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Geographical's top ten books of 2021 Featured

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Geographical's top ten books of 2021
01 Dec
2021
Our pick of the 10 best books of 2021 

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THE POWER OF GEOGRAPHY: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World by Tim Marshall

In the sequel to his bestselling Prisoners of Geography, Tim Marshall returns to explore ten regions that are set to shape global politics in the decades to come. Each of the chapters (which focus on Australia, Ethiopia, Greece, Iran,  the Sahel, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and space) introduces the reader to the geographical features that have shaped each country’s past and present, before turning to the future. Tackling key issues of climate change, religion and access to resources, The Power of Geography is an accessible, information-rich introduction to today’s geopolitics.

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DONT BE EVIL

DON'T BE EVIL: The Case Against Big Tech by Rana Foroohar

Journalist Rana Foroohar takes a skeptical look at the tech giants, examining how these once pioneering and sometimes idealistic start-ups became the monopolies they are today, each with enough power to threaten our democracy and the global economy. Don’t Be Evil, which takes its name from Google’s original corporate mantra, thoroughly explores the dark side of digital technology  – surveillance, the loss of privacy, and the spread of misinformation – in a way that may leave readers worries, but better informed.

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Under a white sky

UNDER A WHITE SKY: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert examines the myriad of ways humans are looking to solve the unintended consequences of our own attempts to control nature. These interventions are innovative and often unbelievable; in a chapter on geoengineering, Kolbert discusses the idea of spraying tiny, sun reflecting particles high into the air, which would keep the planet cool while turning the sky from blue to white. It’s one of many, sometimes frightening, stories that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author shares to illustrate how everything in our ecosystems is interconnected, and how much we’ve already meddled with the natural world.

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Chasing the thrill

CHASING THE THRILL: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America's Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt by Daniel Barbarisi

When an eccentric millionaire art dealer is diagnosed with cancer and plots to publish a cryptic poem that offers clues to the whereabouts of a hidden chest full of gold, it sets off a decade-long treasure hunt. In Chasing the Thrill, Daniel Barbarisi maps out the manic quest that brought thousands to scour the mountains of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, often leading them to tragic outcomes. Interspersing other historic tales of treasure-hunting, this is a full-throttle adventure tale set to the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

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FREE Coming of Age edited

FREE: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi

In her memoir about her life in Albania, once one of the most isolated countries on earth and the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, Lea Ypi writes about what it was like growing up in a country that changed almost overnight. As statues topple, Ypi tries to make sense of her new world, while questioning the true nature of this new found freedom. Free is a rare and nuanced glimpse into the history of Albania, offering the personal perspective of a childhood spent in the shadow of an oppressive regime, and the long and turbulent transition that came after.

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RACE FOR TOMORROW by Simon Mundy

RACE FOR TOMORROW: Survival, Innovation and Profit on the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis by Simon Mundy

Simon Mundy’s whirlwind tour of the front lines of the climate crisis takes us through 26 countries on six continents, introducing the people and communities struggling to adapt to a changing world. Race for Tomorrow covers the lesser known stories alongside ones that readers may have heard about elsewhere, with a dedication to highlighting individual voices – even the man behind the faceless, deforestation-driving, meat-processing giant JBS. Mundy’s key takeaway is the importance of adaptability, an attitude that will need to be embraced by all of us in the years to come.

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Empireland

EMPIRELAND: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sathnam Sanghera

Empireland is a darkly illuminating account of the often hidden history of the Empire, and how it still shapes modern British identity and culture. Sathnam Sanghera’s admission of his own ignorance ahead of starting the book is one that will resonate with many British readers whose historic education was reduced to World Wars and the wives of Henry VIII. In his book he argues that learning about and accepting our imperial past, which has influenced everything from the NHS to Brexit, is fundamental to understanding what it means to be British today.

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Heartbeat of Iran resized

THE HEARTBEAT OF IRAN: Real Voices of a Country and Its People by Tara Kangarlou

The Heartbeat of Iran presents the colourful and complex, but little-heard, stories of Iran’s people, typically overshadowed by the darker image of the country often depicted in the news. Tara Kangarlou introduces some of Iran’s better-known residents, including Laleh Seddigh, the country’s first female racing car driver, alongside more ordinary people – the blind Sunni environmental activist, and the gay son of an army general. Each story pieces together parts of the country’s history, while also painting a portrait of modern Iranian life.

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Finding the Mother Tree

FINDING THE MOTHER TREE: Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forest by Suzanne Simhard

Taking on the role of a ‘forest detective’, Suzanne Simard challenges the short-sighted logging and management practices that threaten the long-term survival of forests. Part memoir, part science, her book reveals the ground-breaking discovery of the expansive fungal networks – ‘mycorrhiza’ – that plants use to cooperate and communicate and, without which, many would not survive. Finding the Mother Tree is a passionate and inspiring read that shows how storytelling can be used to engage new audiences with science.

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Life on earth resized

A (VERY) SHORT HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters by Henry Gee

In A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth, Henry Gee neatly and conveniently condenses the mind-boggling complexity of the last 4.6 billion years of life into an easily digestible 234 pages. Starting 100 million years after the planet first formed, he zips through the many evolutionary breakthroughs that follow and, although packed with information, the book avoids ever becoming overwhelming. Gee adeptly paints us the big picture while describing how the many species and environments have shaped one another over time.

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