In 1949 Mao Zedong hoisted the red flag over Beijing’s Forbidden City. Instead of liberating the country, the communists destroyed the old order and replaced it with a repressive system that would dominate every aspect of Chinese life. In an epic of revolution and violence which draws on newly opened party archives, interviews and memoirs, Frank Dikötter interweaves the stories of millions of ordinary people with the brutal politics of Mao’s court. A gripping account of how people from all walks of life were caught up in a tragedy that sent at least five million civilians to their deaths.
Taken from Bloomsbury
Aditya Chakrabortty is economics leader writer and columnist for the Guardian. He has previously worked as a senior producer on the BBC Ten o’clock News and on Newsnight. He has also written for the Telegraph, the Financial Times, the FT Magazine, and the New Statesman.
The Welfare State, 1942-2013 Obituary: after decades of public illness, Beveridge’s most famous offspring has died – The Guardian, 08/01/2013
This is a dangerous time to push the property market. The chancellor won’t invest – yet he’s happy for us to – The Guardian, 25/03/2013
I once called Richard Branson a carpetbagger. The truth is, he is even more subsidy-hungry than I thought – The Guardian, 10/06/2013
Long hours and low pay – the story of the woman who nearly died making your iPad – The Guardian, 05/08/2013
Police are cracking down on students – but what possible threat to law and order is an over-articulate history graduate? – The Guardian, 18/11/2013
Outside looking in: how the UK trails the world on a great British invention – The Guardian, 03/12/2013
Aditya Chakrabortty on twitter
In The British Dream, David Goodhart tells the story of post-war immigration and charts a course for its future. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with people from all over the country and a wealth of statistical evidence, he paints a striking picture of how Britain has been transformed by immigration and examines the progress of its ethnic minorities – projected to be around 25 per cent of the population by the early 2020s.
Britain today is a more open society for minorities than ever before, but it is also a more fragmented one. Goodhart argues that an overzealous multiculturalism has exacerbated this problem by reinforcing difference instead of promoting a common life. The multi-ethnic success of Team GB at the 2012 Olympics and a taste for chicken tikka masala are not, he suggests, sufficient to forge common bonds; Britain needs a political culture of integration.
Goodhart concludes that if Britain is to avoid a narrowing of the public realm and sharply segregated cities, as in many parts of the US, its politicians and opinion leaders must do two things. Firstly, as advocated by the centre right, they need to bring immigration down to more moderate and sustainable levels. Secondly, as advocated by the centre left, they need to shape a progressive national story about openness and opportunity – one that captures how people of different traditions are coming together to make the British dream.
Taken from Atlantic
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is an Iraqi journalist, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya. He is a Guardian foreign correspondent, and writes regularly for the London Review of Books.
How to Start a Battalion (in Five Easy Lessons) – London Review of Books, 21/02/2013
Diary – London Review of Books, 08/08/2013
Syria’s oilfields create surreal battle lines amid chaos and tribal loyalties – the Guardian, 25/06/2013
Syria’s al-Nusra Front – ruthless, organised and taking control – the Guardian, 10/07/2013
‘Syria is not a revolution any more – this is civil war’ – the Guardian, 18/11/2013
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad on twitter
Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore’s authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era.
Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supercedes all earlier books written about her. At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on. It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands. (This volume ends with the Falklands Dinner in Downing Street in November 1982.) Moore is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he does not shy away from criticising her or identifying weaknesses and mistakes where he feels it is justified. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher’s papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable, fully rounded portrait of a towering figure of our times.
Taken from Penguin
AA Gill is a writer and critic for the Sunday Times and Vanity Fair.
Welcome to death island – The Sunday Times Magazine, 08/12/2013
‘My family name means I had to go through a lot’ – The Sunday Times Magazine, 17/11/2013
Yet another one for the road – The Sunday Times Magazine, 29/12/2013
Long day’s journey into the night – The Sunday Times Magazine, 31/03/2013
AA Gill on twitter
Gideon Rachman became chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times in July 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. He also edited The Economist’s business and Asia sections. His particular interests include American foreign policy, the European Union and globalisation. He is the author of Zero-Sum World, published by Atlantic Books in November 2010. He was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for journalism in 2011.
America cannot live so carelessly forever – Financial times, 07/10/2013
Staying out of Syria is the bolder call for Obama – Financial Times, 13/05/2013
The Chinese dream is Smothered by Toxic Fog – Financial Times, 06/05/2013
Germany is a vegetarian in a world full of carnivores – Financial Times, 09/09/2013
Why I switched sides in the UK’s civil war over Europe – Financial Times, 20/05/2013
The Shadow of 1914 falls over the Pacific – Financial Times, 06/02/2013
Gideon Rachman on Twitter
Award-winning journalist James Fergusson is among the few to have witnessed at first hand the devastating reality of life in the failed and desperate state of Somalia.
This corner of the world has long been seen as the rotting and charred heart of Africa: a melting pot of crime, corruption, poverty, famine and civil war. And in recent years, whilst Somalia’s lucrative piracy industry has grabbed the headlines, a darker, much deeper threat has come of age: the Al Qaida-linked militants Al Shabaab, and the dawn of a new phase in the global war on terror.
Yet, paradoxically, Somalia’s star is brightening, as forms of business, law enforcement and local politics begin to establish themselves, and members of the vast Somali diaspora return to their homeland.
Fergusson takes us to the heart of the struggle, meeting everyone from politicians, pirates, extremists and mercenaries to aid workers, civilians and refugees. He gives a unique account of a country ravaged by war, considers what the future might hold for a generation who have grown up knowing little else and exposes the reality of life in this hard, often forgotten land.
Taken from Random House
Jonathan Freedland is a columnist at the Guardian. He also regularly writes for the New York Review of Books and the Jewish Chronicle. He also presents ‘The Long View’ on Radio 4, and writes novels under the pseudonym Sam Bourne.
He was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for journalism in 2007.
Marking Margaret Thatcher’s passing: a battle over Britain’s present and future – The Guardian, 09/04/2013
Antisemitism doesn’t always come doing a Hitler salute – The Guardian, 04/10/2013
Why even atheists should be praying for Pope Francis – The Guardian, 15/11/2013
Woolwich attack: When killers strike, should we listen to what they say? – The Guardian, 24/05/2013
In Britain today rules, like taxes, are for the little people – The Guardian, 12/07/2013
The Unknown Maggie – The New York Review of Books, 26/09/2013
In 1903 a Brahmin woman sailed from India to Guyana as a ‘coolie’, the name the British gave to the million indentured labourers they recruited for sugar plantations worldwide after slavery ended. The woman, who claimed no husband, was pregnant and travelling alone. A century later, her great-granddaughter embarks on a journey into the past, hoping to solve a mystery: what made her leave her country? And had she also left behind a man?
Gaiutra Bahadur, an American journalist, pursues traces of her great-grandmother over three continents. She also excavates the repressed history of some quarter of a million female coolies. Disparaged as fallen, many were runaways, widows or outcasts, and many migrated alone. Coolie Woman chronicles their epic passage from Calcutta to the Caribbean, from departures akin either to kidnap or escape, through sea voyages rife with sexploitation, to new worlds where women were in short supply. When they exercised the power this gave them, some fell victim to the machete, in brutal attacks, often fatal, by men whom they spurned. Sex with overseers both empowered and imperiled other women, in equal measure. It also precipitated uprisings, as a struggle between Indian men and their women intersected with one between coolies and their overlords.
Taken from Hurst Books
James Astill is Political editor and Bagehot columnist of the Economist. He has previously worked as International Security editor, South Asia correspondent, and Energy and Environment editor for the Economist.
Bagehot: The Weirdness of Eastleigh – The Economist, 23/02/2013
Bagehot: The Parable of the Clyde – The Economist, 31/08/2013
Bagehot: The New Islamophobes – The Economist, 19/10/2013
Bagehot: More Tough, Less Love – The Economist, 02/11/2013
Bagehot: Top of the Class – The Economist, 07/12/2013
Cockney Funerals: Buried Like Kings – The Economist, 21/12/2013
Alan Johnson’s childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all…
This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan’s mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child.
Played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, the story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the Swinging 60s, to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.
This Boy is one man’s story, but it is also a story of England and the West London slums which are so hard to imagine in the capital today. No matter how harsh the details, Alan Johnson writes with a spirit of generous acceptance, of humour and openness which makes his book anything but a grim catalogue of miseries.
Taken from Random House
Mary Riddell is a columnist for Daily Telegraph. A former deputy editor of Today, she has written for a number of national newspapers, including The Observer, on social, constitutional and foreign affairs, as well as covering criminal justice and Westminster politics. Her writing awards include Interviewer of the Year in the British Press Awards and a commendation in the feature-writing category. She has twice been named legal journalist of the year by the Bar Council and has previously been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism (2008).
Titanium Ed And The Iron Lady – Daily Telegaph, 16/04/2013
Is Ed Miliband caught in a trap on Syria? – Daily Telegraph, 18/06/2013
The NHS is not a creaking relic – Daily Telegraph, 16/07/2013
The housing crisis needs new towns – Daily Telegraph, 15/10/2013
The silent majority and immigration – Daily Telegraph, 12/10/2013
What Obama’s deal with Iran can teach us – Daily Telegraph, 26/11/2013
In 1986, Kris Maharaj, a British businessman living in Miami, was arrested for the brutal murder of two ex-business associates. His lawyer did not present a strong alibi; Kris was found guilty and sentenced to death in the electric chair.
It wasn’t until a young lawyer working for nothing, Clive Stafford Smith, took on his case that strong evidence began to emerge that the state of Florida had got the wrong man on Death Row. So far, so good – except that, as Stafford Smith argues here so compellingly, the American justice system is actually designed to ignore innocence. Twenty-six years later, Maharaj is still in jail.
Step by step, Stafford Smith untangles the Maharaj case and the system that makes disasters like this inevitable. His conclusions will act as a wake-up call for those who condone legislation which threatens basic human rights and, at the same time, the personal story he tells demonstrates that determination can challenge the institutions that surreptitiously threaten our freedom.
Taken from Random House
A fearless, passionate veteran reporter of conflicts from around the world, Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin was killed in February 2012, covering the uprising in Syria from the besieged city of Homs. On the Front Line is a collection of her finest work, a portion of the proceeds from which will go to the Marie Colvin Memorial Fund.
Marie Colvin held a profound belief in the pursuit of truth, and the courage and humanity of her work was deeply admired. On the Front Line includes her various interviews with Yasser Arafat and Colonel Gadaffi; reports from East Timor in 1999 where she shamed the UN into protecting its refugees; accounts of her terrifying escape from the Russian army in Chechnya; and reports from the strongholds of the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers where she was hit by shrapnel, leaving her blind in one eye.
Typically, however, her new eye-patch only reinforced Colvin’s sense of humour and selfless conviction. She returned quickly to the front line, reporting on 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and, lately, the Arab Spring.
Immediate and compelling, On the Front Line is a street-view of the historic events that have shaped the last 25 years, from an award-winning foreign correspondent and the outstanding journalist of her generation.
Taken from HarperCollins
At fourteen, Richard Holloway left his home in the Vale of Leven, north of Glasgow, and travelled hundreds of miles to be educated and trained for the priesthood by a religious order in an English monastery. By twenty-five he had been ordained and was working in the slums of Glasgow. Throughout the following forty years, Richard touched the lives of many people in the Church and in the wider community. But behind his confident public face lay a restless, unquiet heart and a constantly searching mind.
Why is the Church, which claims to be the instrument of God’s love, so prone to cruelty and condemnation? And how can a man live with the tension between public faith and private doubt?
In his long-awaited memoir, Richard seeks to answer these questions and to explain how, after many crises of faith, he finally and painfully left the Church. It is a wise, poetic and fiercely honest book.
Taken from Canongate