The Story of Spanish


Jean-Benoît Nadeau - 2013
    Full of surprises and honed in Nadeau and Barlow's trademark style, combining personal anecdote, reflections, and deep research, The Story of Spanish is the first full biography of a language that shaped the world we know, and the only global language with two names—Spanish and Castilian.The story starts when the ancient Phoenicians set their sights on "The Land of the Rabbits," Spain's original name, which the Romans pronounced as Hispania. The Spanish language would pick up bits of Germanic culture, a lot of Arabic, and even some French on its way to taking modern form just as it was about to colonize a New World. Through characters like Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus, Cervantes, and Goya, The Story of Spanish shows how Spain's Golden Age, the Mexican Miracle, and the Latin American Boom helped shape the destiny of the language. Other, more somber episodes, also contributed, like the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion of Spain's Jews, the destruction of native cultures, the political instability in Latin America, and the dictatorship of Franco.The Story of Spanish shows there is much more to Spanish than tacos, flamenco, and bullfighting. It explains how the United States developed its Hispanic personality from the time of the Spanish conquistadors to Latin American immigration and telenovelas. It also makes clear how fundamentally Spanish many American cultural artifacts and customs actually are, including the dollar sign, barbecues, ranching, and cowboy culture. The authors give us a passionate and intriguing chronicle of a vibrant language that thrived through conquests and setbacks to become the tongue of Pedro Almodóvar and Gabriel García Márquez, of tango and ballroom dancing, of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.

I Never Knew That About London


Christopher Winn - 2007
    Travelling through the villages and districts that make up the world's most dynamic metropolis I Never Knew That About London unearths the hidden gems of legends, firsts, inventions, adventures and birthplaces that shape the city's compelling, and at times, turbulent past. See the Chelsea river views that inspired Turner in his final years and find out where London's first nude statue is. Explore London's finest country house in Charlton and unearth the secrets of the Mother of Parliaments . Spy out the village that gave its name to a car and the Russian word for railway station. Discover which church steeple gave us the design of the traditional wedding cake, where the sandwich was invented and where in Bond Street you can see London's oldest artefact. Visit the house where Handel and Jimi Hendrix both lived. Climb the famous 311 steps of the Monument, go from East to West and back again at Greenwich and fly the world's biggest big wheel. Brimming with facts, stories and snippets providing a spellbinding insight into the history of London, this beautifully illustrated gem of a book is guaranteed to inform and amuse in equal measure.

The First Global Village: How Portugal Changed the World


Martin Page - 2002
    Alone among Iberia's ancient kingdoms, in it's independence from Spain, it is a nation about half the size of Florida, with two -thirds the population. Yet over centuries, it has influenced the lives of the rest of us far more than many much larger and more powerful countries. The Portuguese gave the English afternoon tea, and Bombay, the key to empire. They brought to Africa protection from malaria, and slave-shipments to America; to India, higher education, curry and samosas; to Japan, tempura and firearms.

Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave


Jonathan Green - 2010
    From Scottish culture to the ancient history of the country to modern pastimes, this book has all that and more. Learn why the thistle is the floral emblem of Scotland, how Scotch whisky is made, why the Scots celebrate Hogmanay, how to play the bagpipes, and much more. This delightful book is the perfect gift for anyone planning a visit to Scotland, with an interest in Scottish history, or a drop of Scottish blood.

Romania


Lucian Boia - 2001
    It is a country that presents many paradoxes. In this book the preeminent Romanian historian Lucian Boia examines his native land's development from the Middle Ages to modern times, delineating its culture, history, language, politics and ethnic identity. Boia introduces us to the heroes and myths of Romanian history, and provides an enlightening account of the history of Romanian Communism. He shows how modernization and the influence of the West have divided the nation - town versus country, nationalists versus pro-European factions, the elite versus the masses - and argues that Romania today is in chronic difficulty as it tries to fix its identity and envision a future for itself.The book concludes with a tour of Bucharest, whose houses, streets and public monuments embody Romania's traditional values and contemporary contradictions.

The Penguin History of New Zealand


Michael King - 2003
    It was also the first to introduce a full democracy. Between those events, and in the century that followed the franchise, the movements and the conflicts of human history have been played out more intensively and more rapidly in New Zealand than anywhere else on Earth. This title tells that story in all its colour and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonizing New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a "fatal impact", coped heroically with colonization and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer. The latter part of the book reveals how an insulated and dependent British colony transformed itself into an independent nation, open to and competing with technological and cultural influences sweeping the globe.

You are Awful (But I Like You): Travels Around Unloved Britain


Tim Moore - 2011
    Following an itinerary drawn up from surveys, polls, reviews and lazy personal prejudice, Tim Moore goes to all the places that nobody wants to go to -- the bleakest towns, the shonkiest hotels, the scariest pubs, the silliest sea zoos. He visits the grid reference adjudged by the Ordnance Survey to be the least interesting point in Britain, and is chased out of the new town twice crowned Scotland's Most Dismal Place. His palate is flayed alive by horrific regional foodstuffs, his ears shrivelled by the 358 least loved tracks in the history of native popular music. With his progress entrusted to our motor industry's fittingly hopeless finale, he comes to learn that Britain seems very much larger when you're driving around it in a Bulgarian-built Austin Maestro. Yet as the soggy, decrepit quest unfolds, so it evolves into something much more stirring: a nostalgic celebration of our magnificent mercantile pomp, and an angry requiem for a golden age of cheerily homespun crap culture being swept aside by the faceless, soul-stripping forces of Tesco-town globalisation.

The Shortest History of Germany


James Hawes - 2017
    The Anglo-Saxon powers, great and small, withdraw into fantasies of lost greatness. Populists all over Europe cry out that immigration and globalisation are the work of a nefarious System, run by unseen masters with no national loyalties. From the Kremlin, Tsar Vladimir watches his Great Game line up, while the Baltic and Vizegrad states shiver -- and everyone looks to Berlin. But are the Germans really us, or them? This question has haunted Europe ever since Julius Caesar invented the Germani in 58 BC.How Roman did Germania ever become? Did the Germans destroy the culture of Rome, or inherit it? When did they first drive east, and did they ever truly rule there? How did Germany become, for centuries, a power-vacuum at the heart of Europe? How was Prussia born? Did Bismarck unify Germany or conquer it? Where are the roots of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich? Why did it lose? By what miracle did a better Germany arise from the rubble? Is Germany now the last Western bastion of industrial prosperity and rational politics? Or are the EU and the Euro merely window-dressing for a new German hegemony?This fresh, illuminating and concise new history makes sense of Europe's most admired and feared country. It's time for the real story of Germany.

Atlas of Lost Cities: A Travel Guide to Abandoned and Forsaken Destinations


Aude de Tocqueville - 2014
    They are born, they thrive, and they eventually die. In Atlas of Lost Cities, Aude de Tocqueville tells the compelling narrative of the rise and fall of such notable places as Pompeii, Teotihuacán, and Angkor. She also details the less well known places, including Centralia, an abandoned Pennsylvania town consumed by unquenchable underground fire; Nova Citas de Kilamba in Angola, where housing, schools, and stores were built for 500,000 people who never came; and Epecuen, a tourist town in Argentina that was swallowed up by water. Beautiful, original artwork shows the location of the lost cities and depicts how they looked when they thrived.

Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge & the Ordnance Survey


Mike Parker - 2009
    There, it's said " Maps not only show the world, they help it turn. On an average day, we will consult some form of map approximately a dozen times, often without even noticing: checking the A-Z, the road atlas, or the Sat Nav, scanning the tube or bus map, a quick Google online, or hours wasted flying over a virtual Earth, navigating a way around a shopping center, watching the weather forecast, planning a walk or a trip, catching up on the news, booking a holiday or hotel. Maps pepper logos, advertisements, illustrations, books, web pages, and newspaper and magazine articles: they are a cipher for every area of human existence. At a stroke, they convey precise information about topography, layout, history, politics, and power. They are the unsung heroes of life, and this guide sings their song. There are some fine, dry tomes out there about the history and development of cartography: this is not one of them. This exploration mixes wry observation with hard fact and considerable research, unearthing the offbeat, the unusual, and the downright pedantic in a celebration of all things maps. In "Map Addict," we learn the location of what has officially been named by the OS as the most boring square kilometer in the land; we visit the town fractured into dozens of little parcels of land split between two different countries and trek around many other weird borders of Britain and Europe; we test the theories that the new city of Milton Keynes was built to a pagan alignment and that women can't read maps. Combining history, travel, politics, memoir, and oblique observation in a highly readable, and often very funny, style, Mike Parker confesses how his own impressive map collection was founded on a virulent teenage shoplifting habit, ponders how a good leftie can be so gung-ho about British cartographic imperialism, and wages a one-man war against the moronic blandishments of the Sat Nav age.

Vietnam: Rising Dragon


Bill Hayton - 2010
    A breathtaking period of social change has seen foreign investment bringing capitalism flooding into its nominally communist society, booming cities swallowing up smaller villages, and the lure of modern living tugging at the traditional networks of family and community. Yet beneath these sweeping developments lurks an authoritarian political system that complicates the nation’s apparent renaissance. In this engaging work, experienced journalist Bill Hayton looks at the costs of change in Vietnam and questions whether this rising Asian power is really heading toward capitalism and democracy.Based on vivid eyewitness accounts and pertinent case studies, Hayton’s book addresses a broad variety of issues in today’s Vietnam, including important shifts in international relations, the growth of civil society, economic developments and challenges, and the nation’s nascent democracy movement as well as its notorious internal security. His analysis of Vietnam’s “police state,” and its systematic mechanisms of social control, coercion, and surveillance, is fresh and particularly imperative when viewed alongside his portraits of urban and street life, cultural legacies, religion, the media, and the arts. With a firm sense of historical and cultural context, Hayton examines how these issues have emerged and where they will lead Vietnam in the next stage of its development.

Down to the Sea in Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men


Horatio Clare - 2014
    In every lonely corner of every sea, through every night, every day, and every imaginable weather, tiny crews of seafarers work the giant ships which keep landed life afloat. These ordinary men live extraordinary lives, subject to dangers and difficulties we can only imagine, from hurricanes and pirates to years of confinement in hazardous, if not hellish, environments. Horatio Clare joins two container ships on their epic voyages across the globe and experiences unforgettable journeys. As the ships cross seas of history and incident, seafarers unfold the stories of their lives, and a beautiful and terrifying portrait of the oceans and their human subjects emerges.Winner of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year

In Tasmania: Adventures at the End of the World


Nicholas Shakespeare - 2004
    But what makes this more than a personal quest is Shakespeare's discovery that, despite the nineteen century purges, the Tasmanian Aborigines were not, as previously believed, entirely wiped out.

Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands


Gavan Daws - 1968
    Based on years of work in the documentary sources, Shoal of Time emerges as the most readable of all Hawaiian histories.

The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today


Wayne Curtis - 2014
    The New York Times called it the "first bona-fide walk . . . across the American continent," and eagerly chronicled a journey in which Weston was beset by fatigue, mosquitos, vicious headwinds, and brutal heat. He was 70 years old.In The Last Great Walk, journalist Wayne Curtis uses the framework of Weston's fascinating and surprising story, and investigates exactly what we lost when we turned away from foot travel, and what we could potentially regain with America's new embrace of pedestrianism. From how our brains and legs evolved to accommodate our ancient traveling needs to the way that American cities have been designed to cater to cars and discourage pedestrians, Curtis guides readers through an engaging, intelligent exploration of how something as simple as the way we get from one place to another continues to shape our health, our environment, and even our national identity.Not walking, he argues, may be one of the most radical things humans have ever done.