The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)

Charles Stross (2006)

Another romp through the idea of computational demonology. It avoids the cliche of the spy novel by … making the notion of being a cliche into a plot device. As a homage to H.P. Lovecraft this entire series is hard to beat, full of knowing allusions handled deftly and with a touch of cyberpunk.

5/5. Finished Saturday 30 May, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Travels with Herodotus

Ryszard Kapuściński (2004)

many fabulous anecdotes to a life spent in travel reportage, accompanies and complemented by the Travels of Herodotus. The conjunction doesn’t sit quite comfortably for me: not enough Herodotus, and perhaps not sufficiently entangled into the autobiography, but still left me wanting to read the classic.

3/5. Finished Tuesday 26 May, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Now We Have Your Attention: The New Politics of the People

Jack Shenker

A very timely exploration of the left-behind of British society and how they’re coming to terms (or not) with late-stage capitalism. The actors range across the spectrum, as do the politics the various people embrace.

It’s such a current book, written just before the Conservatives’ crushing win in the 2019 general election, that it’s hard to assess some of the observations. Momentum, the left-wing insurgency within Labour, had a hand in massively improving the party’s showing in 2017, and Shenker clearly outlines their goals and strengths. But even with that, Labour didn’t win – and went on to lose even more severely in 2019. Perhaps it will take time to assess whether Momentum’s integration of party politics and activism can be properly harnessed to win power.

There’s also what feels like a curious, sharp, turn in the last chapter to include more consideration of climate change and climate activism. It’s closely argued and clearly very important, and that makes it surprising that it wasn’t woven more tightly inot the rest of the argument.

4/5. Finished Sunday 10 May, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

William L. Shirer (1960)

Undoubtedly still the definitive single-volume history of the period, still a classic in every sense.

Some parts of the narrative haven’t aged well and show signs of the times when Shirer was writing in the late 50s; other parts have been exploded by new scholarship; and still others ignited controversies that still rage (for example Shirer’s basing the roots of National Socialism in thew mainstream German philosophical tradition). But bearing all that in mind, it’s easy to feel the immediacy of his connection with the events he describes. If that clouds his objectivity in some case it’s worth it for the sense of place and time that this book provides, differently to all the other varied histories of the Third Reich.

5/5. Finished Saturday 9 May, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

Children of Time (Children of Time #1)

Adrian Tchaikovsky (2015)

When you consider that half of this book is about a generation starship while the other half is written from the perspective of spiders, you get some idea of the breadth of ideas that have gone into it. The fact that it holds together is nothing short of remarkable, as is that it – without spoiling the plot – sets up for a “dark forest”-type ending that it then deftly avoids.

4/5. Finished Tuesday 28 April, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)