BEN McNALLY BOOKS

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An occasional preview of some forthcoming books of interest.

Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

Knopf
Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures and religions. From the rise and fall of empires to the spread of Buddhism and the advent of Christianity and Islam, right up to the great wars of the twentieth century, this book shows how the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East.

Peter Frankopan realigns our understanding of the world, pointing us eastward. He vividly re-creates the emergence of the first cities in Mesopotamia and the birth of empires in Persia, Rome, and Constantinople, as well as the depredations by the Mongols, the transmission of the Black Death, and the violent struggles over Western imperialism. Throughout the millennia, it was the appetite for foreign goods that brought East and West together, driving economies and the growth of nations.

From the Middle East and its political instability to China and its economic rise, the vast region stretching eastward from the Balkans across the steppe and South Asia has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent years. Frankopan teaches us that to understand what is at stake for the cities and nations built on these intricate trade routes, we must first understand their astounding pasts. Far more than a history of the Silk Roads, this book is truly a revelatory new history of the world, promising to destabilize notions of where we come from and where we are headed next.

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Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Doubleday Canada
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Productivity, recent studies suggest, isn't always about driving ourselves harder, working faster and pushing ourselves toward greater "efficiency." Rather, real productivity relies on managing how we think, identify goals, construct teams and make decisions. The most productive people, companies and organizations don't merely act differently--they envision the world and their choices in profoundly different ways.

This book explores eight concepts that are critical to increasing productivity. It takes you into the cockpit of two passenger jets (one crashes) to understand the importance of constructing mental models. It introduces us to basic training in the U.S. Marine Corps, where the internal locus of control is exploited to increase self-motivation. It chronicles the outbreak of Israel's Yom Kippur War to examine cognitive closure--a dangerous trap that stems from our natural desire to feel productive and check every last thing off our to-do lists, causing us to miss obvious risks and bigger opportunities. It uses a high-achieving public school in Cincinnati to illuminate the concept of disfluency, which holds that we learn faster and more deeply when we make the data harder to absorb. It shows how the principles of lean manufacturing--in which decision-making power is pushed to the lowest levels of the hierarchy--allowed the FBI to produce a software system that had eluded them for years. It explores how Disney made Frozen into a record success by encouraging tension among animation teams--a version of what biologists refer to as the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, which posits that nature is most creative when crises occur. With the combination of relentless curiosity, deep reporting and rich storytelling that defined The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg takes readers from neurology laboratories to Google's brainstorming sessions and illustrates how we can all increase productivity in our lives.

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Arcadia by Iain Pears

Knopf Canada
Arcadia by Iain Pears

In a major suspense novel set to surpass the internationally bestselling An Instance of the Fingerpost comes a dazzling story of youth, love and murderous ambition--a novel of time travel spanning three beautifully detailed worlds: the intellectual spires of Oxford in 1960, an ancient Arcadian world, and a dystopian future.

In 1960, Henry Lytten is an Oxford don who dabbles in espionage and fiction writing. Rosie Wilson is the quick-witted, curious 15-year-old girl who feeds Professor Lytten's cat. Several hundred years in the future, living in a dystopian society on the Isle of Mull, is Angela Meerson--a brilliant psychomathematician who has discovered the world-changing potential of a powerful new machine. Somewhere, sometime, is Jay--a scholar's apprentice in an idyllic, pastoral land. Who these people really are, and how their stories come together, will be revealed in Iain Pears's fascinating great puzzle of a novel.

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The Cellar by Minette Walters

HarperCollins
The Cellar by Minette Walters

The terrifying new novel from bestselling crime writer Minette Walters, award-winning author of The Chameleon’s Shadow and The Sculptress.

“Muna’s fortunes changed for the better on the day that Mr. and Mrs. Songoli’s younger son failed to come home from school.”

Before then her bedroom was a dark windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. She’d grown used to being mistreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave. She’s never been outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English.

At least that’s what the Songolis believe.

But Muna is far smarter —and her plans more terrifying —than the Songolis, or anyone else, could ever imagine. . .

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