Rivals. Bill Emmott. Paperback: 352 pages. Penguin, 2009.
The world is changing, as political and economic power shift further towards Asia. Emmott, a former editor of The Economist, shows the ways in which our future will be dominated not by one, but by three Asian giants - China, India and a newly resurgent Japan. Rivals is an essential book for understanding how this new power game will shape the twenty-first century, the cover page notes read.
I wish I’d been there. Edited by Byron Hollinshead and Theodore K. Rabb. Paperback: 300 pages. Pan Macmillan, 2008.
This book brings together 20 of Britain’s most distinguished historians’ responses to the question ‘what scene or incident in history would they most like to have witnessed and why’. What is particularly fascinating about the book is the range that they cover: politics, law, religion, peace and war, science and the arts, rebellion and social change. And above all, the book gives the reader a sense of the excitement, the passion, the drama and the joys and tragedies that are the essence of history, the editors write in their introduction.
For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink. Sarah Rose. Hardback: 280 pages. Hutchinson, 2009.
Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter – and industrial spy. In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China – territory forbidden to foreigners – to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea. From Kew Gardens to grimy Old Shanghai, and on to the remote Wu Yi Shan hills, Sarah Rose tells a true tale of pirates, rebels, subterfuge, espionage, and how one man triumphed over an exotic and corrupt empire, read the notes on the book’s cover.
Britain for learners of English. James O’Driscoll. Paperback: 224 pages. Oxford University Press, 2009.
This book, says the cover notes, provides all the information that a student of Britain and British culture needs to know. It helps one to understand the attitudes and beliefs that shape Britain’s character, the history and cultural background of its society, and to learn about people’s daily lives. It is suitable for students at the intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced levels.
The Mexican Dream. J.M.G. Le Clézio. Paperback: 232 pages. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature, Le Clézio here conjures the consciousness of Mexico, powerfully evoking dreams that made and unmade an ancient culture. Le Clézio’s haunting book takes us into the dream that was the religion of the Aztecs, a religion whose own apocalyptic visions anticipated the coming of the Spanish conquerors. Here the dream of the conquistadores rises before us, too, the glimmering idea of gold which drew Europe into the Mexican dream, the introduction reads.
Eastmodern. Hertha Hurnaus, Benjamin Konrad and Maik Novotny. Paperback: 238 pages. Springer-Verlag, 2007.
This book shows architecture and design of the 1960s and 1970s in Slovakia. The documentation compiled by photographer Hurnaus and architects Konrad and Novotny analyses buildings from the era of socialist late modernism in eastern Europe. It is an architecture that has put its mark on a whole period of time, in which planning was obviously the product of a collective vision, read the book's cover notes. The photographic material is complemented by interviews with the most influential Slovak architects of the time.
This column is a selection by The Slovak Spectator of English-language books recently released in Slovakia; it does not represent an endorsement of any of the books selected. The column is prepared in cooperation with the Oxford Bookshop Bratislava.