2015 in books: Non-fiction
Sarah Gilmartin rounds up the most anticipated book in economics, history, currents affairs, science, music and sport
This “internet craze” looks set to continue in 2015. Keep up to date with So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Picador, May), which the journalist Jon Ronson wrote after his experiences with online identity theft.
In The Glass Cage (Bodley Head, January), Nick Carr looks at how automation is shaping the world. Technophobes may prefer Andrew Keen’s The Internet Is Not the Answer (Atlantic Books, February), which argues that the web has had a disastrous impact on all our lives.
Christina Lamb’s The Retreat (William Collins, March) contends that the West lost Afghanistan by ignoring Pakistan, while Isis: The State of Terror (William Collins, January), by Jessica Stern and JM Berger, explains the genesis, evolution and implications of the jihadist army.
Joanna Blythman’s Swallow This (4th Estate, February) promises to serve up the food industry’s darkest secrets. Asne Seierstad’s One of Us (Virago, March) tells the story of the Anders Breivik massacre in Norway.
Glenn Patterson’s Here’s Me Here (New Island, May) is a new collection of the author’s journalistic writings. Tear Down the Skyhooks, by Matt Ridley (4th Estate, May), reveals the bottom-up trends shaping our world and future. Working Mothers in Ireland, by Clare O’Hagan (Cork University Press, February), looks at how women combine motherhood with the daily grind.
How Being There Trumps Being Fair in Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, April), by the University College Cork sociologist Niamh Hourican, reveals a fundamental conflict at the heart of Irish society.
History and Politics
The past is never dead, so we might as well learn from it, and a plethora of books in 2015 look back on recent Irish history.
Dying for the Cause: Kerry’s Republican Dead (Mercier, February), by Tim Horgan, tells the story of the 163 Kerrymen who died fighting for Irish independence between 1916 and the 1980s. Miki Garcia’s Ireland’s Invasion of the World (History Press, March) looks at the role of the Irish diaspora in communities abroad.
In A Nation and Not a Rabble (Profile Books, March), Prof Diarmaid Ferriter examines the Irish revolutions from 1913 to 1923, analysing the tumultuous period with the help of newly released documents. Conspiracy: A Photographic History of Ireland’s Revolutionary Underground (Mercier Press, May), by Shane Kenna, records the Fenian movement, with images from the archives of the National Library of Ireland and the Glasnevin Trust.
A year away from the centenary of the Rising, the O’Brien Press’s 16 Lives series continues with biographies of Willie Pearse by Róisín Ni Ghairbhí and Con Colbert by John O’Callaghan, both published in March. Young Ireland and the Writing of Irish History, by James Quinn (UCD Press, February), explores the provocative language of the Young Irelanders. When the Clock Struck (Collins Press, March), by Derek Molyneux and Darren Kelly, gives us Easter week in 1916 from the perspective of the combatants. In Before the Rising: John Redmond (Gill & Macmillan) Irish Times Foreign Editor Chris Dooley revisits the battle to secure Home Rule for Ireland.
Looking farther afield, The World of States (Bloomsbury, February), by John A Hall and John L Campbell, gives a breakdown of social order in the era of globalisation, while Ian Crofton’s History Without the Boring Bits (Quercus, February) offers a decidedly lighter account of how the world has worked through the ages.
In Writing the History of Crime (Bloomsbury, March) Paul Knepper investigates the development of historical writing on crime in society. In The Great Explosion (Penguin, May) Brian Dillon tells the story of a fire that killed 108 people in April 1916 in a vast munitions works in the Kentish marshes.
With Hillary Clinton gearing up for her 2016 presidential campaign, James Boys revisits her husband’s reign in office, offering an incisive study of US foreign policy in the Bill Clinton era: Clinton’s Grand Strategy (Bloomsbury, March).
In Coined (John Murray, February), Kabir Sehgal travels the world while presenting a multidimensional portrait of currency through the ages.
Richard Thaler’s Misbehaving (Allen Lane, May) examines how our impulses obstruct classical economic thinking, which assumes that human beings are always rational and always the same.
Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (William Collins, March), by Richard Davenport-Hines, digs deep into the life of the most influential economist of the 20th century. What would Keynes make of Cryptocurrency (Bodley Head, January) by Paul Vigna and Michael Casey, an analysis of how Bitcoin and digital money are overturning the world economic order?
Who knows, maybe the answers lie in Mervyn King’s Alchemy or Achilles Heel? Money and Banking in Modern Capitalism (Little Brown, September). That’s the former governor of the Bank of England, by the way, not the darts player. Happy reading.
Science and Nature
Plenty of books on the brain next year in both the science and popular-science genres. Norman Doidge’s The Brain’s Way of Healing (Allen Lane, January) explores recent advances in the field of neuroplasticity. Blending science and self-help, Frank Jensen’s The Teenage Brain (Harper Collins, January) is a neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents.
10% Human (William Collins, April), by Alanna Collen, explains how the body’s microbes are the key to health and happiness. 15 Million Degrees (Viking, May), by Lucy Green, details the fundamentals of light and heat from the perspective of a solar physicist. Frank Ryan demystifies DNA in The Mysterious World of the Human Genome (William Collins, May), while Christophe Galfard’s The Universe in Your Hand (Macmillan, May) is a popular-science book that explains the wonders of astrophysics to readers of all ages.
Reflections: Gardens (Roads, February) is a gorgeous photobook of famous gardens around the world, detailing the history, culture, and architecture of the societies that cultivated them. Boundless (Jonathan Cape, February) is an exploration of the unchartered waters of the Arctic. Enough Is Plenty by Felicity Hayes McCoy (Collins Press, April) celebrates the seasonal rhythms around the author’s house and garden on the Dingle Peninsula. For the dark winter months, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: Classic Images (Collins Press, March), by Giles Norman, offers a reminder of the Irish coastline from the beaches of west Cork to the cliffs of Donegal.
Excelling sportsmen, thriving entrepreneurs and other ambitious individuals are the focus of Alastair Campbell’s Winners: And How they Succeed (Hutchinson, February). Risk Savvy (Allen Lane, April) by Gerd Gigerenzer shows how best to use uncertainty to your advantage in everyday life. Add to the list Madsen Pirie’s How to Win Every Argument (Bloomsbury, March) and world domination shouldn’t be far off.
The radio presenter Seán Moncrieff analyses our national identity using popular personality tests in The Irish (Gill & Macmillan, October). Jon Nixon explores the key ideas of the political theorist Hannah Arendt through a study of her various lifelong friendships, in Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Friendship (Bloomsbury, January).
Fans of Ken Robinson’s Ted talk will enjoy his innovative ideas for reforming the education system, in Creative Schools (Allen Lane, May), while Eugenia Cheng’s Cakes, Custard and Category Theory (Serpent’s Tail, May) is described as a curious cookbook for the mathematical omnivore.
The music journalists Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood cover Metallica’s rise to fame in Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica (Faber, January).
In what is described as “an honest portrayal of a self-indulgent artist with a penchant for pageantry and public self-destruction,” Mr Mojo (Bloomsbury, April), by the editor of GQ magazine, Dylan Jones, aims for a revealing read on Jim Morrison, the Doors frontman.
The Life and Music of James Wilson, by Mark Fitzgerald (Cork University Press, April), is the first study of the Irish composer.
Hallelujah! In Dublin, by Jonathan Bardon (Gill & Macmillan) tells the story of how Handel came to Dublin to perform his sacred oratorio.
Naked at the Albert Hall (Virago, April), by Tracey Thorn (above) offers an insider’s take on the art of singing.
Cork University Press will publish a number of sports titles later this year, including Soccer in Munster: A Social History, 1877-1937, by David Toms (May), Why Donegal Slept: The Development of Gaelic Games in Donegal (September), by Conor Curran, and The Split: The North-South Divide in Irish Soccer (September), by Cormac Moore.
Conor McGregor’s Notorious: My Life In and Out of The Octagon (Gill & Macmillan, October) charts the rise of the UFC athlete to fame in mixed martial arts.
Phillip Brunel’s Hinault (Bloomsbury, June) details the life of the five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault. If you want to know how he did it, pick up Yellow Jersey (Bantam Press, June), Edward Pickering’s exploration of the psychology and physiology of champions.
Mark Hodgkinson’s Game, Set and Match (Bloomsbury, May) promises to reveal the secret weapons of the world’s greatest tennis players.
Lucy Fry’s Run, Ride, Sink or Swim (Faber, June) dives into the world of triathlon competition. To Hell on a Bike: Riding Paris-Roubaix (Bantam Press, March) is the amateur Iain McDermott’s testimony of the toughest race in cycling. Matchdays: The Hidden Story of the Bundesliga, by Ronald Reng (Simon and Schuster, April), charts the rise of the German soccer league.
A Man’s World: The Double Life of Emile Griffith (Simon & Schuster, May) is Donald Rae’s account of the boxer who broke the sport’s biggest taboo. Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports (Simon and Schuster, June), by Edward Brooke-Hitching, is for the more esoteric sports fan.
Or, for those who prefer sport to reading, How to Make a Century (Simon and Schuster, June) is a book on technique by Simon Hughes, with plenty of tips to get you practising.