The Return Of The Russian Leviathan by Sergei Medvedev

The Blurb On The Back:

Russia’s relationship with its neighbours and with the West has worsened dramatically in recent years.  Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, the country has annexed Crimea, begun a way in Eastern Ukraine, used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK and created an army of internet trolls to meddle in the US presidential elections.  How should we understand this apparent relapse into aggressive imperialism and militarism?

In this book, Sergei Medvedev argues that this new wave of Russian nationalism is the result of mentalities that have long been embedded within the Russian psyche.  Whereas in the West, the turbulent social changes of the 1960s and a rising awareness of the legacy of colonialism have modernised attitudes, Russia has been stymied by an enduring sense of superiority over its neighbours alongside a painful nostalgia for empire.  It is this infantilised and irrational world view that Putin and others have exploited, as seen most clearly in Russia’s recent foreign policy decisions, including the annexation of Crimea.

This sharp and insightful book, full of irony and humour, shows how the archaic forces of imperial revanchist have been brought back to life, shaking Russian society and threatening the outside world.  It will be of great interest to anyone trying to understand the forces shaping Russian politics and society today.

You can order THE RETURN OF THE RUSSIAN LEVIATHAN by Sergei Medvedev from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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Saturday Night Live And Philosophy edited by Jason Southworth and Ruth Tallman

The Blurb On The Back:

Is Weekend Update fake news?

How can we tell the difference between satire, smart-assert, and seriousness?

What is the benefit of jokes that cause outrage?

The Church Lady has a bad case of moral superiority.  How about you?

What can Wayne and Garth teach us about living a happy life?

Live from New York for over forty years, Saturday Night Live is seriously funny, and through decades of sketches, monologues, commercials, music acts, and a huge cast of recurring characters, NBC’s original late-night comedy sketch show has brought a touch of levity to everything that is laughable about modern life.  Many of the greatest minds in modern comedy – Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Kate McKinnon and more – have honed their craft at SNL, finding fresh ways to highlight the ridiculous and absurd in our boardrooms, newsrooms, mailrooms, sorority houses, music studios, churches, schools, and everywhere in-between.  Politicians from Gerald Ford to Donald Trump have had their faults and foibles lampooned by SNL’s election sketches and satirical news segments, and all the while, Weekend Update has shown us that the medium is the message.

Of course, comedian-philosophers from Socrates to Sartre have always produced and provoked us, critiquing our most sacred institutions and urging us to examine ourselves in the process.  In Saturday Night Live and Philosophy, a star-studded ensemble cast of philosophers takes a close look at the “deep thoughts” beneath the surface of the award-winning late-night variety show and its hosts’ hijinks.  In this book, philosophy and comedy join forces with the strength of the Ambiguously Gay Duo to explore the meaning of life itself through the riffs and beats of the subversive parody that gives the show its razor-sharp wit and undeniable cultural and political significance.  

You can order SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE AND PHILOSOPHY edited by Jason Southworth and Ruth Tallman from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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A Little Devil In America: In Praise Of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib

The Blurb On The Back:

A kaleidoscopic history of Black performance, from Josephine Baker to the Midwest punk scene, through sport, sit-coms, stand-up and more.

In A Little Devil In America, music critic and poet Hanif Abdurraqib weaves a unique and intimate history of Black performance, in which culture, politics and lived experience collide.  Taking readers from mid-century Paris to the moon, via dive bars, Broadway, and a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio, Abdurraqib illuminates the poignancy and power of Black performance, whether the stage is vast – as in Beyoncé’s Super Bowl show – or small, as for a schoolyard fistfight.  Each of these moments, Abdurraqib reveals, has layers of resonance in Black and white culture, the politics of American empire, and his own personal history of grief and love.

Filled with sharp insight, humour and heart, and infused with the lyricism and rhythm of the musicians the author loves, A Little Devil In America is a celebration of Black performance as it has unfolded and endured to shape individual lives and entire cultures. 

You can order A LITTLE DEVIL IN AMERICA: IN PRAISE OF BLACK PERFORMANCE by Hanif Abdurraqib from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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White Girls by Hilton Als

The Blurb On The Back:

White Girls is about, among other things, blackness, queerness, movies, Brooklyn, Love (and the loss of love), AIDS, fashion, Basquiat, Capote, philosophy, porn, Louise Brooks and Michael Jackson. Freewheeling and dazzling, tender and true, it is one of the most highly acclaimed essay collections in years. 

You can order WHITE GIRLS by Hilton Als from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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What Is Russia Up To In The Middle East? by Dmitri Trenin

The Blurb On The Back:

The eyes of the world are on the Middle East.  Today more than ever, this deeply troubled region is the center of power games between major global players vying or international influence.  Absent from this scene for the past quarter century, Russia is now back with gusto.  Yet its motivations, decision-making processes, and strategic objectives remain hard to pin down.

So just what is Russia up to in the Middle East?  In this hard-hitting essay, leading analyst of Russian affairs Dmitri Trenin cuts through the hyperbole to offer a clear and nuanced analysis of Russia’s involvement in the Middle East and its regional and global ramifications.  Russia, he argues, cannot and will not supplant the United States as the leading external power in the region, but its actions are accelerating changes that will fundamentally reshape the international system in the next two decades. 

You can order WHAT IS RUSSIA UP TO IN THE MIDDLE EAST? by Dmitri Trenin from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Faeries, Fiends & Flying Saucers edited by Kirsty Capes

The Blurb On The Back:

An anthology of sci-fi, fantasy and horror stories, and non-fiction by English and Creative Writing undergraduates at Brunel University London.  

You can order FAERIES, FIENDS & FLYING SAUCERS edited by Kirsty Capes from Amazon USA and Amazon UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Cream Buns And Crime by Robin Stevens

The Blurb On The Back:

Daisy and Hazel invite you to discover their untold stories …

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are famous for solving murder mysteries.  But there are many other intrigues in the pages of Hazel’s casebook, from the spooky Case of the Deepdean Vampire, to the baffling Case of the Blue Violet, and their very first whodunit: The Case of Lavinia’s Missing Tie.

This collection is packed with brilliant mini-mysteries, including stories about rival detectives, the Junior Pinkertons, and honorary Detective Society members, Beanie and Kitty.  Peppered with puzzles, facts and tips on detecting, this is the perfect book for budding sleuths and fans of the award-winning, bestselling Murder Most Unladylike series.  

You can order CREAM BUNS AND CRIME by Robin Stevens from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Is Islam An Enemy Of The West? by Tamara Sonn

The Blurb On The Back:

New York, Washington, Madrid, London, Paris, and Brussels – the list of Western cities targeted by radical Islamic terrorists waging global jihad continues to grow.  Does this extreme violence committed in the name of Islam point to a fundamental enmity between the Muslim faith and the West?

In this compelling essay, leading authority on Islam Tamara Sonn argues that whilst the West has many enemies among Muslims, it is politics not religion that informs their grievances.  The longer these demands remain frustrated, the more violence has escalated and recruitment to groups like Islamic State has increased.  Far from fuelling the spread of Islamic extremism, Western military intervention has helped to turn nationalist movements into radical terrorist groups with international agendas.  Islam, Sonn concludes, is not the problem, just as war is not the solution.   

You can order IS ISLAM AN ENEMY OF THE WEST? by Tamara Sonn from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Waterstone’s.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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