- Spice: The History of a Temptation
A history of the trade that controlled the world and left an indelible impression on our taste buds; a sweeping story of avarice, ingenuity and exploration, spanning the globe and the centuries in its epic reconstruction of this magnificent obsession. Spices: for centuries the staple of cuisine, remedies and ritual, they have commanded the highest of prices. To this day, saffron is, per ounce, one of the most expensive commodities known to man. For their sake, fortunes have been made and lost, empires built and destroyed, and new worlds discovered. Astoundingly, in the 17th-century more people died for the sake of cloves than in all the European dynastic wars of the period. However the spice trade dates bank thousands of years before this. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs depict a merchant fleet sailing south to the Horn of Africa and returning triumphantly with a priceless cargo of cinnamon. Only the story of mankind's infatuation with precious metals can rival the story of spice in scope; and only the history of silver and gold rivals that of spice for its improbable and extraordinary combination of discovery and conquest, heroism and savagery, greed and violence.
- Emma's War: Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan
Love, corruption, violence and the dangerous politics of aid in the Sudan, by an exciting new writer. Emma McCune's passion for Africa, her unstinting commitment to the children of the Sudan, and her striking glamour set her apart from other aid workers the moment she arrived in southern Sudan. But no one was prepared for her decision to marry a local warlord - a man who seemed to embody everything she was working against - and throw herself into his violent quest to take over southern Sudan's rebel movement. At once a disturbing love story and a penetrating examination of the Sudan, "Emma's War" charts the process by which Emma's romantic delusions led to her descent into the hell of Africa's longest running civil war.
- THE LANGUAGE OF THE GENES [Revised edition]
Steve Jones's highly acclaimed, double prize-winning, bestselling first book is now fully revised to cover all the new genetic breakthroughs from Gm food to Dolly the sheep.'An essential sightseer's guide to our own genetic terrain.' Peter Tallack, Sunday Telegraph 'Superb and stimulating. . .an exhilarating trip around the double spiral of Dna, a rush of gravity-defying concepts and wild swerves of the scientific imagination.' J.G. Ballard, Daily Telegraph 'Not so much divination as demystification. . .An attempt to bring genetics and evolution more into the public domain. If, for instance, you ever wondered just what genetic engineering is about, here is as good a place as any to discover. Few have Jones's ability to communicate a difficult idea with such humour, clarity, precision and ease.' Laurence Hurst, Times Higher; 'Sensitive to the social issues raised by genetics. . .yet Jones's interest reaches beyond contemporary social issues to the human past, to what genetics can and cannot tell us about our evolution and patterns of social development. He interleaves a broad knowledge of biology with considerations of cultural, demographic and - as his title indicates - linguistic history. At once instructive and captivating.' Daniel J.Kevles, London Review of Books
Former editor of The Times, the late William Rees-Mogg was a pivotal figure of post-war Britain. Here he recounts the remarkable story of his life.
As editor of The Times (his glory years), journalist, commentator, Chairman of the Arts Council, and, later, Chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council (when he was accused of censorship), the William Rees-Mogg spent his life at the centre of events in politics and journalism.
Often controversial, his strong, fiercely defended opinions went to the heart of the problems of the day. From his famous defence of Mick Jagger on a charge of possessing cannabis, to his recent criticism of the morality behind the war in Kosovo and defence of monetarism, his writing demanded attention, to the point of becoming newsworthy in itself.
He knew the people who shaped our time, from royalty to presidents, business magnates and religious leaders, and his unique insider perspective is here used to great effect, with perceptive, provocative recollections of people such as Rab Butler, Margaret Thatcher, Anthony Eden, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, Robin Day, Rupert Murdoch and many more.
From an early age his life was filled with incident - among the many anecdotes are the stories of the Bristol Blitz; his doomed attempts to enter politics; writing speeches for Anthony Eden during Suez; hiring burglars to uncover corruption in the Met; an eventful stay at Chequers with Harold Wilson; how Rupert Murdoch amused the Queen at lunch; and how Harold Macmillan impressed Ronald Reagan at dinner.
His colourful and illuminating memoirs offer a wonderfully readable life of one of the great characters of the age.
- History of Poison
Throughout history poison has been one of the main weapons of political, dynastic and romantic intrigue. Even in contemporary times, when poison has lost its associations with witchcraft and sorcery, death by poison holds a particular fear in society that is often witnessed in terms of food scares, or more recently, the threat of chemical and biological weapons. This is a character-driven history, filled with stories from 5th century BC Athens where Hemlock was state poison, to Nero's Imperial Rome, to the Medicis, and 17th century Toffana, a serial poisoner who sold virtually undetectable poison to women wanting to get out of bad marriages. Each historical instance has been chosen to reflect developments in the art of poison, and the book is held together by the themes of how poison and the search for antidotes has driven scientific development, and by how the nature of poison and poisoners reflect differences of culture. The book looks at other, related issues, such as why it is attached to ideas of dangerous femininity and witchcraft, what role it plays in literature and popular entertainment, and how, in the 21st century, poison has become more a question of environmental poisoning or pollution through to industrialisation.