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Non-fiction Review: Chasing the Devil by Tim Butcher

If it wasn’t the least promising expedition into uncharted territory ever attempted, it must have been close. In 1934, a sickly-looking Englishman light-heartedly asked his socialite cousin to join him on an expedition to Liberia, which was one of the

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction review: Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre

Like any good scientist, Ben Goldacre starts with his hypothesis: Medicine is broken: the plane flies but it crashes much more often than it needs to. The rest of the book is a meticulously researched and eloquently argued support of

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Long before I knew who he was, Alexander von Humboldt had exercised a major influence over me. I first encountered his name in an undergraduate oceanography lecture, when I learned about the Humboldt current that flows northward along the Pacific

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré

I discovered John Le Carré in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market. I picked out a battered paperback Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy from a tiny used book stall. It looked as though it had been round Southeast Asia in a few backpacks, but

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: Wikileaks by David Leigh and Luke Harding

If his commanding officers had listened to Specialist Bradley Manning (as he still was at the time Wikileaks was published), it would never have happened. When he first arrived at Contingency Operating Station Hammer in Iraq, he reported the poor

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding

This book should be subtitled The Paranoia Manual. But is it paranoia if they really are listening to every word? As you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t reasonably familiar with the internet superstate, you’ll already have heard of

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: Headhunters by Ben Shepherd

In April 1898, Alfred Haddon led his expedition off the Duke of Westminster steamer on to Thursday Island, in the Torres Straits archipelago between Australia and New Guinea. They carried the latest tools for assessing psychology and perception, and the

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: The Trigger by Tim Butcher

Sarajevo, 28th June 1914: a bullet passed through the jugular vein of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the empire of Austria-Hungary. A second bullet struck his wife, Duchess Sophie of Hoehnberg. She fell into his lap. He

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction Review: The Spy Who Loved by Clare Mulley

A schoolgirl wanted to know how saintly the school’s priest was. When this schoolgirl wanted to know something, she didn’t stop wanting to know until she found out. It transpired that the priest wasn’t up to the standards of the

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification

Non-fiction review: Churchill’s Iceman by Henry Hemming

In 1914, a 21-year old journalist escaped from a German internment camp using an optical illusion. It was neither the most bizarre nor the most brilliant act of his life. In 1942, the British Chief of Combined Operations, Lord Louis

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction, Wednesday Pontification
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