Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns The Future is a thoughtful, considered and philosophical analysis of the reality of technology’s place and the impact it has currently in our world, and what that impact and role may be in the future. It is sometimes frightening, at the very least concerning, but always vital and peerless in the way this book exposes the often unconsidered reality at the heart of the rise of the machines we are experiencing today.
Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski, is an excellent and unique book offering an unparalleled insight into life in the former Soviet empire, and life in the current Russia and former Soviet-bloc states. Growing up as a Pole from where is currently Byelorussia, Ryszard is ideally positioned to commentate and annotate life under the former Soviet regime. He is an exceptional, if not the most exceptional, proponent of “travel reportage” in any case, and here he works on reportage from an area he clearly has massive emotional attachment to.
Jerusalem – The Biography, from the pen of Simon Sebag Montefiore, is a fittingly epic work chronicling the history of the city of Jerusalem. As you would expect from the author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, which was the most impressively researched biography I have ever come across, pieced together as it was solely from the actual correspondence of Stalin and his cohorts, this “biography” of Jerusalem is an incredibly well researched and authoritative account of this mystical city from approximately 1000 B.C through to present times.
It is a brave undertaking, as the sweep of history covered in this book is truly immense. Helpfully though, the author has employed a novel approach here, in that he treats Jerusalem as a biographical subject, and that Jerusalem acts effectively as a witness to the historical events that occur throughout this broad expanse of history. This keeps the historical focus squarely on events impacting Jerusalem, and acts as a sort of historical filter. This device works very well for the most part, and despite there being a few flaws with it, the reader is richly rewarded with not just a detailed, thorough, exciting and vibrant history of this city, but also having read it will likely emerge with an illuminated and refreshed view of world history in general.
The central thesis of How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly–and the Stark Choices Ahead, Dambiso Moyo’s latest offering, may come as an interesting theoretical shock to some people, may seem inevitable to others, and may be rejected outright by others. Her argument is that the West as we know it, particularly the United States, is fated to lose the economic “battle” with China and the other major emergent economies, and sooner rather than later the roles of “the West” and “the Rest” as they currently are, will be reversed.
The New Nobility – The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB, is a book that delivers exactly what its title promises. This is a very brave work, written in English by Russian journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan. I don’t say “brave” lightly, when you consider the fate of so many Russian journalists, lawyers or human rights activists who dare challenge or question Putin’s establishment in today’s Russia. Indeed, reading a little online about the authors, they have experienced their share of harassment prior to authoring this work, including involuntary “visits” to Lefortovo prison – one hopes that this literary work will not be used as an excuse for more of the same against them.
The Greatest Trade Ever – How One Man Bet Against the Markets and Made $20 Billion, by Gregory Zuckerman.