Compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.
When a corpse is found inside a beer barrel floating along the Humber River, the only lead is the riverside pub where the barrel came from. But as DS McAvoy soon discovers, the locals drinking there aren’t talking. Faced with a dead end, McAvoy has to use all his ingenuity to crack the case.
At the height of the Cold War, the grocer Herr Dieter Koorp is living comfortably, even complacently, in the West German town of Lübeck. Then he receives a call from his estranged sister in East Germany, informing him of their father’s untimely death. His father’s last wish? To be buried in Lübeck. To carry out his father’s request, Dieter will have to drive the corpse back across the border, with risks he discovers only when he arrives in the East. A haunting story from the world’s most famous spy writer, John le Carré. Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn? was originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, January 28, 1967.
Sir Francis Drake is best known today for leading the British Navy to victory against the Spanish Armada in 1588. But his early career was even more remarkable. Born into poverty, he rose through the ranks to become the first British sailor to circumnavigate the globe in a single mission. He was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, a hero to his countrymen, and the object of fear and loathing by the Spanish. A fascinating account from the author of the best-selling Mayflower.
After the publication of "Must You Go?", her acclaimed memoir of life with the playwright Harold Pinter, the historian Antonia Fraser discovered a long-forgotten diary she kept during a trip the two of them made to Israel in 1978. Its entries describe their meetings with everyone from luminaries to labourers, and their views of famous antiquities – as well as the modern tower blocks already encircling Jerusalem. A fascinating account of what was then a more hopeful country, in a more innocent time. Highly recommended.
The present Chinese regime claims that it is running the world’s largest open market. But in a penetrating piece by a renowned authority on modern-day China, Alan Riley argues that this openness is essentially a sham. At the centre of this professed market economy lies a web of state-owned and state-run enterprises, all controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. The West has fallen for this illusion to its cost, and Riley details what measures it should take to defend itself against a cynical strategy that endangers China's future as much as its own.
Almost eight hundred years ago, The Battle of Sluys signalled the beginning of the Hundred Years War between England and France. Against all odds, the English won, but if it had gone the other way, Britain might today be only a province of its cross-Channel neighbor. Gordon Corrigan relates what happened and why in this gripping account of an almost forgotten but world-changing battle.
A veteran adviser on climate change now argues that it is simply too big a problem for governments to fix. Instead, we need mass movements – like those that long ago ended the Atlantic slave trade. For that to happen society requires a new set of stories or myths, which will inspire us to face the facts, and forge a better future. Eden 2.0 is a profoundly optimistic Kindle Single, one that will transform your thinking about climate change and mankind’s ability to solve its problems.
Essays & Ideas
Why did Tony Blair take Britain to war in Iraq? Even fifteen years later, the question remains a matter of bitter controversy. The award-winning political commentator Steve Richards examines the evidence, and Blair’s long history as a politician intent on forging a ‘Third Way’, and provides unexpected answers to the mystery of why Britain’s most successful politician in years became ensnared in a political nightmare – and personal tragedy. A remarkable investigation, highly recommended.
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
Global problems require global solutions – even as nationalism is on the rise across the world. But navigating situations outside familiar territory can be complicated and full of (avoidable) misunderstandings. Dennis Unkovic, a veteran international traveler, argues that understanding the concept of ‘face’, long established in the East but virtually unknown in the West, can keep things from going badly wrong when people are working or travelling abroad. A fascinating take on a perennial problem. Highly recommended.
Time remains the great conundrum – are our distinctions between past, present and future mere illusions, as Einstein claimed? And was there an actual ‘beginning’ to time – one which the Big Bang somehow explains? The celebrated science writer John Gribbin examines these and a range of related questions. Using the latest thinking about time, he shows how in a quantum world a watched pot literally never boils, and how it takes a four-dimensional universe to explain why a broken egg never gets ‘unbroken’. A fascinating essay from the author of In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat.
Arts & Entertainment
This remarkable anthology of 100 poems by 100 poets brings together the best poetry of the last twenty-five years, selected by the judges of the renowned Forward prizes for poetry. Contributors include Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Alice Oswald and Derek Walcott. A unique collection, highly recommended.
The famed philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau has been enormously influential in Western life, yet he undoubtedly suffered from what we know today as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Did his genius operate in spite of this ailment, or because of it? Rousseau himself argued that it was better to be different, and the writer Richard Orange (also an ADHD sufferer) explains why he agrees. An unusual and thought-provoking Single.