Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Smitty

Recommend me non fiction

Recommended Posts

I want to pop a list of what i've read in the last year to give people some ideas.

Generally I'm interested in: media issues, social stuff, foreign policy type stuff, history etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an excellent account of Napoleon's ill fated march on Moscow. http://www.amazon.co.uk/1812-Napoleons-Fatal-March-Moscow/dp/0007123744/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325131699&sr=8-1

Phil Plait's book about some of the most destructive and dramatic phenomena in astrophysics. His writing style manages to be very informal, while also being extremely clear and enthralling, which works perfectly for this type of book - very similar to Ben Goldacre and Richard Wiseman in that regard.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Skies-Science-Behind-World/dp/0143116045/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325131743&sr=1-1 (for some reason the kindle version isn't linked there, here it is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Skies-Science-Behind-ebook/dp/B001FA0LY4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1325132216&sr=1-3)

God knows why that is so pricey at the moment, it's a very short book. I wouldn't pay those prices for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@micheal j glocks

Read both Homicide and The Corner - incredible books. Loved.

Dispatches is on 'the list' and the other one sounds interesting too.

Not sure that I'm super interested in the first, but it's useful to just get a load of recommendations and just follow up reviews on them, Amazon comments etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those both sound interesting, Deerokus. I'm fairly weak in the historical arena and being familiar with ''don't invade Russia in the winter'' I would be interested in the subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those both sound interesting, Deerokus. I'm fairly weak in the historical arena and being familiar with ''don't invade Russia in the winter'' I would be interested in the subject.

That's exactly where I was when I started it, most of my knowledge of Napoleon comes from an English tutor I had who was a big admirer of Nap and worked him into just about every lecture (with justification, it's striking how frequently Napoleon or Napoleon-like characters crop up in 19th century Russian classics). I've not actually finished it, yet, as it's quite long. It covers a lot of the geopolitical context too, which I've found books focusing on particular campaigns often fail to do.

My one criticism about it is that it seems slightly biased towards the Napoleonic/western side. At some point I'm going to dig deeper into this period, but it's a good, readable, broad-strokes primer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Biographies:

Oppenheimer - Link

Kennedy - Link

Robert Kennedy - Link

Those are the three I have enjoyed most out of the biographies I have read, which isn't that many really. Jenkins on Churchill is good as well.

History:

Right, I could recommend 100 history books pretty easily, it depends what you are interested in. Here's a few you should read regardless though:

David Kynaston's Austerity/Family Britain - Link1 - Link2

Niall Ferguson - The Ascent of Money - Link

Martin Meredith - The State of Africa - Link

If you say what period/aspect you are interested in I can probably recommend something. There's stuff like Holmes' Age of Wonder which is excellent, but depends if you are interested in the material.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently reading Age of Revolution by Eric Hobsbawm, the first of his histories of Europe and the modern world. This one covers 1789-1848, broadly, with a particular focus on what he calls the 'twin revolutions' of France (political) and Britain (industrial). Very good so far, I can recommend it. He has a particular focus on social causes and effects.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hobsbawm's Age of Extremes is a classic of the genre, too. He's a massive marxist as well. <3

I have David Kynaston's Austerity Britain, and have been slowly picking through it for a couple of years. It's so enormous. I'm not really much of a fan of social history like that, but that's full of interesting stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Manning Marable's Malcolm X biography, A Life of Reinvention, is pretty interesting and authoritative. I've not read his autobiography and I don't imagine it compares favourably in terms of entertainment, but if you want to get to know the guy...

ol_books_malcolm_x_17edcp6-17edcpb.jpg

I always recommend this whenever these threads crop up, but John Toland's The Rising Sun is a pretty necessary read on The Pacific Front in WW2 - the war that made America (and Japan, in a sense). It's a narrative read that focuses in on dozens of characters but is also pretty much the only book you'd have to read to understand how the war came about, how it was fought and why it ended - an 'objective' and entertaining book.

606090-L.jpg

And something I guess you've already read, but something I've skimmed through a few times in recent months.

13495b89f48f86c39b2b0196326cfcc7.jpg

I really need to get around to reading that 1812 book that Deerokus recommended. Bought it more than a year back after reading War and Peace, Crime and Punishment (and while I was playing Napoleon: Total War) but haven't taken it off the shelf.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Smitty - take a look at this, if you've not read it already. It's excellent. Thought provoking.

http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/29/ha-joon-chang-23-things?cat=books&type=article

I have, and it's fucking brilliant. One of the best books i've read in years.

I also read the previous book he did on the subject:

102318984.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritans-Secret-History-Capitalism/dp/1596913991

In his 2008 book, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Chang – an economist himself, a specialist in the political economy of development – mocked one of the central orthodoxies of his profession: the belief that global free trade raises living standards everywhere.

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism assaults economic orthodoxy on a much larger front. Dip into this witty, iconoclastic and uncommonly commonsensical guide to the follies of economics, and, among many other things, you will learn that free market policies rarely make poor countries richer; global companies without national roots belong in the realm of myth; the US does not have the highest living standards in the world; the washing machine changed the world more than the internet; more education does not of itself make countries richer; financial markets need to become less, not more efficient; and – perhaps most shocking to Chang's colleagues – good economic policy does not require good economists. Each of Chang's 23 propositions may seem counterintuitive, even contrarian. But every one of them has a basis in fact and logic, and taken together they present a new view of capitalism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently reading Age of Revolution by Eric Hobsbawm, the first of his histories of Europe and the modern world. This one covers 1789-1848, broadly, with a particular focus on what he calls the 'twin revolutions' of France (political) and Britain (industrial). Very good so far, I can recommend it. He has a particular focus on social causes and effects.

I just got this from Amazon for the grand sum of £3.80. It will be perfecr for my college course, thanks for the heads up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth. By Andrew Smith is very good read, with first hand interviews with all (nearly all) the men who actually went to the moon. I must read it again.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tony Judt's Post War, which is a history of Europe since 1945 is probably the best history book of the last 10 years. His Ill Fares The Land is excellent as well, he dictated it as he was dying, its a quite slim book about how we got to where we are, and how we can progress as a society. I really enjoyed both of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any of Tom Wolfe's non-fiction is worth a go. The Right Stuff, The Electric Cool Aid Acid Test, Hooking Up is a bit more contemporary. I just love the way he writes, even if he is a bit of an old codger.

I thought Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City was a great read. It covers the neo-con naivete of the Iraq invasion.

Books I have read that were about thinking and how to do it better that I got a lot out of include How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff. A classic from the 50's that everybody should read just so that they can understand how manipulative most statistics use in the media is and how to critique it. Also Fear of Knowledge by Paul Boghossian, which is academic philosophy but quite accessible. It is a damning critique of relativism and social constructivism. Again it will equip you with ways to identify when people are justifying themselves with bullshit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's just been a massive petrol hike in my country, so I thought it would be interesting to read up on the oil world. Nothing too heavy, just a bit of insight into its producers, the wars on oil and its effect on price. That sort of stuff. Any recommendations?

Recently finished DarkMarket: Cybercops, Cyberthieves and You.

12722228.jpg

Thoroughly entertaining. It details the rise and fall of carding (the trade in stolen credit cards acquired via hacking, phishing, skimming, etc) website/forum, DarkMarket. Very much written like a novel, you get quite a bit of insight into the difficulties of planning a united raid across continents and how moles or miscommunication can royally fuck things up. There's plenty of first hand accounts from both the investigating officers and the hackers themselves. What happens when a white-hat hacker gets shunned by law enforcement and decides to turn against them? He goes mental and starts up his own carding site, while at the same time hacking the shit out of competing sites and instigates war. Or one site admin rats out another to the cops? A crime syndicate shows up at the hacker's door, kidnaps him, beats the shit out of him, and makes him pose naked on the internet for revenge. Great read.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

David Kynaston's Austerity/Family Britain - Link1 - Link2

These are really worth reading, David Kynaston also wrote a history of the City of London (The financial one) It's very interesting though I found it quite a difficult read in places. Anyway, to follow up these two books it's worth reading -

Peter Hennessy - Never Again, Britain 1945 to 1951 and Having it so good, Britain in the 50's

Dominic Sandbrook's trilogy - White Heat, Never Had It So good and State of Emergency, Britain from the 50s to the 70s

Other Stuff

Ian Kershaw - Hitler, Hubris and Nemesis

Michael Burleigh - The Third Reich: A New History

Adam Fergusson - When Money Dies: The Nightmare Of The Weimar Hyper Inflation

(I find 1920 to 1940 Germany very interesting, how it went so wrong and why)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's just been a massive petrol hike in my country, so I thought it would be interesting to read up on the oil world. Nothing too heavy, just a bit of insight into its producers, the wars on oil and its effect on price. That sort of stuff. Any recommendations?

The two key books here are:

Daniel Yergin - The Prize

Daniel Yergin - The Quest

The Prize looks at the history of the oil industry from its origins up to around 1990, and The Quest looks at the more recent history of the whole energy industry (from 1990 to the present). They're both huge books, but highly readable and highly regarded. Only thing to watch out for is Yergin's claims about peak oil in The Quest, which have attracted quite a lot of criticism. Just read critically, as always.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, some excellent recommendations on here - added pretty much all of them to my wishlist on Amazon.

Here's one: The Men Who Stare at Goats

I think I read it first when I was at school in '06 or there abouts. Equal parts funny and scary when you consider some of the things the US army has attempted over the years. Recently took it on holiday and read it all again in one night instead of sleeping.

Book Description

In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known military practice – and indeed the laws of physics – they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. They were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting George Bush’s War on Terror. Often funny, sometimes chilling and always thought-provoking, The Men Who Stare at Goats is a story so unbelievable it has to be true. ‘Not only a narcotic road trip through the wackier reaches of Bush’s war effort, but also an unmissable account of the insanity that has lately been done in our names’ Observer ‘Funny and gravely serious, what emerges is a world shrouded in secrecy, mystery and wackiness, where Warrior Monks and psychic spies battle it out for military thinking. Mind-blowing stuff’ Metro

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Freedom Next Time, The New Rulers of the World & Hidden Agendas

John Pilger

Unpeople & Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Foreign Policy: Britain's Real Role in the World

Mark Curtis

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to be So Hated, Causes of Conflict in the Last Empire & Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta

Gore Vidal

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Hegemony or Survival : America's Quest for Global Dominance & Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and the Global Order

Noam Chomsky

Propaganda

Edward Bernays

Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution: The Remarkable True Story of the American Capitalists Who Financed the Russian Communists, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler: The Astonishing True Story of the American Financiers Who Bankrolled the Nazis & America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of Skull and Bones.

Antony Sutton

The God Makers: A Shocking Expose of What the Mormon Church Really Believes

Decker and Hunt

Secrets of The Tomb: Skull and Bones, The Ivy League and The Hidden Paths to Power

Alexandra Robbins

The Brotherhood

Stephen Knight

Inside The Brotherhood

Martin Short

George H.W Bush: The Unauthorized Biography & Barack H. Obama: The Unauthorized Biography

Webster Tarpley

Them & The Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson

The Holocaust Industry

Norman Finklestein

NATO's Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe

Ganser Daniele

No One Left To Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton

Christopher Hitchens

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, some excellent recommendations on here - added pretty much all of them to my wishlist on Amazon.

Here's one: The Men Who Stare at Goats

Just noticed that you can get this for £1.89 on the kindle at the moment - along with two other interesting looking books from the same author: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ronsons-Adventures-Extraordinary-People-ebook/dp/B009OCBX4M/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The recent Sandy Hook massacre got me to finally read Dave Cullen's Columbine over the last week. Glad I did as I thought it was staggeringly good. Well worth the time.

Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5632446-columbine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can anyone recommend a decent read on contemporary Russian/Eastern Bloc life? Something that covers a bit of everything - history, politics, economy, religion, mafia, culture, that sort of stuff. Basically I'm sufficiently intrigued by videos of Russian youths doing crazy shit on Youtube to read a book about why and how they are different from us Westerners.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.