Pelican Books

52 books in this series
The Power of Language
The Power of Language
Why should we learn more than one language?
Can it change the way we think?
Does it have the power to transform how we see the world?

You may think you speak only one language. In fact, your mind is interpreting multiple codes of communication. Some people speak Spanish, some Mandarin. Some speak poetry, some are fluent in maths. Humans are built for multilingualism.

Drawing on cutting-edge research and theory, delivered with wit and lucid insight, psycholinguist Viorica Marian explores the ways in which the mind uses multiple languages and how, in doing so, we can open the doors to unique forms of creativity, brain health and cognitive control. Every new language we speak - whether it is coding or musical notes, Hindi or Arabic - shapes how we extract and interpret information. It alters what we remember, how we perceive ourselves and those around us, how we feel, the insights we have, the decisions we make and the actions we take.

The Power of Language lays bare how we use different linguistic codes to think about the world - and change our place within it. Empowering and practical, this is the perfect guide for anyone interested in how language really works.
Race and Education
Race and Education
Why is our education system unequal?
How does race play a part?
Is Britain still institutionally racist?

Education remains the greatest indicator of life chances in Britain. What we study, where we study, and how long for shape all aspects of our lives. Our careers, our long-term health, our wealth and security are all moulded in the classroom.

But who we are ultimately matters the most.

In Race and Education, Professor Kalwant Bhopal shows how race still determines who gains the best education in Britain, and who falls by the wayside. Through case studies, original research and interviews with students, teachers and academics alike, she reveals how the construction of privilege starts at a young age: with Whiteness taking some students on a gilded path from cradle to career, while many still struggle to build the futures they deserve.

This book highlights how classrooms and lecture halls are at the centre of perpetuating White privilege - and how racism continues to exist in Britain.

'A timely and excellent book that makes clear the role racism continues to play in shaping education. A must read for teachers, school leaders, parents and politicians. We need more honest, crucial, refreshing and rigorous work like this.' - Kehinde Andrews
Aristotle
Aristotle
There is in Athens a rather plain ruin; a simple courtyard lined with fragments of wall. Yet, this little patch of land has a claim to be the most significant place in human history. It is the Lyceum, site of Aristotle's school: here the philosopher wandered, discussing his life's work with students, proposing answers to the mysteries of the human condition.

Today, it can be difficult to fully comprehend the staggering influence of these lessons. Aristotle's observations about the world around him and his reflections on the nature of knowledge laid the foundations for all empirical science. His study of rational thought formed the basis of formal logic, the cornerstone of philosophical investigation. His examination of Greek city-states gave us political science, while his analysis of drama remains a mainstay of literature courses around the world.

In lucid prose, acclaimed philosopher John Sellars takes us on a journey through Aristotle's thought, vividly bringing to life the key ideas, and demonstrating that the famous philosopher's capacity for curiosity continues to offer us all a vision of more fulfilled lives. Aristotle has lessons still to teach.
Moral AI
Moral AI
Can computers understand morality? Can they respect privacy? What can we do to make AI safe and fair?

The artificial intelligence revolution has begun. Today, there are self-driving cars on our streets, autonomous weapons in our armies, robot surgeons in our hospitals – and AI's presence in our lives will only increase. Some see this as the dawn of a new era in innovation and ease; others are alarmed by its destructive potential. But one thing is clear: this is a technology like no other, one that raises profound questions about the very definitions of human intelligence and morality.

In Moral AI, world-renowned researchers in moral psychology, philosophy, and artificial intelligence – Jana Schaich Borg, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Vincent Conitzer – tackle these thorny issues head-on. Writing lucidly and calmly, they lay out the recent advances in this still nascent field, peeling away the exaggeration and misleading arguments. Instead, they offer clear examinations of the moral concerns at the heart of AI programs, from racial equity to personal privacy, fake news to autonomous weaponry. Ultimately, they argue that artificial intelligence can be built and used safely and ethically, but that its potential cannot be achieved without careful reflection on the values we wish to imbue it with. This is an essential primer for any thinking person.
The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust is much-discussed, much-memorialized and much-portrayed. But there are major aspects of its history that have been overlooked.

Spanning the entirety of the Holocaust and across the world, this sweeping history deepens our understanding. Dan Stone reveals how the idea of 'industrial murder' is incomplete: many were killed where they lived in the most brutal of ways. He outlines the depth of collaboration across Europe, arguing persuasively that we need to stop thinking of the Holocaust as an exclusively German project. He also considers the nature of trauma the Holocaust engendered, and why Jewish suffering has yet to be fully reckoned with. And he makes clear that the kernel to understanding Nazi thinking and action is genocidal ideology, providing a deep analysis of its origins.

Drawing on decades of research, The Holocaust: An Unfinished History upends much of what we think we know about the Holocaust. Stone draws on Nazi documents, but also on diaries, post-war testimonies and even fiction, urging that, in our age of increasing nationalism and xenophobia, we must understand the true history of the Holocaust.
The Politics of Time
The Politics of Time
Time has always been political. Throughout history, how we use our time has been defined and controlled by the powerful, and today is no exception. But we can reclaim control, and in this book, the pioneering economist Guy Standing shows us how.

The ancient Greeks organized time into five categories: work, labour, recreation, leisure and contemplation. Labour was onerous, while the keys to a good life were self-chosen work and leisure (schole), which included participation in public life and lifelong education. Yet now our jobs are supposed to provide all meaning in life, our time outside labour is considered simply 'time off', and politicians prioritize jobs above all else.

Today, we are experiencing the age of chronic uncertainty. Stress and mental illness are on the rise as more and more time is being stolen from us in myriad ways, particularly from the vulnerable and those in the precariat.

But there is a way forward. We can create a new politics of time, one that liberates us and helps save the planet, through strengthening real leisure and working on shared endeavours through commoning. We can retake control of our time, but we must do it together.
Traditionalism
Traditionalism
Traditionalism is founded on ancient teachings that, its followers argue, have been handed down from time immemorial, forming a basis of the sacred order that must be defended from modernity and the disorder it brings. It has been used to encourage respect for the environment, compose great music and reduce hostility between followers of different religions. King Charles is an avowed Traditionalist, and has used it as a framework to encourage protecting the rural landscape.

But Traditionalism has also been used to support darker causes: from the election of Donald Trump to fascist movements and even terrorism. How has Traditionalism been so influential for so long, yet so little acknowledged and understood? Its followers have never aimed to reach the masses and have sought to affect the world quietly. In this book, the first of its kind for a wide audience, Traditionalism's history, ideas and profound impact are laid out, shining a light onto this shadowy world and the thought of its three founders, René Guénon, Julius Evola and Frithjof Schuon. Once you understand Traditionalism, you will see its influence everywhere.
The Blue Commons
The Blue Commons
The sea provides more than half the oxygen we breathe, food for billions of people and livelihoods for hundreds of millions. But giant corporations are plundering the world's oceans, aided by global finance and complicit states, following the neoliberal maxim of Blue Growth. The situation is dire: rampant exploitation and corruption now drive all aspects of the ocean economy, destroying communities, intensifying inequalities, and driving fish populations and other ocean life towards extinction.

The Blue Commons is an urgent call for change, from a campaigning economist responsible for some of the most innovative solutions to inequality of recent times. From large nations bullying smaller nations into giving up eco-friendly fishing policies to the profiteering by the Crown Estate in commandeering much of the British seabed, the scale of the global problem is synthesized here for the first time, as well as a toolkit for all of us to rise up and tackle it.

The oceans have been left out of calls for a Green New Deal but must be at the centre of the fight against climate change. How do we do it? By building a Blue Commons alternative: a transformative worldview and new set of proposals that prioritize the historic rights of local communities, the wellbeing of all people and, with it, the health of our oceans.
How Religion Evolved
How Religion Evolved
When did humans develop spiritual thought? What is religion's evolutionary purpose? And in our increasingly secular world, why has it endured?

Every society in the history of humanity has lived with religion. In How Religion Evolved, evolutionary psychologist Professor Robin Dunbar tracks its origins back to what he terms the 'mystical stance' - the aspect of human psychology that predisposes us to believe in a transcendent world, and which makes an encounter with the spiritual possible. As he explores world religions and their many derivatives, as well as religions of experience practised by hunter-gatherer societies since time immemorial, Dunbar argues that this instinct is not a peculiar human quirk, an aberration on our otherwise efficient evolutionary journey. Rather, religion confers an advantage: it can benefit our individual health and wellbeing, but, more importantly, it fosters social bonding at large scale, helping hold fractious societies together. Dunbar suggests these dimensions might provide the basis for an overarching theory for why and how humans are religious, and so help unify the myriad strands that currently populate this field.

Drawing on path-breaking research, clinical case studies and fieldwork from around the globe, as well as stories of charismatic cult leaders, mysterious sects and lost faiths, How Religion Evolved offers a fascinating and far-reaching analysis of this quintessentially human impulse - to believe.
Around the World in 80 Books
Around the World in 80 Books
Inspired by Jules Verne's hero Phileas Fogg, David Damrosch, chair of Harvard's department of Comparative Literature and founder of Harvard's Institute for World Literature, set out to counter a pandemic's restrictions on travel by exploring eighty exceptional books from around the globe. Following a literary itinerary from London to Venice, Tehran, and points beyond, and via authors from Woolf and Dante to Nobel prizewinners Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, Mo Yan, and Olga Tokarczuk, he explores how these works have shaped our idea of the world, and the ways the world bleeds into literature.

To chart the expansive landscape of world literature today, Damrosch explores how writers live in two very different worlds: the world of their personal experience, and the world of books that have enabled great writers to give shape and meaning to their lives. In his literary cartography, Damrosch includes compelling contemporary works as well as perennial classics, hard-bitten crime fiction as well as haunting works of fantasy, and the formative tales that introduce us as children to the world we're entering. Taken together, these eighty titles offer us fresh perspective on perennial problems, from the social consequences of epidemics to the rising inequality that Thomas More designed Utopia to combat and the patriarchal structures within and against which many of these books' heroines have to struggle, from the work of Murasaki Shikibu a millennium ago to Margaret Atwood today.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 BOOKS is a global invitation to look beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and to see our world and its literature in new ways.
Architecture
Architecture
Reducing energy use is the single biggest challenge facing architecture today. From the humblest prehistoric hut to the imposing monuments of Rome or Egypt to super-connected modern airports, buildings in every era and place have been shaped by the energy available for their construction and running. This original and compelling survey tells the story of our buildings from our hunter-gatherer origins to the age of fossil-fuel dependence, and shows how architecture has been influenced by designers, builders and societies adapting to changing energy contexts.

Architecture is a fascinating celebration of human ingenuity and creativity, and a timely reminder of the scale of the task ahead in our search for truly sustainable architecture.
Covid By Numbers
Covid By Numbers
How many people have died because of COVID-19? Which countries have been hit hardest by the virus? What are the benefits and harms of different vaccines? How does COVID-19 compare to the Spanish flu? How have the lockdown measures affected the economy, mental health and crime?

This year we have been bombarded by statistics - seven day rolling averages, rates of infection, excess deaths. Never have numbers been more central to our national conversation, and never has it been more important that we think about them clearly. In the media and in their Observer column, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and RSS Statistical Ambassador Anthony Masters have interpreted these statistics, offering a vital public service by giving us the tools we need to make sense of the virus for ourselves and holding the government to account.

In Covid by Numbers, they crunch the data on a year like no other, exposing the leading misconceptions about the virus and the vaccine, and answering our essential questions. This timely, concise and approachable book offers a rare depth of insight into one of the greatest upheavals in history, and a trustworthy guide to these most uncertain of times.
Feminisms
Feminisms
How has feminism developed? What have feminists achieved? What can we learn from the global history of feminism?

Feminism is the ongoing story of a profound historical transformation. Despite being repeatedly written off as a political movement that has achieved its aim of female liberation, it has been continually redefined as new generations of women campaign against the gender inequity of their age.

In this absorbing book, historian Lucy Delap challenges the simplistic narrative of 'feminist waves' - a sequence of ever more progressive updates ­- showing instead that feminists have been motivated by the specific concerns of their historical moment. Drawing on an extraordinary range of examples from Japan to Russia, Egypt to Germany, Delap explores different feminist projects to show that those who are part of this movement have not always agreed on a single programme. This diverse history of feminism, she argues, can help us better navigate current debates and controversies.

A real tour de force from an award-winning expert, Feminisms shows that a rich relationship to the past can infuse today's activism with a sense of possibility and inspiration.
The Road to Conscious Machines
The Road to Conscious Machines
'A terrific book - essential reading for everyone seeking to make sense of Artificial Intelligence' Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Director and Chief Executive of the Alan Turing Institute

In this myth-busting guide to AI past and present, one of the world's leading researchers shows why our fears for the future are misplaced.


The ultimate dream of AI is to build machines that are like us: conscious and self-aware. While this remains a remote possibility, rapid progress in AI is already transforming our world. Yet the public debate is still largely centred on unlikely prospects, from sentient machines to dystopian robot takeovers.

In this lively and clear-headed guide, Michael Wooldridge challenges the prevailing narrative, revealing how the hype distracts us from both the more immediate risks that this technology poses - from algorithmic bias to fake news - and the true life-changing potential of the field. The Road to Conscious Machines elucidates the discoveries of AI's greatest pioneers from Alan Turing to Demis Hassabis, and what today's researchers actually think and do.

'Nobody understands the past, the present, the promise and the peril of this new technology better than Michael Wooldridge. The definitive account' Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist

'Effortlessly readable. The perfect guide to the history and future of AI' Tom Chivers, author of The AI Does Not Hate You
Feeding Britain
Feeding Britain
British food has changed remarkably in the last half century. As we have become wealthier and more discerning, our food has Europeanized (pizza is children's favourite food) and internationalized (we eat the world's cuisines), yet our food culture remains fragmented, a mix of mass 'ultra-processed' substances alongside food as varied and good as anywhere else on the planet.

This is a book on the politics of food: where it comes from, what we eat, and its impact. It argues that the Brexit vote will force us to review our food system. Such an opportunity is sorely needed. After a brief frenzy of concern following the financial shock of 2008 and recent Covid-19 upheaval, the UK government has slumped once more into a vague hope that the food system will keep going on as before. Feeding Britain argues that this and other approaches are short-sighted, against the public interest, and possibly even strategic folly. Setting a new course for UK food is no easy task but it is a process, this book urges, that needs to begin now.
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence
No recent scientific enterprise has been so alluring, terrifying, and filled with extravagant promise and frustrating setbacks as artificial intelligence. How intelligent are the best of today's AI programs? To what extent can we entrust them with decisions that affect our lives? How human-like do we expect them to become, and how soon do we need to worry about them surpassing us in most, if not all, human endeavours?

From leading AI researcher and award-winning author Melanie Mitchell comes a knowledgeable and captivating account of modern-day artificial intelligence. Flavoured with personal stories and a twist of humour, Artificial Intelligence illuminates the workings of machines that mimic human learning, perception, language, creativity and common sense. Weaving together advances in AI with cognitive science and philosophy, Mitchell probes the extent to which today's 'smart' machines can actually think or understand, and whether AI requires such elusive human qualities in order to be reliable, trustworthy and beneficial.

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans provides readers with an accessible, entertaining and clear-eyed view of the AI landscape, what the field has actually accomplished, how much further it has to go and what it means for all of our futures.

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