A Rage for Order
The Middle East in Turmoil, From Tahrir Square to Isis
This compelling book tells the dramatic story of the Arab Spring and its troubled aftermath through the lives of ordinary people, showing how the bright hopes of 2011 descended into civil war, autocracy and fanaticism. A Libyan rebel must decide whether to kill his brother’s murderer; a jihadi discovers that life in the Islamic State is far from paradise; and two young Syrian women’s friendship turns to enmity as their sects go to war.
Lost at Sea
The Jon Ronson Mysteries
Investigative journalist Jon Ronson is drawn to quirky and unusual stories and manages to write with humour while treating his subjects seriously. This collection of his writings from the Guardian, GQ and other publications covers a diverse range of topics from Church of England Alpha courses to psychics and alien investigators.
How Proust Can Change Your Life
Wearing his scholarship lightly and with great originality, critic and popular philosopher Alain de Botton approaches the task of reading Proust and profiting from the wisdom contained within his vast novel, In Search of Lost Time – ‘a practical, universally applicable story about how to stop wasting, and begin appreciating one’s life’.
Essays in Love
Why do we fall in love – and why do we break up? Written in the style of a novel, this genre-defying book charts the relationship of a man and a woman from the first kiss to the onset of anxiety and heartbreak, illuminating emotions we have all felt but perhaps never fully understood.
The Queen's Bed
An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court
Drawing on the first-hand accounts of those who knew Elizabeth I most intimately – the ladies-in-waiting who shared her heavily curtained bedchamber, and sometimes even her bed – this engrossing book reconstructs the queen's apartments and navigates a web of gossip, intrigue, conspiracy and scandal to reveal the private face of Gloriana.
From punk rock in the 1970s to the Paris catwalks today, Vivienne Westwood’s career has spanned almost five decades and created a living legend – punk proprietor of Let it Rock, fashion designer, global brand, activist and grandmother, still wearing impossibly tall shoes in her seventies. Written in collaboration with the biographer Ian Kelly, this memoir tells the story of her extraordinary trajectory – from early memories of Second World War rationing (‘everybody was knitting’) to creating outfits for the Duchess of Cornwall.
Some Desperate Glory
The First World War the Poets Knew
Max Egremont presents an original and engrossing account of the First World War, told through the stories of eleven poets and through a selection of their poetry for each year of the war. Along with the famous war poets – Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Blunden, Edward Thomas and Isaac Rosenberg, the book follows the experiences of the lesser-known Charles Sorley, Julian Grenfell and Robert Nichols, and the composer Ivor Gurney.
Mr Foote's Other Leg
The comedian and impressionist Samuel Foote (1720–77) was a superstar of the Georgian stage but was ruined by a media storm and two scandalous trials. This biography covers Foote’s early success with a true-crime book about his uncle’s murder; his long-forgotten satirical works; the roles he created; the disastrous practical joke that cost him a leg; and the ‘sodomitical’ circumstances of his fall from grace.
A Sting in the Tale
My Adventures with Bumblebees
Once common in the Kentish marshes, the English short-haired bumblebee became extinct in the UK. Conservationist Dave Goulson tracked down a surviving colony in New Zealand and set about reintroducing them. His informative and entertaining account of his quest details the minutiae of life in the nest, and offers a stark warning about the effects of intensive farming on our bee population and the dangers we face if we continue down this path.
Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters
An Eccentric Englishwoman and her Lost Kingdom
In one of the most bizarre episodes in British colonial history, the kingdom of Sarawak was ruled for generations by ‘white Rajas’, the Brooke family, with power of life and death over their Malay, Chinese and Dyak headhunter subjects. Philip Eade’s biography offers a glimpse into the wild and decadent world of Sylvia, the last Ranee, an extravagant writer and socialite who defied convention as she struggled to cling to power in the dying days of empire.
Rogerson's Book of Numbers
The Culture of Numbers from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World
Barnaby Rogerson counts down from the many millions of angels who could dance on a pin to the ultimate zero of Nirvana. On the way he delves into the cultural significance of important integers, explaining why 13 is unlucky in the West but 14 is the number to avoid in China, how John Buchan decided to write about 39 steps and which six patrician families were Rome’s greatest.
Hemingway in Love
His Own Story
In 1961, a few weeks before Hemingway took his own life, AE Hotchner visited his old friend for the last time. What the writer told him formed the final piece of the mystery Hemingway had been revealing down the years: the story of the affair that destroyed his marriage, and the woman who haunted his life and fiction. Withheld for decades out of consideration for his widow, this frank account reveals an unknown Hemingway: humble, thoughtful and full of regret.
The Woman Before Wallis
Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder
Two decades before he abdicated the throne of England for the love of Mrs Simpson, Prince Edward was, in the words of Andrew Rose, 'embroiled – along with a 'Princess' and an Egyptian multi-millionaire – in a scandal which has been superbly airbrushed from history'. In this book Rose tells the full, previously hidden story of Edward's liaison with Marguerite Alibert in Paris during the First World War, and her subsequent trial for the murder of her Egyptian husband in the Savoy Hotel London.
A physician, professor of neurology and author, Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) has been described by the New York Times as 'a kind of poet laureate of contemporary medicine'. His books are made up of case histories of his patients, and explore both their neurological disorders and the strategies they adopted to cope with them. In Seeing Voices, a journey into the world of the profoundly deaf, Sacks examines the consequences of living in silence, including the different ways in which the deaf and the hearing learn to categorize and convey the experience of their respective worlds.
The Age of Elizabeth II
Rocked by Suez and scandal, galvanized by Wilson's 'white heat of technology', tuned into the Beatles and polarized by Thatcher, the reign of Elizabeth II has seen Britain transformed from post-war austerity to the digital age. AN Wilson's ambitious social and cultural history combines broad narrative sweep with telling detail to portray an era in which imperial certainties crumbled before the complex realities of modern multi-cultural society.
United and divided by a river, London is one of the few world cities to find its essence in two profoundly contrasting yet nearly touching urban environments. The Italian artist Matteo Pericoli travelled the 20-mile stretch of the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge to the Millennium Dome to draw both banks of the river. His 25-foot-long folding panorama is accompanied by essays by two of the city's foremost contemporary chroniclers, North Londoner Iain Sinclair and southside resident Will Self.
A Point of View
Clive James was one of the most popular presenters of BBC Radio 4's A Point of View, talking for ten minutes about anything and everything that caught his attention. This book brings together his 60 talks, written amid the 'Swiftian scenario' offered by the years 2007–2009, and tackling everything from bankers to bad language in the certain knowledge that 'about three million of the brightest people in the country were within arm's reach of a button that could turn you off' – so his argument had better be good.
An Adventure History of Paris
Paris is one of the most alluring cities in the world; however well we know it, it never ceases to surprise. Reading this book, which retells its history through the lives of its inhabitants from Balzac to Baudelaire, Sartre to Sarkozy, is like stumbling upon a tiny restaurant frequented by eccentric locals. Robb is both a scholar and an adventurer, and from 250 years of urban history, he weaves a dazzling tapestry of fact and fantasy, memory and myth. Slightly off-mint.
In this memoir, originally published in 1980, we follow Clive James (b.1939) on his journey to the cusp of manhood in post-war Sydney. With humour and charm he tells of his battles with school, girls and a 'virile organ, which chose the most inconvenient moments to expand', while at university he undergoes a 'cruel exposure to the awkward fact that the arts attract the insane'. This Picador Classic features a new afterword by James and an introduction from PJ O'Rourke.
A Buzz in the Meadow
The Natural History of a French Farm
Conservationist Dave Goulson wrote a much-acclaimed study of bumblebees in A Sting in the Tale, and this sequel reports on how he bought a patch of land in rural France and set about making it a perfect haven for bees and a sanctuary for other creatures and plants. His account of his careful work demonstrates the intricate ecosystem of the meadow, and explains how the modern world is increasingly incompatible with this natural balance.
The Blaze of Obscurity
Unreliable Memoirs V
In the fifth volume of his memoirs, the endlessly witty Clive James (b.1939) tells the inside story of his years in TV, including the documentary special Clive James on Safari, which took him to Kenya, the long-running Clive James on Television and the Postcard from... programmes – work that inducted him into celebrity culture, 'the strange world where everybody knows your face while you hardly ever know theirs'.
The Language Wars
A History of Proper English
For centuries bitter arguments have raged over the correct usage of English, with ideas of correctness often having more to do with morality and politics than language itself. In a witty, combative and thought-provoking book, Hitchings presents the most persistent disputes, asking where ideas of 'proper' English have come from and assessing their implications for our relationships, work and freedoms.
A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps
From the world's first postage stamp, the 1840 Penny Black, to the First Class stamp 2012, Chris West's selection of 36 stamps – 'some beautiful, some quirky, some baffling, some stained with blood' – are the inspiration for his idiosyncratic and entertaining history of Britain. Among his collection are the 1881 Penny Lilac (33 billion printed); the first decimal set (1971); and a single foreign stamp telling a story of reparations and hyperinflation: a 1923 German 200 mark stamp, overprinted 2 million.
An Anthropologist on Mars
Seven Paradoxical Tales
A physician, professor of neurology and author, Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) has been described by the New York Times as 'a kind of poet laureate of contemporary medicine'. His books are made up of case histories of his patients, and explore both their neurological disorders and the strategies they adopted to cope with them. The seven cases in this volume include a colour-blind painter, prodigious feats of calculation and draughtsmanship by savants, and an autistic professor of animal science. Slightly off-mint.
A physician, professor of neurology and author, Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) has been described by the New York Times as 'a kind of poet laureate of contemporary medicine'. His books are made up of case histories of his patients, and explore both their neurological disorders and the strategies they adopted to cope with them. In this book, Sacks draws on the stories of his patients and his own experiences with hallucinogenics to show how hallucinations have influenced every culture's folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is in all of us and not confined to the mentally ill. Slightly off-mint.
The Man Who Saved Britain
Born into the uncertainties of post-Second World War Britain, Simon Winder fell in love (as many before and since) with a man created to bolster national identity, a quintessentially British figure of great cultural significance: James Bond. Described as 'almost ridiculously enjoyable' by the New Statesman, this is Winder's wildly amusing attempt to get to grips with Bond's legacy and the decades in which it really mattered.
The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music
From Adele to Ziggy, the Real A-Z of Rock and Pop
Entertaining and opinionated, Dylan Jones's survey of modern popular music comprises more than 350 entries, focusing on a personal selection of groups and solo artists and including anecdotes from many of his own experiences when interviewing the musicians. Other entries concern topics such as catwalk music, jazz-rock and rock'n'roll T shirts, reggae's greatest hits and the 75 best cover versions. American cut pages and Slightly off-mint condition.