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Genre: Non-fiction

Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim in , as in his earlier, influential , is not to give you a speculative preview of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world isn't going to be flat, it flat, which gives Friedman's breathless narrative much of its urgency, and which also saves it from the Epcot-style polyester sheen that futurists—the optimistic ones at least—are inevitably prey to.

What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments—when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East—is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete—and win—not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.)

Friedman has embraced this flat world in his own work, continuing to report on his story after his book's release and releasing an unprecedented hardcover update of the book a year later with 100 pages of revised and expanded material. What's changed in a year? Some of the sections that opened eyes in the first edition—on China and India, for example, and the global supply chain—are largely unaltered. Instead, Friedman has more to say about what he now calls "uploading," the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. And in response to the pleas of many of his readers about how to survive the new flat world, he makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he thinks will be required to compete in the "New Middle" class. As before, Friedman tells his story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his columns know well, and he holds to a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't keep up with it. A year later, one can sense his rising impatience that our popular culture, and our political leaders, are not helping us keep pace.

—Tom Nissley

Genre: Non-fiction

"The computer world is like an intellectual Wild West, in which you can shoot anyone you wish with your ideas, if you're willing to risk the consequences. " —from , by Paul Graham We are living in the computer age, in a world increasingly designed and engineered by computer programmers and software designers, by people who call themselves hackers. Who are these people, what motivates them, and why should you care? Consider these facts: Everything around us is turning into computers. Your typewriter is gone, replaced by a computer. Your phone has turned into a computer. So has your camera. Soon your TV will. Your car was not only designed on computers, but has more processing power in it than a room-sized mainframe did in 1970. Letters, encyclopedias, newspapers, and even your local store are being replaced by the Internet. , by Paul Graham, explains this world and the motivations of the people who occupy it. In clear, thoughtful prose that draws on illuminating historical examples, Graham takes readers on an unflinching exploration into what he calls "an intellectual Wild West." The ideas discussed in this book will have a powerful and lasting impact on how we think, how we work, how we develop technology, and how we live. Topics include the importance of beauty in software design, how to make wealth, heresy and free speech, the programming language renaissance, the open-source movement, digital design, Internet startups, and more. And here's a taste of what you'll find in : "In most fields the great work is done early on. The paintings made between 1430 and 1500 are still unsurpassed. Shakespeare appeared just as professional theater was being born, and pushed the medium so far that every playwright since has had to live in his shadow. Albrecht Durer did the same thing with engraving, and Jane Austen with the novel. Over and over we see the same pattern. A new medium appears, and people are so excited about it that they explore most of its possibilities in the first couple generations. Hacking seems to be in this phase now. Painting was not, in Leonardo's time, as cool as his work helped make it. How cool hacking turns out to be will depend on what we can do with this new medium." Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of the Macintosh computer, says about : "Paul Graham is a hacker, painter and a terrific writer. His lucid, humorous prose is brimming with contrarian insight and practical wisdom on writing great code at the intersection of art, science and commerce." Paul Graham, designer of the new Arc language, was the creator of Yahoo Store, the first web-based application. In addition to his PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, Graham also studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

Genre: Non-fiction

This book was first published in 1970 and was a call to take heed of the looming "Future Shock" or backlash of humanities biggest, unresolved dilemmas such as: the widening disparity between rich and poor, ie, the wealth of the world being monopolized by smaller and smaller percentage of the world human population, while the growing number of poor or outright poverty stricken are growing by leaps and bounds; burgeoning human population pressures with it's ever-increasing demands on limited resources; pollution of the food chains; technology with it's blessings and baggage of intrusive, dehumanizing side-effects; world health crisis, etc.

While humanity is currently preferring to live in a state of denial about the impending backlash of the mostly human-caused problems facing our present and immediate future, there is a growing accumulation of data never historically available to us before on how to deal with our problems. Will we put this knowledge to use in time?

So what exactly is "Future Shock"? Toffler explains: "We may define future shock as the distress, both physical and psychological, that arises from an overload of the human organism's physical adaptive systems and it's decision-making processes. Put more simply, future shock is the human response to over-stimulation". Overload breakdown! The socio-political, economic and environmental bills are coming due and they WILL be paid, shocking or not!

Toffler sees that our time consuming, stressed-out, hyper-industrial, compulsive consuming society is leaving parents no time for proper child rearing— as if they were qualified for the task in the first place. Un-guided, un-taught, un-disciplined children set themselves and society up for another of the many aspects of future shock with their aberrant behavior expanding as they get older.

"We don't let just anyone perform brain surgery or for that matter, sell stocks and bonds. Even the lowest ranking civil servant is required to pass tests proving competence. Yet we allow virtually anyone, almost without regard for mental or moral qualifications to try his or her hand at raising young human beings, so long as these humans are biological off-spring. Despite the increasing complexity of the task, parenthood remains the *greatest single preserve of the amateur*."

Toffler suggests that society should "professionalize" child rearing and parents should be educated by mandate of society. That along with every other level of society for a literate, more successful society. Guidelines for instituting "appropriate technology" vs. irresponsible, runaway technology are covered. "Utopian" models for society should always be considered as guidelines for future adjustments and upgrades to consider— and think-tanks for that very purpose should be established. This along with "sanctuaries for social imagination"— sounds like ancient Greece, eh?

Ten years after this book was published, Marilyn Ferguson came out with her block-buster book, "The Aquarian Conspiracy". She somewhat took-up where Toffler left off and created a blueprint of where we are and where we should be heading to stave-off the trauma of future shock. She expertly delineates the "Paradigm Shift" or changes needed in our collective thinking and proffers an abundance of guidelines and resources for that objective.

The following year (1981), Duane Elgin comes out with his "Voluntary Simplicity", more guidelines for transitioning to a more harmonious existence. Elgin follows this with another similar book to "Future Shock" and "The Aquarian Conspiracy" with "Awakening Earth" (1993), then followed by "Promise Ahead"— a continuation of the paradigm shift of collective consciousness needed for survival into the future.

To all of these fine books, one should add Theodore Roszak's "The Voice of the Earth" and we then have a small, but potent collection of some of the most instructive and helpful books ever published for the immediate betterment of our existence on Earth. Excellent "How-to" manuals on global change in human perception of reality.

Genre: Non-fiction

Ryszard Kapuscinski's last book, The Soccer War — a revelation of the contemporary experience of war — prompted John le Carre to call the author "the conjurer extraordinary of modern reportage." Now, in Imperium, Kapuscinski gives us a work of equal emotional force and evocative power: a personal, brilliantly detailed exploration of the almost unfathomably complex Soviet empire in our time.

He begins with his own childhood memories of the postwar Soviet occupation of Pinsk, in what was then Poland's eastern frontier ("something dreadful and incomprehensible…in this world that I enter at seven years of age"), and takes us up to 1967, when, as a journalist just starting out, he traveled across a snow-covered and desolate Siberia, and through the Soviet Union's seven southern and Central Asian republics, territories whose individual histories, cultures, and religions he found thriving even within the "stiff, rigorous corset of Soviet power."

Between 1989 and 1991, Kapuscinski made a series of extended journeys through the disintegrating Soviet empire, and his account of these forms the heart of the book. Bypassing official institutions and itineraries, he traversed the Soviet territory alone, from the border of Poland to the site of the most infamous gulags in far-eastern Siberia (where "nature pals it up with the executioner"), from above the Arctic Circle to the edge of Afghanistan, visiting dozens of cities and towns and outposts, traveling more than 40,000 miles, venturing into the individual lives of men, women, and children in order to Understand the collapsing but still various larger life of the empire.

Bringing the book to a close is a collection of notes which, Kapuscinski writes, "arose in the margins of my journeys" — reflections on the state of the ex-USSR and on his experience of having watched its fate unfold "on the screen of a television set…as well as on the screen of the country's ordinary, daily reality, which surrounded me during my travels." It is this "schizophrenic perception in two different dimensions" that enabled Kapuscinski to discover and illuminate the most telling features of a society in dire turmoil.

Imperium is a remarkable work from one of the most original and sharply perceptive interpreters of our world — galvanizing narrative deeply informed by Kapuscinski's limitless curiosity and his passion for truth, and suffused with his vivid sense of the overwhelming importance of history as it is lived, and of our constantly shifting places within it.

Genre: Non-fiction

Beginning with "Welcome to South Florida", a chapter introducing such everyday events as animal sacrifice, riots at the beach, and a shootout over limes at the supermarket, this collection organizes over 200 columns into 18 chapters, chronicling events and defining the issues that have kept the South Florida melting pot bubbling throughout the '80s and '90s. An introductory essay provides an overview of Hiassen's career and outlines his principal concerns as a journalist.

Optimistic About America’s Future?

Don’t Be.

In his giant bestseller, , Mark Steyn predicted collapse for the rest of the Western World. Now, he adds, America has caught up with Europe on the great rush to self-destruction.

It’s not just our looming financial collapse; it’s not just a culture that seems on a fast track to perdition, full of hapless, indulgent, childish people who think government has the answer for every problem; it’s not just America’s potential eclipse as a world power because of the drunken sailor policymaking in Washington—no, it’s all this and more that spells one word for America: Armageddon.

What will a world without American leadership look like? It won’t be pretty—not for you and not for your children. America’s decline won’t be gradual, like an aging Europe sipping espresso at a café until extinction (and the odd Greek or Islamist riot). No, America’s decline will be a wrenching affair marked by violence and possibly secession.

With his trademark wit, Steyn delivers the depressing news with raw and unblinking honesty—but also with the touch of vaudeville stand-up and soft shoe that makes him the most entertaining, yet profound, columnist on the planet. And as an immigrant with nowhere else to go, he offers his own prescription for winning America back from the feckless and arrogant liberal establishment that has done its level best to suffocate the world’s last best hope in a miasma of debt, decay, and debility. You will not read a more important—or more alarming, or even funnier—book all year than .

Praise for

“Mark Steyn is a modern day Jeremiah with a quiverful of devastating one-liners, nailing what the liberals have done to our country. He presents an alarming—and frighteningly convincing—prophecy of where we’re headed. The choice is stark—we either listen to Steyn and act on his recommendations or face economic and cultural armageddon.”

—Mark Levin

“Mark Steyn has done it again. In his new book, , he clearly defines the dangerous signals which show America is embracing the same doomed path as the failed European economies, and how vital it is to implement and avoid policies right now to prevent us from the same fate.”

—Sean Hannity

“Only Mark Steyn can write about the decline of America and leave you laughing.”

—Ann Coulter

Meet Blackwater USA, the powerful private army that the U.S. government has quietly hired to operate in international war zones and on American soil. With its own military base, a fleet of twenty aircraft, and twenty-thousand troops at the ready, Blackwater is the elite Praetorian Guard for the “global war on terror”—yet most people have never heard of it.

It was the moment the war turned: On March 31, 2004, four Americans were ambushed and burned near their jeeps by an angry mob in the Sunni stronghold of Falluja. Their charred corpses were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. The ensuing slaughter by U.S. troops would fuel the fierce Iraqi resistance that haunts occupation forces to this day. But these men were neither American military nor civilians. They were highly trained private soldiers sent to Iraq by a secretive mercenary company based in the wilderness of North Carolina.

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

• Winner of the George Polk Book Award

• Alternet Best Book of the Year

• Barnes & Noble one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2007

• Amazon one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2007

Genre: Non-fiction

A riveting collection of literary journalism by the bestselling author of capped off brilliantly by a new Afterword and a timely essay about war-torn Afghanistan—a superb eyewitness report about the Taliban’s defeat in Kabul—new to book form.

Sebastian Junger has made a specialty of bringing to life the drama of nature and human nature. Few writers have been to so many disparate and desperate corners of the globe. Fewer still have met the standard of great journalism more consistently. None has provided more starkly memorable evocations of extreme events. From the murderous mechanics of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, to an inferno forest fire burning out of control in the steep canyons of Idaho, to the forensics of genocide in Kosovo, this collection of Junger’s reporting will take readers to places they need to know about but wouldn't dream of going on their own. In his company we travel to these places, pass through frightening checkpoints, actual and psychological, and come face-to-face with the truth.

Genre: Non-fiction

Why do we need fiction? Why do books need to be printed on paper, copyrighted, read to the finish? Why should a group of aging Swedish men determine what “world” literature is best? Do books change anything? Did they use to? Do we read to challenge our vision of the world or to confirm it? Has novel writing turned into a job like any other? In , the internationally acclaimed novelist and critic Tim Parks ranges over a lifetime of critical reading--from Leopardi, Dickens and Chekhov, to Woolf, Lawrence and Bernhard, and on to contemporary work by Jonathan Franzen, Peter Stamm, and many others—to overturn many of our long-held assumptions about literature and its purpose.  

Taking the form of thirty-eight interlocking essays, examines the rise of the “global” novel and the disappearance of literary styles that do not travel; the changing vocation of the writer today; the increasingly paradoxical effects of translation; the shifting expectations we bring to fiction; the growing stasis of literary criticism; and the problematic relationship between writers’ lives and their work.  In the end Parks wonders whether writers—and readers--can escape the twin pressures of the new global system and the novel that has become its emblematic genre.

Genre: Non-fiction

In this new book developed from the prestigious Reith Lectures, Nobel Prize — winning author Wole Soyinka, a courageous advocate for human rights around the world, considers fear as the dominant theme in world politics.

Decades ago, the idea of collective fear had a tangible face: the atom bomb. Today our shared anxiety has become far more complex and insidious, arising from tyranny, terrorism, and the invisible power of the “quasi state.” As Wole Soyinka suggests, the climate of fear that has enveloped the world was sparked long before September 11, 2001.

Rather, it can be traced to 1989, when a passenger plane was brought down by terrorists over the Republic of Niger. From Niger to lower Manhattan to Madrid, this invisible threat has erased distinctions between citizens and soldiers; we’re all potential targets now.

In this seminal work, Soyinka explores the implications of this climate of fear: the conflict between power and freedom, the motives behind unthinkable acts of violence, and the meaning of human dignity. Fascinating and disturbing, is a brilliant and defining work for our age.

Roaming from America to Europe to Australia, Lights Out is a trenchant examination of the tensions between a resurgent Islam and a fainthearted west — and of the implications for liberty in the years ahead.

In 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress brought three suits against Maclean’s, Canada’s biggest-selling newsweekly, for running an excerpt from Steyn’s bestselling book America Alone, plus other flagrantly Islamophobic columns by the author. A year later the CIC had lost all its cases and Steyn had become a poster boy for a worldwide phenomenon — the collision between Islam, on the one hand, and, on the other, western notions of free speech, liberty and pluralism.

In this book, Steyn republishes all the essays the western world’s new thought police attempted to criminalize, along with new material responding to his accusers. Covering other crises from the Danish cartoons to the Salman Rushdie fatwa, he also takes a stand against the erosion of free speech, and the advance of a creeping totalitarian “multiculturalism”; and he considers the broader relationship between Islam and the west in a time of unprecedented demographic transformation.

Roaming from America to Europe to Australia, Lights Out is a trenchant examination of the tensions between a resurgent Islam and a fainthearted west — and of the implications for liberty in the years ahead.

Genre: Non-fiction

In 1957, Ryszard Kapuscinski arrived in Africa to witness the beginning of the end of colonial rule as the first African correspondent of Poland's state newspaper. From the early days of independence in Ghana to the ongoing ethnic genocide in Rwanda, Kapuscinski has crisscrossed vast distances pursuing the swift, and often violent, events that followed liberation. Kapuscinski hitchhikes with caravans, wanders the Sahara with nomads, and lives in the poverty-stricken slums of Nigeria. He wrestles a king cobra to the death and suffers through a bout of malaria. What emerges is an extraordinary depiction of Africa-not as a group of nations or geographic locations-but as a vibrant and frequently joyous montage of peoples, cultures, and encounters. Kapuscinski's trenchant observations, wry analysis and overwhelming humanity paint a remarkable portrait of the continent and its people. His unorthodox approach and profound respect for the people he meets challenge conventional understandings of the modern problems faced by Africa at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Genre: Prose

From the highly acclaimed author of and comes this collection of breathtakingly exquisite essays borne of a lifetime spent fishing.

The thirty-three essays in take us from the tarpon of Florida to the salmon of Iceland, from the bonefish of Mexico to the trout of Montana. They bring us characters as varied as a highly literate Canadian frontiersman and a devoutly Mormon river guide and address issues ranging from the esoteric art of tying flies to the enduring philosophy of a seventeenth-century angler. Infused with a deep experience of wildlife and the outdoors, both reverent and hilarious by turns, sets the heart pounding for a glimpse of moving water and demonstrates what dedication to sport reveals about life.

Genre: Non-fiction

In the bestselling Italian Neighbours, Tim Parks explores the idiosyncrasies and nuances of Italian culture. When Parks moved to Italy he found it irresistible; this book is a testament to his love of Italy and his attention to the details of everyday Italian life.

Genre: Non-fiction

George Orwell’s payment book for 20 December 1943 records the sum of pounds 5.5.0 for a special article of 2,000 words for This has never been traced in under Orwell’s name but it now seems certain that an essay, entitled “Can Socialists Be Happy?” by “John Freeman” is what is referred to. The name Freeman would have appealed to Orwell as a pseudonym, and the article has many social, political and literary links with Orwell, such as the relation of Lenin to Dickens (the fact that Lenin read on his deathbed also appears in the second paragraph of Orwell’s 1939 essay, “Charles Dickens”). A “real” John Freeman, later editor of the New Statesman, has confirmed that he did not write the article. The reason why Orwell chose to write as “John Freeman” he never used this pseudonym again is not clear. It may be that did not want its literary editor to be seen to be associated with its political pages. Possibly it was a device that allowed Orwell to be paid a special fee. Or it may be that he simply wished to see how far would let him go with his opinions. In any case, the article appeared in the Christmas issue and provoked much debate in the issues that followed. The “lost essay” is included in the and printed here for the first time under Orwell’s name.

Genre: Non-fiction

Good writing isn't an easy task for all of us, even for… get ready for it, Stephen King! This article he wrote in 1988 describes how he learned to write and started his career. Enjoy his 12 tips that will teach you to write like a King in ten minutes.