Carabas Jan-Jun 17 Non-Fiction Picks: Culture, Current Affairs, History, Music & Film

At Carabas we’re about many things: the fantastical certainly, but we’re more generally about championing alternative culture and counter-culture; the marvelous, the wonderful and the creative; and certainly the things that will help bring a bit more understanding into the world.

So here’s our top non-fiction book recommends from titles publishing July to December: Alternative & Street Art, Biography, Music, Popular Science (General), Fact Behind the Fiction (our round-up of Non-Fiction on fantastical subjects), History, London titles and Ethical Politics / Awareness Raising titles – the vibrant, the quirky, the worthy and the enlightening. There’s something here for everyone…

 

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Art – Alternative and Street

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THE ART OF SPRAY PAINT * Lori Zimmer * 9781631591464 * PB * £16.99 * Rockport * January

The Art of Spray Paint showcases the grand and imaginative scale of spray paint art and design. Inside, you’ll find jaw-dropping spray paint creations from around the world! You’ll discover the process of each art form, as well as tricks of the trade, from small clever projects to huge art installations.

Much more than a book about “cool” spray paint designs, Lori Zimmer guides you through amazing large-scale art production, immersive environments, working from intuition, collaboration, the artist’s role in society, alternative creative economies, contemporary mythology, storytelling, DIY projects and more.

With such a readily available medium, what will you create?

Contributors include: CRASH, PichiAvo, BR163, Logan Hicks, Joe Iurato, Nick Walker, Caroline Caldwell, Casey Gray, Tristan Eaton, Matt Eaton, Hueman, Elle, Tatiana Suarez, Conor Harrington, Remi Rough, Will Hutnick, Rubin415, Rebecca Paul, Zac Braun, Ian Kuali’i, Ele Pack, Dana Oldfather

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N - Feb 17 - Pressionism

PRESSIONISM * Marc Restillini, Alain-Dominique Gallizia, Margo Thompson * 9781785250774 * HB * 29.95 * Parkstone Press Ltd * February

Street Art is everywhere. Misunderstood and considered illegal for a long time, Urban Art, known as Pressionism, is today deemed an art within itself. From Basquiat to Bando, not forgetting Rammellzee, or even Toxic, this work presents the very first initiators of this graffiti movement as well as the great American and French masters.

Buy from Waterstones

 

Biography

(See also Music Biographies in Music below)

NF - Mar - Cheech is not my Real Name but Don't Call Me Chong

CHEECH (IS NOT MY REAL NAME BUT DON’T CALL ME CHONG) * Cheech Marin * 9781455592340 * HB * £20.99 * Grand Central Publishing * March

Cheech Marin came of age at an interesting time in America and became a self-made counterculture legend with his other half, Tommy Chong. This long-awaited memoir delves into how Cheech dodged the draft, formed one of the most successful comedy duos of all time, became the face of the recreational drug movement with the film Up in Smoke, forged a successful solo career with roles in The Lion King and, more recently, Jane the Virgin, and became the owner of the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the world.

Written in Cheech’s uniquely hilarious voice, this memoir will take you to new highs.

Buy from Waterstones

 

Music

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REAL LIFE ROCK: THE COMPLETE TOP 10 COLUMNS 1986-2014 * Greil Marcus * 9780300223606 * PB * £14.99 * Yale University Press * January

From the author of The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs comes his “Basement Tapes”: the complete “Real Life Rock Top 10” columns For nearly thirty years, Greil Marcus has written a remarkable column called “Real Life Rock Top Ten.” It has been a laboratory where he has fearlessly explored and wittily dissected an enormous variety of cultural artifacts, from songs to books to movies to advertisements. Taken together, his musings, reflections, and sallies amount to a subtle and implicit theory of how cultural objects fall through time and circumstance and often deliver unintended consequences, both in the present and in the future. Real Life Rock reveals the critic in full: direct, erudite, funny, fierce, vivid, uninhibited, and possessing an unerring instinct for art and fraud. The result is an indispensable volume packed with startling arguments and casual brilliance.

A top tier music writer returns with a new work in print…
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NF - Mar - The Rise, The Fall and the Rise

THE RISE, THE FALL, AND THE RISE * Brix Smith Start * 9780571325061 * PB * £8.99 * Faber * March

The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise is the extraordinary story, in her own words, of Brix Smith Start. Best known for her work in The Fall at the time when they were perhaps the most powerful and influential anti-authoritarian postpunk band in the world — This Nation’s Saving Grace, The Wonderful and Frightening World Of … — Brix spent ten years in the band before a violent disintegration led to her exit and the end of her marriage with Mark E Smith.

But Brix’s story is much more than rock ‘n’ roll highs and lows in one of the most radically dysfunctional bands around. Growing up in the Hollywood Hills in the ’60s in a dilapidated pink mansion her life has taken her from luxury to destitution, from the cover of the NME to waitressing in California, via the industrial wasteland of Manchester in the 1980s. What emerges is a story of constant reinvention, jubilant highs and depressive ebbs; a singular journey of a teenage American girl on a collision course with English radicalism on her way to mid-life success on TV and in fashion.

Too bizarre, extreme and unlikely to exist in the pages of fiction, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise could only exist in the pages of a memoir.

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NF - Mar - The Republic of Rock

THE REPUBLIC OF ROCK: MUSIC AND CITIZENSHIP IN THE SIXTIES COUNTERCULTURE * Michael J Kramer * 9780190610753 * PB * £20.35(?) * OUP USA * March

In his 1967 megahit “San Francisco,” Scott McKenzie sang of “people in motion” coming from all across the country to San Francisco, the white-hot center of rock music and anti-war protests. At the same time, another large group of young Americans was also in motion, less eagerly, heading for the jungles of Vietnam.

Now, in The Republic of Rock, Michael Kramer draws on new archival sources and interviews to explore sixties music and politics through the lens of these two generation-changing places―San Francisco and Vietnam. From the Acid Tests of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters to hippie disc jockeys on strike, the military’s use of rock music to “”boost morale”” in Vietnam, and the forgotten tale of a South Vietnamese rock band, The Republic of Rock shows how the musical connections between the City of the Summer of Love and war-torn Southeast Asia were crucial to the making of the sixties counterculture. The book also illustrates how and why the legacy of rock music in the sixties continues to matter to the meaning of citizenship in a global society today. Going beyond clichéd narratives about sixties music, Kramer argues that rock became a way for participants in the counterculture to think about what it meant to be an American citizen, a world citizen, a citizen-consumer, or a citizen-soldier. The music became a resource for grappling with the nature of democracy in larger systems of American power both domestically and globally.

For anyone interested in the 1960s, popular music, and American culture and counterculture, The Republic of Rock offers new insight into the many ways rock music has shaped our ideas of individual freedom and collective belonging.”

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WAKE UP AND LIVE: THE LIFE OF BOB MARLEY * Jim McCarthy, Benito Gallego * 9781783059676 * PB * £16.99 * Omnibus Press * March

A graphic novel telling of the life of Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim. Starting out in 1963 with the group The Wailers, he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide.

Diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma in 1977, Marley died on 11 May 1981 in Miami at the age of 36. He was a committed Rastafari who infused his music with a sense of spirituality. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time and credited with popularizing reggae music around the world, as well as serving as a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity.

Buy from Waterstones
NF - Mar - Sound System

SOUND SYSTEM: THE POLITICAL POWER OF MUSIC (LEFT BOOK CLUB) * Dave Randall * 9780745399300 * PB * £12.99 * Pluto Press * May

Musicians have often wanted to change the world. From underground grime artists to pop icons, many have believed in the political power of music. Rulers recognise it too. Music has been used to unsettle the most fundamental political and social conventions and to prop up the status-quo. Sound System is the story of one musician s journey to discover what makes music so powerful. Years of touring, playing and protesting have given Dave Randall a unique insider s view of the music industry, enabling him to shed light on the secrets of celebrity, commodification and culture. He finds remarkable examples of music as a force for social change as well as something that has been used to keep people in their place throughout history. This is a book of raves, riots and revolution. From the Glastonbury Festival to the Arab Spring, Pop Idol to Trinidadian Carnival, Randall finds political inspiration across the musical spectrum and poses the question: how can we make music serve the interests of the many, rather than the few?

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WHY WE LOVE MUSIC * Dr John Powell * 9781473613768 * PB * £9.99 * John Murray * May

Did you know that . . .

Carrying a musical instrument makes you more attractive?

Music can cure insomnia?

Music can change the taste of wine?

The Mozart effect has nothing to do with Mozart?

Barry Manilow songs can be used for crowd control?

Why does music affect you so profoundly? It impacts the way you think, talk, feel, behave and even spend money. With his conversational style, humour, and endless knowledge, scientist and musician John Powell showcases fascinating studies – for example that shoppers spend more money in stores that play classical music and, even more astounding, they are more likely to buy German wine in stores playing German music.

With chapters on music and emotions, music as medicine, music and intelligence, and much more, Why We Love Music will entertain through to the very last page.A delightful journey through the psychology and science of music, Why We Love Music is the perfect book for anyone who loves a tune.

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WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN: THE MUSIC AND POLITICS OF ROCK AGAINST RACISM, 2 TONE AND RED WEDGE * Daniel Rachel * 9781447272694 * PB * £12.99 * Picador * May

Walls Come Tumbling Down charts the pivotal period between 1976 and 1992 that saw politics and pop music come together for the first time in Britain’s musical history; musicians and their fans suddenly became instigators of social change, and ‘the political persuasion of musicians was as important as the songs they sang’. Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Daniel Rachel follows the rise and fall of three key movements of the time: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they all shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

Composed of interviews with over 150 of the key players at the time, Walls Come Tumbling Down is a fascinating, polyphonic and authoritative account of those crucial sixteen years in Britain’s history.

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CURED: THE STORY OF TWO IMAGINARY BOYS * Lol Tolhurst * 9781784293376 * PB * £8.99 * Quercus * June

The inside story of The Cure

Coming of age in Thatcher’s Britain in the late 70s and early 80s was really tough, especially if you lived in Crawley. But against the grinding austerity, social unrest and suburban boredom, the spark of rebellion that was punk set alight three young men who would become one of the most revered and successful bands of their generation. The Cure.

Cured is a memoir by Lol Tolhurst, one of the founding imaginary boys, who met Robert Smith when they were five. Lol threads the genesis of The Cure through his schoolboy years with Smith, the iconic leader of the group, and the band’s most successful era in the 1980s. He takes us up to the present day, a riveting forty years since the band’s inception.

The band’s journey to worldwide success is woven into a story not only of great highs and lows but also of love, friendship, pain, forgiveness and, ultimately, redemption on a beach in Hawaii.

Cured highlights those parts of the creative journey that are not normally revealed to fans, incorporating many first-hand recollections around Lol’s personal odyssey. From suburban London to the Mojave desert, Cured brings an acute eye for the times to bear on a lifelong friendship, with tales of addiction and despair along the way.

Cured is the story of a timeless band and a life truly lived.

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SUBSTANCE: INSIDE NEW ORDER * Peter Hook * 9781471132421 * PB * £10.99 * Simon & Schuster * June

Two acclaimed albums and an upcoming US tour – Joy Division had the world at their feet. Then, on the eve of that tour and the beginning of what would surely have been an international success story, the band’s troubled lead singer, Ian Curtis, killed himself.

‘We didn’t really think about it afterwards. It just sort of happened. One day we were Joy Division, then our lead singer killed himself and the next time we got together, we were a new band…’ – Peter Hook

That band was New Order.Their distinctive sound – a fusion of post-punk and ground-breaking electronica – paved the way for the dance music explosion of the ’80s and earned them the reputation as one of the most influential bands of their generation. Despite their success, the band has always been a collision the visionary and the volatile, and relationships have often been fraught with tensions.

Peter Hook has written a no-holds-barred, comprehensive account of the band’s entire history, packed with outrageous anecdotes and including every set list and tour itinerary and interspersed with ‘geek facts’ of every piece of electronic equipment used to forge the sound that changed the direction of popular music.

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SET THE BOY FREE * Johnny Marr * 9781784751791 * PB * £8.99 * Arrow Publishing (Random House) * June

The Sunday Times Bestseller and Winner of the NME Best Book Award 2017

Few groups have had a bigger impact than The Smiths and few guitarists are as celebrated as Johnny Marr. He is an icon who defined an era and influenced a generation of guitarists.

His signature sound was crucial to the Smiths success, but tensions within the band led to his departure in 1987 and the end of the group after just four albums. He was twenty-three years old.

Since then, Marr hasn’t stopped pushing the boundaries of music. He joined The Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs and has collaborated with Hans Zimmer. Here, for the first time, he tells his own side of the story.

Honest, witty, and moving, Set the Boy Free is the true history of music – told by one of its very own legends.

‘I saw Johnny Marr live in person, with The Smiths. He was light on his feet; like quicksilver. He caused the band to swing like crazy. And he smoked his cigarette like a star. I’ve been influenced ever since.’ Iggy Pop”

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Music Spotlight: David Bowie

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FOREVER STARDUST: DAVID BOWIE ACROSS THE UNIVERSE * Will Brooker * 9781784531423 * PB * £9.99 * IB Tauris * January

Most of the many books about David Bowie track his artistic ‘changes’ chronologically throughout his career. This book, uniquely, examines Bowie’s ‘sameness’: his recurring themes, images, motifs and concepts as an artist, across all his creative work, from lyrics and music through to costumes, storyboards, films, plays and painting. To be published on Bowie’s 70th birthday, Forever Stardust looks at Bowie’s work not as a linear evolution through calendar time, to his tragic death in January 2016, but as a matrix, a dialogue, a network of ideas that echo back and forth across the five decades of his career, interacting with each other and with the surrounding culture. It explores Bowie’s creative output as a whole, tracing the repetitions and obsessions that structure his work, discovering what they tell us about Bowie in all his forms, from Ziggy Stardust to David Jones. David Bowie challenged cultural expectations from the early 1970s until his final masterpiece, Blackstar. Forever Stardust offers a new understanding of this remarkable & significant artist.

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CN - Jul - The Age of Bowie

THE AGE OF BOWIE * Paul Morley * 9781471148118 * PB * £9.99 * Simon and Schuster * January

Respected arts commentator Paul Morley, one of the team who curated the highly successful retrospective exhibition for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is . . . constructs the definitive story of Bowie that explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, invented the future and entered history as someone who could and would never be forgotten. Morley will capture the greatest moments of Bowie’s career; from the recording studio with the likes of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti; to iconic live performances from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as well as the various encounters and artistic relationships he developed with rock luminaries John Lennon, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. And of course, discuss in detail his much-heralded, and critically-acclaimed comeback with the release of Black Star just days before his shocking death in New York.

Morley offers a startling biographical critique of David Bowie’s legacy, showing how he never stayed still even when he withdrew from the spotlight, how he always knew his own worth, and released a dazzling plethora of mobile Bowies into the world with a bloody-minded determination and a voluptuous imagination to create something amazing that was not there before.

 

Buy from Waterstones
G - Feb 17 - Haddon Hall

HADDON HALL: WHEN DAVID INVENTED BOWIE * Nejib * 9781910593264 * PB * £14.99 * SelfMadeHero * February

Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack: David Bowie had an extraordinary talent for reinvention. But at the beginning of his career, he made the most significant transformation of his life: from ‘David’ to Bowie. In 1969, shortly after the release of his first hit single, David and his girlfriend Angie move into Haddon Hall, a sprawling Victorian villa in the suburbs of London. Part commune, part creative hub, the house becomes home to a community of musicians and hippies and hangers on. As egos clash and parties get out of hand, David keeps writing: ‘Changes’, ‘Kooks’, ‘Life on Mars’ – he begins producing songs that will propel him to global fame. Charting Bowie’s personal life, the development of his music and the transformation of his image, Haddon Hall is an evocative portrait of a man presiding over a musical revolution.

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SPIDER FROM MARS: MY LIFE WITH BOWIE * Woody Woodmansey * 9781509832507 * PB * £8.99 * Pan Macmillan * June

For many fans, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era remains the most extraordinarily creative period in his career. As a member of Bowie’s legendary band at the time – The Spiders From Mars – Woody Woodmansey played drums on four seminal albums: The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and Aladdin Sane.

Woody’s memoir, which he started work on in 2014, focuses on this key period and brings it to glorious life. With the confidence of youth, Woody always thought he’d be in a famous band but the nineteen-year-old rocker from Hull never expected to be thrust into London’s burgeoning glam rock scene, and also into a bottle-green velvet suit and girl’s shoes. Playing with Bowie took him on an eye-opening and transformative journey. In Spider From Mars he writes candidly about the characters who surrounded Bowie, recalling the album sessions as well as behind-the-scenes moments with one of the world’s most iconic singers. The result is an insightful, funny, poignant memoir that lovingly evokes a seminal moment in music history and pays tribute to one of the most outstanding and innovative talents of our time.

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Popular Science

WE HAVE NO IDEA: A GUIDE TO THE KNOWN UNIVERSE * Jorge Cham, Daniel Whitesun * 9781473660168 * HB * £16.99 * John Murray * May

This witty book reveals the humbling vastness of our ignorance about the universe, along with charming insights into what we actually do understand’ Carlo Rovelli, author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Reality Is Not What It Seems

In our small corner of the universe, we know how some matter behaves most of the time and what even less of it looks like, and we have some good guesses about where it all came from. But we really have no clue what’s going on. In fact, we don’t know what about 95% of the universe is made of.

So what happens when a cartoonist and a physicist walk into this strange, mostly unknown universe? Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson gleefully explore the biggest unknowns, why these things are still mysteries, and what a lot of smart people are doing to figure out the answers (or at least ask the right questions).

While they’re at it, they helpfully demystify many complicated things we do know about, from quarks and neutrinos to gravitational waves and exploding black holes. With equal doses of humour and delight, they invite us to see the universe as a vast expanse of mostly uncharted territory that’s still ours to explore.”

Buy from Waterstones

 

 

Fact behind the Fiction

N - Feb 17 - Haunted

HAUNTED: ON GHOSTS, WITCHES, VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES, AND OTHER MONSTERS OF THE NATURAL AND SUPERNATURAL WORLDS * Leo Braudy * 9780300203806 * HB * £25.00 * Yale University Press * January

An award-winning scholar and author charts four hundred years of monsters and how they reflect the culture that created them Leo Braudy, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, has won accolades for revealing the complex and constantly shifting history behind seemingly unchanging ideas of fame, war, and masculinity. Continuing his interest in the history of emotion, this book explores how fear has been shaped into images of monsters and monstrosity. From the Protestant Reformation to contemporary horror films and fiction, he explores four major types: the monster from nature (King Kong), the created monster (Frankenstein), the monster from within (Mr. Hyde), and the monster from the past (Dracula). Drawing upon deep historical and literary research, Braudy discusses the lasting presence of fearful imaginings in an age of scientific progress, viewing the detective genre as a rational riposte to the irrational world of the monstrous. Haunted is a compelling and incisive work by a writer at the height of his powers.

Buy from Waterstones
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STUDYING HAMMER HORROR * Victoria Grace Walden * 9781906733322 * PB * £13.00 * Columbia University Press * January

Although the team behind Hammer Studios never initially intended to focus on any one genre, it is for a particular brand of horror films that it is most remembered. It was the British touch that Hammer injected into classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy that helped these films become world famous. Studying Hammer Horror inspires serious study of these films by providing a range of theoretical frameworks that offer productive readings of the studio s production context, style and particular case studies. Victoria Grace Walden reevaluates classic film theories, such as genre and auteur studies, and considers philosophical approaches to understanding Hammer s engagement with gender, national identity, postcolonial issues and the occult. Studying Hammer Horror offers a general refresher of film theory, while critically engaging with a number of specific films including X the Unknown, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Stranglers of Bombay, The Gorgon, Dracula A.D. 1972 and Hammer s more recent productions Let Me In and The Woman in Black. At the heart of the book s narrative is the question, what is it that makes Hammer s horror films British?

A very special debut bringing expert attention to a much loved (and feared) British filmic institution…
Buy from Waterstones
n-jan-17-the-comic-book-film-adaptation

THE COMIC BOOK FILM ADAPTATION: EXPLORING MODERN HOLLYWOOD’S LEADING GENRE * Liam Burke * 9781496809704 * PB * 25.50 * University Press of Mississippi * January

In the summer of 2000 X-Men surpassed all box office expectations and ushered in an era of unprecedented production of comic book film adaptations. This trend, now in its second decade, has blossomed into Hollywood’s leading genre. From superheroes to Spartan warriors, The Comic Book Film Adaptation offers the first dedicated study to examine how comic books moved from the fringes of popular culture to the center of mainstream film production.

Through in-depth analysis, industry interviews, and audience research, this book charts the cause-and-effect of this influential trend. It considers the cultural traumas, business demands, and digital possibilities that Hollywood faced at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The industry managed to meet these challenges by exploiting comics and their existing audiences. However, studios were caught off-guard when these comic book fans, empowered by digital media, began to influence the success of these adaptations. Nonetheless, filmmakers soon developed strategies to take advantage of this intense fanbase, while codifying the trend into a more lucrative genre, the comic book movie, which appealed to an even wider audience. Central to this vibrant trend is a comic aesthetic in which filmmakers utilize digital filmmaking technologies to engage with the language and conventions of comics like never before.

The Comic Book Film Adaptation explores this unique moment in which cinema is stimulated, challenged, and enriched by the once-dismissed medium of comics.

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n-jan-17-deadpool-and-philosophy

DEADPOOL AND PHILOSOPHY * Nicholas Michaud and Jacob Thomas May * 9780812699494 * PB * 13.99 * Open Court Publishing * January

Deadpool is the super-anti-hero who knows he’s in a comic book. His unique situation and blood-stained history give rise to many philosophical puzzles. A group of philosophical Deadpool fans delve into these puzzles in Deadpool and Philosophy.

For instance, if you know that someone is writing the script of your life, can you really be a hero? Is Deadpool really Wade Wilson, or did Wilson have his identity stolen by the monster who is now Deadpool? Are his actions predetermined by the writers, or does he trick the writers into scripting his choices? And what happens when Deadpool breaks into the real world to kill the writers? What kind of existence do literary characters have? How can we call him a moral agent for good when he still commits murder left and right and then left again and then right? Since Deadpool gets paid for his good deeds, can they be truly heroic? And which of the many Deadpool personalities are the real Deadpool? And of course, why does Deadpool love to annoy Wolverine so much?

Deadpool challenges us to think outside the box. Deadpool and Philosophy shows us the profound implications of this most contradictory and perplexing comic book character.

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N - Feb 17 - Thrill Power Overload updated

THRILL-POWER OVERLOAD: FORTY YEARS OF 2000 AD: REVISED, UPDATED AND EXPANDED! * David Bishop * 9781781085226 * HB * £35.00 * Rebellion / 2000 AD * February

The definitive history of the most influential British comic ever! Updated, expanded and revised for 2000 AD’s 40th anniversary. From 2000 AD’s humble and rocky beginnings to its current position as the Galaxy s Greatest comic, Thrill-Power Overload charts the incredible history of this ground-breaking comic. With exclusive interviews, hundreds of illustrations and rarely-seen artwork, former 2000 AD editor, David Bishop and journalist Karl Stock, guide the reader through four decades of action, adventure, excitement and the occasional editorial nightmare! Told by the people who were there, this is the definitive history of the comic that launched a thousand talents including legends such as John Wagner, Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Carlos Ezquerra, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon, Grant Morrison, Kevin O’Neill, Simon Bisley and continues with 21st Century breakthrough talents such as Jock, Rob Williams, Andy Diggle, Al Ewing, Henry Flint, Frazer Irving – and many many more.

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N - Feb 17 - Considering Watchmen

CONSIDERING WATCHMEN * Andrew Hoberek * 9780813590363 * PB * £24.95 * Rutgers * Comics Culture * March

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen has been widely hailed as a landmark in the development of the graphic novel. It was not only aesthetically groundbreaking but also anticipated future developments in politics, literature, and intellectual property. Demonstrating a keen eye for historical detail, Considering Watchmen gives readers a new appreciation of just how radical Moore and Gibbons’s blend of gritty realism and formal experimentation was back in 1986. The book also considers Watchmen’s place in the history of the comics industry, reading the graphic novel’s playful critique of superhero marketing alongside Alan Moore’s public statements about the rights to the franchise. Andrew Hoberek examines how Moore and Gibbons engaged with the emerging discourses of neoconservatism and neoliberal capitalism, ideologies that have only become more prominent in subsequent years. Watchmen’s influences on the superhero comic and graphic novel are undeniable, but Hoberek reveals how it has also had profound effects on literature as a whole. He suggests that Watchmen not only proved that superhero comics could rise to the status of literature-it also helped to inspire a generation of writers who are redefining the boundaries of the literary, from Jonathan Lethem to Junot Diaz. Hoberek delivers insight and analysis worthy of satisfying serious readers of the genre while shedding new light on Watchmen as both an artistic accomplishment and a book of ideas.

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NF - Mar - Beyond Watchmen and Judge Dredd

BEYOND WATCHMEN AND JUDGE DREDD: THE ART OF JOHN HIGGINS * John Higgins * 9781786940278 * PB * £20.00 * Liverpool University Press * March

Watchmen, Judge Dredd, Hellblazer, Before Watchmen, Razorjack: John Higgins has been the artist or colourist on some of the most iconic comic books of recent years. Here, collected together for the first time, is the best of Higgins breathtaking work. Alongside never before seen preliminary drawings of now iconic characters, the book includes insights into the career of the comic book artist. Before Coloring the Watchmen is partly an essential book for all enthusiasts and partly an instruction manual for those wanting to understand just what it takes to land a contract with DC Comics.

Foreword by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons…
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NF - Mar - Drawing the Line

DRAWING THE LINE: COMICS STUDIES AND INKS, 1994-1997 (STUDIES IN COMICS AND CARTOONS) * Lucy Shelton Caswell, Professor Jared Gardner * 9780814254004 * PB * £22.75 * Ohio State University Press * March

Drawing the Line: Comics Studies and INKS, 1994-1997 collects some of the most important essays from INKS: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies, the first peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted exclusively to comics studies. The volume, edited by Lucy Shelton Caswell, the journal s founding editor, and Jared Gardner, editor of the new Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, celebrates this foundational moment in the fast-growing field of comics studies and also serves as a call to contemporary scholars to revisit the roads-not-taken mapped out by these scholars and cartoonist critics.

Included in the volume are essays by pioneering comics scholars on newspaper comic strips, Japanese manga, Chinese lianhuanhua, comic books, graphic novels, and editorial cartoons, alongside writings and artwork by celebrated cartoonists such as Will Eisner, Oliver Harrington, Charles Schulz, and Frank Stack. This volume serves as an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history and study of the comics form, visual culture, or the history of journalism.

LINK TO COME…
NF - Mar - Superman The Persistence of an American Icon

SUPERMAN: THE PERSISTENCE OF AN AMERICAN ICON (COMICS CULTURE) * Ian Gordon * 9780813587516 * PB * £23.56(?) * Rutgers University Press * March

In Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon, Ian Gordon explores Superman’s status as an American icon and examines how a fictional character has managed to sustain that pre-eminent standing for almost eighty years. Explaining how this super hero became an icon of American culture is not simply a process of establishing some essential hallmarks of the character and then tracing these signs in each new incarnation of Superman. Instead, Superman is shown by Gordon to be an amalgam of factors including myth, memory, nostalgia, intellectual property regimes like copyright and trademark, authors, readers, fans, collectors, comic books, comic strips, radio series, movie serials, television shows, animation, toys and collectibles, and feature films. Superman is a mythos because of the sheer amount of material and the competition over which memories are essential to the character. And what we need Superman to represent has been affected by the country’s needs in times of poverty, war, prosperity, and other challenges. Gordon shows that an understanding of Superman requires us to address the way these factors figure into any negotiation of this character; he therefore analyzes Superman as a process, rather than as a fixed phenomenon. In this way, Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon answers the question of how a comic book character became and remains a symbol of American culture, thus contributing to a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Buy from Waterstones
NF - Mar - Zombie Cinema

ZOMBIE CINEMA (QUICK TAKES: MOVIES AND POPULAR CULTURE) * Ian Olney * 9780813579474 * PB * £14.64(?) * Rutgers University Press * March

It’s official: the zombie apocalypse is here! The living dead have been lurking in media and popular culture since the 1930s, but they have never been more popular or ubiquitous on screen than they are today. Zombies have colonized the movies, television, video games, the internet-even smartphones-and the invitation shows no sign of ending soon. Our hunger for them, like hunger for us, seems insatiable. Zombie Cinema charts the transformation of these horror film monsters into pop culture icons, exploring their enormous appeal to views in the twenty-first century. It traces the evolution of the living dead on film from the voodoo slaves of White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie to the reanimated ghouls of Night of the Living Dead and Zombie Flesh Eaters to the rabid infected of 28 Days Later and World War Z, and surveys the present cinematic landscape, in which zombies have overrun every imaginable genre from the indie comedy, Zombieland, to the teen romance, Warm Bodies, to the animated children’s movie, Paranorman. The book also maps the recent outbreaks of zombies on television, in hit shows like The Walking Dead and Dead Set, and points to signs of an impending apocalypse in new media, including video games, Left 4 Dead, web series, Bite Me, and smartphone apps, Plants vs. Zombies. Zombie Cinema is a lively and accessible introduction to this massively popular genre. It offers an historical overview of zombies on screen that is both wide-ranging and global in scope. Surveying movies and television shows from North America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, it covers the “greatest hits” of zombie cinema as well as forgotten, unsung, or less familiar texts.

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YOU WIN OR YOU DIE: THE ANCIENT WORLD OF GAME OF THRONES * Ayelet Haimson Lushkov * 9781784536992 * PB * £12.99 * IB Tauris * April

If the Middle Ages form the present-day backdrop to the continents of Westeros and Essos, then antiquity is their resonant past. The Known World is haunted by the remnants of distant and powerful civilizations, without whose presence the novels of George R. R. Martin and the ever popular HBO show would lose much of their meaning and appeal.

In this essential sequel to Carolyne Larrington’s Winter is Coming: The Medieval World of Game of Thrones, Ayelet Haimson Lushkov explores the echoes, from the Summer Islands to Storm’s End, of a rich antique history. She discusses, for example, the convergence of ancient Rome and the reach, scope, and might of the Valyrian Freehold. She shows how the wanderings of Tyrion Lannister replay the journeys of Odysseus and Aeneas. She suggests that the War of the Five Kings resembles the War of the Four Emperors (68-69 AD). She also demonstrates just how the Wall and the Wildlings advancing on it connect with Hadrian’s bulwark against fierce tribes of Picts.

This book reveals the remarkable extent to which the entire Game of Thrones universe is animated by its ancient past.

#GameofThrones
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BEYOND HAMMER: BRITISH HORROR CINEMA SINCE 1970 * James Rose * 9781903663974 * PB * £22.00 * Columbia University Press * April

Critically neglected after the decline of Hammer Studios, the British horror film remains a significant and steadily growing body of genre works within a nationally grounded cinema. Deeply rooted within the Gothic tradition, these post-Hammer films place their threats within contemporary Britain, allowing werewolves to roam the Moors; a family of cannibals to dwell beneath the London Underground; a virulent plague to be unleashed throughout the country and for a plague of zombies to stumble through middle-class suburbia. The juxtaposition between these unreal elements and the very real ‘Britishness’ of the characters and locations provides film-makers the opportunity to generate a body of work that examines the fears of contemporary Britain.

Written in a format accessible to the student, tutor and general horror film enthusiast, Beyond Hammer provides new critical readings of classic, contemporary and lesser-seen films of the post-Hammer British horror canon, including The Vampire Lovers, The Wicker Man, Death Line, An American Werewolf in London, Hellraiser, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 28 Days Later, The Last Horror Movie, Shaun of the Dead and The Descent.

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MUSLIM SUPERHEROES: COMICS, ISLAM, AND REPRESENTATION * A David Lewis and Martin Lund * 9780674975941 * PB * £19.95 * Harvard University Press * April

The roster of Muslim superheroes in the comic book medium has grown over the years, as has the complexity of their depictions. Muslim Superheroes tracks the initial absence, reluctant inclusion, tokenistic employment, and then nuanced scripting of Islamic protagonists in the American superhero comic book market and beyond.

This scholarly anthology investigates the ways in which Muslim superhero characters fulfill, counter, or complicate Western stereotypes and navigate popular audience expectations globally, under the looming threat of Islamophobia. The contributors consider assumptions buried in the very notion of a character who is both a superhero and a Muslim with an interdisciplinary and international focus characteristic of both Islamic studies and comics studies scholarship. Muslim Superheroes investigates both intranational American racial formation and international American geopolitics, juxtaposed with social developments outside U.S. borders.

Providing unprecedented depth to the study of Muslim superheroes, this collection analyzes, through a series of close readings and comparative studies, how Muslim and non-Muslim comics creators and critics have produced, reproduced, and represented different conceptions of Islam and Muslimness embodied in the genre characters.

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History

SWORDS AND SWORDSMEN * Mike Loades * 9781526706461 * PB * £25.00 * Pen and Sword * April

This magnificent book tells the story of the evolution of swords, how they were made, how they were used, and the people that used them. It doesn’t claim to give comprehensive coverage but instead takes certain surviving examples as landmarks on a fascinating journey through the history of swords. Each is selected because it can be linked to a specific individual, thus telling their story too and giving a human interest.

So the journey starts with the sword of Tutankhamun and ends with the swords of J E B Stuart and George Custer. Along the way we take in Henry V, Cromwell and Uesugi Kenshin, and there is the most detailed discussion you’ll find anywhere of all of George Washington’s swords. The chapters on these specific swords and swordsmen are alternated with more general chapters on the changing technical developments and fashions in swords and their use.

The reader’s guide on this historical tour is Mike Loades. Mike has been handling swords most of his life, as a fight arranger, stuntman and historical weapons expert for TV and stage. He considers the sword as a functional weapon, work of art, fashion statement and cultural icon.As much as his profound knowledge of the subject, it is his life-long passion for swords that comes through on every page. His fascinating text is supported by a lavish wealth of images, many previously unpublished and taken specifically for this book.

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BLITZED: DRUGS IN NAZI GERMANY * Norman Ohler, Trans: Shaun Whiteside * 9780141983165 * PB * £8.99 * Penguin * May

The most brilliant and fascinating book I have read in my entire life’ Dan Snow

‘A huge contribution… remarkable’ Antony Beevor, BBC RADIO 4

‘Extremely interesting … a serious piece of scholarship, very well researched’ Ian Kershaw

The sensational German bestseller on the overwhelming role of drug-taking in the Third Reich, from Hitler to housewives.

The Nazis presented themselves as warriors against moral degeneracy. Yet, as Norman Ohler’s gripping bestseller reveals, the entire Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin, morphine and, most of all, methamphetamines, or crystal meth, used by everyone from factory workers to housewives, and crucial to troops’ resilience – even partly explaining German victory in 1940.

The promiscuous use of drugs at the very highest levels also impaired and confused decision-making, with Hitler and his entourage taking refuge in potentially lethal cocktails of stimulants administered by the physician Dr Morell as the war turned against Germany. While drugs cannot on their own explain the events of the Second World War or its outcome, Ohler shows, they change our understanding of it. Blitzed forms a crucial missing piece of the story.

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THE BAD-ASS LIBRARIANS OF TIMBUKTU * Joshua Hammer * 9781476777412 * PB * £9.99 * Simon & Schuster * May

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that were crumbling in the trunks of desert shepherds. His goal: to preserve this crucial part of the world’s patrimony in a gorgeous library. But then Al Qaeda showed up at the door.

Joshua Hammer writes about how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist from the legendary city of Timbuktu, became one of the world’s greatest smugglers by saving the texts from sure destruction. With bravery and patience, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali. His heroic heist is a reminder that ordinary citizens often do the most to protect the beauty of their culture. His story is one of a man who, through extreme circumstances, discovered his higher calling and was changed forever by it.

Sounds a really incredible story. Warning: by all accounts some harrowing content…
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OCTOBER * China Mieville * 9781784782771 * HB * £14.99 * Verso

Award-winning writer China Mieville has long been inspired by the ideals of the Russian Revolution and here, on the centenary of the revolution, he provides his own distinctive take on its history.

In February 1917, in the midst of bloody war, Russia was still an autocratic monarchy: nine months later, it became the first socialist state in world history. How did this unimaginable transformation take place? How was a ravaged and backward country, swept up in a desperately unpopular war, rocked by not one but two revolutions? This is the story of the extraordinary months between those upheavals, in February and October, of the forces and individuals who made 1917 so epochal a year, of their intrigues, negotiations, conflicts and catastrophes. From familiar names like Lenin and Trotsky to their opponents Kornilov and Kerensky; from the byzantine squabbles of urban activists to the remotest villages of a sprawling empire; from the revolutionary railroad Sublime to the ciphers and static of coup by telegram; from grand sweep to forgotten detail.

Historians have debated the revolution for a hundred years, its portents and possibilities: the mass of literature can be daunting. But here is a book for those new to the events, told not only in their historical import but in all their passion and drama and strangeness. Because as well as a political event of profound and ongoing consequence, Mieville reveals the Russian Revolution as a breathtaking story.

History from the keyboard of one of SFF’s modern greats…
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London Titles

SLOW BURN CITY * Rowan Moore * 9781447270201 * PB * £10.99 * Pan MacMillan * March

With a new introduction for the paperback. London is a supreme achievement of civilization. It offers fulfilments of body and soul, encourages discovery and invention. It is a place of freedom, multiplicity and co-existence. It is a Liberal city, which means it stands for values now in peril. London has also become its own worst enemy, testing to destruction the idea that the free market alone can build a city, a fantastical wealth machine that denies too many of its citizens a decent home or living. In this thought-provoking, fearless, funny and subversive book, Rowan Moore shows how London’s strength depends on the creative and mutual interplay of three forces: people, business and state. To find responses to the challenges of the twenty-first century, London must rediscover its genius for popular action and bold public intervention. The global city above all others, London is the best place to understand the way the world’s cities are changing. It could also be, in the shape of a living, churning city of more than eight million people, the most powerful counter-argument to the extremist politics of the present.

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LONDON CURIOSITIES: THE CAPITAL’S ODD & OBSCURE, WEIRD AND WONDERFUL PLACES * John Wade * 9781473879119 * PB * £9.99 * Pen and Sword * April

London is full of curiosities. Who knew that beneath the Albert Memorial lies an undercroft resembling a church crypt? Or that there are catacombs under Camden? Who would expect to find a lighthouse in East London, sphinxes in South London, dummy houses in West London, or a huge bust of film director Alfred Hitchcock in North London? How many of those who walk past Cleopatra’s Needle pause to consider why a 3,000-year-old Egyptian monument stands beside the Thames? How many know that what was once London’s smallest police station can be seen in Trafalgar Square? Or that pineapples are used in the architectural design of so many buildings? Or why there are memorials to the ‘Mayflower’ and Pilgrim Fathers in Rotherhithe?

These are just a few of the facets explored, described and illustrated here for anyone in search of the oddly obscure, wonderfully weird and surprisingly strange in this capital of curiosities.

#London
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QUEER CITY: GAY LONDON FROM THE ROMANS TO THE PRESENT DAY * Peter Ackroyd * 9780701188801 * HB * £16.99 * Chatto & Windus * May

In Queer City Peter Ackroyd looks at London in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay population.

In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure.

Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS.

Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.

‘Peter Ackroyd is the greatest living chronicler of London’ Independent

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BIG CAPITAL: WHO’S LONDON FOR? * Anna Minton * 9780141984995 * PB * £9.99 * Penguin * May

London is facing the worst housing crisis in modern times, with knock-on effects for the rest of the UK. Despite the desperate shortage of housing, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of affordable homes are being pulled down, replaced by luxury apartments aimed at foreign investors. In this ideological war, housing is no longer considered a public good. Instead, only market solutions are considered – and these respond to the needs of global capital, rather than the needs of ordinary people. In politically uncertain times, the housing crisis has become a key driver creating and fuelling the inequalities of a divided nation. Anna Minton cuts through the complexities, jargon and spin to give a clear-sighted account of how we got into this mess and how we can get out of it.

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Ethical Politics and Awareness Raising titles

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THE EMPATHY INSTINCT: HOW TO CREATE A MORE CIVIL SOCIETY * Peter Bazalgette * 9781473637511 * HB * 16.99 * John Murray * January

Empathy is the power of understanding others, imaginatively entering into their feelings. It is a fundamental human attribute, without which mutually co-operative societies cannot function. In a revolutionary development, we now know who has it, who lacks it and why. Via the MRI scanner we are mapping the human brain. This is a new frontier that reveals a host of beneficial ideas for childcare, teens challenged by the internet, the justice system, decent healthcare, tackling racism and resolving conflicts.

In this wide-ranging and accessible book full of entertaining stories that are underlined by the latest scientific research, Peter Bazalgette also mounts a passionate defence of arts and popular culture as a means of bridging the empathy gap.

As the world’s population expands, consuming the planet’s finite resources, as people haunted by poverty and war are on the move and as digital communications infinitely complicate our social interactions, we find our patience and our sympathy constantly challenged. Here is the antidote.

Culminating in a passionate manifesto on empathy, The Empathy Instinct is what makes us human and what can make us better humans.

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REVOLUTIONARY RIDE: ON THE ROAD IN SEARCH OF THE REAL IRAN * Lois Pryce * 9781857886573 * PB * 14.99 * Nicholas Brealey Publishers * January

In 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London:

… I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for yourself about my country. WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!!! Please come to my city, Shiraz. It is very famous as the friendliest city in Iran, it is the city of poetry and gardens and wine!!!
Your Persian friend,
Habib

Intrigued, Lois decides to ignore the official warnings against travel (and the warnings of her friends and family) and sets off alone on a 3,000 mile ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country. Along the way, she meets carpet sellers and drug addicts, war veterans and housewives, doctors and teachers – people living ordinary lives under the rule of an extraordinarily strict Islamic government.

Revolutionary Ride is the story of a people and a country. Religious and hedonistic, practical and poetic, modern and rooted in tradition – and with a wild sense of humour and appreciation of beauty despite the comparative lack of freedom – this is real contemporary Iran.”

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N - Feb 17 - Saving Capitalism

SAVING CAPITALISM: FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW * ROBERT REICH * 9781785781766 * PB * £8.99 * Icon Books * March

Do you recall a time when the income of a single schoolteacher or baker or salesman or mechanic was enough to buy a home, have two cars, and raise a family? Robert Reich does – in the 1950s his father sold clothes to factory workers and the family earnt enough to live comfortably. Today, this middle class is rapidly shrinking: American income inequality and wealth disparity is the greatest it’s been in eighty years. As Reich, who served in three US administrations, shows, the threat to capitalism is no longer communism or fascism but a steady undermining of the trust modern societies need for growth and stability. With an exclusive chapter for Icon’s edition, Saving Capitalism is passionate yet practical, sweeping yet exactingly argued, a revelatory indictment of the economic status quo and an empowering call to action.

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N - Feb 17 - Empire of Things

EMPIRE OF THINGS: HOW WE BECAME A WORLD OF CONSUMERS, FROM THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY TO THE TWENTY-FIRST * Frank Trentmann * 9780141028743 * PB * £12.99 * Penguin * March

What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this monumental study, acclaimed historian Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British empire to the present. Astonishingly wide-ranging and richly detailed, Empire of Things explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.

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TRICKSTER MAKES THIS WORLD * Lewis Hyde * 9781786890504 * PB * £9.99 * Canongate * April

Trickster disrupted the world around him, and in doing so he reshaped it. Playful, mischievous, subversive, amoral, tricksters are a great bother to have around, but they are also indispensable heroes of culture.

Trickster Makes This World revisits the stories of Coyote, Eshu and Hermes and holds them up against the life and work of more recent creators: Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, Maxine Hong Kingston and others. Authoritative in its scholarship, supple and dynamic in its style, Trickster Makes This World encourages you to think and see afresh.

Mythic Non-Fiction / Thought provoking celebration. Select reissue inclusion
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BUDDHIST ECONOMICS * Clair Brown * 9781632863669 * HB * £18.99 * Bloomsbury * April

In the tradition of E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, renowned economist Clair Brown argues persuasively for a new economics built upon equality, sustainability, and right living.

“Buddhist Economics will give guidance to all those who seek peace, fairness, and environmental sustainability.” -Jeffrey Sachs, author of The Age of Sustainable Development.

Traditional economics measures the ways in which we spend our income, but doesn’t attribute worth to the crucial human interactions that give our lives meaning. Clair Brown, an economics professor at U.C. Berkeley and a practicing Buddhist, has developed a holistic model, one based on the notion that quality of life should be measured by more than national income. Brown advocates an approach to organizing the economy that embraces rather than skirts questions of values, sustainability, and equity.

Complementing the award-winning work of Jeffrey Sachs and Bill McKibben, and the paradigm-breaking spirit of Amartya Sen, Robert Reich, and Thomas Piketty, Brown incorporates the Buddhist emphasis on interdependence, shared prosperity, and happiness into her vision for a sustainable and compassionate world. Buddhist economics leads us to think mindfully as we go about our daily activities, and offers a way to appreciate how our actions affect the well-being of those around us. By replacing the endless cycle of desire with more positive collective activities, we can make our lives more meaningful as well as happier.

Inspired by the popular course Professor Brown teaches at U.C. Berkeley, Buddhist Economics represents an enlightened approach to our modern world infused with ancient wisdom, with benefits both personal and global, for generations to come.

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THE GOOD IMMIGRANT * Nikesh Shukla * 9781783523955 * PB * £8.99 * Unbound * May

How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?

Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.

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BASIC INCOME – AND HOW WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN * Guy Standing * 9780141985480 * PB * £8.99 * Pelican / Penguin * May

‘Basic Income is an idea whose time has come, and Guy Standing has pioneered our understanding of it… Standing’s analysis is vital’ Paul Mason

Shouldn’t everyone receive a stake in society’s wealth?

Could we create a fairer world by granting a guaranteed income to all?

What would this mean for our health, wealth and happiness?

Basic Income is a regular cash transfer from the state, received by all individual citizens. It is an acknowledgement that everyone plays a part in generating the wealth currently enjoyed only by a few. Political parties across the world are now adopting it as official policy and the idea generates headlines every day.

Guy Standing has been at the forefront of thought about Basic Income for the past thirty years, and in this book he covers in authoritative detail its effects on the economy, poverty, work and labour; dissects and disproves the standard arguments against Basic Income; explains what we can learn from pilots across the world and illustrates exactly why a Basic Income has now become such an urgent necessity.

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WHO RULES THE WORLD? * Noam Chomsky * 9780241189450 * PB * £9.99 * Hamish Hamilton / Penguin * May

A new book on the state of the world today — from one of the most respected and revered political commentators alive

Noam Chomsky: philosopher, political writer, fearless activist. No one has done more to question the hidden actors who govern our lives, calling the powers that be to account. Here he presents Who Rules the World?, his definitive account of those powers, how they work, and why we should be questioning them.

From the dark history of the US and Cuba to China’s global rise, from torture memos to sanctions on Iran, this book investigates the defining issues of our times and exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of America’s policies and actions. The world’s political and financial elite are now operating almost totally unconstrained by the so-called democratic structure. With climate change and nuclear proliferation threatening our very survival, dissenting voices have never been more necessary.

Fiercely outspoken and rigorously argued, Who Rules the World? is an indispensable guide to how things really are.”

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POST-TRUTH: HOW BULLSHIT CONQUERED THE WORLD * James Ball * 9781785902147 * PB * £9.99 * Biteback Publishing * May

2016 marked the dawn of the post-truth era. The year saw two shock election results, each of which has the potential to reshape the world: the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the elevation of Donald Trump to the office of US President.

The campaigns highlighted many of the same issues in their home countries: social division, anger at the elite, anti-immigration sentiment and more – but, more than anything, they heralded an unprecedented rise of bullsh*t.

Sophistry and spin have been part of politics since the dawn of time. But the modern era sees millions being fed false reports that Hillary Clinton ordered 30,000 guillotines to use on her opponents following her victory, while Trump claims he ‘never said that’ about speeches recorded on video, and the Leave campaign’s divisive claims about £350 million extra funding for the NHS and ‘swarms’ of new EU immigrants from Turkey prove pivotal in a referendum.

Post-truth is bigger than fake news and bigger than social media. It’s about the slow rise of a political, media and online infrastructure that has devalued truth.

Bullsh*t gets you noticed. Bullsh*t makes you rich. Bullsh*t can even pave your way to the Oval Office. This is the story of bullsh*t: what’s being spread, who’s spreading it, why it works – and what we can do to tackle it.”

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LOBBYING FOR CHANGE: FIND YOUR VOICE TO CREATE A BETTER SOCIETY * Alberto Alemanno * 9781785782855 * PB * £8.99 * Icon Books * May

At a time when corporate lobbying dominates decision making in government, Alberto Alemanno has produced a vital counter to this unfettered power: citizen lobbying. Here are the means to regain some power and influence over the decisions affecting our lives. This is a toolbox for change.’

Bill Emmott, Former editor, The Economist, and chairman, The Wake Up FoundationMany democratic societies are experiencing a crisis of faith. Citizens are making clear their frustration with their supposedly representative governments, which instead seem driven by the interests of big business, powerful individuals and wealthy lobby groups.But what can we do about it? How do we fix democracy and get our voices heard?

The answer, argues Alberto Alemanno, is to become change-makers – citizen lobbyists. By using our skills and talents and mobilizing others, we can bring about social and political change. Whoever you are, you’ve got power, and this book will show you how to unleash it.

If you’re looking to improve – or to join – your community, if you’re searching for a sense of purpose or a way to take control of what’s going on around you, switching off is no longer an option. It’s time to make your voice count.

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WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN: THE MUSIC AND POLITICS OF ROCK AGAINST RACISM, 2 TONE AND RED WEDGE * Daniel Rachel * 9781447272694 * PB * £12.99 * Picador * May

Walls Come Tumbling Down charts the pivotal period between 1976 and 1992 that saw politics and pop music come together for the first time in Britain’s musical history; musicians and their fans suddenly became instigators of social change, and ‘the political persuasion of musicians was as important as the songs they sang’. Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Daniel Rachel follows the rise and fall of three key movements of the time: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they all shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

Composed of interviews with over 150 of the key players at the time, Walls Come Tumbling Down is a fascinating, polyphonic and authoritative account of those crucial sixteen years in Britain’s history.

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CREATING FREEDOM: POWER, CONTROL AND THE FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE * Raoul Martinez * 9781782111887 * PB * £10.99 * Canongate * May

We are far less free than we like to think.

In Creating Freedom, Raoul Martinez exposes the mechanisms of control that pervade our lives and the myths on which they depend. Exploring the lottery of our birth, the coercive influence of concentrated wealth, and the consent-manufacturing realities of undemocratic power, he shows that our faith in free media, free markets, free elections and free will is dangerously misplaced. Written with empathy and imagination, this scholarly, fierce and profoundly hopeful manifesto makes a dazzling case for creating freedom on our own terms.”

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ANOTHER DAY IN THE DEATH OF AMERICA * Gary Younge * 9781783351022 * PB * £8.99 * Faber * May

Saturday, 23rd November 2013. It was just another day in America. And as befits an unremarkable day, ten children and teens were killed by gunfire. Far from being considered newsworthy, these everyday fatalities are simply a banal fact.

The youngest was nine; the oldest nineteen. None made the news. There was no outrage at their passing. It was simply a day like any other day. Gary Younge picked it at random, searched for the families of these children and here, tells their stories. Another Day in the Death of America explores the way these children lived and lost their short lives, offering a searing portrait of the vulnerability of youth in contemporary America.

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AL-BRITANNIA: TRAVELS IN MUSLIM BRITAIN * James Fergusson * 9780593077375 * HB * £20 * Transworld * May

In this groundbreaking book, James Fergusson travels the length of Britain to explore our often misunderstood Muslim communities, and to experience life on both sides of our increasingly segregated society.

Over the last ten years the Islamic population in the UK has doubled, and it is set to do so again in the next five. A societal shift of this size and speed has inevitably brought growing pains, with the impact on Britain’s traditions, on our schools, on our courts, on the way we think and act as a nation at home or abroad, likely to become ever more profound. As well as painful – because in the eyes of many people, Islam has a problem: the extremist views of a tiny minority, which, when translated into action, can and increasingly do result in catastrophic violence. The danger of this extremist threat is that we are collectively starting to lose faith in the cultural diversity that has glued our nation together for so long. Our tolerance of others, so often cited as a ‘fundamental British value,’ and for many Britons a source of quiet celebration and pride, is at risk. In his search to answer important questions about Britain’s future, Fergusson finds a cauldron of tolerance and intolerance, kindness and ugliness, fear and friendship, and ultimately shines a light on the reality of life in Britain today.

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BIG CAPITAL: WHO’S LONDON FOR? * Anna Minton * 9780141984995 * PB * £9.99 * Penguin * May

London is facing the worst housing crisis in modern times, with knock-on effects for the rest of the UK. Despite the desperate shortage of housing, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of affordable homes are being pulled down, replaced by luxury apartments aimed at foreign investors. In this ideological war, housing is no longer considered a public good. Instead, only market solutions are considered – and these respond to the needs of global capital, rather than the needs of ordinary people. In politically uncertain times, the housing crisis has become a key driver creating and fuelling the inequalities of a divided nation. Anna Minton cuts through the complexities, jargon and spin to give a clear-sighted account of how we got into this mess and how we can get out of it.

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WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE * Reni Eddo-Lodge * 9781408870556 * HB * £16.99 * Bloomsbury * May

‘One of the most important books of 2017’ – Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant

A powerful and provocative argument on the role that race and racism play in modern Britain, by award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race‘.

Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings.

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.”

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THE NEW HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT * Peter Joseph * 9781942952657 * HB * £17.99 * BenBella Books * May

Society is broken. We can design our way to a better one.

In our interconnected world, self-interest and social-interest are rapidly becoming indistinguishable. If current negative trajectories remain, including growing climate destabilization, biodiversity loss, and economic inequality, an impending future of ecological collapse and societal destabilization will make “personal success” virtually meaningless. Yet our broken social system incentivizes behavior that will only make our problems worse. If true human rights progress is to be achieved today, it is time we dig deeper, rethinking the very foundation of our social system.

In this engaging, important work, Peter Joseph, founder of the world’s largest grassroots social movement – The Zeitgeist Movement – draws from economics, history, philosophy, and modern public-health research to present a bold case for rethinking activism in the 21st century. Arguing against the long-standing narrative of universal scarcity and other pervasive myths that defend the current state of affairs, The New Human Rights Movement illuminates the structural causes of poverty, social oppression, and the ongoing degradation of public health, and ultimately presents the case for an updated economic approach. Joseph explores the potential of this grand shift and how we can design our way to a world where the human family has become truly sustainable. The New Human Rights Movement reveals the critical importance of a unified activism working to overcome the inherent injustice of our system.

This book warns against what is in store if we continue to ignore the flaws of our socioeconomic approach, while also revealing the bright and expansive future possible if we succeed. Will you join the movement?

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CHANGE: ORGANISING TOMORROW TODAY * Jay Naidoo * 9781776091805 * PB * £9.99 * Penguin * May

Unless there is significant change, the world is heading for an explosion. The growing gap between rich and poor is dangerous and unsustainable. The plundering of resources is damaging our planet. Something has to be done. In this book, Jay Naidoo harnesses his experience as a labour union organiser, government minister, social entrepreneur and global thought leader, and explores ways of olving some of the world s biggest problems. Drawing from his experiences in South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh and other countries, he presents a variety of options for ending poverty and global warming, with a focus on organising in our communities and building change from below and beyond borders. Naidoo s message is unequivocal: significant action must be taken immediately if we want future generations to live in a world that we take for granted today.

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ISLAMOPHOBIA * Narzanin Massoumi, Tom Mills, David M. Miller (Eds) * 9780745399577 * PB * £17.99 * Pluto Press * May

As racist undercurrents in many western societies become manifestly entrenched, the prevalence of Islamophobia – and the need to understand what perpetuates it – has never been greater. Critiquing the arguments found in notionally left accounts and addressing the limitations of existing responses, What is Islamophobia? demonstrates that Islamophobia is not simply a product of abstract, or discursive, ideological processes, but of concrete social, political and cultural actions undertaken in the pursuit of certain interests. The book centres on what the editors refer to as the ‘five pillars of Islamophobia’: the institutions and machinery of the state; the far right, incorporating the counterjihad movement; the neoconservative movement; the transnational Zionist movement; and assorted liberal groupings including the pro-war left, and the new atheist movement. The book concludes with reflections on existing strategies for tackling Islamophobia, considering what their distinctive approaches mean for fighting back.

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You can also check out great Fiction, Children’s Books and Graphic Novels by month on our 2017 highlights pages via the links below!

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