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Books by Richard Wilson
Since 1888, Rangers and Celtic football clubs have been locked into an intense and frequently explosive rivalry: Rangers the product of West Scotland's Protestant establishment, Celtic the team founded to raise money for the Catholic underclass of Glasgow. On 2 January 2010 the two teams met in the Old Firm's New Year Derby, a fixture that had been banned for ten years because of the trouble it brought with it. Richard Wilson puts that game at the centre of a book which delves into the history and widens out to the cultural resonance of the fixture within Scotland. It is a potent mix of close-up observation and big-picture thinking, with insight, understanding and depth.
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In Worldly Shakespeare Richard Wilson proposes that the universalism proclaimed in the name of Shakespeare's playhouse was tempered by his own worldliness, the performative idea that runs through his plays, that if 'All the world's a stage: then 'all the men and women in it' are 'merely players'. Situating this playacting in the context of current concerns about the difference between globalisation and mondialisation, the book considers how this drama offers itself as a model for a planet governed not according to universal toleration, but the right to offend: 'But with good will'. For when he asks us to think we 'have but slumbered' throughout his offensive plays, Wilson suggests, Shakespeare is presenting a drama without catharsis, which anticipates post-structuralist thinkers like Jacques Ranciere and Slavoj Ziiek, who insist the essence of democracy is dissent, and 'the presence of two worlds in one'. Living out his scenario of the guest who destroys the host, by welcoming the religious terrorist, paranoid queen, veiled woman, papist diehard or puritan fundamentalist into his play-world, Worldly Shakespeare concludes, the i dramatist instead provides a pretext-for our globalised communities in a time of Facebook and fatwa, as we also come to depend on the right to offend 'with our good will'.
Richard Wilson follows some of Britain's best drives from the Wye Valley to Rob Roy's Highlands, in this BBC TV tie-in. Back in the fifties, motoring was a liberating experience. Before motorways, traffic jams and road rage, the leisurely Sunday drive could be the highlight of the week. Now, armed with a driving guide from 1959, Richard Wilson has packed his picnic, flask and himself in to some very stylish period cars to retrace six classic routes through the UK and recreate the pleasure of the Golden Age of Motoring for BBC TV. Including the dramatic winding roads of the north Cornwall coast, to the lochs and peaks of the central Highlands and the bronze-age monoliths of the North Yorkshire Moors, Richard explores some of the most striking and beautiful scenery and landmarks Britain has to offer. Along the way he meets the people who live there and remember how these places once were, and wonders why things aren't what they used to be.
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Why is it that, time and again, intelligent, educated people end up falling for ideas that turn out on closer examination to be nonsense? We live in a supposedly rational age, yet crazy notions seem increasingly mainstream. New Age peddlers claim to cure Aids with vitamin tablets. Media gatekeepers stoke panic and regurgitate corporate press releases in the name of 'balance'. Wild-eyed men in sandwich boards blame it all on the CIA.Even the word 'sceptic' has been appropriated by cranks and conspiracy theorists bent on rewriting history and debunking sound science. But while it may be easier than ever for nonsense to spread, it's never been simpler to fight back. "Don't Get Fooled Again" offers practical tools for cutting through the claptrap and unravelling the spin - tackling propaganda, the psychology of deception, pseudo-news, bogus science, the weird cult of 'Aids reappraisal', numerous conspiracy theories (including the one about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq), and much more. Richard Wilson's book is user-friendly, enjoyable, shot through with polemic - and argues forcefully for a positive solution.