What the economist writers wrote when they didn't write for economist

Journalistic writing makes up for some of the best non-fiction narratives. This is a roundup of what the writers at Economist wrote as their passion projects.
The World in Conflict
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The World in Conflict

by The Economist,John Andrews

About the book:  So far in the twenty-first century, the USA and its allies have invaded Afghanistan; Russia has waged war with Georgia; the brutal Islamic State (IS) has emerged in the Middle East; and a constant contest for precious minerals in Africa has provoked - and financed - war and carnage. Other conflicts are less bloody, but still dangerous - the nervous stand-off between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, for instance, or the continuing stalemate between North and South Korea. Whether explosive or simmering, the number of violent conflicts in the world is high enough to surprise, intrigue and sober any reader. In The World in Conflict, John Andrews tackles head-on the reasons why global conflict is ever-present in our lives. He analyses today's conflicts region by region, considering the causes, contexts, participants, impacts and likely outcomes. He looks at recently-ended wars that still spawn intermittent fighting. And, crucially, he considers where, why and how new conflicts might erupt. This is a must-read for our times, an essential guide for anyone who wants to know more about the world and its danger spots, and how and why war and terrorism persist - in short, how we might better understand our world in conflict.

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The Wealth of Humans
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The Wealth of Humans

by Ryan Avent

About the book:  None of us has ever lived through a genuine industrial revolution. Until now. Digital technology is transforming every corner of the economy, fundamentally altering the way things are done, who does them, and what they earn for their efforts. In The Wealth of Humans, Economist editor Ryan Avent brings up-to-the-minute research and reporting to bear on the major economic question of our time: can the modern world manage technological changes every bit as disruptive as those that shook the socioeconomic landscape of the 19th century? Traveling from Shenzhen, to Gothenburg, to Mumbai, to Silicon Valley, Avent investigates the meaning of work in the twenty-first century: how technology is upending time-tested business models and thrusting workers of all kinds into a world wholly unlike that of a generation ago. It's a world in which the relationships between capital and labor and between rich and poor have been overturned. Past revolutions required rewriting the social contract: this one is unlikely to demand anything less. Avent looks to the history of the Industrial Revolution and the work of numerous experts for lessons in reordering society. The future needn't be bleak, but as The Wealth of Humans explains, we can't expect to restructure the world without a wrenching rethinking of what an economy should be.

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The Poisoned Well
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The Poisoned Well

by Roger Hardy

About the book:  The conflicts and crises of today's Middle East are rooted in the colonial era. To better understand them, we need to acknowledge how Western imperialism negatively shaped the region and its destiny in the half-century between World War I and the happenings of the Cold War. That is the challenging argument of The Poisoned Well, which provides a vivid account of the struggle against European colonial rule in ten states stretching from North Africa to south Arabia. Drawing on a rich cast of eye-witnesses - ranging from nationalists and colonial administrators to soldiers, spies, and courtesans - The Poisoned Well brings to life the story of the making of the Middle East, highlighting the great dramas of decolonization such as the end of the Palestine mandate, the Suez crisis, the Algerian war of independence, and the retreat from Aden. It argues that imperialism sowed the seeds of future conflict - and poisoned relations between the Middle East and the West. Bolstered by firsthand accounts and interviews, readers will find a wise and humanistic account of the struggle for independence in the Middle East. Written by a former BBC journalist, it is a far-ranging, landmark work that will serve as the definitive history of Western imperialism in the Middle East for years to come.

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Pariah
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Pariah

by Dan Abnett

About the book:  The boy on the mortuary slab is dead; so why doesn’t he act like it? Forensic sorcerer Frank Sampson reckons it’s something to do with the bizarre magic symbols carved into his flesh. He thinks he knows the sorcerer behind it; but the trouble is, he also thinks he may be in love with her. Or not . . . Life can get confusing when your loyalties are divided, you’re on the run, and the Inquisition are on your tail with a stack of dry firewood and a box of matches.

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The Reykjavik Assignment
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The Reykjavik Assignment

by Adam LeBor

About the book:  Adam LeBor, author of critically acclaimed thrillers The Geneva Option and The Washington Stratagem, delivers the final book of this trilogy featuring United Nations covert negotiator Yael Azoulay. “[A] series of thought-provoking geopolitical thrillers…. LeBor succeeds in making us care about his two-fisted protagonist and her all-too-human vulnerability.”—Wall Street Journal Yael Azoulay, covert negotiator for the UN Secretary General, has made a powerful enemy in Clarence Clairborne, head of Washington, D.C. lobbying and security firm the Prometheus Group. He’s fixated on revenge—and Yael knows it. She’s definitely being followed, but Clairborne’s operatives are not the only ones tracking her every move. Unexpected visitors from her past have arrived, determined to make her confront the secrets she’s been hiding. Driven by exceptional plotting and electrifying prose, The Reykjavik Assignment follows Yael as she fights the pull of her old life while brokering the triumph of her career: A summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, between the United States and Iran. But when events in Reykjavik take a terrifying turn, the only thing that Yael cares about is preventing a desperate man from taking desperate measures to avenge his own past.

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James Lovelock Et Al
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James Lovelock Et Al

by James Lovelock

About the book:  The big picture An essential illustrated collection of earth and human science for curious minds of all ages "We are buried beneath mountains of fast accumulating data. In such circumstances, this book, rather than adding to the data load, aims to offer real understanding." -James Lovelock Human beings are extraordinary creatures. Intelligent, agile, and curious, we have adapted and invented our way to becoming the most important species on the planet. So great is the extent of our influence, that many speak of a new geological era, the Anthropocene, an age defined by human-induced change to the blue and green globe we call home. Our lofty status comes with responsibility as much as possibility: How should we approach our present and future? What knowledge should we carry with us? Conceived by James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, this illustrated essay collection brings together an all-star line-up of thinkers and scientists to offer essential understanding about who we are, how we live, and where we might be going. Much as the Gaia theory considers our earth as an integrated whole of living systems, The Earth and I encourages holistic understanding. Across 12 chapters, we take in both the intricate details and immense structures of our species and our planet, from our ever-expanding universe to our minuscule but mighty cells. We see stellar explosions and the layers of life beneath our feet, delve into the neuroscience of decision-making, get to grips with our climate, and contemplate our increasing intimacy with technology. The book's world-class contributors include quantum physicist Lisa Randall, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson, and Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. With lively illustrations from British artist Jack Hudson, the result is an inspiration for curious minds young and old, and a trusted tool kit for an informed and enlightened future.

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The Invention of Russia
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The Invention of Russia

by Arkady Ostrovsky

About the book:  WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE 2016 How did a country that liberated itself from seventy years of Soviet rule end up as one of the biggest threats to the West and, above all, to its own future? Why did the people who rejected Communist ideology come to accept state propaganda? In this bold and important book, Arkady Ostrovsky takes the reader on an enthralling journey through Russia's tumultuous post-Soviet transformation and illuminates the key turning points that often took the world by surprise. As a foreign correspondent in his own country, Ostrovsky has experienced Russia's modern history first-hand, and through original research and interviews he reveals the ideological conflicts, compromises and temptations that have left Russia on a knife-edge.

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Holy Lands
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Holy Lands

by Nicolas Pelham

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The Secret Lives of Colour
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The Secret Lives of Colour

by Kassia St Clair

About the book:  'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon Garfield The Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.

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Go Figure
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Go Figure

by The Economist

About the book:  Go Figure: Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know brings together for the first time the very best explainers and charts, written and created by top journalists to help us understand such brain-bending conundrums as why almost half the population of Korea has one of two surnames, how bitcoin mining works, and the seasonal distribution of dog poo on the streets of New York. Subjects both topical and timeless, profound and peculiar, are explained with TheEconomist’s trademark wit and verve. The Economist Explains and its online sister, theDaily Chart, are the two most popular blogs on TheEconomist’s website. Together, these online giants provide answers to the kinds of questions, quirky and serious, that may be puzzling anyone interested in the world around them. Want to know how a tattoo affects your job prospects, why bees are under threat, or even how different countries spend their money? We have the answers. They are sometimes surprising, often intriguing, and always enlightening.

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Narconomics
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Narconomics

by Tom Wainwright

About the book:  Everything drug cartels do to survive and prosper they’ve learnt from big business – brand value and franchising from McDonald’s, supply chain management from Walmart, diversification from Coca-Cola. Whether it’s human resourcing, R&D, corporate social responsibility, off-shoring, problems with e-commerce or troublesome changes in legislation, the drug lords face the same strategic concerns companies like Ryanair or Apple. So when the drug cartels start to think like big business, the only way to understand them is using economics. In Narconomics, Tom Wainwright meets everyone from coca farmers in secret Andean locations, deluded heads of state in presidential palaces, journalists with a price on their head, gang leaders who run their empires from dangerous prisons and teenage hitmen on city streets - all in search of the economic truth.

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Six Facets Of Light
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Six Facets Of Light

by Ann Wroe

About the book:  Goethe claimed to know what light was. Galileo and Einstein both confessed they didn’t. On the essential nature of light, and how it operates, the scientific jury is still out. There is still time, therefore, to listen to painters and poets on the subject. They, after all, spend their lives pursuing light and trying to tie it down. Six Facets of Light is a series of meditations on this most elusive and alluring feature of human life. Set mostly on the Downs and coastline of East Sussex, the most luminous part of England, it interweaves a walker’s experiences of light in Nature with the observations, jottings and thoughts of a dozen writers and painters – and some scientists – who have wrestled to define and understand light. From Hopkins to Turner, Coleridge to Whitman, Fra Angelico to Newton, Ravilious to Dante, the mystery of light is teased out and pondered on. Some of the results are surprising. By using mostly notebooks and sketchbooks, this book becomes a portrait of the transitoriness, randomness, swiftness, frustrations and quicksilver beauty that are the essence of light. It is a work to be enjoyed, pondered over, engaged with, provoked by; to be packed in the rucksack of every walker heading for the sea or the hills, or to be opened to bring that outside radiance within four dark town walls.

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