The Baillie Gifford Prize

  • BPLNI
    • £16.00
    • RRP £20.00
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    The gripping story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union from an acclaimed historian and writer On the morning of 26 April 1986 Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history: the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine. The outburst put the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation. In the end, less than five percent of the reactor's fuel escaped, but that was enough to contaminate over half of Europe with radioactive fallout. In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy recreates these events in all of their drama, telling the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon and succeeded in doing the seemingly impossible: extinguishing the nuclear inferno and putting the reactor to sleep. While it is clear that the immediate cause of the accident was a turbine test gone wrong, Plokhy shows how the deeper roots of Chernobyl lay in the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry. A little more than five years later, the Soviet Union would fall apart, destroyed from within by its unsustainable communist ideology and the dysfunctional managerial and economic systems laid bare in the wake of the disaster. A poignant, fast paced account of the drama of heroes, perpetrators, and victims, Chernobyl is the definitive history of the world's worst nuclear disaster.
  • BPYWX
    • £20.00
    • RRP £25.00
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    When Britain declared war on China in 1839, it sealed the fate of what had been, for centuries, the wealthiest and most powerful empire in the world.China was much weaker than was commonly understood and the war set in motion the fall of the Qing dynasty which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the twentieth century. Beginning with the very first efforts by the British government to 'open' China to trade, Stephen Platt tells the epic story of the decades leading up to the war and, given the growing uncertainty in current relations between China and the West, shows how the conflict still has important implications for the world today.
  • BQWOO
    • £15.19
    • RRP £18.99
    • Save £3.80Save 20.00%
    Chosen as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week, Hello World has been praised as "one of the best books yet written on data and algorithms" by The Times and is authored by Professor of mathematics at University College London, Hannah Fry.

    You are accused of a crime. But who would you rather determined your fate - a human or an algorithm? An algorithm is less prone to error of judgment and is much more consistent. Meanwhile, a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence.

    Join Hannah's tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us in life. How much should we rely on them? And how might they change in the future when machines rule supreme - in healthcare, transport, finance, security and much more...
  • BRGXF
    • £16.99
    • RRP £25.00
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    From the multimillion-copy bestselling author of Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, this thrilling Cold War story has been shortlisted for the 2018 Ballie Gifford Prize and has been praised as "a timely and insightful page-turner" by Publishers Weekly.

    It's a warm evening in July 1985 and a man is stood on a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow with a plastic carrier bag. Dressed in a grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of the British supermarket Safeway.

    The man was a spy for MI6. As a senior KGB officer, he has supplied his British spymasters with a stream of secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The bag itself was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia.

    And so began one of the most extraordinary episodes in the history of espionage...
  • BROBG
    • £20.00
    • RRP £25.00
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    She Has Her Mother's Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities . . . But, Zimmer argues, heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors - using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates - but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it. Weaving together historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.
  • BRPPB
    • £11.99
    • RRP £14.99
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    In this ground-breaking new book, Thomas Page McBee, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience of boxing - learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body - McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes and the limitations of conventional masculinity. A wide-ranging exploration of gender in our society, Amateur is ultimately a story of hope, as McBee traces a way forward: a new masculinity, inside the ring and out of it. A graceful and uncompromising exploration of living, fighting and healing, in Amateur we gain insight into the stereotypes and shifting realities of masculinity today through the eyes of a new man.
  • BRVXE
    • £19.99
    • RRP £24.99
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    Penguin presents the audio CD edition of The Spy and the Traitor written and read by Ben Macintyre. A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket. The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever. . . 'THE BEST TRUE SPY STORY I HAVE EVER READ' JOHN LE CARRE
  • AXAVD
    • £20.00
    • RRP £25.00
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    The Islamic Enlightenment: a contradiction in terms? The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise, reform and adapt. But, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has in fact been transformed by modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy. Who were the scholars and scientists, writers and politicians that brought about these remarkable changes? And why is their legacy now under threat? Beginning with the dramatic collision of East and West following Napoleon's arrival in Egypt, and taking us through 200 tumultuous years of Middle Eastern history, Christopher de Bellaigue, introduces us to key figures and reformers; from Egypt's visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals like Iran's first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn and the writer Ibrahim Sinasi, who transformed Ottoman Turkey's language and literature. This book tells the forgotten story of the Islamic Enlightenment. It shows us how to look beyond sensationalist headlines to foster a genuine understanding of modern Islam and Muslim culture, and is essential reading for anyone engaged with the state of the world today.
  • AXLTO
    • £11.99
    • RRP £14.99
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    'When I am disturbed, even angry, gardening has been a therapy. When I don't want to talk I turn to Plot 29, or to a wilder piece of land by a northern sea. There, among seeds and trees, my breathing slows; my heart rate too. My anxieties slip away.' As a young boy in 1960s Plymouth, Allan Jenkins and his brother, Christopher, were rescued from their care home and fostered by an elderly couple. There, the brothers started to grow flowers in their riverside cottage. They found a new life with their new mum and dad. As Allan grew older, his foster parents were never quite able to provide the family he and his brother needed, but the solace he found in tending a small London allotment echoed the childhood moments when he grew nasturtiums from seed. Over the course of a year, Allan digs deeper into his past, seeking to learn more about his absent parents. Examining the truths and untruths that he'd been told, he discovers the secrets to why the two boys were in care. What emerges is a vivid portrait of the violence and neglect that lay at the heart of his family. A beautifully written, haunting memoir, Plot 29 is a mystery story and meditation on nature and nurture. It's also a celebration of the joy to be found in sharing food and flowers with people you love.
  • BCWES
    • £13.59
    • RRP £16.99
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    Reni Eddo-Lodge's award-winning first book is a must-have handbook for anyone looking to understand race relations in Britain today.

    In 2014, journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog piece entitled 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race' and her powerful words went viral. She received floods of comments from people desperate to speak up about their experiences with race in Britain, causing her to open the discussion and to dig into the sources of these feeling.

    Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism.
  • BHAYX
    • £19.89
    • RRP £25.00
    • Save £5.11Save 19.999999999999998721023075631819665431976318359375%
    The momentous new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain. In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events. The book draws on a mass of archival material and first-hand testimony only available since the end of the Soviet Union, as well as the work of Ukrainian scholars all over the world. It includes accounts of the famine by those who survived it, describing what human beings can do when driven mad by hunger. It shows how the Soviet state ruthlessly used propaganda to turn neighbours against each other in order to expunge supposedly 'anti-revolutionary' elements. It also records the actions of extraordinary individuals who did all they could to relieve the suffering. The famine was rapidly followed by an attack on Ukraine's cultural and political leadership - and then by a denial that it had ever happened at all. Census reports were falsified and memory suppressed. Some western journalists shamelessly swallowed the Soviet line; others bravely rejected it, and were undermined and harassed. The Soviet authorities were determined not only that Ukraine should abandon its national aspirations, but that the country's true history should be buried along with its millions of victims. Red Famine, a triumph of scholarship and human sympathy, is a milestone in the recovery of those memories and that history. At a moment of crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it also shows how far the present is shaped by the past.
  • BIBBT
    • £10.39
    • RRP £12.99
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    The riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts. Not since the publication of Randy Shilts's now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms. Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider's account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practiced worldwide.
  • BJBHO
    • £20.00
    • RRP £25.00
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    Edward Lear's poems follow and break the rules. They abide by the logic of syntax, the linking of rhyme and the dance of rhythm, and these "Nonsenses" are full of joy - yet set against darkness. Where do these human-like animals and birds and these odd adventures - some gentle, some violent, some musical, some wild - come from? His many drawings that accompany his verse are almost hyper-real, as if he wants to free the creatures from the page. They exist nowhere else in literature, springing only from Lear's imagination. Lear lived all his life on the borders of rules and structures, of disciplines and desires. He vowed to ignore politics yet trembled with passionate sympathies. He depended on patrons and moved in establishment circles, yet he never belonged among them and mocked imperial attitudes. He loved men yet dreamed of marriage - but remained, it seems, celibate, wrapped in himself. Even in his family he was marginal, at once accepted and rejected. Surrounded by friends, he was alone. If we follow him across land and sea - to Italy, Greece and Albania, to The Levant and Egypt and India - and to the borderlands of spirit and self, art and desire, can we see, in the end, if the nonsense makes sense? This is what Jenny Uglow has set sail to find out.