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Geographical’s pick of the books: May

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Geographical’s pick of the books: May
27 May
Read on for our reviews of some of the latest non-fiction books to hit the shelves


ECOPIETY: Green Media and the Dilemma of Environmental Virtue by Sarah McFarland Taylor

Ecopiety is in vogue. ‘Helping the environment’, ‘Going green’, and other bland expressions serve to refer to the act of changing one’s own behaviour – diets, shopping habits, travel plans, among other things – to something more virtuous, with climate change and other environmental crises in mind. In Sarah McFarland Taylor’s new book, these acts of ecopiety are exposed as microscopically positive, but as essentially meaningless when faced with the global scale problem they seek to combat.

Click here to read the full review

The self delusion

THE SELF DELUSION: The Surprising Science of How We Are Connected and Why That Matters by Tom Oliver

Welcome to the ‘self’: a conscious and subjective experience arising from variform configurations of neurons, electrical currents and chemical transmissions in our nervous systems – in other words, an illusion. We have been hoodwinked into the belief that we are unchanging entities at the centre of existence, prioritising our sense of individualism for the survival of our genes. Through his new book, Tom Oliver unravels this illusion to reveal an infinitely more connected and flowing world.

Click here to read the full review


SLOWDOWN: The End of the Great Acceleration and Why it’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives by Danny Dorling

This is not a book about change itself, rather the ‘change in the change’. World population may well be rising, explains Dorling, but what is crucial is that it is rising more slowly than it used to be. Look far enough ahead and this means that at some point, it will stop rising altogether. To focus solely on the change is to miss a crucial trend, engender unnecessary panic and encourage all sorts of false assumptions. That trend is the slowdown.

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the incredible journey of plants


Plants have developed an extraordinary capacity to adapt as well as withstand adversity. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in Chernobyl. Following the nuclear disaster of 1986, more than 350,000 people were forced to relocate. Trees and other plant life remained, however, despite being heavily exposed to the radioactive fallout. In fact, they more than just remained – many flourished. In The Incredible Journey of Plants, a richly illustrated guide to some of the more eye-opening aspects of the plant kingdom, Mancuso explores the interlaced histories of plants and humankind.

Click here to read the full review

The hacker and the state

THE HACKER AND THE STATE: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics by Ben Buchanan

‘Today one of the primary ways governments shape geopolitics is by hacking other countries.’ This is perhaps a bold statement but the plethora of examples recounted in this book illustrates how devastating cyber-attacks, affecting both the public and private spheres, have begun to animate a contemporary digital battleground between states. Through an examination of espionage, attack and destabilisation, Ben Buchanan demonstrates how this field has evolved from espionage operations and a field dominated by the United States to cyber-attacks that have broader implications for economies and societies – increasingly becoming ‘the new normal of geopolitics’.

Click here to read the full review

climate change and the nation state

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE NATION STATE: The Case for Nationalism in a Warming World by Anatol Lieven

What would happen if we treated climate change as a war? If nation states deemed this ecological crisis the largest national security threat to their people and their power? That’s what international relations academic Anatol Lieven asks us to consider in his controversial new book on how to combat the socio-political impact of a warming world. Lieven provides an energizing new voice on our climate crisis and a blueprint that, if not perfect, then at least offers a pragmatic outline of how actual communities, rather than imagined ones, can combat this very real and urgent threat.

Click here to read the full review

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