Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length
When Jim Evans, a Westerner visiting Japan, learns that an ancient statue of Buddha lies hidden deep inside the Shrine Zenkoji, his curiosity is piqued. Determined to see the Buddha, he and his friend Akira discover they first have to pass through six hidden chambers in the shrine, each full of deadly devices designed to ward off intruders. They find themselves embarked on a journey full of questions – and danger. A haunting and remarkable story.
The famous cracking of the ‘unbreakable’ German Enigma codes by a gifted British team during World War II helped win the war for the Allies – and has become the subject of countless books and a major feature film. What isn’t widely known is that many of the same team had done it before – in the First World War. The author of the best-selling Alan Turing recounts the fascinating history of the pre-Enigma years.
Arthur Charles was a POW of the Japanese on the island of Java in World War II. In this personal account of his captivity, he describes the amazing resilience of his fellow prisoners, and their stoicism, humour, and quiet defiance in the face of mistreatment and constant humiliation. Charles himself suffered terribly, and only just escaped death from a firing squad. A remarkable memoir.
When the Incas fled the Spanish conquistadors in the 16h Century, they made a last stand in the city of Espíritu Pampa, deep in the steamy Amazon jungle. Four centuries later two noted explorers (and their trusty mule) make the arduous trek to the ‘Last City of the Incas’. A fascinating account of a remarkable journey. Highly recommended.
The great philosopher Plato never had the chance to put his ideas into action –until he was persuaded to travel to Syracuse and counsel Dionysius the Younger, feckless heir to a crumbling empire. During the ensuing years, Plato made further trips to help his headstrong pupil, but turning ideals into reality proved agonizingly difficult – and dangerous. A remarkable account of a little-known historical episode. Highly recommended.
Society Immigration tops the British political agenda, with all the parties competing to talk tough. Barbara Roche, a former Immigration Minister, and the writer Robert Winder take a different approach, arguing that immigration constitutes a lifeline for the British economy, and a welcome infusion of new blood for British society. A thought-provoking account that sees immigration as an opportunity rather than a problem.
Essays & Ideas
Sir Winston Churchill always maintained that World War II could have been avoided – if the world had stood up sooner to Nazi Germany. In this fascinating study of the pre-War years, the noted historian Richard Langworth argues that Hitler certainly could have been stopped – but that even Churchill did not do enough to stop him.
What is Christmas like for the Queen? What kind of presents does she get, and who receives her Christmas cards? Does she wear a silly hat at lunch or pull crackers with her guests–and does she watch herself address the nation on television after lunch? The veteran royal correspondent Brian Hoey supplies the answers in a fascinating account of Christmas with the Royals.
The World Stage
Kindle Single: The World Stage After the fall of Communism twenty-five years ago, a new world started to take shape, especially in the Middle East. Attempts to explain why democracy is failing to take root there are doomed without an understanding of asabiyyah, the "group feeling" defined six centuries ago by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun as the necessary building block for human progress. A fascinating analysis of Islam and democracy, and the damaging misunderstandings between the two.
Quantum physics has a conundrum at its heart that Richard Feynman called its ‘central mystery’. In a fascinating and accessible account, the noted science writer John Gribbin reveals the bizarre nature of the quantum world – and explains how in particle physics the future can actually affect the present. An intriguing description of a mysterious and invisible (but also crucial) area of modern science, from the author of the best-selling In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat.
Arts & Entertainment
An unofficial memoir of one fan’s lifelong love for Doctor Who. From childhood to adulthood (with children of his own), Pete May has kept the faith and then some – down to the Dalek mousemat and a sonic screwdriver. An hilarious and encyclopedic voyage through the life and times of one of the world’s greatest television creations.
Britain’s best-known Anglican priest is the Reverend Richard Coles, host of a national radio show and former half of the famous pop duo, The Communards. Kevin Jackson, an old friend of Coles but a non-believer, joined the priest and a group of practicing Christians on a remarkable modern-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. A fascinating mix of portrait and reporting from the author of the best-selling Kindle Single, Mayflower.