‘I don’t think there’s a trade publishing house producing high-calibre, serious non-fiction of the quality and variety of Yale.’
– Sam Leith
It’s officially autumn, and with the Frankfurt Book Fair around the corner and Yale’s spring 2016 list of books just announced, this seems like a good moment to look back at some favourite publications of the year so far. From Richard Cockett’s indispensable survey of Burma – a must read as we approach the Myanmar elections – to The National Gallery, London’s stunning catalogue to Goya: The Portraits, our seasonal selection features history, science, art and a bit of fiction too!
Blood, Dreams and Gold by Richard Cockett
With a ceasefire in place, and Myanmar elections scheduled for 8 November, Richard Cockett’s Blood, Dreams and Gold is key reading for understanding the political background of one of the most volatile countries in South East Asia. Exploring Burmese history from the colonial era onwards, Cockett’s uniquely personal take is the most rounded survey to date of this Asian nation and its fickle fortunes.
Humans Need Not Apply by Jerry Kaplan
The not-so-distant prospect of robotic intelligence playing an increasingly major role in modern life, and how to control this phenomenon, has been hotly debated in recent months. Heavyweights Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates have contributed to the discussion, claiming there could be perilous consequences of making our machines too smart. Jerry Kaplan’s Humans Need Not Apply arrives just in time to offer insight and guide readers through the rapids of this developing issue.
‘A reminder that AI systems don’t need red laser eyes to be dangerous.’
– John Gilbey, Times Higher Education Supplement
Goya: The Portraits Distributed for The National Gallery, London
‘Striking and often unforgiving, Goya’s portraits demonstrate his daringly unconventional approach and remarkable skill at capturing the psychology of his sitters.’ (The National Gallery). From 7 October 2015 to 10 January 2016 the National Gallery, London will host the blockbuster show Goya: The Portraits. The accompanying catalogue is the first large-scale book devoted to Goya’s portraiture and provides an extensive synopsis of the painter’s life and works.
Hospitality and Islam: Welcoming in God’s Name by Mona Siddiqui
Bringing together ideas from classical Islamic thought, Western philosophies and modern ethics, Mona Siddiqui – a commentator and author noted for her work on interfaith and intercultural dialogue – offers a groundbreaking examination of hospitality and its crucial importance both within Islam and beyond.
Dirty Old London by Lee Jackson
Lee Jackson’s Dirty Old London had a fantastic first showing. The Times called it ‘a tightly argued, meticulously researched history’ whilst the London Evening Standard hailed it as ‘thoroughly absorbing’. The paperback is released this month – a great opportunity to brush up on your dirty old history if you missed it the first time. Jackson also wrote the ‘30 Days of Filth’ blog tour for Yale, which is available to browse online.
‘This is a tightly argued, meticulously researched history of sanitation that reads like a novel.’ – Paula Byrne, The Times
The Last Lover by Can Xue
‘Can Xue commands a truly unique voice.’ – Boyd Tonkin, Independent
Pagan Britain by Ronald Hutton
‘Although this is a work of great scholarship it is also an accessible and enjoyable account of a major part of the history of Britain. Greatly recommended.’
– John Rimmer, Magonia
Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch
‘An oxygenated account that blows fresh air on Swift, the most readable account in recent times.’
— Brean Hammond, History Today