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This Just In

Interesting new titles in August

Women of the World by Helen McCarthy

Bloomsbury Publishing
Women of the World by Helen McCarthy

Throughout the twentieth century and long before, hundreds of determined British women defied the social conventions of their day in order to seek adventure and influence on the world stage. Some became travellers and explorers; others business-owners or buyers; others still devoted their lives to worthy international causes, from anti-slavery and women’s suffrage to the League of Nations and world peace. Yet until 1946, no British woman could officially represent her nation abroad. It was only after decades of campaigning and the heroic labours performed by women during the Second World War that diplomatic careers were finally opened to both sexes.

Women of the World tells this story of personal and professional struggle against the dramatic backdrop of war, super-power rivalry and global transformation over the last century and a half. From London to Washington, Geneva to Tehran, and in the deserts of Arabia, the souks of Damascus, and the hospitals of Sarajevo, resolute women undaunted by intransigent officials and hostile foreign governments proved their worth.

Moved by a longing to escape domestic redundancy, to follow in the footsteps of fathers or brothers, to build a more peaceful world, to discover cultures other than their own or simply to serve the nation which denied them full equality, these women were extraordinary individuals fighting prejudice in high places. Drawing on letters, memoirs, personal interviews and government records, these heroines caught up in the larger endeavours of the world’s greatest empire are brought vividly to life to enrich our understanding of Britain’s global history in modern times.

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Bricks & Mortals by Tom Wilkinson

Bloomsbury Press
Bricks & Mortals by Tom Wilkinson

We don’t just look at buildings: their facades, beautiful or ugly, conceal the spaces where we live. We are born, work, love, and die in architecture. We buy and sell it, rent and squat it, create and destroy it. All of these aspects of buildings—economic, erotic, political, and psychological—are crucial if we are to understand architecture properly. And because architecture molds us just as much as we mold it, understanding architecture helps us to understand our lives and our world.

In this book, ten buildings from across the globe tell stories of architecture from the beginning of civilization to the present day. From the remains of the Tower of Babel to the Summer Palace in Beijing, built and destroyed by Europeans, to the Ford car plant where the production line was born, Tom Wilkinson unpicks these structures to reveal the lives of the people who built and used them. Architecture has always had a powerful and intimate relationship with society and the lives of those who build and live with it. It has often been used to try and improve society. But can architecture change our lives for the better?

The buildings are: the Tower of Babel, Babylon; Nero’s Golden House, Rome; Djinguereber Mosque, Timbuktu; Palazzo Rucellai, Florence; the Garden of Perfect Brightness, Beijing; the Festival Theatre, Beyreuth; E.1027, Cap Martin; Highland Park Ford Plant, Detroit; and the Finsbury Health Centre, London.

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A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre

Signal
A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre

A Spy Among Friends, Ben Macintyre's thrillingly ambitious new book, tackles the greatest spy story of all: the rise and fall of Kim Philby, MI6's Cambridge-bred golden boy who used his perch high in the intelligence world to betray friend and country to the Soviet Union for over two decades. In Macintyre's telling, Philby's story is not a tale of one spy, but of three: the story of his complex friendships with fellow Englishman operative Nicholas Elliott and with the American James Jesus Angleton, who became one of the most powerful men in the CIA. These men came up together, shared the same background, went to the same schools and clubs, and served the same cause--or so Elliott and Angleton thought. In reality, Philby was channeling all of their confidences directly to his Soviet handlers, sinking almost every great Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies and obfuscations to protect his secret, Angleton and Elliott never abandoned him. When Philby's true master was finally revealed with his defection to Moscow in 1963, it would have profound and devastating consequences on these men who thought they knew him best, and the intelligence services they helped to build.

This remarkable story, told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, is Ben Macintyre's best book yet, and a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.

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Factory Man by Beth Macy

Little, Brown and Company
Factory Man by Beth Macy

With over $500 million a year in sales, the Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's biggest wood furniture manufacturer. Run by the same powerful Virginia family for a century, it was also the center of life in Bassett, Virginia -- an unincorporated town that existed solely to fuel the business. But beginning in the 1980s, the Bassett company suffered from an influx of cheap Asian furniture as the first wave of imports struck, and ultimately moved nearly all its production to Asia.

Only one man fought back: John Bassett III, a shrewd and determined third-generation factory man who used grit, tenacity, and will to compete against China and ultimately save his family's company. In Factory Man, Beth Macy brings to life John Bassett's fascinating business, with wildly colorful stories from an American industry that once ruled the world and might again see better days. As Macy shows how he uses legal maneuvers, factory efficiencies, and sheer will to save hundreds of jobs, she also discovers the hidden history of industry in America.

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company today employs more than seven hundred people, with John Bassett at the helm. His story unveils shocking truths about American business, including the hidden fallout of offshoring on communities across the country. By revealing how one businessman took on China -- and won -- Factory Man raises a flag for the return of made-in-America products.

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