Us and Our World
These nonfiction books take us all across the globe and inside our own minds to show us how the world works.
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The renowned social scientist, professor, and bestselling author of Predictably Irrational delivers his most urgent and compelling book--an eye-opening exploration of the human side of the misinformation crisis--examining what drives otherwise rational people to adopt deeply irrational beliefs. Misinformation affects all of us on a daily basis--from social media to larger political challenges, from casual conversations in supermarkets, to even our closest relationships. While we recognize the dangers that misinformation poses, the problem is complex--far beyond what policing social media alone can achieve--and too often our limited solutions are shaped by partisan politics and individual interpretations of truth.
In Misbelief, preeminent social scientist Dan Ariely argues that to understand the irrational appeal of misinformation, we must first understand the behavior of "misbelief"--the psychological and social journey that leads people to mistrust accepted truths, entertain alternative facts, and even embrace full-blown conspiracy theories. Misinformation, it turns out, appeals to something innate in all of us--on the right and the left--and it is only by understanding this psychology that we can blunt its effects. Grounded in years of study as well as Ariely's own experience as a target of disinformation, Misbelief is an eye-opening and comprehensive analysis of the psychological drivers that cause otherwise rational people to adopt deeply irrational beliefs. Utilizing the latest research, Ariely reveals the key elements--emotional, cognitive, personality, and social--that drive people down the funnel of false information and mistrust, showing how under the right circumstances, anyone can become a misbeliever.
Yet Ariely also offers hope. Even as advanced artificial intelligence has become capable of generating convincing fake news stories at an unprecedented scale, he shows that awareness of these forces fueling misbelief make us, as individuals and as a society, more resilient to its allure. Combating misbelief requires a strategy rooted not in conflict, but in empathy. The sooner we recognize that misbelief is above all else a human problem, the sooner we can become the solution ourselves.
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Based on first-hand interviews with survivors, people who have committed offences, and others on the frontlines, Indictment puts the Canadian criminal justice system on trial and proposes a bold new vision of transformative justice. #MeToo. Black Lives Matter. Decriminalize Drugs. No More Stolen Sisters. Stop Stranger Attacks. Do we need more cops or to defund the police? Harm reduction or treatment? Tougher sentences or prison abolition? The debate about Canada's criminal justice system has rarely been so polarized - or so in need of fresh ideas. Indictment brings the heartrending and captivating stories of survivors and people who have committed offences to the forefront to help us understand why the criminal justice system is facing such an existential crisis. Benjamin Perrin draws on his expertise as a lawyer, former top criminal justice advisor to the prime minister, and law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada to investigate the criminal justice system itself. Indictment critiques the system from a trauma-informed perspective, examining its treatment of victims of crime, Indigenous people and Black Canadians, people with substance use and mental health disorders, and people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and unemployment. Perrin also shares insights from others on the frontlines, including prosecutors and defence lawyers, police chiefs, Indigenous leaders, victim support workers, corrections officers, public health experts, gang outreach workers, prisoner and victims' rights advocates, criminologists, psychologists, and leading trauma experts. Bringing forward the voices of marginalized people, along with their stories of survival and resilience, Indictment shows that a better way is possible.
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Linked to a special season of the award-winning StarTalk podcast, this enlightening illustrated narrative by the world's most celebrated astrophysicist explains the universe from the solar system to the farthest reaches of space with authority and humor.
No one can make the mysteries of the universe more comprehensible--and fun--than Neil deGrasse Tyson. With wit, charm, and everyday analogies, he brings planetary science down to earth and principles of astrophysics within reach. In this entertaining book, illustrated with vivid photographs and art, readers travel with him through space and time, starting with the big bang and voyaging to the far reaches of the universe and beyond. Along the way, we glean facts of science, triumphs, and bloopers from history and pop culture--all part of a joyful ride through the cosmos with a wise and effervescent guide.
The book begins as we leave Earth and encounter new truths about our planet's atmosphere, the nature of sunlight, and the many missions that have demystified our galactic neighbors. But the farther out we travel, the weirder things get. What's a void and what's a vacuum? Is light a wave or a particle? Classic physics experiments intersect with iconic Hollywood movie scenes to explain the universe and our place in it. When we finally arrive in the blackness of outer space, Tyson takes on the spookiest phenomena of the cosmos: parallel worlds, black holes, time travel, and more.
For space enthusiasts, astrophysics brainiacs, and the millions who follow Tyson's podcast and social media posts, Cosmic Conundrums is a provocative window into the intricacies of the cosmos.
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Journalists hate the term fake news, but there's a troubling reality: spin doctors routinely try to dupe them into reporting misleading and distorted stories.
Check the news on any given day and here's what you'll find: Governments routinely lie. Companies inflate claims about their products and practices. Institutions release studies with misleading data meant to deceive. Police departments, infected by systemic racism, downplay crimes against Indigenous and racialized people.
The public depends on the media to help them understand the world, but are journalists catching all the daily lies, omissions, and distortions? Shrinking newsrooms and an army of spin doctors mean journalists can get duped. Despite valiant efforts by a handful of investigative journalists, the truth is routinely left behind.
Award-winning journalist Cecil Rosner insists there is something we can do about this. We can pressure news organizations to stop blindly regurgitating the firehose of press releases and focus instead on determining what is actually true. Rosner empowers readers by sharing his techniques for detecting misinformation and disinformation.
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NEW YORK TIMES bestseller
WALL STREET JOURNAL bestseller
#1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Posnanski is back with a masterful ode to the game: a countdown of 50 of the most memorable moments in baseball's history, to make you fall in love with the sport all over again.
Posnanski writes of major moments that created legends, and of forgotten moments almost lost to time. It's Willie Mays's catch, Babe Ruth's called shot, and Kirk Gibson's limping home run; the slickest steals; the biggest bombs; and the most triumphant no-hitters. But these are also moments raw with the humanity of the game, the unheralded heroes, the mesmerizing mistakes drenched in pine tar, and every story, from the immortal to the obscure, is told from a unique perspective. Whether of a real fan who witnessed it, or the pitcher who gave up the home run, the umpire, the coach, the opposing player--these are fresh takes on moments so powerful they almost feel like myth.
Posnanski's previous book, The Baseball 100, portrayed the heroes and pioneers of the sport, and now, with his trademark wit, encyclopedic knowledge, and acute observations, he gets at the real heart of the game. From nineteenth-century pitchers' duels to breaking the sport's color line in the '40s, all the way to the greatest trick play of the last decade and the slide home that became a meme, Posnanski's illuminating take allows us to rediscover the sport we love--and thought we knew.
Why We Love Baseball is an epic that ends too soon, a one-of-a-kind love letter to the sport that has us thrilled, torn, inspired, and always wanting more.
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These days, everyone feels insecure. We are financially stressed and emotionally overwhelmed. The status quo isn't working for anyone, even those who appear to have it all. What is going on? In this urgent cultural diagnosis, author and activist Astra Taylor exposes how seemingly disparate crises-rising inequality and declining mental health, the ecological emergency, and the threat of authoritarianism-originate from a social order built on insecurity. From home ownership and education to the wellness industry and policing, many of the institutions and systems that promise to make us more secure actually undermine us. Mixing social critique, memoir, history, political analysis, and philosophy, this genre-bending book rethinks both insecurity and security from the ground up. By facing our existential insecurity and embracing our vulnerability, Taylor argues, we can begin to develop more caring, inclusive, and sustainable forms of security to help us better weather the challenges ahead. The Age of Insecurity will transform how you understand yourself and society-while illuminating a path toward meaningful change.
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One of the world's most creative mathematicians offers a new way to look at math--focusing on questions, not answers
Where do we learn math: From rules in a textbook? From logic and deduction? Not really, according to mathematician Eugenia Cheng: we learn it from human curiosity--most importantly, from asking questions. This may come as a surprise to those who think that math is about finding the one right answer, or those who were told that the "dumb" question they asked just proved they were bad at math. But Cheng shows why people who ask questions like "Why does 1 + 1 = 2?" are at the very heart of the search for mathematical truth.
Is Math Real? is a much-needed repudiation of the rigid ways we're taught to do math, and a celebration of the true, curious spirit of the discipline. Written with intelligence and passion, Is Math Real? brings us math as we've never seen it before, revealing how profound insights can emerge from seemingly unlikely sources.
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#1 NATIONAL BESTELLER o From the award-winning, bestselling author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and This Changes Everything, a revelatory analysis of the collapsed meanings, blurred identities, and uncertain realities of the mirror world.
"If ever a book was necessary, it's this one." --Bill McKibben
"Thoughtful and honest . . . Incisive . . . Klein moves her reader toward the truer grounds of solidarity in these times." --Judith Butler
Over the past twenty-five years, Naomi Klein has charted and documented our politics and culture with a series of trenchant bestselling books laying bare the effects of branding, austerity, and climate profiteering on our societies and souls.
With Doppelganger, Klein takes a more personal turn, braiding together elements of tragicomic memoir, chilling political reportage, and cobweb-clearing cultural analysis, as she dives deep into what she calls the Mirror World--our destabilized present rife with doubles and confusion, where far right movements playact solidarity with the working class, AI-generated content blurs the line between genuine and spurious, New Age wellness entrepreneurs turned anti-vaxxers further scramble our familiar political allegiances, and so many of us project our own carefully curated digital doubles out into the social media sphere.
Klein begins this richly nuanced intellectual adventure story by grappling with her own doppelganger--a fellow author and public intellectual whose views are antithetical to Klein's own, but whose name and public persona are sufficiently similar that many people have confused the two over the years. From there, she turns her gaze both inward to our psychic landscapes--drawing on the work of Sigmund Freud, Jordan Peele, Alfred Hitchcock, and bell hooks, to name a few--and outward, to our intersecting economic, environmental, medical, and political crises. Ultimately seeking to escape the Mirror World and chart a path beyond confusion and despair, Klein delivers a revelatory treatment of the way many of us think and feel now.
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In light of Russia's aggressive 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Goodbye, Eastern Europe is a crucial, elucidative read, a sweeping epic chronicling a thousand years of strife, war, and bloodshed, from pre-Christianity to the fall of Communism--illuminating the remarkable cultural significance and richness of a place perpetually lost to the margins of history.
"Eastern Europe" has gone out of fashion since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ask someone today, and they might tell you that Estonia is in the Baltics or Scandinavia, that Slovakia is in Central Europe, and that Croatia is in the eastern Adriatic or the Balkans. In fact, Eastern Europe is a place that barely exists at all, except in cultural memory. Yet it remains a powerful marker of identity for many, with a fragmented and wide-ranging history defined by texts, myths, and memories of centuries of hardship and suffering.
Goodbye, Eastern Europe is a masterful narrative about a place that has survived being forgotten. Beginning with long-lost accounts of early pagan life, Mikanowski offers a kaleidoscopic tour of the various peoples who made Eastern Europe their home over the centuries, including the Roma, Jews, and Muslims; the great kingdoms of the medieval period; the rise and fall of the Ottoman, Habsburg, and Russian empires; the dawn of the modern era; the ravages of fascism and Communism; the birth of the modern nation-state and beyond.
A student of literature, history, and the ghosts of his own family's past, Mikanowski paints a magisterial portrait of a place united by diversity and eclecticism, and of people with the shared story of being the dominated rather than the dominating. The result is a loving and ebullient celebration of the distinctive and vibrant cultures that stubbornly persisted at the margins of Western Europe and Russia, and a powerful corrective that re-centers not only our understanding of how the modern Western world took shape but also the ways in which Eastern Europe has evolved throughout history to become what it is today.
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'Vivid... Shocking... [Miller] brings a seasoned, personal perspective to his account of both the 16-month conflict and its wider roots.'
'An eye-opening and deeply touching inside story of the country's long fight for freedom against Russian aggression.'
A breathtaking exploration of Ukraine's past, present, and future, and a heartbreaking account of the war against Russia, written by the leading journalist of the conflict.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine just before dawn on 24 February 2022, it marked his latest and most overt attempt to brutally conquer the country, and reshaped the world order. Christopher Miller, the Ukraine correspondent for the Financial Times and the foremost journalist covering the country, was there on the ground when the first Russian missiles struck and troops stormed over the border. But the seeds of Russia's war against Ukraine and the West were sown more than a decade earlier.
This is the definitive, inside story of its long fight for freedom. Told through Miller's personal experiences, vivid front-line dispatches and illuminating interviews with unforgettable characters, The War Came To Us takes readers on a riveting journey through the key locales and pivotal events of Ukraine's modern history. From the coal-dusted, sunflower-covered steppe of the Donbas in the far east to the heart of the Euromaidan revolution camp in Kyiv; from the Black Sea shores of Crimea, where Russian troops stealthily annexed Ukraine's peninsula, to the bloody battlefields where Cossacks roamed before the Kremlin's warlords ruled with iron fists; and through the horror and destruction wrought by Russian forces in Bucha, Bakhmut, Mariupol, and beyond.
With candor, wit and sensitivity, Miller captures Ukraine in all its glory: vast, defiant, resilient, and full of wonder. A breathtaking narrative that is at times both poignant and inspiring, The War Came To Us is the story of an American who fell in love with a foreign place and its people - and witnessed them do extraordinary things to escape the long shadow of their former imperial ruler and preserve their independence.
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When the tech platforms promised a future of "connection," they were lying. They said their "walled gardens" would keep us safe, but those were prison walls.
The platforms locked us into their systems and made us easy pickings, ripe for extraction. Twitter, Facebook and other Big Tech platforms hard to leave by design. They hold hostage the people we love, the communities that matter to us, the audiences and customers we rely on. The impossibility of staying connected to these people after you delete your account has nothing to do with technological limitations: it's a business strategy in service to commodifying your personal life and relationships.
We can - we must - dismantle the tech platforms. In The Internet Con, Cory Doctorow explains how to seize the means of computation, by forcing Silicon Valley to do the thing it fears most: interoperate. Interoperability will tear down the walls between technologies, allowing users leave platforms, remix their media, and reconfigure their devices without corporate permission.
Interoperability is the only route to the rapid and enduring annihilation of the platforms. The Internet Con is the disassembly manual we need to take back our internet.
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From the author of Steve Jobs and other bestselling biographies, this is the astonishingly intimate story of the most fascinating and controversial innovator of our era--a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. Oh, and took over Twitter.
When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist.
His father's impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive.
At the beginning of 2022--after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth--Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. "I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life," he said.
It was a wistful comment, not a New Year's resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world's ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground.
For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?
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What does it mean to live beside an eroding democracy? As this powerful and timely book argues, that question will define the next generation of Canadian politics.
As a congressional staffer in the United States, Rob Goodman watched firsthand as a rising authoritarian movement disenfranchised voters, sabotaged institutions, and brought America to the brink of a coup. Now, as a political theorist who makes his home in Canada, he has an urgent warning for his adopted country: The same forces that have upended democracy in America and around the world are on the move in Canada, too. But we can protect our democracy by drawing on a set of political, cultural, and historical resources that are distinctly of this place.
In Not Here, Goodman outlines four such resources. First, the rejection of the dangerous idea of one "real" Canadian people. Second, the refusal of political charisma and founder-worship. Third, a set of social programs--embattled but still standing--that empower neighbours to see one another as equals. And fourth, Canada's longstanding search for an identity separate from the great power with which it shares a continent.
Today, that great power is a democracy in decline, and so defending what makes Canada distinct matters more now than ever before. Canadian difference is not a curiosity, a luxury good, or a vanity item. It is a democratic immune system.
Laying bare the historical roots of today's politics and making an urgent case for action, Not Here is a roadmap for safeguarding a democracy under unprecedented threat.
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A radical reimagining of the role of art and culture in contemporary democracy, The Compassionate Imagination proposes a new Canadian Cultural Contract that re-humanizes our way of living together by tapping into the instincts for generosity and compassion that find their expression in art. Over the last forty years, the arts have been increasingly deemed unimportant to the creation of an educated workforce. Reflecting a broadly held political view that in a market-based economy the arts were "a frill," they were deemed "unnecessary" courses compared to sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But what kind of Canada might we make if we were to place art and culture at the heart of our mutual decision-making, and return the arts to a central position in our education, shifting to steam rather than stem? What might be possible if we integrate the creative imagination into our responses to the great social challenges we face? What impact would it have on the future shape of our democracy? It's time to find where the Compassionate Imagination can take us.
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Until 1969, the City of Winnipeg had undertaken only two public housing projects even though the failure of the market to provide adequate housing for low-income Winnipeggers had been apparent since the beginning of the century. By 1919, providing housing was a significant issue in municipal politics that was embraced by civic officials, professionals, reformers, labour leaders and social democratic politicians. It also became a proxy issue for refighting the 1919 General Strike at city hall. However, Winnipeg's business community proved effective opponents of public housing.
The struggle for public housing was also a struggle for democracy. Up until the 1960s, public housing required approval by a referendum in which only the city's property owners could vote. This rule deprived close to half the city's voters -- and virtually everyone who might qualify to live in public housing -- of the right to vote. Over decades that barrier to democracy was whittled away. An NDP provincial government elected in 1969 added 11,144 units of public housing to the existing 568 units.
Today public housing is once more under attack. Rather being treated as valued public assets, they are considered embarrassing encumberments that should be sold as part of a process of turning public housing over to the private sector. The struggle to protect and expand the provision of non-profit housing is undermined by the rupture in political memory of the long struggle to build public housing and the current political situation.
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