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December 1st, 2012

Reading List: Our guide to the perfect books for Christmas

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Blog Admin

December 1st, 2012

Reading List: Our guide to the perfect books for Christmas

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Since launching in April 2012 we’ve published reviews of over 350 books from across the social sciences. Here’s a selection of some of the most popular and striking books that could well make for perfect presents under the tree this year.

Looking for a present for…? A city explorer / the next Angela Merkel / the political rebel / the startup star / the philosopher / the globetrotter

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For the city explorer…

Hyun Bang Shin finds Ghetto at the Center of the World to be a fascinating peek into the future of life on our shrinking planet.

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Gordon Mathews’ book Ghetto at the Center of the World focuses on the residents of Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong. The building, built nearly half a century ago, is located in the heart of Hong Kong’s bustling commercial district, Tsim Sha Tsui on the peninsular, and to Matthews, is a locus of globalisation that is played out “on a human-to-human scale” in its own right (p.19). Through the ethnography of Chungking Mansions, Mathews tellingly reports the life of traders from sub-Saharan Africa, of Chinese shop owners and their South Asian managers, temporary workers, asylum seekers, domestic helpers and so on, all of whom are drawn to Chungking Mansions from various parts of the world, producing their own experience of globalisation. The attention to the traders and workers from Africa and Asia and the examination of their life stories place their home countries back on the globalisation map. This is further supported by Mathews’ attempt at the ethnography of multiple sites, tracing the life of these traders and workers as experienced in their origin cities. Read the full review…

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 For the next Angela Merkel…

In this book, Jürgen Habermas’ central argument is that the European project must realize its democratic potential by evolving from an international into a cosmopolitan community, finds Natacha Postel-Vinay.  

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Perhaps because of its title, but also because of its author, Jürgen Habermas – a world famous philosopher and weekly columnist in Die Zeit – The Crisis of the European Union will attract many a reader interested in topical issues. The unfolding Euro crisis which started a few years ago has raised many questions about the viability of the Euro-zone, the wisdom of decisions taken in Brussels, and the decision-making process itself. Many of these questions have remained unanswered, partly because, as Habermas himself claims in this book, the media are relatively poor at informing the public and generating useful debates around them. Many readers will thus relish the perspective of reading a book dissecting and deciphering current events for them. Read the full review…

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For the political rebel…

Occupy! is an unofficial record of the movement and combines first-hand accounts with reflections from academics and writers. Jason Hickel finds the book has excellent moments of insight.

Find this book  

When a small group of activists first occupied Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan last September nobody thought it would amount to much. But it wasn’t long before Occupy Wall Street struck a chord with a nation embittered by bank bailouts, plutocracy, and rising social inequalities, galvanized hundreds of thousands of angry protestors, and inspired similar encampments in dozens of cities across the United States and Europe. As a scholar who followed OWS closely with both personal and scholarly interest, I was thrilled to get my hands on Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America, one of the first book-length texts to have been published on the topic. Read the full review…

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For the startup star…

The Founder’s Dilemmas examines the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team. Tamara Micner finds that it’s a worthwhile, prudent read for anyone considering entrepreneurship.

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Technology startups are the new alchemy. Young programmers the world over dream and toil to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, Larry and Sergey, or Bill Gates. They flock to Silicon Valley, and New York and London, in droves. And the UK government want in: their Tech City scheme touts London as the Digital Capital of Europe, and invests £1.7 million annually to that end. London now holds more than 1,900 startups; Google, Mozilla and General Assembly have opened co-working/event spaces, and Silicon Valley Bank chose London for their first European branch. But how can founders help ensure their ideas turn to gold? Read the full review…

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For the philosopher…

This engaging book from Nigel Warburton introduces the great thinkers in Western philosophy and explores their most compelling ideas about the world and how best to live in it, finds Susannah Willcox.

Find this book:  

Nigel Warburton is a philosopher of the people. While he may not ask shoppers difficult questions about morality as they pick up their groceries in Sainsbury’s (as Socrates, the founder of Western philosophy, might have done), Warburton tweets, blogs and writes philosophy for the curious bystander. His podcast series featuring interviews with a range of philosophers has had over 12 million downloads. He even has his own iPhone app. Who better to write a succinct, palatable – in fact, absurdly enjoyable – introduction to the great thinkers of Western philosophy? Read the full review…

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For the globetrotter…

When China Rules the World considers how China has become a challenge to the West. Ting Xu recommends this book to anyone interested in China and its future.

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Martin Jacques is a highly distinguished British scholar, writer and columnist. When China Rules the World, first published in 2009, is among his most important publications. Since then the book has been translated into eleven languages, and sold nearly a quarter of a million copies worldwide. The book’s focus on Asian modernity and the rise of China as a global power is of course highly relevant for contemporary concerns and interests in globalisation, as well as its implications for evaluating an evolution from the economic and geopolitical ‘great divergence’ to the recent rapid ‘convergence’ between China and the West. Read the full review…

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This work by LSE Review of Books is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales.