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River of Life, River of Death
by Victor Mallet

India is killing the Ganges, and the Ganges in turn is killing India. The waterway that has nourished more people than any on earth for three millennia is now so polluted with sewage and toxic waste that it has become a menace to human and animal health.

Victor Mallet traces the holy river from source to mouth, and from ancient times to the present day, to find that the battle to rescue what is arguably the world’s most important river is far from lost. As one Hindu sage told the author in Rishikesh on the banks of the upper Ganges (known to Hindus as the goddess Ganga): “If Ganga dies, India dies. If Ganga thrives, India thrives. The lives of 500 million people is no small thing.”

Drawing on four years of first-hand reporting and detailed historical and scientific research, Mallet delves into the religious, historical, and biological mysteries of the Ganges, and explains how Hindus can simultaneously revere and abuse their national river.

Starting at the Himalayan glacier where the Ganges emerges pure and cold from an icy cave known as the “Cow’s Mouth” and ending in the tiger-infested mangrove swamps of the Bay of Bengal, Mallet encounters everyone from the naked holy men who worship the river, to the engineers who divert its waters for irrigation, the scientists who study its bacteria, and Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister, who says he wants to save India’s mother-river for posterity.

Can they succeed in saving the river from catastrophe – or is it too late?


Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation
by Adam Roberts

Who can foretell India’s future? Mr. Joshi is a fortune teller in a slum in south Delhi who uses a soothsaying green parrot to make predictions. When Adam Roberts visited him in 2012, Joshi’s parrot declared that India was destined to become the most powerful nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The parrot also foretold that India would win the soccer World Cup.
Parrots may not be the preeminent political authority, but many Indians were just as confident. So Adam Roberts spent five years traveling the length and breadth of the country from Kerala to the Himalayas, Bengal to Gujarat. As he encountered the power brokers, gate keepers, and elaborate social dynamics of the world’s largest democracy, he asked if–and how–India can become a truly great economic power, more influential abroad and stable at home. He met prime ministers, multimillionaires, traveling salesmen, pilgrims, eco-warriors, farmers, and tech innovators, each wrestling with the trials posed by the world’s most conspicuously nearly great power. He experienced an immense country that, despite daunting challenges, is entering the most optimistic period in its modern history.
Through vivid storytelling and insight, Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation examines the problems and promises of fast-growing India to reveal how it might reach its full potential and become, as Mr. Joshi’s parrot predicted, a truly powerful nation.

The Untold Story of the Talking Book
by Matthew Rubery

Histories of the book often move straight from the codex to the digital screen. Left out is nearly 150 years of audio recordings. Matthew Rubery uncovers this story, from Edison to today’s billion-dollar audiobook industry, and breaks from convention by treating audiobooks as a distinctive art form that has profoundly influenced the way we read.

All Measures Short of War
by Thomas Wright

A groundbreaking look at the future of great power competition in an age of globalization and what the United States can do in response

The two decades after the Cold War saw unprecedented cooperation between the major powers as the world converged on a model of liberal international order. Now, great power competition is back and the liberal order is in jeopardy. Russia and China are increasingly revisionist in their regions. The Middle East appears to be unraveling. And many Americans question why the United States ought to lead. What will great power competition look like in the decades ahead? Will the liberal world order survive? What impact will geopolitics have on globalization? And, what strategy should the United States pursue to succeed in an increasingly competitive world? In this book Thomas Wright explains how major powers will compete fiercely even as they try to avoid war with each other. Wright outlines a new American strategy—Responsible Competition—to navigate these challenges and strengthen the liberal order.


The Growth Delusion
by David Pilling

A provocative critique of the pieties and fallacies of our obsession with economic growth

We live in a society in which a priesthood of economists, wielding impenetrable mathematical formulas, set the framework for public debate. Ultimately, it is the perceived health of the economy which determines how much we can spend on our schools, highways, and defense; economists decide how much unemployment is acceptable and whether it is right to print money or bail out profligate banks. 

The backlash we are currently witnessing suggests that people are turning against the experts and their faulty understanding of our lives. Despite decades of steady economic growth, many citizens feel more pessimistic than ever, and are voting for candidates who voice undisguised contempt for the technocratic elite. For too long, economics has relied on a language which fails to resonate with people’s actual experience, and we are now living with the consequences.

In this powerful, incisive book, David Pilling reveals the hidden biases of economic orthodoxy and explores the alternatives to GDP, from measures of wealth, equality, and sustainability to measures of subjective wellbeing. Authoritative, provocative, and eye-opening, The Growth Delusion offers witty and unexpected insights into how our society can respond to the needs of real people instead of pursuing growth at any cost.


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