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Geographical's pick of the books: March 2021

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Geographical's pick of the books: March 2021
31 Mar
2021
March's top non-fiction reads

Empireland

BOOK OF THE MONTH – EMPIRELAND: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera

Journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera received a warped education when it came to the British Empire. Growing up within Wolverhampton’s Sikh community (at a time when the legacy of Enoch Powell as MP was still being felt), while also attending a prestigious independent school, made for mixed messages. But worse than these mixed messages was the overwhelming lack of any messages at all. Sanghera is honest about how ignorant he was before embarking on this book, an ignorance shared by many Brits whose historic education favoured the World Wars and the wives of Henry VIII.

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How to avoid a climate disaster

HOW TO AVOID A CLIMATE DISASTER: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates

Think of any of the world’s problems, from carbon emissions to energy poverty, novel disease outbreaks to age-old neglected ailments, and chances are that Bill Gates has tried to resolve them. Right now, he’s investing heavily in zero-carbon technologies. Carbon emissions aren’t just attributable to certain products or behaviours – they are ubiquitous, embedded deep within the supply chains of everything we do and interact with. This mind-boggling complexity has perhaps hindered climate progress and stoked a justifiable sense of catastrophe. That is why Gates, with the calculating mind of an engineer, is here to dissect the problem.  

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Border Wars

BORDER WARS: The Conflicts that will Define Our Future by Klaus Dodds

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, once easily-navigated borders have been hastily closed, grinding international mobility to a standstill. In such a context, this book could hardly be more timely. Borders, especially between nation-states, might feel like concrete entities, but Klaus Dodds is keen to emphasise that often, this isn’t the case. Casting his geopolitical eye upon fragmented hotspots such as Cyprus, Jerusalem, Georgia and Kashmir, he underlines the realpolitik of the world’s borders as entities that are both contested and (at least in normal times) surprisingly fluid.

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islands of abandonment

ISLANDS OF ABANDONMENT: Life in the Post-Human Landscape by Cal Flyn

Cal Flyn takes us to ‘some of the eeriest and most desolate places on Earth’. We encounter passenger jets rusting on the runway; a clearing in the woods so poisoned with arsenic that no trees can grow; a dwindling sea, whose deserted shoreline is littered with the bones of fish that once swam in its waters. Be it natural disaster, disease or economic deterioration, these grim realities are invariably the result of human neglect.

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Heavy Light

HEAVY LIGHT: A Journey through Madness, Mania & Healing by Horatio Clare

Clare has always been frank about his mental health and all of his books are shot through with wise insights into the human condition, miraculous, murky or mercurial as it may be. Heavy Light finds him in deep waters from the start.

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Love is an ex country

LOVE IS AN EX-COUNTRY by Randa Jarrar

This was never going to be an ordinary road trip. The Arab American academic and cultural provocateur Randa Jarrar was never going to simply drive around America taking in the usual sights. Instead she uses the opportunity to explore her identity and the hurt she’s experienced as a queer, Muslim, plus-size woman in an empire ruled over by Trump. The result is a thrilling, tender roar of a read about aching to be safe and seen. 

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