doctor. Following ten years of detailed research, the authors have produced a fascinating biography – incorporating colour portraits – that dispels some of the myths surrounding this mysterious individual.
A History of Conflict, Loss, Remembrance & Redemption
Long before the corn poppy became associated with remembrance of the First World War through John McCrae's poem 'In Flanders Fields', it had grown wherever ground was broken by conflict, cultivation or burial. The opium poppy has a different affinity with war, alleviating the suffering of its victims and inciting battles over its control. In this history of the iconic plant, the author explores its differing uses and associations, from the remedies of the Ancient Egyptians to the narcotics trade in present-day Afghanistan.
Mafia and Organized Crime
A Beginner's Guide
Who are the Mafia? Why are they so glamorized in popular culture? And how much damage do they really cause? The answers to these and other questions can be found in this lucid primer. Debunking the myths, it reveals the harsh realities of global organized crime from Russia to Mexico, and charts the trail of human misery and economic instability created by extortion, drug-running, money-laundering and human trafficking.
Zoom: How Everything Moves
From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees
Why does it take so long for thick ice to form? How slowly do stalactites grow? How much lower is a bee's buzz than a mosquito's? Why can we see the flicker in old silent movies? The answers to such questions are revealed as astronomer Bob Berman explains the myriad movements that shape the universe, from the Sombrero Galaxy, which speeds away from us at 562 miles per second, to the oscillations of water molecules.
A History of London in 50 Lives
Arranged by the area of London they lived in, worked in or visited, David Long's personal selection of interesting figures from the last few hundred years of the capital's history includes heroes and villains, the famous and the relatively unknown. He begins in St James's with Napoleon III (1808–73) living in exile, and ends with the spy George Blake (b.1922), whose last London address was Wormwood Scrubs.
From Colony to Revolution
The overthrow of Qaddafi in 2011 appeared to signal a new dawn for Libya, but the country's future now seems uncertain once again. This comprehensive study navigates Libya's long history of occupation and despotic rule, from the ancient Greeks, through the Ottoman Empire to Mussolini. It provides an in-depth account of Qaddafi's regime, the Lockerbie bombing and the Arab Spring, and assesses the prospects for democracy in this troubled land.
From Eternity to Here
The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
Was the Big Bang the beginning of the universe? Are there other universes where time runs 'backwards'? Why can't you unscramble an egg? Such questions are the focus of this book, in which one of the world's leading theoretical physicists addresses unsolved problems in our understanding of the rules of nature. Surveying different models that have been used to explain the mysterious 'arrow of time', the author proposes a new theory of how we came to exist.
The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist or Spy
In September 1950 Bruno Pontecorvo, one of Britain’s most brilliant nuclear physicists, disappeared with his family; when he resurfaced five years later he was on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Professor Close, who has worked with some of the defector’s former colleagues, assesses the importance of Pontecorvo’s research and pieces together the evidence for and against claims that he had been a Soviet spy while he was employed on the Anglo-Canadian arm of the Manhattan Project.
The Wife of Jesus
Ancient Texts and Modern Scandals
Was Jesus married? The question has inspired fierce debate, conspiracy theories, sensationalist news stories and The Da Vinci Code. In this clear account of the evidence Anthony le Donne examines a range of ancient texts and modern scholarship to offer arguments for and against a married Jesus; he also considers how the changing nature of our quest for Jesus' wife illuminates the ebb and flow of modern social and cultural preoccupations.
About Time: From Sun Dials to Quantum Clocks
How the Cosmos Shapes our Lives – and We Shape the Cosmos
Our understanding and experience of time have developed with new mythological or scientific cosmologies and increasingly accurate methods of measurement. About Time traces the human concept of time from the earliest evidence for our recording of lunar cycles in the palaeolithic age, through the Ptolemaic and Copernican models of the universe, to cutting-edge physics and the implications of quantum clocks, string theory and multiverses.
Nine Strange Ways the World Could End
Scientists are actively searching for objects in space that pose a threat to Earth, but recently discovered 'dark asteroids' are worryingly difficult to spot; and the potential dangers of self- replicating nanoparticles and gamma ray blasts are an equally frightening prospect. Leaving aside the well-documented risks of climate change and global conflict, this entertainingly written investigation presents less familiar, but scientifically plausible, possibilities that could end or seriously damage life on Earth.
The Secret Life of Sleep
Beyond the data of modern scientific sleep research, the author explores every kind of information and writing about sleep, but looks particularly at how knowledge about it exists in cultural practices, rituals, oral teachings, proverbs and song. Arranged in chapters following the progress of a night’s sleep, the book discusses topics as diverse as sleeping babies and the meaning of dreams to reveal the importance of sleep and the interdependence of our waking and sleeping lives.
The Blunders of Our Governments
Over recent decades, British governments of all parties have committed spectacular errors of judgement: the Poll Tax, the Millennium Dome, Blair's failed IT project for the NHS, the Assets Recovery Agency that cost more to run than it ever clawed back from organized crime... The list is ever growing. Informed by years of research and interviews with cabinet ministers and senior civil servants, this savvy, ironic and razor-sharp book explains why politicians are so prone to bungling at our expense.
One of the best-loved adventure stories ever written, here is Stevenson's tale of pirates, lost treasure maps, mutiny and derring- do, in a reprint of the first edition text (1883). This Oneworld Classics edition includes a short biography of Stevenson and his own essay on Treasure Island, 'My First Book'.