Non-fiction (11)

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  • Becoming Michelle Obama

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    Becoming by: Michelle Obama £25.00

    In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.

    As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history.

    She also established herself as the most powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.

    Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

    In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her-from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.

    With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it-in her own words and on her own terms.

    Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations-and whose story inspires us to do the same.

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    In Our Time by: Melvyn Bragg and Simon Tillotson £25.00

    In Our Time has been the cornerstone of broadcasting each Thursday morning on BBC Radio 4 for the past twenty years with over 800 episodes broadcast, attracting over two million listeners.

    Hosted by one of Britain’s greatest champions of the arts – Lord Melvyn Bragg – the discussion format of the show explored the history of ideas across the five key genres of History, Religion, Philosophy, Science and Culture. With a vast array of guest contributors from the world of academia, such as Professors Mary Beard, Angie Hobbs and Sir Diarmaid McCulloch it is one of Radio 4’s most successful and enduring discussion programmes and regularly attracts a weekly audience exceeding two million listeners.

    To celebrate this major 20th anniversary of broadcasting, this beautifully-integrated book will provide the reader with a fascinating insight to a selection of the show’s best episodes. The book will be a lively and colourful programme guide to fifty of the most captivating discussions from the past twenty years of In Our Time, as chosen by Melvyn, the current series producer Simon Tillotson, and influenced by listeners who have recommended their favourite programmes from those years.

    The selection is arranged in the groups already familiar to In Our Time’spodcast subscribers, with 10 discrete chapters in each section, one for each programme. The selections of episodes have been made from across the two decades since the first broadcast in October 1998, such as Romulus and Remus, The Death of Elizabeth I, Ada Lovelace, The Scottish Enlightenment, Gilgamesh and The Salem Witch Trials.

    In many cases there will be additional insights from the discussions in the studio after the live programme, peppered with Melvyn Bragg’s remarks from that time. A beautiful and captivating gift for all fans of this iconic series.

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    Life 3.0 by: Max Tegmark £9.99

    AI is the future – but what will that future look like? Will superhuman intelligence be our slave, or become our god?
    Taking us to the heart of the latest thinking about AI, Max Tegmark, the MIT professor whose work has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial, separates myths from reality, utopias from dystopias, to explore the next phase of our existence.
    How can we grow our prosperity through automation, without leaving people lacking income or purpose? How can we ensure that future AI systems do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked? Should we fear an arms race in lethal autonomous weapons? Will AI help life flourish as never before, or will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, and even, perhaps, replace us altogether?

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    Springwatch: The 2019 Almanac by: Michael Bright & Karen Farrington £12.99

    Taking you month by month through the coming year, the almanac combines compelling stories with practical guidance that will inspire anyone to start exploring. It has all the information you need to discover the natural wonders around you, from how to identify animal tracks and bird nests to the best time to witness starling murmurations and mayflies hatching. Complete with monthly daylight and rainfall charts and beautifully illustrated with black and white line drawings, The Springwatch Almanac is the ideal companion for every nature lover.

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    Strange Victoriana by: Jan Bondeson £9.99

    This book makes use of a privately held archive of the old periodical Illustrated Police News to describe strange, macabre and uncanny episodes from the Victorian era. Dog-Faced Men are exhibited on stage, the doctors congregate around the bed of the Sleeping Frenchman of Soho, Miss Vint demonstrates her Reincarnated Cats, and scantily dressed Female Somnambulists tumble from the roofs. From the spectral world, we have the Haunted Murder House near Chard, the Ghost of Berkeley Square, the Jumping Spectre of Peckham and the Fighting Ghost of Tondu. The White Gorilla takes a swig from its tankard of beer, eagles come swooping from the sky to carry off little children, heroic Newfoundland dogs plunge into the waves to rescue drowning mariners, and the Rat-Killing Monkey of Manchester goes on a rampage in the rat-pit, swinging a hammer. How is it that Britain’s most straitened and sober era produced these most fantastical myths and case studies? For all of its infamous restraint and repression, a seething underworld of urban legend and vice, accompanied by the shadow of unconscious nightmare, stalked Victorian life. Each one of these tales is a window into an era that encapsulated public probity and private hysteria in the strangest of ways. After reading this book, your views on Victorian culture will change forever.

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    The Choice by: Edith Eger £8.99

    In 1944, sixteen-year-old ballerina Edith Eger was sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

    The horrors of the Holocaust didn’t break Edith. In fact, they helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and a truly remarkable resilience.

    The Choice is her unforgettable story. It shows that hope can flower in the most unlikely places.

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    The Diary of a Bookseller by: Shaun Bythell £8.99

    Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover’s paradise? Well, almost …

    In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

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    The Order of the Day by: Eric Vuillard £12.99

    Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Boston Globe, and Literary Hub

    Winner of the 2017 Prix Goncourt, this behind-the-scenes account of the manipulation, hubris, and greed that together led to Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria brilliantly dismantles the myth of an effortless victory and offers a dire warning for our current political crisis.

    February 20, 1933, an unremarkable day during a harsh Berlin winter: A meeting of twenty-four German captains of industry and senior Nazi officials is being held in secret in the plush lounge of the Reichstag. They are there to extract funds for the accession to power of the National Socialist Party and its Chancellor. This opening scene sets a tone of consent that will lead to the worst possible repercussions.

    March 12, 1938, the annexation of Austria is on the agenda: A grotesque day intended to make history—the newsreels capture a motorized army on the move, a terrible, inexorable power. But behind Goebbels’s splendid propaganda, an ersatz Blitzkrieg unfolds, the Panzers breaking down en masse on the roads into Austria. The true behind-the-scenes account of the Anschluss—a patchwork of minor flourishes of strength and fine words, fevered telephone calls, and vulgar threats—all reveal a starkly different picture. It is not strength of character or the determination of a people that wins the day, but rather a combination of intimidation and bluff.

    With this vivid, compelling history, Éric Vuillard warns against the peril of willfully blind acquiescence, and offers a reminder that, ultimately, the worst is not inescapable.

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    The Tour According to G: My Journey to the Yellow Jersey by: Geraint Thomas £20.00

    For years Geraint Thomas appeared blessed with extraordinary talent but jinxed at the greatest bike race in the world: twice an Olympic gold medallist on the track, Commonwealth champion, yet at the Tour de France a victim of crashes, bad luck and his willingness to sacrifice himself for his team-mates.

    In the summer of 2018, that curse was blown away in spectacular fashion – from the cobbles of the north and the iconic mountain climbs of the Alps to the brutal slopes of the Pyrenees and, finally, the Champs-Elysees in Paris. As a boy, G had run home from school on summer afternoons to watch the Tour on television. This July, across twenty-one stages and three weeks, and under constant attack from his rivals, he made the race his own.

    With insight from the key characters around Geraint, this is the inside story of one of the most thrilling and heart-warming tales in sport.

    Not only can nice guys come first – they can win the biggest prize of all.

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    The World As It Is by: Ben Rhodes £20.00

    This is a book about two people making the most important decisions in the world.

    One is Barack Obama.

    The other is Ben Rhodes.

    The World As It Is tells the full story of what it means to work alongside a radical leader; of how idealism can confront reality and survive; of how the White House really functions; and of what it is to have a partnership, and ultimately a friendship, with a historic president.

    A young writer and Washington outsider, Ben Rhodes was plucked from obscurity aged 29. Chosen for his original perspective and gift with language, his role was to help shape the nation’s hopes and sense of itself.

    For nearly ten years, Rhodes was at the centre of the Obama Administration – first as a speechwriter, then a policymaker, and finally a multi-purpose aide and close collaborator.

    Rhodes puts us in the room at the most tense and poignant moments in recent history: starting every morning with Obama in the Daily Briefing; waiting out the bin Laden raid in the Situation Room; reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran; leading secret negotiations with the Cuban government; confronting the resurgence of nationalism that led to the election of Donald Trump.

    This is the most vivid portrayal yet of Obama’s presidency. It is an essential record of the last decade. But it also shows us what it means to hold the pen, and to write the words that change our world.

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