A nameless angel has been out of God's favour since things went wrong with his last mission 2,000 years ago, when he unwittingly started the Christian Church. Lately, he's been watching a business executive named Will, who has been trying in vain to expose his company's shady dealings to the press. In a moment of weakness and bravado, the angel decides to take over Will and finish the job. But his divine superiors are less than impressed and he soon finds himself facing the literal wrath of God. As his plan begins to unravel, the lines become increasingly blurred and we are forced to question if these really are the actions of a rogue angel, or those of a delusional and increasingly dangerous man. Both hilarious and unsettling, this dark, wry and provocative morality tale is at once the mesmerising story of a modern day everyman and a witty but profound exploration of what divinity itself might entail.
When journalist Jake Wolsey stumbles upon a declassified file showing Winston Churchill's interest in the ancient Etruscan civilisation, his curiosity brings peril in its wake. He soon attracts the unlikely attention of sexy archaeologist Florence Chung - and that of MI6. As the two are pursued across Europe and Africa in search of the Etruscans' sacred text, danger closes in and more questions than answers arise. Are there powers in the sky modern science has yet to understand? Could the ancients predict the future? And what really explains the rise of Rome, that of Nazi Germany, the ebb and flow of history itself? In a thrilling race against time and enemies known and unknown, Wolsey fears the very survival of the West may depend on his ability to stay one step ahead of his adversaries.
Since the financial collapse of 2000, the 'flat white economy'-named after the coffee popular with young workers of media, internet and creative businesses-has spawned four times more jobs than the City lost in the crisis. London is now growing one and a half times faster than Hong Kong as a result, with immigration a driving force behind this triumph of lifestyle and economics.Leading economist Douglas McWilliams describes how this meteoric success, centred on East London where a growing 'hipster' community has swapped the City's champagne and supercars lifestyle for bicycles, boho flats and beards, has become the prototype for digital cities around the world.The Flat White Economy is the key book you need to read on London's economy today, written by an expert in his field. Easily accessible and well written, it will appeal to fans of Stephen J. Dubner's and Steven Levitt's Freakonomics and Chris Anderson's The Long Tail.
Queen Victoria was obsessed with it. Socrates' last words were about it. Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur made their scientific breakthroughs using it. Hailed as a messenger of the gods, powerful sex symbol, gambling aid, all-purpose medicine and handy research tool, the humble chicken has been also cast as the epitome of evil, and the star of the world's most famous joke.Beginning with the recent discovery, that the chicken's unlikely ancestor is the T. Rex, Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? tracks the chicken from its original domestication in the jungles of Southeast Asia some 10,000 years ago to today's Western societies, where it became the most engineered of animals, to the uncertain future of what is now humanity's single most important source of protein. In a masterful combination of historical sleuthing and journalistic exploration on four continents, Lawler reframes the way we feel and think about all domesticated animals and even nature itself.
William Alexander is not just a Francophile, he wants to be French. It's not enough to explore the country, to enjoy the food and revel in the ambience, he wants to feel French from the inside. Among the things that stand in his way is the fact that he can't actually speak the language. Setting out to conquer the language he loves (but which, amusingly, does not seem to love him back), Alexander devotes himself to learning French, going beyond grammar lessons and memory techniques to delve into the history of the language, the science of linguistics, and the art of translation. Along the way, during his travels in France or following his passion at home, he discovers that not learning a language may be its own reward.
It is January 1941, and the Blitz is devastating England. Food supplies are low and tube stations have become bomb shelters. As the U.S. maintains its sceptical isolationist position, Winston Churchill knows that Britain is doomed without the aid of its powerful ally.As bombs rain down over London a weary Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's most trusted advisor, is sent to London as his emissary and comes face to face with the Prime Minister himself and an attractive and determined young female driver who may not be what she seems.In Sleep in Peace Tonight, a tale of loyalty, love, and the sacrifices made in the name of each, James MacManus conjures to life not only Blitz-era London and the behind the scenes at the White House, but also the poignant lives of personalities that shaped the course of history during Britain's darkest hour.
Who was Sabina Spielrein? Her dramatic life story is most famous for her notorious affair with Carl Jung, dramatised in the film A Dangerous Method starring Keira Knightley. Yet she was a woman who overcame family and psychiatric abuse to become an original thinker in the field of psychotherapy This is the first biography to put her life and ideas at the centre of the story, and to examine Spielrein's key role in the development of psychoanalysis and in the rift between Jung and Freud. Drawing on fresh research into Spielrein's diaries, papers and correspondence, John Launer tells the story of a passionate woman who transformed herself from one of Jung's disturbed patients into a leading figure in Western psychology, then the Soviet intelligentsia, before losing her life in the Holocaust. At the heart of Sex Versus Survival is the gripping tale of Spielrein and Jung's tumultuous affair, which played such an important role in both of their lives and intellectual journeys. Launer shows how Spielrein's overlooked ideas - rejected by Jung and Freud, but substantially vindicated by later developments in psychology and evolutionary biology - may represent the last and most important stage in the rediscovery of an extraordinary life.
In the long run, we're all dead. But for some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure.The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated and even filed away in a lawyer's office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs and nether regions have embarked on voyages that criss-cross the globe and stretch the imagination. Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln's corpse. Einstein's brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy - which they drank. From Mozart to Hitler, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes towards death.
Did you know that having a messy room will make you racist? Or that human beings possess the ability to postpone death until after important ceremonial occasions? Or that people live three to five years longer if they have positive initials, like ACE? All of these 'facts' have been argued with a straight face by researchers and backed up with reams of data and convincing statistics. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase once cynically observed, 'If you torture data long enough, it will confess.' Lying with statistics is a time-honoured con. In Standard Deviations , economics professor Gary Smith walks us through the various tricks and traps that people use to back up their own crackpot theories. Sometimes, the unscrupulous deliberately try to mislead us. Other times, the well-intentioned are blissfully unaware of the mischief they are committing. Today, data are so plentiful that researchers spend precious little time distinguishing between good, meaningful deductions and total rubbish. Not only do others use data to fool us, we fool ourselves. Drawing on breakthrough research in behavioural economics by luminaries like Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely, and taking to task some of the conclusions of Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt, Standard Deviations demystifies the science behind statistics and brings into stark relief the fraud that surrounds us all.
The product of a lifetime's reflection, The Last Escaper is Peter Tunstall's unforgettable memoir of his days in the RAF and as one of the most celebrated of all British POWs. Tunstall was an infamous tormentor of his German captors dubbed the 'cooler king' (on account of his long spells in 'solitary'), but also a highly skilled pilot, loyal friend and trusted colleague. Without false pride or bitterness, Tunstall recounts the high jinks of training to be a pilot, terrifying bombing raids in his Hampden and of elaborate escape attempts at once hilarious and deadly serious - all part of a poignant and human war story superbly told by a natural raconteur. The Last Escaper is a charming and hugely informative last testament written by 'the last man standing' from the Colditz generation who risked their lives in the Second World War. It will take its place as one of the classic first-hand accounts of that momentous conflict.
For years Dayo Olopade struggled to reconcile the media's image of Africa as warring, impoverished and pitiful with the Africa she's known since childhood: resilient, joyful and innovative, a continent of impassioned community leaders. She reports first-hand on the explosion of commercial opportunities and technological innovations that are improving outcomes for families, children and the environment. The Bright Continent joins the conversation started by authors such as Jeffrey Sachs, Nicholas Kristof and Dambisa Moyo. Olopade rejects stale and ineffectual foreign interventions, arguing that the increasingly globalised challenges the continent faces can and must be addressed with the tools Africans are already using to solve these problems themselves. In many ways, Africa's model of doing more with less - of working around dysfunctional institutions to establish strong informal networks - can be a powerful model for the rest of the world. Behind the dire headlines, Olopade discovers many convincing rays of hope.
2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation from the White House, and no book has captured the extraordinary upheaval of America during the Watergate years better than Elizabeth Drew's Washington Journal . The book that established Drew's reputation as one of the shrewdest and sharpest writers on American politics, Washington Journal took in the emerging scandal with tremendous clarity and force. Unfolding over the course of a single year, from September 1973 to August 1974, Washington Journal is the record of the near-dissolution of a nation's political conscience - told from within. Cool and understated - and all the more devastating for its understatement - Washington Journal was immediately hailed upon its publication in 1975 as a landmark work of journalism. With a new afterword that brings this all too relevant book squarely into the present and reflects on what has changed - and what hasn't - in the last forty years, Washington Journal is available again, at long last, ready for its place in the pantheon of great political writing. Unfolding over the course of a single year, from September 1973 to August 1974, Washington Journal is the record of the near-dissolution of a nation's political conscience - told from within. Cool and understated - and all the more devastating for its understatement - Washington Journal was immediately hailed upon its publication in 1975 as a landmark work of journalism. With a new afterword that brings this all too relevant book squarely into the present and reflects on what has changed - and what hasn't - in the last forty years, Washington Journal is available again, at long last, ready for its place in the pantheon of great political writing.
Sixty years on the throne. Only the second monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. It's been a challenge, one doesn't mind telling you. But despite it all, one's still here. Still keeping the ship afloat, still in charge, still iconic, still keeping the gin industry in business, still ruling the world. Still reigning. God Save One. On Politics and State Occasions: 'Winston Churchill used to write the best speeches, of course. In those days, before TV cameras in the house, one could have a bit of fun and read them out in assorted accents. One's Gandhi impression had the Lords in tears of laughter once. Those were the days.' On the Royal Birth: Traditionally, of course, royal births were witnessed by the Home Secretary and Archbishop of Canterbury, but we've decided that they needn't bother this time, although William promised to text them a photo from his iPhone, just to put their minds at rest, on the strict understanding that they didn't upload it to Facebook. The last thing we need is a French magazine publishing them.' On America: 'One thinks of them as a mother thinks of a teenage boy: with a mixture of pride and exasperation. Although there is no denying that the American division of the British Armed forces has been awfully useful over time, even if they do have a habit of turning up late for wars and then taking the credit.
The King' departed this world during the month of punk rock's apotheosis. Punk had set out to destroy Elvis, or at least everything he came to represent, but never got the chance. Elvis destroyed himself before anyone else could. Nearly forty years after his death, rock's ultimate legend and prototype just won't go away and his influence and legacy are to be found not just in music today, but the world over. Elvis Presley has permeated the modern world in ways that are bizarre and inexplicable: a pop icon while he was alive, he has become almost a religious icon in death, a modern-day martyr crucified on the wheel of drugs, celebrity culture, junk food and sex. In Elvis Has Left the Building , Dylan Jones takes us back to those heady days around the time of his death and the rise of punk. He evokes the hysteria and devotion of The King's numerous disciples and imitators, offering a uniquely insightful commentary on Elvis's life, times and outrageous demise. This is a fresh account, written with the author's customary panache, recounting how Elvis single-handedly changed the course of popular music and culture, and what his death meant and still means to us today.
Martin Odum, disgraced CIA field agent turned private detective in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is struggling his way through a labyrinth of memories of past identities - 'legends' in CIA parlance. Is he really Martin Odum? Is he Dante Pippen, IRA explosives maven turned CIA agent? Or is he another legend? These men speak different languages, like different foods and women, and have different skills, and Odum's not sure if he's suffering from multiple personality disorder, brainwashing or just plain exhaustion. When Odum is employed to solve a case for a young Russian, Stella Kastner, he is drawn back into the world he left not remembering quite why, struggling to untangle his true identity while under the strains of mortal danger and psychological disorientation. An extraordinarily intelligent thriller, taut and explosive, Legends is an unrelentingly arresting page-turner.
The incredible life story that inspired the forthcoming new musical, Tiger Woman Versus The Beast Dancer, singer, gang member, cocaine addict and sometime confectionist, Betty May's autobiography Tiger Woman thrilled and appalled the public when her story first appeared at the end of the roaring twenties. 'I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement but you will see that I came to it by unexpected ways' Born into abject squalor in London's Limehouse area, May used her steely-eyed, striking looks and street nous to become an unlikely bohemian celebrity sensation, a fixture at the Cafe Royal, London, marrying four times along the way alongside numerous affairs. 'I wondered why men would not leave me alone. They were alright at first when they offered to show one life, and then at once they became a nuisance' ,iShe elbowed her way to the top of London's social scene in a series of outrageous and dramatic fights, flights, marriages and misadventures that also took her to France, Italy, Canada and the USA. 'I learnt one thing on my honeymoon - to take drugs' Her most fateful adversary was occultist and self-proclaimed 'Great Beast' Aleister Crowley, who intended her to be a sacrificial victim of his Thelemite cult in Sicily, but it was her husband - Oxford undergraduate Raoul Loveday - who died, after conducting a blood sacrifice ritual. Betty May's vitality and ferocious charisma enchanted numerous artistic figures including Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer. A heroine like no other, this is her incredible story in her own words, as fresh and extraordinary as the day it was first told.
In 1856, a baying crowd of over 30,000 people gathered outside Stafford prison to watch the execution of a village doctor from Staffordshire. One of the last people to be publicly hanged, the 'Rugely Poisoner', the 'Prince of Poisoners', 'The greatest villain who ever stood trial at the Old Bailey,' as Charles Dickens described him, Dr William Palmer was convicted in 1856 of murdering his best friend, but was suspected of poisoning more than a dozen other people, including his wife, children, brother and mother-in-law - cashing in on their life insurance to fund his monstrously indebted gambling habit. Highlighting Palmer's particularly gruesome penchant for strychnine, his trial made news across Europe: the most memorable in fifty years, according to the Old Bailey's presiding Lord Chief Justice. He was a new kind of murderer - respectable, middle class, personable, and consequently more terrifying - and he became Britain's most infamous figure until the arrival of Jack the Ripper. The first widely available account of one of the most notorious, yet lesser-known, mass-murderers in British history, The Poisoner takes a fresh look at Palmer's life and disputed crimes, ultimately asking 'just how evil was this man?' With previously undiscovered letters from Palmer and new forensic examination of his victims, Stephen Bates presents not only an astonishing and controversial revision of Palmer's entire story, but takes the reader into the very psyche of a killer.
In the turbulent final years of the Yuan Dynasty, Wang Meng is a low-level bureaucrat, employed by the government of Mongol conquerors established by the Kublai Khan. Though he wonders about his own complicity with this regime, he prefers not to dwell on his official duties, choosing instead to live the life of the mind. Wang is an extraordinarily gifted artist. His paintings are at once delicate and confident; in them, one can see the wind blowing through the trees, the water rushing through rocky valleys, the infinite expanse of China's natural beauty. But this is not a time for sitting still and, as The Ten Thousand Things unfolds, we follow Wang as he travels through an empire in turmoil. In his wanderings, he encounters, among many memorable characters, other master painters of the period, a fierce female warrior known as the White Tigress who will recruit him as a military strategist, and an ugly young Buddhist monk who rises from beggary to extraordinary heights. A novel of fated meetings, grand battles and riveting drama, in The Ten Thousand Things John Spurling seamlessly fuses the epic and the intimate with the precision and depth that the real-life Wang Meng brought to his painting.
At fourteen, Kelsey Osgood became fascinated by the stories of women who starved themselves. She devoured their memoirs and magazine articles, committing the most salacious details of their cautionary tales to memory in order to learn what it would take to be the very best anorexic. When she was hospitalised for anorexia at fifteen, she found herself in a quandary: how can one suffer from something one has actively sought out? In this candid and emotionally wrenching memoir, Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young as she chronicles her own decade-long battle with anorexia and rehabilitation. A brave and important book, How to Disappear Completely explores the physical, internal and social ramifications of eating disorders. With attuned storytelling and unflinching introspection, Osgood subverts the popularly held notions of the illness and, most hopefully, suggests that a path to recovery is possible.
In the first American presidential election of the twenty-first century, the bitter contest between two implacable political rivals but lifelong personal friends is fixed with an act of cyber-terrorism. On the eve of the inauguration, the defeated candidate discovers the truth and demands that the victor, the incumbent President, step down. The President refuses, going on to take the oath of office, and thus sparking a chain of events that may destroy him and his party, and bring the Constitution crashing down on all of them.
The follow-up to the Edgar-nominated and Shamus-winning , Black Fridays , Mortal Bonds marks the return of financial investigator Jason Stafford as he takes on his latest - and most dangerous - case, in a tale of fraud and the hunt for salvation as gripping and fresh as the last. William von Becker ran one of the largest privately held investment banks in North America, until the bottom fell out, and the world saw the entire operation revealed as a scam. After von Becker dies in prison, Jason Stafford is hired by his family. There's still a lot of missing money out there, he's told, and they want Stafford to find it before the Feds - and certain other parties, some of whom are nowhere near as scrupulous in their methods. Bad things start happening to the people Stafford talks to. Soon bad things are happening to him as well. To make matters worse, Stafford's treacherous ex-wife has returned, ostensibly to visit their young son. Stafford suspects there's more to it than that, but even he has no idea how much the visit is about to change all their lives.
In The Hug, internationally renowned writer David Grossman tells the moving story of the moment when Ben realises that no two living creatures are alike - not his mother and father, their beautiful dog Miracle or the ants who march side by side at his feet and appear identical - and the loneliness he feels knowing that there is no one else quite like him in the whole world. But just as he is feeling the most alone he has ever felt, he is soothed by his mother's loving hug. Timeless and touching, The Hug is a charming book for parents and children encountering the feeling of being different, together.
The definitive biography of one of the twentieth century's finest poets, Siegfried Sassoon combines material from The Making of a War Poet and The Journey from the Trenches , the two bestselling volumes on Sassoon from his biographer and foremost scholar, Jean Moorcroft Wilson. Encompassing the poet's complete life and works, from his patriotic youth that led him to the frontline, to the formation of his anti-war convictions, great literary friendships and flamboyant love affairs, this single-volume opus also includes new poems only just come to light. With over a decade's research, and unparalleled access to Sassoon's private correspondence, Moorcroft Wilson presents the complete portrait, both elegant and heartfelt, of an extraordinary man, and an extraordinary poet.