A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes
Natalie Haynes is a European scholar and classicist with a mission: bringing the heroic women (and goddesses) of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece to life, as never before. In this episode Helen of Troy (was, Helen of Sparta), stolen beauty at the centre (through no fault of her own), of a catastrophic meltdown in ancient Asia Minor, hardly gets a mention. Haynes confesses she just couldn't bring the “Illiad's” (Illium is another name for Troy),Trojan War Macguffin to life. The other women and goddesses in this story, raped, kidnapped, robbed of their children; given voices by the poet called Homer, more or less ignored by every scholar since, are all of them brilliantly portrayed in Haynes's version.
Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth
Okay, consider the economics of planet earth as a ring doughnut. The outer surface of this doughnut is our planetary boundaries, which we mustn't breach because if we do our living world goes straight to hell (we are close!). The inner surface is human social foundation; the needs of all the humans, and all the systems of the living world that we depend on, being met. Doughnut economics is when economic entities of all persuasions (governments, neoliberal billionaires, minor Tik Tok entrepreneurs; you and me) work with this model, and no other, in mind. Tricky, very tricky . . .
I had no idea I could understand a work like this, until I tried. Don't know if Raworth will save the world, but it's a very thorough, very interesting & informative read.
“Remembrance Of Things Past”, Cixin Liu
A fabulous, Asimov-style three-volume spectacular that takes you to infinity and beyond . . .
I'm unconvinced by the English title assigned to this superb blockbuster. For me, Liu Cixin's original title, (Earth's Past) works fine, for an epic that journeys into the fartherest possible future & yet is haunted from the start by the terrible events of China's “Cutural Revolution”. Even if you know nothing about the history of modern China, you will come to realise, as you journey through the stunning distances in time and space, and the amazing realities that open up, why it's Earth's past we're asked to consider, & it's nothing to do with Marcel Proust, or a Shakespeare sonnet.
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