ANDROID TABLETS ONE STEP AT A TIME    HELPFUL BOOKS

Touchscreen tablets are nifty bits of kit. Lighter, easier to carry around and more convenient than PCs or laptops. They’re easier to use in a lot of ways, too, but they are different from PCs. Even if you are familiar with using a PC, you have to start again. There are lots of important features that might be impossible to work out how to get to grips with unless someone tells you – such as where you have to ‘swipe in’ from a particular side of the screen, or where you have to make a particular ‘gesture’ on the screen with your fingers. ‘Android Tablets One Step at a Time’ shows how to use the different types of tablet that use Google’s Android system (for example Google’s own Nexus range, Tesco’s Hudl, Samsung’s Tab range or Amazon’s Kindle Fire). The book explains everything clearly and simply, in plain English and without jargon, with pictures of the screen to show you exactly what to do. A similar alternative title, ‘iPads One Step at a Time’, is available for those who prefer Apple’s iPad. Both are available from Helpful Books  

‘Get More From Your Tablet’, also from the Helpful Book Company, is an invaluable companion book detailing 62 free apps that mean your tablet (iPad or Android) can do all sorts of useful and exciting things. Most of these mean you need to use an ‘app’ (short for application) and it’s crucial to know which one is best. And you need to know how that particular app works – some of them are clearly designed by techies more interested in tinkering with it than making it easy to use! That’s where this book comes in, covering apps that the author thinks you might find useful. As well as telling you what’s out there, the book shows how to get hold of it and then, how to use it. From keeping in touch to watching TV, from ‘Do you really need anti-virus software?’ to how to use your tablet as a sat-nav or playing chess or Suduko on your tablet. These books are full of sound advice, offering reassurance to the novice as well as exploring all the features that can make owning a tablet such a joyful and liberating experience.

 

BRITAIN’S WAR – DANIEL TODMAN      ALLEN LANE

BRITAIN’S WAR‘We are all in the same boat now.’ Part Two of Daniel Todman’s epic history of the Second World War opens with one of the greatest disasters in British military history – the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Unlike the aftermath of Dunkirk, there was no redeeming narrative available here – Britain had been defeated by a far smaller Japanese force in her grandly proclaimed, invincible Asian ‘fortress’. The unique skill of Todman’s history lies in its never losing sight of the inter-connectedness of the British experience. The agony of Singapore, for example, is seen through the eyes of its inhabitants, of its defenders, of Churchill’s Cabinet and of ordinary people at home. Each stage of the war, from the nadir of early 1942 to the great series of victories in 1944-5 and on to Indian independence in 1947, is described both as it was understood at the time and in the light of the latest historical research. Daniel Todman is Professor of Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London and was named The Times Young Academic Author of the Year in 2005 for The Great War: Myth and Memory. He previously taught in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy and was the co-editor of Lord Alanbrooke’s bestselling War Diaries. His approach to the Second World War is unique, interweaving political and military directives with the social and cultural effects on British citizens, including the development of technology, the burden on women and the uncertainties of ‘peace’, together with a cautionary portrait of Churchill and the difficult issues of racism, poverty, anti-semitism and our alliance with the brutal totalitarianism of the USSR.

Daniel Todman’s first volume of Britain’s War (Into Battle: 1937-1941) was published to great acclaim, hailed as a tour de force and shortlisted for the Longman-History Today Prize in 2017. This second volume is a triumph of narrative, empathy and research, as gripping in its handling of individual witnesses to the war – those doomed to struggle with bombing, rationing, exhausting work and above all the absence of millions of family members – as of the gigantic military, social, technological and economic forces that swept the conflict along. Evocative black-and-white photographs show members of the armed forces and public as well as key figures such as Churchill, Montgomery, Roosevelt and Stalin. Hugely ambitious, thought-provoking and lucidly written, this is the definitive account of a drama which reshaped Britain and the world.

 

UNTIL THE END OF TIME – BRIAN GREENE      ALLEN LANE

Until the End of Time‘Why is there something rather than nothing? What sparked the onset of life?’ Until the End of Time is a breathtakingly ambitious exploration of the cosmos and our quest to understand it, taking us on a journey across time, from our most refined understanding of the universe’s beginning, to the closest science can take us to the very end. Brian Greene is an insightful best-selling author as well as professor of physics and mathematics and director of Columbia University’s Center for Theoretical Physics, famous for his groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory. In this fascinating, wide-ranging book, subtitled Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe, he explores how life and mind emerged from the initial chaos and how our minds, in coming to understand their own impermanence, seek in different ways to give meaning to experience: in narrative, myth, religion, creative expression, science, the quest for truth, and our longing for the eternal.

The author shows how mathematics, science and understanding of the future can overcome Bertrand Russell’s challenging conclusion that ‘the universe has crawled by slow stages to a somewhat pitiful result on this earth and is going to crawl by slow stages to a condition of universal death.’ Greene argues that scientific understanding helps explain our place in the cosmic timeline and offers potential ways to sidestep the bleak end Russell envisioned. Through a series of nested stories that explain distinct but interwoven layers of reality – from quantum mechanics to consciousness to black holes – Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. With this grand tour of the universe, beginning to end, Brian Greene allows us all to grasp and appreciate our fleeting but utterly exquisite moment in the astoundingly vast cosmos. If you are searching for the meaning of life you may well find it in these accessibly written pages. ‘The new Hawking only better.’ – The Times.

 

ON FIRE – NAOMI KLEIN           ALLEN LANE

ON FIRE - NAOMI KLEIN‘Let’s put out the flames and build somethong different in its place.’ Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein’s best-selling books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine have been acclaimed for her astute critical analysis of the history of neoliberal economics and the spread of corporate globalization. She currently holds the inaugural Gloria Steinem Chair at Rutger’s University and will be in London 15-18 October 2019. In her previous book, This Changes Everything, she examined how the climate crisis needs to spur transformational political change. For more than a decade, Naomi Klein has documented the movement of the climate crisis from future threat to a burning emergency. She has been among the first to make the case for what is now called the Green New Deal – a vision for transforming our economies to battle climate breakdown and rampant inequality at the same time. In our era of rising seas and rising hate, she argues that only this kind of bold, roots-up action has a chance of rousing us to fight for our lives while there is still time. Subtitled ‘The Burning Case for a Green New Deal’, Naomi Klein’s latest book is an essential collection of writing from one of the most prescient voices on the planet. This pivotal selection of essays, reports and lectures shows Klein at her most prophetic and philosophical, making the case for a Green revolution not only as a profound political challenge but also a spiritual and imaginative one. On Fire gathers for the first time more than decade of her impassioned writing and pairs it with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of what we choose to do next. This latest book is published on the 20th anniversary of her groundbreaking and prophetic No Logo. In that time, the concept of a Green New Deal has been gathering power worldwide and a new generation is being spooked into furious action, building on Klein’s work as the champion of a sweeping environmental agenda with justice at its centre. The chapters relating to her work with US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others are particularly inspiring and offer real hope for the future. ‘Naomi Klein’s work has always moved and guided me. She is the great chronicler of our age of climate emergency, an inspirer of generations.’ – Greta Thunberg.

 

THERE ARE PLACES IN THE WORLD WHERE RULES ARE LESS IMPORTANT THAN KINDNESS – CARLO ROVELLI       ALLEN LANE

One of the most inspiring thinkers of our age, Carlo Rovelli is the bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, transforming the way we think about the world with his reflections on science, history and humanity. Rovelli has been compared with other great popularisers of science such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman, and in this collection of stimulating and sometimes provocative writings he follows his curiosity, inviting us on a voyage through science, history, philosophy and politics, touching on subjects such as atheism, black holes, telescopes, and the University of Bologna. Written with his usual clarity, accessibility and wit, these pieces record the intellectual adventures of a physicist who is always searching for new ideas, ranging widely across time and space: from Newton’s alchemy to Einstein’s mistakes, from Nabokov’s butterflies to Dante’s cosmology, from travels in Africa to the consciousness of an octopus, from mind-altering psychedelic substances to the meaning of atheism. He explores the ‘underrated’ Aristotle, the revolutionary ideas of Charles Darwin and Copernicus, and the beautiful formula of Stephen Hawking. The book is brought right up to date with his thoughts on the Covid epidemic. ‘We are not the masters of the world, we are not immortal … we are struggling, together, to buy one another more days on Earth.’ Charming, pithy and elegant, this book is the perfect gateway to the universe of one of the most influential scientists of our age.’A global superstar … Rovelli is making the grammar of the universe accessible to a new generation.’ – Channel 4 News.