The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

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Read 26/01/2020-14/02/2020

Rating 3 stars

Jonathan Haidt wrote The Righteous Mind in 2012, four years before many of us finally became aware that the political world had tilted on its axis and everything we thought we understood about the democratic process had unravelled. Haidt, it’s true, had pinpointed the change as starting in the 1990s, but for many of us, 2016 was Year Zero. Continue reading

Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men

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Read 14/12/2019-04/01/2020

Rating 4 stars

I found Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women a difficult read. It’s essential in its content and the topics Perez shines a light on, but I found its wide ranging subject and the approach Perez takes in evidencing and unpicking the topics she focuses on resulted in a somewhat dense, exhausting book. It relentlessly raises lots of issues across 300+ pages but leaves any possible solutions to the final dozen. It felt at times like one woman railing against injustice rather than a practical call to arms across society.

The book begins with a simple statement. Continue reading

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War

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Read 24/11/2019-12/12/2019

Rating 4 stars

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse legacies of the Cold War is a collection of academic essays on the material culture of the Cold War and a multidisciplinary approach to its history. It makes a case for the influence that the Cold War has had on the world, from the domestic lives of those living under its psychological shadow in Europe and the USA, to those living alongside nuclear power stations (also sites of manufacture of weapons grade nuclear material) and nuclear test sites. It takes in archaeology, history, art, architecture and cultural studies in its examination of material culture and what that material culture can tell us about something that has been hidden behind military classification for so long. Continue reading

Escape from Earth: A secret history of the space rocket

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Read 09/11/2019-24/11/2019

Rating 4 stars

Fraser MacDonald’s debut is a fascinating account of the birth of rocket science and space exploration. It’s a hidden history brought to light thanks to MacDonald’s interest in unlocking public records that governments have deemed secret.

This is a history of a group of people who came together in 1930s California, as Fascism was taking hold in Europe. Some were the children of immigrants, others were immigrants themselves, fleeing the persecution building across the Atlantic ocean. At the heart of the group is a scientist called Frank Malina. He was researching at the same time as Robert Oppenheimer, but he isn’t as well known as Oppenheimer, because he has been largely written out of the history of rocket science. Continue reading

Ring the Hill

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Read 01/11/2019-09/11/2019

Rating 5 stars

Ring the Hill is a walking book, a history book, a nature book, a folklore book and a book about contemporary Britain viewed through a lens that seems to have almost disappeared from most other media. Tom Cox celebrates the little observed quirks of human nature that thread through the story of the British Isles, and in particular the South West corner of England. The story of Britain is a sprawling one, influenced by the landscape as much as by the doings of its inhabitants. Cox weaves together the folklore of our physical landscape with the ways in which we humans across history have tried to best that landscape.

Continue reading

Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime

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Read 06/07/2019-16/07/2019

Rating 4 stars

Read as part of the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

I read Hold Tight as someone who isn’t strictly a fan but who likes the Grime I’ve heard and wanted to know more about its artists and evolution. I’m aware that this review might not be of interest to most of the readers who regularly follow my meandering thoughts on what I’m reading. However, if you’re even vaguely interested in the sociology of working class culture and the music genres that emerge from it, then give this review and the book it’s about a chance. For anyone black, urban and millennial dropping by, please be aware that this review is going to be a bit like the bromance between Michael Buerke and Tinchy Stryder on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Continue reading