Suggestions for future sustainable book club reads can be found here.
Here’s what I fancy reading
Books I have read and recommend – click on the title to find out more…
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Knopf, September 2009). and “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity” (Knopf, September 2014).
1989 Tiananmen Square protests. After covering the protests, which resulted in some 500 deaths, Kristof and WuDunn were shocked to learn that roughly 39,000 Chinese girls died each year because they were not given the same access to food and medical care as boys. Yet WuDunn and Kristof could not find coverage of these deaths, even though they were far more numerous than the casualties at Tiananmen Square. That led them to dig deeper into questions of gender, Kristof said. Half the Sky covers topics such as sex trafficking and forced prostitution, contemporary slavery, gender-based violence, and rape as a weapon of war and method of justice, as it shines light on the multitude of ways women are oppressed and violated in the world.
When talking green issues it is easy to get befuddled by science, confused by poor reporting and so unsure who to belive. I find a quick dose of Ben helps to ground me.
“Ben Goldacre’s wise and witty bestseller, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, lifts the lid on quack doctors, flaky statistics, scaremongering journalists and evil pharmaceutical corporations.
Since 2003 Dr Ben Goldacre has been exposing dodgy medical data in his popular Guardian column. In this eye-opening book he takes on the MMR hoax and misleading cosmetics ads, acupuncture and homeopathy, vitamins and mankind’s vexed relationship with all manner of ‘toxins’.”
“The book has generated 10-years-worth of boisterous discussion on amazon.com (187 reviews, as I write), which (should you be short of time) I will now summarise for you.
The Nays say that Mr. Manchester’s account is unscholarly, inaccurate, sloppy, prejudiced and uses out-of-date sources.
The Yeas say that, be that as it may, Mr. Manchester makes a damned good story of it.
After due consideration, I find both for the prosecution and for the defence.”
Interesting, thought-provoking, unbelievable at times but always fun. But always a reminder of how important many of our social structures are in maintaining a relatively peaceful and fairer society.
Niall Ferguson’s Civilization: The Six Killer Apps of Western Power
So how did we get to where we did…. this is an interesting read….
In 1412, Europe was a miserable backwater ravaged by plague, bad sanitation and incessant war, while the Orient was home to dazzling civilizations. So how did the West come to dominate the Rest? In this vital, brilliant book, selected as a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year, Niall Ferguson reveals the ‘killer applications’ that did it:
I think there is always hope and I believe the world is improving. If you think I am being too Pollyanna and feel really depressed about the human condition,( and let’s face being green can get you like that), I recommend this book.
“Tribal warfare was nine times as deadly as war and genocide in the 20th century. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than thirty times what it is today. Slavery, sadistic punishments, and frivolous executions were unexceptionable features of life for millennia, then were suddenly abolished. Wars between developed countries have vanished, and even in the developing world, wars kill a fraction of the numbers they did a few decades ago. Rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, child abuse―all substantially down.
Pinker argues that the key to explaining the decline of violence is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away.”