Books

Pick up a book and share it with a child: it’s the key to success in an uncertain future

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Parents often ask me what they ought to do to prepare their children for a future they can scarcely imagine, in a world that’s changing before their eyes. Alan Finkel ABC I say that there’s a brilliant learning technology already on the shelf. It builds vocabulary, conveys knowledge, fosters creativity, improves concentration, develops skills of reasoning and pattern recognition, calms anxiety and opens discussions … all this, while nurturing love and… Pick up a… Read More »

Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in Timor Sea, Kim McGrath

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“Kissingerian realism” and an associated hard nose for the “national interest”, or “Wilsonian idealism”? Robert Murray The Australian Nowhere has this timeless tension in foreign affairs challenged Canberra more than over our nearest neighbour, East Timor. It has made prime ministers from William McMahon to Malcolm Turnbull look mean and tricky, and yet, Kim McGrath suggests in this brisk account of it all, it might be one of those ­issues where the Wilsonian approach would have served the national interest ... Read More »

Reading Norman Davies’s global history is like wading through porridge

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From Azerbaijan to Tahiti, much of the material is familiar — or available (as Davies himself admits) on Wikipedia For many of us, life has become global. Philip Hensher The Spectator Areas which were previously tranquil backwaters are now hives of international activity Leisure travel has given us the possibility of first-hand exposure to once very remote places. You don’t have to be particularly privileged or adventurous to go on holiday in January to south-east Asia: two weeks in a ... Read More »

‘Slow, painful death’ of Yazidi woman’s body and soul while enslaved by the Islamic State

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The Islamic State’s attempt to exterminate the Yazidi people of Iraq did not involve only murder Alia Malek When the militants swept through the north of the country after taking Mosul in the summer of 2014, they executed the religious minority group’s men and elderly women. The Washington Post The children and the other women they took captive. They brainwashed and conscripted the young boys and turned the women and girls into sexual slaves. This enslavement was justified by edicts ... Read More »

Mythos review – the Greek myths get the Stephen Fry treatment

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Fry’s retellings have stiff competition, are limited in selection and sometimes appear to be set in North London Edith Hall But they have real charm The Guardian Ever since William Godwin persuaded Charles Lamb to retell The Odyssey as a novel for younger readers in The Adventures of Ulysses (1808), the myths of ancient Greece have been retold in contemporary prose by every generation. Most of these retellings were originally poetry – the epics of Hesiod, Homer and the philhellene Latin poet Ovid, the ... Read More »

RIP Edward Herman, Who Co-Wrote a Book That’s Now More Important Than Ever

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Edward Herman, the co-author (with Noam Chomsky) of Manufacturing Consent, has died. By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone He was 92. rsn His work has never been more relevant. Manufacturing Consent was a kind of bible of media criticism for a generation of dissident thinkers. The book described with great clarity how the system of private commercial media in America cooperates with state power to generate propaganda. Herman’s work was difficult for many to understand because the nature of the American media, then ... Read More »

Photos of the New Futuristic Library in China with 1.2 Million Books

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China recently opened a new futuristic library that contains a staggering 1.2 million books Michael Zhang If you enjoy architectural photography, Dutch photographer Ossip van Duivenbode‘s images of the library will be a feast for your eyes. PetaPilexThe new Tianjin Binhai Library in Tianjin, China, was designed by the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV to look like a giant eye. The five-story, 360,000-square-foot library features shelves spanning from the floor to ceiling — many of the shelves double as stairs and seats in the ... Read More »

‘We are not very caring’: Michelle de Kretser on Australian society

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In her new novel The Life to Come, the Miles Franklin-winning author critiques Australia’s character, and the boom that made us bad Brigid Delaney The Guardian Children of Australia’s long boom – who travel the world only to complain about lack of good coffee, who signal virtue by retweeting an asylum seeker story, who couldn’t imagine living in a house with only one bathroom, who are “really into food” – may find Michelle de Kretser’s new book an uncomfortable read. ... Read More »

How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece

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Ganesh Sitaraman looks at what two recent books – Classical Greek Oligarchy by Matthew Simonton and Oligarchy by Jeffrey Winters – can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs Ganesh Sitaraman The Guardian A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don’t want to ... Read More »

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list

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<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/3182ded386486b8933feafdc9cbe6aff/content.css”/> Official: ‘some language in the book makes people uncomfortable’ Story of racism in the US south has been removed from schools before Guardian staff and agencies To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic novel about racism and the American south, has been removed from a junior-high reading list in a Mississippi school district because the language in the book “makes people… The Sun Herald reported that administrators in Biloxi pulled the novel from the 8th-grade curriculum ... Read More »

10 books about the politics of now: from the left-behinds to reborn radicals

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Brexit Britain, racial strife in the US and a crisis of capitalism: today’s political world is turbulent Read the rest of the Observer’s 100 political books series here All Out War by Tim Shipman (2016) An essential primer for anyone seeking to understand the politics of the Brexit referendum Julian Coman  The Guardian Shipman, the political editor of the Sunday Times, gives a vivid and compelling account of the Westminster gambles, compromises and miscalculations that unleashed social forces that prime minister ... Read More »

Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘I’m almost 60 and I’m still angry. Everyone told me I would mellow’

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The celebrated dub poet might grow his own vegetables in the shires – but he is still in a revolutionary mood. From carnival surveillance to the abandonment of the Grenfell families, he says Britain needs radical political change – now Stephen Moss The Guardian Benjamin Zephaniah’s 1998 poem Carnival Days is a lyrical love letter to the Notting Hill carnival, where “We dance like true survivors / We dance to the sounds of our dreams.” Or, more accurately, it’s a ... Read More »

Rasmussen scrutinizes not only Hume and Smith’s personal relationship, but also the indispensable part that they played in shaping the Scottish Enlightenment.

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Rasmussen scrutinizes not only Hume and Smith’s personal relationship, but also the indispensable part that they played in shaping the Scottish Enlightenment. Jacob Heilbrunn The National Interest Dennis C. Rasmussen, The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship that Shaped Modern Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), 336 pp., $29.95. IN AUGUST 1776, a large crowd gathered in front of a grand neoclassical mausoleum. It was designed by Scotland’s greatest architect, Robert Adam, and stood on Calton Hill in ... Read More »

Ruth Davidson ‘is next Margaret Thatcher’, says Jeffrey Archer

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He knows a thing or two about power and ambition, has seen them up close as a friend of Margaret Thatcher’s and captured them in the novel that gave him his literary breakthrough nearly 40 years ago. Paris Gourtsoyannis The Scotsman Jeffrey Archer, who returns to the Edinburgh Festival to mark the 100th edition of Kane And Abel, said he sees Thatcher’s steely determination in another leading woman in the Conservative Party – but it isn’t Theresa May. Archer said ... Read More »

Tasoula Hadjitofi – from refugee to icon hunter

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A refugee’s quest to reclaim her nation’s stolen heritage Tasoula Hadjitofi will discuss her experiences of war and injustice; her ongoing campaign to preserve cultural heritage worldwide and her tireless work to combat art trafficking. In 1974 Tasoula Hadjitofi and her family were forced to flee their home in Famagusta, Cyprus during the Turkish invasion. As a refugee living in the Netherlands, Tasoula devoted her life to infiltrating and exposing the shady underworld of art traffickers. It all began when ... Read More »

A short story based on the death of Savita Halappanavar

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Madame Zero review: Sarah Hall excels in murky territory in this short-story collection Sara Baume The Irish Times A page into the third story of Madame Zero, I started to experience deja vu. The setting of Theatre 6 is a hospital in London; the point of view is second person, and the “you” being addressed is Dr Rosinski, an anaesthetist. It begins with the… A short story… Read More »