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The Road To Delphi

Michael Wood (Author)

In this fascinating and highly original book Michael Wood combines vivid story-telling and acutely perceptive analysis to give a sympathetic and entertaining account of humanity's persistent belief in 'signs'. He begins with the oracles of ancient Greece, explaining how people consulted them when they had to make crucial choices. Yet the key point was that the oracles spoke in riddles and gave ambiguous answers - it was up to humans to interpret what they said. Like horoscopes today, this allowed the hearers to fit the message to what they wanted, and sometimes, as in the disastrous tale of the Persian general Xerxes, or in the great drama of Oedipus and the riddle of the Sphinx, - and much later in Shakespeare's tale of Macbeth and the witches' prophesy - the listeners have got things horribly wrong. Michael Wood does not only look at Europe - he considers oracles in the old civilisations of the East, and particularly in pre-Hispanic America. He also explores modern examples, like the puzzles in the Kafka's fiction. And he brings the story up into our own lives, examining oracles in the film The Matrix and looking at the way we 'interpret' authorities we don't quite understand - as in the doctor's consulting room - or avidly puzzle out the meaning of astrology columns of the press. Lively, engaging and revealing, full of warmth and humanity as well as scholarship, The Road to Delphi is a book that sticks in the mind. It is remarkable both for the stories it tells, and the way it makes us think again about our dangerous longing to trust in signs - just as long as we have that tiny bit of freedom to twist them to promise what we hope for.

A. J. Ayer

Ben Rogers (Author)

Freddie Ayer (1910-89) was one of the most influential philosophers of his generation, while his television and radio appearances, especially in the original `Brains Trust', made him Britain's first 'media philosopher'. In this lively, penetrating study - the first, fully authorised, biography - Ben Rogers relates Ayer's ideas to his remarkable life, strangely troubled beneath its glamorous surface. The 'quintessentially British' thinker was the only child of a Swiss-French father and Dutch-Jewish mother; after a lonely childhood he found his true role at Oxford. A friend of Isaiah Berlin, and a follower first of Bertrand Russell, and then of Wittgenstein. Ayer won fame at twenty-four with his brilliantly iconoclastic LANGUAGE, TRUTH AND LOGIC - an essential text for students ever since. Ben Rogers shows Ayer at work, in London, Oxford and America, and also at play, as a passionate follower of cricket and football, a great dancer, a lover of witty conversation and beautiful women. Married four times, Ayer was a leading figure in London 'cafe society', yet he was also a controversial public figure and broadcaster, vehemently left-wing in the 1930s, and later President of the British Humanist Association and the Homosexual Law Reform Society. Colourful, inimate, zestful and often poignant, this is a powerful biography.

The Other Half

Caroline Criado-Perez (Author)

In The Other Half, award-winning writer and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez takes on the global gender data gap, which she places at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women; she exposes how this data gap has created a pervasive invisible bias that has a profound effect upon women’s lives.

In Caroline’s words, the book is ‘a forensic examination of the myriad hidden ways in which women are excluded from the very building blocks of the world we live in, and the impact this has on our health and wellbeing’. Drawing on new research and an impressive range of case studies – from government policy and medical research to healthcare, technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media – this book is a provocative exposé of how the infrastructure of our lives is constructed upon biased data excluding half of the world’s population.

Part data-crunching and analysis, part personal stories, part call-to-arms, The Other Half draws on examples from across the world to detail the huge gaps in our knowledge, looking at the consequences of building a world around the male body and making the case for change.

Eve Was Shamed

Helena Kennedy (Author)

What comes after #MeToo? One of our most eminent lawyers and defenders of human rights answers with this urgent, authoritative and deeply shocking look at British justice

In Eve Was Shamed Helena Kennedy forensically examines the pressing new evidence that women are still being routinely discriminated against throughout the legal system, from the High Court (where only 21% of judges are women) to female prisons (where 84% of inmates are held for non-violent offences despite the refrain that prison should only be used for violent or serious crime). In between are the ‘lifestyle’ choices of the Rotherham girls; the failings of the current rules on excluding victims’ sexual history from rape trials; battered wives being asked why they don’t ‘just leave’ their partners; the way statistics hide the double discrimination experienced by BAME women; the failure to prosecute cases of female genital mutilation… the list goes on. The law holds up a mirror to society and it is failing women.

The Me Too movement has been in part a reaction to those failures. So what comes next? How do we codify what we've learned? In this richly detailed and shocking book, one of our most eminent human rights thinkers and practitioners shows with force and fury that change for women must start at the heart of what makes society just.

Carrington's Letters

Dora Carrington (Author) , Anne Chisholm (Edited by)

‘Your letters are a great pleasure. I lap them down with breakfast and they do me more good than tonics, blood capsules or iron jelloids’ Lytton Strachey

Dora Carrington was considered an outsider to Bloomsbury, but she lived right at its heart. Known only by her surname, she was the star of her year at the Slade School of Fine Art, but never achieved the fame her early career promised. For over a decade she was the companion of homosexual writer Lytton Strachey, and killed herself, stricken without him, when he died in 1932. She was also a prolific and exuberant correspondent.

Carrington was not consciously a pioneer or a feminist, but in her determination to live life according to her own nature – especially in relation to her work, her passionate friendships and her fluid attitude to sex, gender and sexuality – she fought battles that remain familiar and urgent today. She was friends with the greatest minds of the day and her correspondence stars a roster of fascinating characters – Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Rosamund Lehmann, Maynard Keynes to name but a few.

Carrington’s Letters introduces the maverick artist and compelling personality to a new generation for the first time with fresh correspondence never before published. Unmediated, passionate, startlingly honest and very playful, reading Carrington’s letters is like having her whisper in your ear and embrace you gleefully.

Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel, Nazi Agent

Hal Vaughan (Author)

Coco Chanel, high priestess of couture, created the look of the chic modern woman: her simple and elegant designs freed women from their corsets and inspired them to crop their hair. By the 1920s, Chanel employed more than two thousand people in her workrooms, and had amassed a personal fortune. But at the start of the Second World War, Chanel closed down her couture house and went to live quietly at the Ritz, moving to Switzerland after the war. For more than half a century, Chanel's life from 1941 to 1954 has been shrouded in rumour. Neither Chanel nor her biographers have told the full story, until now.

In this explosive narrative Hal Vaughan pieces together Chanel's hidden years, from the Nazi occupation of Paris to the aftermath of the Liberation. He uncovers the truth of Chanel's anti-Semitism and long-whispered collaboration with Hitler's officials. In particular, Chanel's long relationship with 'Spatz', Baron von Dincklage, previously described as a tennis-playing playboy and German diplomat, and finally exposed here as a Nazi master spy and agent who ran an intelligence ring in the Mediterranean and reported directly to Joseph Goebbels.

Sleeping with the Enemy tells in detail how Chanel became a German intelligence operative, Abwehr agent F-7124; how she was enlisted in spy missions, and why she evaded arrest in France after the war. It reveals the role played by Winston Churchill in her escape from retribution; and how, after a nine-year exile in Switzerland with Dincklage, and despite French investigations into her espionage activities, Coco was able to return to Paris and triumphantly reinvent herself - and rebuild the House of Chanel.

As Hal Vaughan shows, far from being a heroine of France, Chanel was in fact one of its most surprising traitors.

The Modern Peasant

Jojo Tulloh (Author)

*WINNER OF THE FORTNUM & MASON FOOD BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2014*

Inspired by those who were bold enough to make that leap, but firmly rooted in London, food writer Jojo Tulloh wondered if some kind of peasant-like self-sufficiency could be achieved for city-dwellers; looking around her she found she was not alone.Beneath Victorian railway arches, on inner city roof tops and on borrowed land, a new breed of food producers were baking bread, making cheese, keeping bees and growing vegetables. Inspired by their success, Jojo watched and learned.

In this evocative and illuminating book, Jojo shares her knowledge of this fast-changing culinary scene. Alongside vivid stories from her visits to producers and tips for baking and pickling, fermenting and foraging, she presents fresh tasting, achievable recipes for modern peasants – sourdough pizzas of nettles and sausage, celebratory paellas of squid and home-grown peppers, chutneys, jam and pickles – and in doing so shows how a food philosophy that takes the best from past traditions can put flavour and excitement back into everyday cooking – even amidst the roar of city life.

The Stopping Places

Damian Le Bas (Author)

*BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week*

'I needed to get to the stopping places, so I needed to get on the road. It was the road where I might at last find out where I belonged.'

Damian Le Bas grew up surrounded by Gypsy history. His great-grandmother would tell him stories of her childhood in the ancient Romani language; the places her family stopped and worked, the ways they lived, the superstitions and lores of their people. But his own experience of life on the road was limited to Ford Transit journeys from West Sussex to Hampshire to sell flowers.

In a bid to better understand his Gypsy heritage, the history of the Britain's Romanies and the rhythms of their life today, Damian sets out on a journey to discover the atchin tans, or stopping places – the old encampment sites known only to Travellers. Through winter frosts and summer dawns, from horse fairs to Gypsy churches, neon-lit lay-bys to fern-covered banks, Damian lives on the road, somewhere between the romanticised Gypsies of old, and their much-maligned descendants of today.

In this powerful and soulful debut, Damian le Bas brings the places, characters and stories of his to bold and vigorous life.

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