Jon Ronson is fascinated by madness, extraordinary behaviour and the human mind. He has spent his life investigating crazy events, following fascinating people and unearthing unusual stories. Collected here from various sources (including the Guardian and GQ America) are the best of his adventures.
"Absolutely Brilliant !"
Graham Hancock's multimillion best seller Fingerprints of the Gods remains an astonishing, deeply controversial, wide-ranging investigation of the mysteries of our past and the evidence for Earth's lost civilization. Twenty years on, Hancock returns with the sequel to his seminal work filled with completely new scientific and archaeological evidence which has only recently come to light.
"Massive improvement on Finger Print of the Gods"
The Sunday Times best seller. Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens? In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we're going.
Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, considering how the ordinary things in life came to be.
"More Fact Pact Bryson"
What Does it mean to feel truly alive? Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.
"moving and very helpful"
We seem to have given up on any serious effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. Exposing the work of ideologues on the right who know the challenge this poses to the free market all too well, Naomi Klein also challenges the failing strategies of environmental groups. It's time to stop running from the full implications of the crisis and begin to embrace them.
"An absolute must read/listen"
Intuition is not some magical property that arises unbidden from the depths of our mind. It is a product of long hours and intelligent design, of meaningful work environments, and particular rules and principles. This audiobook shows us how we can hone our instinctive ability to know in an instant, helping us to bring out the best in our thinking and become better decision-makers in our homes, offices, and in everyday life.
"Enjoyable, but goes in an unexpected direction"
Almost a third of your whole life is spent asleep. Night School uncovers the scientific truth about the sleeping brain - and gives powerful tips on how those hours of apparently 'dead' time in the dark can transform your waking life.
"Informative with a quirky sense of humour"
Immediate Action is a no-holds-barred account of an extraordinary life, from the day Andy McNab was found in a carrier bag on the steps of Guy's Hospital to the day he went to fight in the Gulf War. As a delinquent youth he kicked against society. As a young soldier he waged war against the IRA in the streets and fields of South Armagh. As a member of 22 SAS Regiment he was at the centre of covert operations for nine years - on five continents.
"Perfect best book loved it"
"A wonderful idea, gloriously put into practice. Greg Jenner as is witty as he is knowledgeable." (Tom Holland) Who invented beds? When did we start cleaning our teeth? How old are wine and beer? Which came first: the toilet seat or toilet paper? What was the first clock? Every day, from the moment our alarm clocks wake us in the morning until our heads hit our pillows at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old.
"The most enjoyable history lesson you've ever had"
We are constantly bombarded with inaccurate, contradictory and sometimes misleading information - until now. Ben Goldacre masterfully dismantles the dubious science behind some of the great drug trials, court cases and missed opportunities of our time. He also shows us the fascinating story of how we know what we know, and gives us the tools to uncover bad science for ourselves.
"Making science truly entertaining"
Every day, we face the challenge of persuading others to do what we want. But what makes people say 'yes' to our requests? Based on more than 60 years of research into the psychology of persuasion, this audiobook reveals many remarkable insights that will help listeners to be more persuasive, both at work and at home.
In the late 1980s Jon Ronson was the keyboard player in the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band. Frank wore a big fake head. Nobody outside his inner circle knew his true identity. This became the subject of feverish speculation during his zenith years. Together, they rode relatively high. Then it all went wrong. Twenty-five years later and Jon has co-written a movie, Frank, inspired by his time in this great and bizarre band. Frank is set for release in 2014, starring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Domhnall Gleeson and directed by Lenny Abrahamson.
"Interesting little tale"
David and Goliath is the dazzling and provocative new book from Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw. Why do underdogs succeed so much more than we expect? How do the weak outsmart the strong? In David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a scintillating and surprising journey through the hidden dynamics that shape the balance of power between the small and the mighty.
"Swing and a miss"
Why did crime in New York drop so suddenly in the mid-90s? How does an unknown novelist end up a best-selling author? Why is teenage smoking out of control, when everyone knows smoking kills? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? Why did Paul Revere succeed with his famous warning?
"Abridged version lacks substance"
Maverick thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb had an illustrious career on Wall Street before turning his focus to his black swan theory. Not all swans are white, and not all events, no matter what the experts think, are predictable. Taleb shows that black swans, like 9/11, cannot be foreseen and have an immeasurable impact on the world.
"A magazine article posing as a book"
In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.
"enjoyed each time I listened"
Is the Greek alphabet all Greek to you? Is geometry your Achilles heel and does your knowledge of Homer have more to do with The Simpsons than the Sirens? From engineering and architecture to drama and democracy, the world around us is founded on the principles and discoveries of the Ancient World, yet our understanding of it is episodic at best. But it's never too late to learn....
"Light but not insubstantial"
Overcoming procrastination, how to achieve absolutely anything by creating the perfect plan, the dark side of visualization and employing doublethink. Most people would like to be more motivated. For years, gurus and 'life coaches' have urged people to improve their lives by changing the way they think and behave, but scientific research has revealed that many of their techniques, from visualization to self-affirmation, are ineffective.
"This is really a good book and i recommend it !!"
Sam Harris has discovered that most people, from secular scientists to religious fundamentalists, agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values. Indeed, science's failure to address questions of meaning and morality has become the primary justification for religious faith.The underlying claim is that while science is the best authority on the workings of the physical universe, religion is the best authority on meaning, values, morality, and leading a good life.
"Thought provoking, perhaps a little antagonistic"
On September 1, 1994, Lee Child went out to buy the paper to start writing his first novel - in pencil. The result was Killing Floor, which introduced his hero Jack Reacher. Twenty years later, on September 1, 2014, he began writing Make Me, the 20th novel in his number-one best-selling Reacher series. Same day, same writer, same hero. The difference this time was that he had someone looking over his shoulder. Andy Martin, uber Reacher fan, Cambridge academic and dedicated surfer, sat behind Lee Child.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist: more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast; there's a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon. His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy's Own story.
God was everywhere once. Prayer was part of public life; places of worship marked our landscape. Equality is the new deity now, and much of Europe is already becoming a no-God area. In this short essay, Christina Odone explores whether God is no longer welcome in the West and whether religious followers have been silenced in our newly secular society.
There are almost one billion guns across the globe today. There are 12 billion bullets produced every year - almost two bullets for every person. And as many as 500,000 people are killed by them every year worldwide. The gun's impact is long-reaching and often hidden. And it doesn't just involve the dead, the wounded, the suicidal and the mourning. It involves us all. Gun Baby Gun takes the award-winning investigative journalist Iain Overton on a shocking and eye-opening journey to over 25 countries.
Psychopath. No sooner is the word out than images of murderers, suicide bombers and gangsters flash across our minds. But unlike their box-office counterparts, not all psychopaths are violent or even criminal. In fact they are fearless, confident, ruthless and focused - qualities tailor-made for success in twenty-first-century society. In this groundbreaking adventure into the world of psychopaths, renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals a shocking truth: psychopaths have something to teach us.
In 1943, five Army aviators left Alaska's Ladd Field on a routine flight to test their hastily retrofitted B-24 Liberator in harsh winter conditions. The mission ended in a crash that claimed all but one - Leon Crane. With little more than a parachute for cover and an old Boy Scout knife in his pocket, Crane now found himself alone in subzero temperatures. Crane knew that his chance of survival dropped swiftly with each passing day. This is his story.
Every day women are reinventing what it means to be female in cultures where power, privilege or basic freedoms are all too often equated with being male. One of the most tenacious campaigners of her generation, Caroline Criado-Perez introduces us to these pioneering women. We meet the first woman to cross the Antarctic alone; a female fighter pilot in Afghanistan; a Chilean revolutionary turned politician; and the Iranian journalist who dared to uncover her hair.
Born in Darwin in 1929, Jacqueline's childhood was spent in a succession of bush towns before she was sent to school in Darwin. Returning to her beloved territory, Jacqueline met and married stockman Ken Hammar, and they moved to a vast property in one of the most inaccessible areas of Australia. With only a kerosene stove, scant possessions and a bed, Jacqueline's determination and courage helped her survive many hardships as they created a prosperous 1,000,000 acre cattle station.
In the summer of 1993, Thomas Harding travelled to Germany with his grandmother to visit a house by a lake. It had been a holiday home for her family, that she had been forced to leave as the Nazis swept to power. As he began to piece together the lives of the five families who had lived, he realised that this house had witnessed violence, betrayals and murders, had withstood the trauma of a world war and the dividing of a nation.
"A historical treasure"
For the past 50 years, Paul Theroux has travelled to the far corners of the Earth - to China, Africa, the Pacific Islands, Russia, and elsewhere. In Deep South, he turns his gaze to a region much closer to his home. Travelling through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, he writes of the stunning landscapes he discovers - the deserts, the mountains, the Mississippi - and, above all, the lives of the people he meets.
"Yet another treat"
Admiral Lord Collingwood, the eldest son of a Newcastle merchant, went to sea in 1761 at the age of 13. In his nearly fifty years in the Navy Collingwood's service took him to Boston, where he lived and fought during the American War of Independence; to Antigua, where he and Nelson both fell in love with Mary Moutray; to Corsica; Sicily; and Menorca, where he ended his career as the effective viceroy of the Mediterranean.
"Newcastle's Greatest Hero"
The world of maths can seem mind-boggling, irrelevant and, let's face it, boring. This groundbreaking book reclaims maths from the geeks. Mathematical ideas underpin just about everything in our lives: from the surprising geometry of the 50p piece to how probability can help you win in any casino. In search of weird and wonderful mathematical phenomena, Alex Bellos travels across the globe and meets the world's fastest mental calculators in Germany and a startlingly numerate chimpanzee in Japan.
"A wonderful journey through mathematics"
The 1980s was the revolutionary decade of the 20th century. From the Falklands war and the miners' strike to Bobby Sands and the Guildford Four, from Diana and the New Romantics to Live Aid and the 'big bang', from the Rubik's cube to the ZX Spectrum, McSmith's brilliant narrative account uncovers the truth behind the decade that changed Britain forever - politically, economically and culturally.
"So close and yet so far"
"Is Google making us stupid?" When Nicholas Carr posed that question in an Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: as we enjoy the Internet's bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration yet published of the Internet's intellectual and cultural consequences.
Ian Moore is a stand-up comedian in the UK and a husband, father of three boys, farmhand and chutney-maker in France. He is a mod in both walks of life and most of his time is spent travelling grumpily between the two. Comedian, mod and professional grump Ian Moore has had enough. Tired of being unable to park anywhere near his cramped house in a noisy town he doesn't like, he hatches a plan to move his wife and young son to a remote corner of the Loire Valley in search of serenity and space.
"tale of ex pat Brit in France with a Parka & pets"
A hilarious field guide to the world's most remarkable and unusual creatures: the English. Who are the English? What is this puzzling species? Where does it live? What are its habits? What does it eat? Why does it eat that? And why has it developed such unexotic mating rituals? Join us on a journey deep into the natural habitat of the English, a journey to rival anything David Attenborough did with gorillas, a journey that begins on a sofa (and continues, unflinchingly, into the kitchen, out into the garden, off to work, down to the pub and then on to the beach...and the bedroom).
Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell? Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception.
By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counterintuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on the important ones and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.
"Great Book Full of Insight"
Tales of adventures on the high seas captivate both sailors and those who stand on the shore and gaze out across the oceans. In this original collection of sea stories, edited by veteran writer Dick Durham, the gamut of human experience is mirrored in a world of tragic shipwrecks and sea monsters, epic races and brave rescues, tall ships and tiny dinghies.
From ancient empires to modern economics, veteran journalist Andrew Lawler delivers a sweeping history of the animal that has been most crucial to the spread of civilization across the globe - the chicken. Queen Victoria was obsessed with it. Socrates' last words were about it. Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur made their scientific breakthroughs using it. Catholic popes, African shamans, Chinese philosophers, and Muslim mystics praised it.
"chickens? Well, their history seems to be ours"
Since the Enlightenment, there has been a very simple but widely held assumption that we are a species of thinking individuals and human behaviour is best understood by examining the psychology of individuals. It appears, however, that this insight is plain wrong. The evidence from a number of leading scientists suggests that our species is designed as a herd or group animal. Mark Earls applies this evidence to the traditional mechanisms of marketing and consumer behavior.
Who volunteers? Why? What are you willing to do? This title presents the hilarious, heartwarming adventures of a volunteering cynic. Do the feel-good rewards commensurate with the time and effort involved? When Seb Hunter accidentally picks up the phone to a charity Fundraiser one day, he faces a moment of reckoning. It isn't so much that he lacks a social conscience; but he can no longer assuage it by buying the odd copy of the Big Issue and eating Fairtrade chocolate.
What has happened in Poland? Poland has erupted four times in the last 25 years, but only the events of 1980 have had comprehensive media coverage. As a result, many questions have been raised in the minds of Western observers. How were such changes possible? What forces lay behind them? In what way did the workers' strike relate to the demands for political democracy? Although a colourful and vivid eye-witness account of the 1980 upheavals, it is to these questions that Neal Ascherson's brilliant and thoughtful analysis mainly addresses itself.
With the help of 14 leading physicists, scientists, and spiritual thinkers, this book guides listeners on a course from the scientific to the spiritual, and from the universal to the personal. Along the way, it asks such questions as: Are we seeing the world as it really is What is the relationship between our thoughts and our world? How can I create my day every day? What the Bleep answers this question and others through an innovative new approach to self-help and spirituality.
In 1837, at the age of 23, Angela Burdett-Coutts inherited a vast fortune from her banker grandfather, making her one of the richest and thus potentially powerful women in Victorian England. She moved in the highest social circles: entertaining the rising stars of the political scene, Disraeli and Gladstone; attending scientific lectures with Faraday; pursuing her philanthropic work with Dickens; and falling in love with the aged Duke of Wellington.
This book may be described as Dame Edith Sitwell's personal notebook. It consists of essays on the subject of the general aspect of the plays-those great hymns to the principle and the glory of life, in which there are the same differences in nature, in matter, in light, in darkness, in movement, that we find in the universe, and in which the characters are so vast they seem each an element (Water, Hamlet; Air, Romeo and Juliet; Fire, King Lear) and which yet bear the stamp of our common humanity...
Why Gen Xers - waiting for Boomers to retire--have made the choices they have, and how their creativity can save us from economic ruin. Generation X grew up in the greed-is-good 1980s, before the Great Middle-Class Squeeze and the roller coaster of economic insecurity and tech revolution began driving Xers' cultural trends, lifestyle choices, and sociological circumstances.