Riveting books to give a news buff
The last few years have been tumultuous across the globe. Here are some books to help you understand the world as it is, and what might happen next
Pete Souza was the Chief White House photographer during Obama’s presidency, and captured some of the most iconic and unguarded moments of his career and life over the eight years he was in office. This coffee table book reproduces over three hundred photographs, alongside behind-the-scenes notes and stories from Souza, and makes for an intimate portrait of a landmark era of American history.
As well as being Prime Minister, Gordon Brown was Britain’s longest-serving Chancellor, and has impacted the country’s goals and direction for over three decades. This book traces his life, influences and reflections, starting from his childhood in Scotland. Covering everything from the conficts in Iraq and Afghanistan to the forging of the coalition government and the referendums on Scottish independence and European Union membership, whilst documenting Brown’s own life and principles, this book offers a look at where Britain is now from a man who’s seen it from the inside.
When Alec Baldwin first impersonated Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, he created a parody that became central to the US election. Presented as a presidential memoir told in Trump’s ‘voice’, it takes you inside the Oval Office as Trump tweets, onto the golf course as he makes big decisions, and into his meetings with world leaders. This brutal, satirical “memoir” covers everything from Trump’s opinions on Melania and Ivanka, to his plan to triumph over the fake news media.
The first ever memoir from an active Muslim American FBI agent about his undercover experiences infiltrating terror cells in North America. After the September 11th attacks, Elnoury (a pseudonym) joined a counter-terrorism unit that aims to gain the confidence of terrorists and subvert their plans. In a real life story that reads like a thriller, Elnoury’s anonymity gives him the freedom to talk honestly and openly about the work he does trying to make the world a safer place in.
Alyokhina is one of the members of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk rock group who were imprisoned after they performed a concert protesting against Putin inside a Moscow church, following which Alyokhina was held in a penal colony in the Urals for two years. The story of how her decision to stand up for the things she believed in, despite the cost, explores how freedom and democracy are taken for granted.
This memoir’s subtitle is “twenty confusing years in the life of a Labour supporter” and, in his memoirs, O’Farrell charts his life in the Party in self-deprecatory, witty prose. From the birth of New Labour and Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, right up to Jeremy Corbyn’s comeback during the 2017 snap election, he reflects on the rise of the right, Labour’s identity crisis, and his own attempt to run against Theresa May. It’s a story of hope, despair and everything in between.
This book began life as a crowdfunded collection of essays, which quickly picked up endorsements from everyone from Zadie Smith to J. K. Rowling and scooped a shelf-full of awards. Featuring the voices of 21 writers from BAME backgrounds, including actor Riz Ahmed and editor Nikesh Shukla, it explores all aspects of immigration and diversity in modern Britain in essays that are by turns enraged, heartbreaking, and hilariously funny.
Varoufakis is a world-renowned economist who made history when, as finance minister of Greece, he tried to renegotiate the country’s relationship with the EU, provoking the fury of Europe’s elite. In this easy-to-read follow up to Adults in the Room (his account of that experience), he uses personal anecdotes and famous stories from Oedipus to The Matrix to explain how the economy works, why it has the power to shape our lives, and sets out to answer his daughter’s deceptively simply question: Why is there so much inequality?
Louis is a French writer who grew up on benefits in northern France. His father was killed in a factory accident; his mother struggled for work. This autobiographical novel, translated into English by Michael Lucey, was a bestseller in France despite causing controversy due to the way it portrayed poverty, social inequality and sexuality. A moving, intelligent look at an extremely difficult childhood, it is challenging and sharp, but never cynical, and ultimately asks the question: how do we make our own freedom?
Chakrabarti is perhaps best known as the former director of Liberty, an advocacy group for civil rights. A fierce and constant defender and protector of women’s rights, in this book she looks closely at the gender divide - why it still exists, and how we can finally overcome it. Covering the experiences of women of all ages and nationalities, with diverse levels of wealth and education, she looks at the challenges we face with honesty and hope and sets out the radical changes we need to make in order to create a more equal world.