John Higgs - Stranger Than We Can Imagine - Orion Publishing Group

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats
  • Paperback £9.99
    More information
    • ISBN:9781780226576
    • Publication date:11 Aug 2016
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
    More information
    • ISBN:9780297870906
    • Publication date:27 Aug 2015

Stranger Than We Can Imagine

Making Sense of the Twentieth Century

By John Higgs

  • Hardback
  • £20.00

An alternative exploration of history's most challenging century, from the author of THE KLF, 'a thing of endlessly fascinating, utterly demented genius' GUARDIAN

The twentieth century should make sense. It's the period of history that we know the most about, an epic geo-political narrative that runs through World War One, the great depression, World War Two, the American century and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But somehow that story doesn't quite lead into the world we find ourselves in now, this bewildering twenty-first century, adrift in a network of constant surveillance, unsustainable competition, tsunamis of trivia and extraordinary opportunity.

Time, then, for a new perspective. With John Higgs as our guide, we step off the main path and wander through some of the more curious backwaters of the twentieth century, exploring familiar and unfamiliar territory alike, finding fresh insight on our journey to the present day. We travel in the company of some of the most radical artists, scientists, geniuses and crazies of their age. They show us that great innovations such as relativity, cubism, quantum mechanics, postmodernism and chaos maths are not the incomprehensible, abstract horrors that we assume them to be, but signposts that bring us to the world we live in now.

John Higgs brings us an alternative history of the strangest of centuries. He shows us how the elegant, clockwork universe of the Victorians became increasingly woozy and uncertain; and how we discovered that our world is not just stranger than we imagine but, in the words of Sir Arthur Eddington, 'stranger than we can imagine'.

Biographical Notes

John Higgs is the author I HAVE AMERICA SURROUNDED: THE LIFE OF TIMOTHY LEARY, THE KLF: CHAOS, MAGIC AND THE BAND WHO BURNED A MILLION POUNDS and the novel THE BRANDY OF THE DAMNED. He lives in Brighton with his partner and their two children.
www.johnhiggs.com
@johnhiggs

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780297870890
  • Publication date: 27 Aug 2015
  • Page count: 352
  • Imprint: W&N
It was formerly held that a comprehensive history of the last century would never be written, by virtue of the fact that we knew too much about that frenetic and eventful period. Now, with the era's ink barely dry, John Higgs demolishes this assumption with a breathtakingly lucid and coherent map of the tectonic shifts which drastically reshaped the human psyche, and the human world, within a hundred thrilling, terrifying years ... An illuminating work of massive insight, in STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE John Higgs informs us of exactly where we've been and, by extension, where we are. I cannot recommend this magnificent work too highly — Alan Moore, author of V FOR VENDETTA, WATCHMEN and LOST GIRLS
A beautiful, erudite, funny and enlightening tour of the widening boundaries of uncertainty revealed in the twentieth century, and who doesn't need a book that explains quantum behaviour with a boxing bout between Putin and a kangaroo? — Robin Ince
...a brilliantly stimulating tale. — Financial Times
... a challenging book that stimulates the reader to think radically. — Daily Mail
In Stranger Than We Can Imagine, [Higgs] broadens his intellectual reach to encompass modernism, situationism, chaos theory, indeterminacy and almost every other byway of that epoch. Higgs's plate-spinning act is a fine example of learning worn lightly. — Adam Roberts, New Scientist
John Higgs takes a journey through some of the 'curious backwaters' of the last century in the excellent, and consistently intriguing STRANGER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE. — CHOICE magazine
Hugely entertaining and thought-provoking — Scott Pack
To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz, reading John Higgs is like being shot with a diamond. Suddenly everything becomes terrifyingly clear — Andrew Male, Mojo
Higgs recounts...with wide-ranging erudition and a delightful deadpan humour; a particular joy is the explanation of quantum theory via an example of Vladimir Putin fighting a kangaroo. — Press Association
A great and truly enlightening read. — History Revealed
The best, most imaginative, most readable history book... No tired chronology of the Wars, Depression, or Vietnam here. No, instead you get a Bill Bryson-type rollercoaster ride of the ideas that made and broke the [twentieth] century. — Tea In The Cloister.com
Stranger Than We Can Imagine is a thought-provoking read. Its memorable anecdotes and signposts to further reading make it an enjoyable introductory text on twentieth century history, as well as an accessible guide to many of its more murky aspects. — History Matters.co.uk
W&N

Watling Street

John Higgs
Authors:
John Higgs

A journey along one of Britain's oldest roads, from Dover to Anglesey, in search of the hidden history that makes us who we are today.Long ago a path was created by the passage of feet tramping through endless forests. Gradually that path became a track, and the track became a road. It connected the White Cliffs of Dover to the Druid groves of the Welsh island of Anglesey, across a land that was first called Albion then Britain, Mercia and eventually England and Wales. Armies from Rome arrived and straightened this 444 kilometres of meandering track, which in the Dark Ages gained the name Watling Street. Today, this ancient road goes by many different names: the A2, the A5 and the M6 Toll. It is a palimpsest that is always being rewritten.Watling Street is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Along this route Boudicca met her end, the Battle of Bosworth changed royal history, Bletchley Park code breakers cracked Nazi transmissions and Capability Brown remodelled the English landscape. The myriad people who use this road every day might think it unremarkable, but, as John Higgs shows, it hides its secrets in plain sight. Watling Street is not just the story of a route across our island, but an acutely observed, unexpected exploration of Britain and who we are today, told with wit and flair, and an unerring eye for the curious and surprising.

W&N

General Jack's Diary 1914-18

John Terraine
Authors:
John Terraine

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Captain J. L. Jack was serving with the First Cameronians, one of the earliest British regiments to arrive in France. Almost every day while serving in France and Flanders, Jack kept a secret diary. This diary is unique. It presents the detail of a regular officer's life at war during virtually the whole of the First World War on the Western Front. Jack was witness not only to the horror and wretchedness of much that happened in the trenches but also to the bravery and spirit that kept the British soldiers in the line going through to the momentous battles of 1918 and final victory. Poignant and moving, as well as describing the reality of war on the Western Front, these diaries have been edited and linked with commentaries by the distinguished military historian John Terraine.

W&N

Popski's Private Army

Vladimir Peniakoff
Authors:
Vladimir Peniakoff
W&N

Heal Me

Julia Buckley
Authors:
Julia Buckley
Orion

The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness

Laura Kemp
Authors:
Laura Kemp

'Witty, Warm, and Wonderful. I loved it!' Milly JohnsonSometimes all it takes to make the world a better place is a small act of kindness...'A truly wonderful and heartwarming read' Heidi SwainThe perfect feel-good read for fans of Milly Johnson, Lucy Diamond and Jenny ColganWhen Ceri Price arrives in the small seaside village in West Wales, she only means to stay for a couple of nights - long enough to scatter her mother's ashes, and then go back to her life as a successful make-up entrepreneur.But when a case of mistaken identities means she lands a job as the barmaid in the local pub, she unexpectedly finds friendship, and perhaps a chance at love.But when the plans for a new housing estate put the local woodland under threat, she fears the way of life here could disappear.Then mysterious acts of kindness start springing up around the village - a string of bunting adorns the streets, a new village signpost appears out of nowhere and someone provides paint to spruce up the houses on the seafront. Who is behind these acts of kindness and can they help in the race to save the village from the faceless developers...?Welcome to the Village of Love. Where friendship flourishes and love blossoms...*********Readers are loving this feel-good uplifting novel:'Heartwarming, wise, funny and romantic...this is a delight' Rachael Lucas, bestselling author of Wildflower Bay'A truly wonderful and heartwarming read' Heidi Swain, Sunday Times bestselling author of Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair 'I absolutely loved it!' Cathy Bramley, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lemon Tree Cafe'A perfect feel-good read that will lift your spirits no end' The Sun'I have completely and utterly fallen in love with this book; with the characters, the setting and the wonderfully written story. Beautifully brilliant. I love this book. Five stars'. Anne, Random Things Through My Letterbox'This really is a wonderful book. With fabulous characters and a beautiful setting. This book will make you want to spread your own acts of kindness and make the lives of people that you meet just that little bit better. Absolutely loved it. Five stars.' Karen, Goodreads reviewer'A beautiful book...I loved it...you can't help but feel better about life once you have read it. It puts a smile on your face. It is uplifting, shares the best of human kindness and makes you appreciate that life is so much more than material possessions. It really is a feel-good book, that is perfect for those cold winter evenings. Five stars.' Jo, Goodreads reviewer'A very entertaining, page-turning book, that was just that little bit different character-wise, and with a lovely ending. Very enjoyable.' Claire, Goodreads reviewer'I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it as a cosy sit by the fire with a cuppa read, and I defy you to try reading it without the sound of the lovely welsh voices in your head.' Lorraine, Goodreads reviewer

W&N

Chaucer's People

Liza Picard
Authors:
Liza Picard
Orion

All The World's A Stage

Boris Akunin
Authors:
Boris Akunin

Eliza Altairsky-Lointaine is the toast of Moscow society, a beautiful actress in an infamous theatre troupe. Her love life is as colourful as the parts she plays. She is the estranged wife of a descendant of Genghis Khan. And her ex-husband has threatened to kill anyone who courts her.He appears to be making good on his promise.Fandorin is contacted by concerned friend - the widowed wife of Chekhov - who asks him to investigate an alarming incident involving Eliza. But when he watches Eliza on stage for the first time, he falls desperately in love . . . Can he solve the case - and win over Eliza - without attracting the attentions of the murderer he is trying to find?Read by Jonathan Coote(p) Orion Publishing Group 2017

W&N

Titans of History

Simon Sebag Montefiore
Authors:
Simon Sebag Montefiore

NEW EDITION - FEATURING UPDATED INTRODUCTION AND NEW CHAPTERS The giant characters of history - from Mozart to Michelangelo, Shakespeare to Einstein, Henry VIII to Hitler, Catherine the Great to Margaret Thatcher, Jesus Christ to Genghis Khan ­- lived lives of astonishing drama and adventure, debauchery and slaughter, but they also formed our world and will shape our future. In this eclectic and surprising collection of short and entertaining life stories, Simon Sebag Montefiore introduces his choice of kings, empresses, sultans and conquerors, as well as prophets, explorers, artists, actresses, courtesans and psychopaths. From the ancient times, via crusades and world wars, up to the 21st century, this accessible history introduces readers to the titans who changed the world: the characters we should all know, and the stories we should never forget.

W&N

The Boys: Triumph Over Adversity

Martin Gilbert
Authors:
Martin Gilbert

In August 1945, the first of 732 child survivors of the Holocaust reached Britain. First settled in the Lake District, they formed a tightly knit group of friends whose terrible shared experience is almost beyond imagining. This is their story, which begins in the lost communities of pre-World War II central Europe, moves through ghetto, concentration camp and death march, to liberation, survival, and finally, fifty years later, a deeply moving reunion. Martin Gilbert has brought together the recollections of this remarkable group of survivors. With magisterial narration, he tells their astonishing stories. The Boys bears witness to the human spirit, enduring the depths, and bearing hopefully the burden and challenge of survival.'Martin Gilbert is to be congratulated on producing a masterly and deeply moving tribute to those who had the courage and luck to survive' Literary Review

W&N

Signals

Pippa Malmgren
Authors:
Pippa Malmgren

She predicted the financial crisis. She predicted Brexit. She predicted Trump. Now Dr Pippa Malmgren shares the signals that will protect you from the next surprise.Drawing on a wonderful range of examples - from magazine covers and supermarkets to public protests - SIGNALS is the fascinating story of the world economy told in the language of everyday objects, places and events. Malmgren explains why the size of chocolate bars, steaks and apartments are shrinking, and why the increasing near misses between America's spy planes and the fighter jets of China and Russia are no coincidence. Rising costs and inflation are breaking the social contract between citizens and their states, causing the rise of anti-establishment voting, the return of social unrest to emerging markets and resistance to mass immigration. If the only solution is innovation, then the key question is whether governments support efforts to invest in the economy of tomorrow. Written with refreshing clarity, SIGNALS shows us who is already building the future and how to be part of it.

W&N

The Mesmerist

Wendy Moore
Authors:
Wendy Moore

FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER, WEDLOCKMedicine, in the early 1800s, was a brutal business. Operations were performed without anaesthesia while conventional treatment relied on leeches, cupping and toxic potions. The most surgeons could offer by way of pain relief was a large swig of brandy. Onto this scene came John Elliotson, the dazzling new hope of the medical world. Charismatic and ambitious, Elliotson was determined to transform medicine from a hodge-podge of archaic remedies into a practice informed by the latest science. In this aim he was backed by Thomas Wakley, founder of the new magazine, the Lancet, and a campaigner against corruption and malpractice.Then, in the summer of 1837, a French visitor - the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet - arrived in London to promote an exotic new idea: mesmerism. The mesmerism mania would take the nation by storm but would ultimately split the two friends, and the medical world, asunder - throwing into focus fundamental questions about the fine line between medicine and quackery, between science and superstition.

W&N

Lenin the Dictator

Victor Sebestyen
Authors:
Victor Sebestyen
W&N

Pearl Harbor

Craig Nelson
Authors:
Craig Nelson

On 7 December 1941, an armada of 354 Japanese warplanes supported by aircraft carriers, destroyers and midget submarines launched a surprise attack on the United States, killing 2,403 people and forcing America's entry into the Second World War. Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness follows the sailors, soldiers, pilots, diplomats, admirals, generals, emperor and president as they engineer, fight and react to this stunningly dramatic moment in world history.In vivid prose Craig Nelson maps the road to war, beginning in 1914 with a young Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man who would become president, attending the laying of the keel of the USS Arizona at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He also traces Japan's leaders as they lurch into ultranationalist fascism, culminating in their insanely daring yet militarily brilliant scheme to terrify America with one of the boldest attacks ever waged.The result is a thrilling historical drama on the grandest scale. Nelson delivers all the terror, chaos, violence, tragedy and heroism of the attack in stunning detail, and offers surprising conclusions about the tragedy's unforeseen consequences that resonate even today.

Orion

Quantum

Jim Al-Khalili
Authors:
Jim Al-Khalili

From Schrodinger's cat to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world.Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself. And yet it has been said that if you're not shocked by it, you don't understand it. But is quantum physics really so unknowable? Is reality really so strange? And just how can cats be half-alive and half-dead at the same time?Our journey into the quantum begins with nature's own conjuring trick, in which we discover that atoms -- contrary to the rules of everyday experience -- can exist in two locations at once. To understand this we travel back to the dawn of the twentieth century and witness the birth of quantum theory, which over the next one hundred years was to overthrow so many of our deeply held notions about the nature of our universe. Scientists and philosophers have been left grappling with its implications every since.Read by Hugh Kermode(p) 2016 Orion Publishing Group

Orion

The Poison Artist

Jonathan Moore
Authors:
Jonathan Moore
W&N

Japanese Society

Chie Nakane
Authors:
Chie Nakane

Why do the Japanese almost always go for holidays in groups? Do Japanese families experience our sort of 'family life'? Why do conversations with Japanese friends and acquaintances often seem to come to an abrupt halt just when they're getting interesting - that is, a little controversial? What motivates the Japanese man in the street? Professor Nakane, writing with an intimate knowledge of her own people, provides in this fascinating book the answers to these and many other perplexing questions. Using the structure of Japanese society as the basis of her analysis, rather than explaining it in cultural or historical terms, Professor Nakane begins by examining one-to-one relationships, following through to the structure of the group and finally that of the society as a whole.

W&N

The Romanovs

Simon Sebag Montefiore
Authors:
Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Montefiore's gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy, from Queen Victoria to Lenin.To rule Russia was both imperial-sacred mission and poisoned chalice: six tsars were murdered and all the Romanovs lived under constant threat to their lives. Peter the Great tortured his own son to death while making Russia an empire, and dominated his court with a dining club notable for compulsory drunkenness, naked dwarfs and fancy dress. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband - who was murdered soon afterwards - loved her young male favourites, conquered Ukraine and fascinated Europe. Paul was strangled by courtiers backed by his own son, Alexander I, who faced Napoleon's invasion and the burning of Moscow, then went on to take Paris. Alexander II liberated the serfs, survived five assassination attempts, and wrote perhaps the most explicit love letters ever written by a ruler. THE ROMANOVS climaxes with a fresh, unforgettable portrayal of Nicholas and Alexandra, the rise and murder of Rasputin, war and revolution - and the harrowing massacre of the entire family.Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, THE ROMANOVS is at once an enthralling story of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power, and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.

W&N

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

David Whitehouse
Authors:
David Whitehouse
W&N

The KLF

John Higgs
Authors:
John Higgs

'By far the best book this year, brilliant, discursive and wise' BEN GOLDACRE. The strange tale of the death, life and legacy of the hugely successful band.They were the bestselling singles band in the world. They had awards, credibility, commercial success and creative freedom. Then they deleted their records, erased themselves from musical history and burnt their last million pounds in a boathouse on the Isle of Jura. And they couldn't say why.This is not just the story of The KLF. It is a book about Carl Jung, Alan Moore, Robert Anton Wilson, Ken Campbell, Dada, Situationism, Discordianism, magic, chaos, punk, rave, the alchemical symbolism of Doctor Who and the special power of the number 23.Wildly unauthorised and unlike any other music biography, THE KLF is a trawl through chaos on the trail of a beautiful, accidental mythology.Read by John Higgs(p) Orion Publishing Group 2018

W&N

Sylvia, Queen Of The Headhunters

Philip Eade
Authors:
Philip Eade

The biography of the last Ranee of Sarawak, born into the aristocracy as Sylvia Brett in 1885 and destined to become 'Queen of the Headhunters'.'Jaw-dropping ... If you thought White Mischief the last word in English expatriate decadence, you haven't yet met Sylvia and the Brookes' The TimesSylvia Brooke was the consort of His Highness Sir Vyner Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, the last in a bizarre dynasty of English despots who ruled their jungle kingdom on Borneo until 1946. The White Rajahs were long held up as model rulers, but the spectacularly eccentric behaviour of Ranee Sylvia - self-styled Queen of the Headhunters - changed everything. This is the compelling story of her part in their downfall.