Recommended Books

Here's some recommended reading. I've tried to include links to amazon and B&N so you can get more details on each book and full reviews. I rate books on a scale from 0-10 which is detailed in the table to the right. I only plan to include good books here, so you mostly won't see anything with a rating below 7. My rating is based on a combination of information content and writing quality.
unbelievable0
bad1
bearable2
time pass3
not bad4
ok5
quite good6
good7
very good8
excellent9
perfect10
About the Size of It Warwick Cairns Science good [7] 14/09/2010
Subtitled "The Common Sense Approach to Measuring Things", this is an entertainingly written description of how things are measured and why.
Stick to Drawing Comics Monkey Brain! Scott Adams Humor good [7] 06/02/2010
This is a collection of blog entries. It's quite disjoint at times, but varied and fun.
Unweaving the Rainbow Richard Dawkins Nature good [7] 12/01/2010
Dawkins' focus in this book is the contention that understanding nature through science enchances our ability to appreciate its beauty.
Sushi and Beyond Michael Booth Food good [7] 30/11/2009
Accompanied by his family, the author travels around Japan learning about the food. This is a fun read.
Archimedes' Revenge Paul Hoffman Mathematics good [7] 25/11/2009
A collection of well written essays on varied mathematical topics.
Dealers of Lightning Michael A. Hiltzik Computer/History very good [8] 27/10/2009
Work at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center laid the foundation for many of the concepts and technologies we take for granted in modern computing. This is an interesting history of the place and the people.
Hackers Steven Levy Computer/History very good [8] 19/10/2009
This is a classic of computer history. It needs to be read in context, given the rate at which the field changes - both technically and culturally.
Freedom in Exile Dalai Lama Biography good [7] 28/09/2009
As autobiographies go, this one seems surprisingly frank. It's also quite entertainingly written.
Travels with Charley John Steinbeck Travel good [7] 23/09/2009
Steinbeck's travels around America with his dog are well written and entertaining, with a few dry spots.
Structures J. E. Gordon Science very good [8] 17/09/2009
A wonderful informal overview of structural engineering. Very well written.
Third Class Ticket Heather Wood Travel very good [8] 05/09/2009
A group of Bengali villagers get the opportunity to travel around India. This is an excellently written record of their journey.
Ubuntu Kung Fu Keir Thomas Computer good [7] 31/08/2009
This is enjoyable light reading. Almost anyone will pick up at least a few tips they didn't already know. The only hitch is that the book covers Ubuntu 8.04 and is therefore a bit dated.
Asimov's New Guide to Science Isaac Asimov Science very good [8] 11/05/2009
The best general overview of science I've read. Asimov is a superb writer and the book is comprehensive and detailed. Since this edition was published in 1984, a few sections are somewhat obsolete, but it's well worth reading.
The Culture Code Clotaire Rapaille Psychology quite good [6] 04/03/2009
An interesting point of view about how people of different cultures think. Entertaining reading, but best taken with a large pinch of salt.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Bill Bryson Biography good [7] 11/01/2009
Bryson's autobiography is an endearing description of middle America in the mid-twentieth century. Like all his books it's well written and fun.
Notes from a Big Country Bill Bryson Travel very good [8] 19/12/2008
This is a collection of articles documenting Bryson's experiences on his return to America after two decades in England. It's hilarious. (also published as "I'm a Stranger Here Myself")
Nehru: The Making of India M. J. Akbar Biography very good [8] 02/10/2008
A well written biography of Jawaharlal Nehru. It is perhaps a bit too biased, but enjoyable reading all the same.
The Perfect Aquarium Jeremy Gay Nature good [7] 27/08/2008
An excellent introduction to aquarium keeping. Some of the information is a bit compressed to fit the format of one topic on every double page, but on the whole an informative and enjoyable book.
Men of Mathematics E. T. Bell Mathematics ok [5] 01/06/2008
This book is meant to be an entertaining look at some of the great names in mathematics. It should not be considered a serious history. It is quite well written, though some sections are excessively detailed (mathematically) considering the presumed audience.
In Spite of the Gods Edward Luce Economics/History good [7] 20/12/2007
An insightful look into the economics and politics of modern India.
India after Gandhi Ramchandra Guha History very good [8] 05/12/2007
An excellent history of post-Independence India. It's well written and the author manages to keep a balanced view.
Indulgence Paul Richardson Food good [7] 16/11/2007
The author travels the world to research the history, cultivation and preparation of Chocolate.
Don't Sweat the Aubergine Nicholas Clee Food quite good [6] 10/11/2007
The sub-title: "What works in the kitchen and why" says it all. I would have preferred a narrative format - this is done as simple recipes with notes and explanations - but it works well enough. It's well written and keeps the attention.
The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins Nature quite good [6] 20/10/2007
A pilgrimage through the evolution of life on earth. While there are dull bits, on the whole it's a good read.
The Google Story David A. Vise & Mark Malseed Computer quite good [6] 11/10/2007
An interesting and well written look at Google. More balanced coverage might have made this a better book.
The First-time Naturalist Nick Baker Nature quite good [6] 04/10/2007
A how-to guide for budding nature-lovers. A bit too dumbed down, but then given the broad coverage I suppose that was inevitable.
Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? - Science quite good [6] 20/09/2007
A compilation of readers' questions & answers from the New-Scientist magazine.
Beware Falling Coconuts Adam Clapham Travel good [7] 24/08/2007
The experiences of a BBC producer in India. Well written and enjoyable reading.
Virtual Organisms Mark Ward Computer quite good [6] 19/05/2007
An overview of developments in Artificial Life, in the same style as Steven Levy's book. It's nicely written, but lacks sufficient detail in some parts.
The Digital Photography Book Scott Kelby Photography quite good [6] 30/04/2007
An interesting cookbook of photography techniques and ideas. It's been dumbed down a bit, and the author's somewhat juvenile sense of humor can be irritating at times, but it's still worth reading since you do learn useful stuff and it's very light reading.
Almost Everyone's Guide to Science John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin Science/History quite good [6] 28/04/2007
An interesting history of science. Well told, and in sufficient detail to keep it interesting.
Calculated Bets Steven Skiena Mathematics quite good [6] 05/04/2007
An interesting introduction to using computers for the mathematical modeling of betting systems. In this case it's largely applied to Jai Alai, but the book is pretty general all the same.
The God Delusion Richard Dawkins Science very good [8] 01/02/2007
Dawkins' well reasoned refutation of religion is a must-read for anyone interested in the topic.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less Barry Schwartz Psychology good [7] 13/01/2007
An interesting book - the author describes why a plethora of choices can lead to unhappiness.
Freakonomics Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner Economics quite good [6] 14/12/2006
This book is entertaining and enjoyable. Considering the stuff it covers, it's very light reading.
Don't You Have Time to Think? Richard P. Feynman Biography good [7] 10/12/2006
This collection of letters edited by his daughter gives an interesting insight into Feynman's life. Many of the anecdotes are repeated from his two autobiographies, but it's fun all the same.
Traces of Time Pat Murphy, Paul Doherty & William Neill Nature good [7] 26/11/2006
At first glance I thought this was just a coffee-table book. It's actually a pictorial guide to temporal change in nature. Not only are the photos good, you're sure to learn something new as well.
Culture Shock: India Gitanjali Kolanad Travel good [7] 17/11/2006
This is a handbook for the foreigner travelling in India. For an Indian it's interesting, and often amusing reading.
IgNobel Prizes Marc Abrahams Science/Humor good [7] 21/10/2006
This tongue-in-cheek collection of Ig Nobel Prizes is both hilarious and enlightening.
The Official Ubuntu Book Benjamin Mako Hill, Jono Bacon, Corey Burger, Jonathan Jesse, Ivan Krstic Computer quite good [6] 21/10/2006
A useful introduction to Ubuntu.
In Xanadu William Dalrymple Travel good [7] 13/10/2006
Dalrymple retraces the footsteps of Marco Polo - from Jerusalem to Xanadu. This is a well-written book, and thoroughly entertaining.
Digital Photography: The Missing Manual Barbara Brundage & Chris Grover Photography quite good [6] 05/10/2006
This is a nice overview for the new owner of a digital camera. It concentrates a bit too much on Photoshop Elements in my opinion, but is interesting all the same.
Life in the Undergrowth David Attenborough Nature good [7] 25/09/2006
Like all David Attenborough's books, this is informative and well written.
Repairing and Upgrading Your PC Robert Thompson & Barbara Thompson Computer good [7] 11/09/2006
A very useful book for anyone who dabbles with the innards of their PC.
Mathematics and Physics for Programmers Danny Kodicek Computer quite good [6] 08/09/2006
A useful overview of many of the concepts used in game programming and simulation.
Ubuntu Hacks Bill Childers, Jonathan Oxer & Kyle Rankin Computer good [7] 04/09/2006
A really useful collection of tips for anyone using Ubuntu. And it's written well enough to read cover-to-cover.
Wild Tales from the Wild Saad Bin Jung Nature quite good [6] 01/09/2006
The author's wild experiences setting up a eco-tourism resort near Bandipur are enjoyably related.
Introduction to Mathematical Techniques used in GIS Peter Dale Mathematics quite good [6] 17/08/2006
This is a concise summary that covers most of school mathematics. A convenient way to quickly refresh all those useful bits that one has forgotten. It's really compact though, so don't expect detailed explanations.
Holy Cow! Sarah MacDonald Travel good [7] 13/08/2006
The author's experiences on living in India. Well written, interesting and entertaining.
Not on the Label Felicity Lawrence Food good [7] 29/07/2006
A very interesting look at the seamier side of food industry - from the health, nutritional and economic aspects.
Science: A History John Gribbin Science/History good [7] 23/06/2006
A nice biographical history of Science. A little tedious in bits but enjoyable on the whole.
Shooting Digital Mikkel Aaland Photography very good [8] 10/06/2006
An excellent collection of tips and techniques for making the most of your digital camera.
Gerald Durrell: The Authorised Biography Douglas Botting Biography good [7] 28/05/2006
Gerald Durrell is an excellent subject for a biography, and Botting does a good job. This is a fun read.
Revolution in the Valley Andy Hertzfeld Computer/History good [7] 22/05/2006
The story of the creation of the Macintosh. It's more in the form of a collection of anecdotes than a continuous narrative, but it's entertaining and informative.
Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God Jonah Blank Travel very good [8] 19/05/2006
This is an unusual travel book - the author retraces the Ramayana in his journey across India. It's extremely well written and fun to read.
Big Bang Simon Singh Science/History good [7] 30/04/2006
A well written basic historical overview of cosmology, specifically the Big Bang theory.
Why Do Buses Come in Threes? Rob Eastaway & Jeremy Wyndham Mathematics good [7] 31/03/2006
A relaxed overview of some aspects of math relevant to everyday life. This is simply great fun reading.
The Gecko's Foot Peter Forbes Science quite good [6] 24/03/2006
This book has a very interesting topic: Bio-inspiration, i.e. using biological form as an inspiration or model for human engineering. It's not as well written as one could hope, but enjoyable enough.
The Chemistry of Cooking A. Coenders Food very good [8] 20/03/2006
This book has a few dry bits, but on the whole it's excellent. One can simply skip over bits of the chemistry if they're too detailed for taste. It explains not just what happens when cooking food, but more importantly - why it happens. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in food who still remembers their chemistry basics.
Niv: The Authorised Biography of David Niven Graham Lord Biography quite good [6] 01/03/2006
A nicely written biography of one of Hollywood's more interesting characters.
Life on Air David Attenborough Biography very good [8] 23/02/2006
A very nicely written autobiography. Attenborough's experiences, especially while making his natural history programs for the BBC, provide a wealth of entertainment.
Collapse Jared Diamond History quite good [6] 21/02/2006
An interesting look into the reasons for the collapse of some past cultures and lessons that can be applied to the present.
Behaving Badly: The Life of Richard Harris Cliff Goodwin Biography ok [5] 19/02/2006
An interesting biography. Manages to keep up the interest level.
The Wealthy Barber David Chilton Finance quite good [6] 01/02/2006
This is a novelized guide to financial planning. It's well written and useful, though the novelization is a bit tedious at times, and some parts are specific to American conditions.
Made in America Bill Bryson History/Language good [7] 18/01/2006
An enjoyable overview of American English in an historical context. It does have a few inaccuracies and boring bits, but on the whole it's well worth reading.
Game Design: Theory & Practice [2nd ed] Richard Rouse III Computer good [7] 12/12/2005
Of the books on game design I've read, this is easily one of the best. The high points include in-depth (complete chapter) interviews with some of the most successful game designers, and detailed analyses of popular games.
Genome Matt Ridley Science good [7] 14/11/2005
A very nice introduction to the human genome. Ridley covers each chromosome by picking specific examples to illustrate a theme.
Isaac Newton James Gleick Biography quite good [6] 30/10/2005
A short but interesting biography of Newton. A bit too dry in places.
Man Meets Dog Konrad Lorenz Nature very good [8] 21/10/2005
A thoroughly enjoyable book on the character and behaviour of dogs and cats.
The Art of Intrusion Kevin D. Mitnick & William L. Simon Computer quite good [6] 16/10/2005
An interesting collection of case studies on computer security issues.
King Solomon's Ring Konrad Lorenz Nature very good [8] 14/10/2005
An excellent book on animal behaviour, entertainingly written.
In Memory Yet Green
In Joy Still Felt
Isaac Asimov Biography very good [8] 18/09/2005
Considering that Asimov didn't like travelling much and had a relatively uneventful life outside his writing, these two volumes of his autobiography are surprisingly entertaining. An enjoyable read for his fans, but others will probably find it a bit of a bore.
Long Way Round Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman Travel quite good [6] 21/08/2005
A motorbike trip around the world.
A History of the Jews Paul Johnson History quite good [6] 11/08/2005
A nice overview but a bit dense in places. Johnson does tend to bring his own opinions into play in his books.
The Big Bang: A History of Explosives G. I. Brown History/Military quite good [6] 17/07/2005
This is quite nice, but rather British-centric - whatever happens elsewhere is more cursorily dealt with.
The Real James Herriot Jim Wight Biography very good [8] 12/07/2005
This biography of Alf Wight by his son is great fun. It's well written and gives a good idea of what he was like. A definite read for any fan of the Herriot books.
Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track Michelle Feynman Biography good [7] 04/07/2005
This collection of the letters of Richard Feynman, collected by his daughter, gives a nice picture of the man. If you've already read his biographies you'll find many of the more interesting anecdotes repeated here, but it's still fun.
Twentieth Century J. M. Roberts History ok [5] 27/06/2005
As a summary of the 20th century this is quite decent. It's a bit dry in places, and in spite of his efforts, a little biased.
Secrets & Lies Bruce Schneier Computer/Security good [7] 05/06/2005
This can be a depressing book at times, but it's well worth reading. A very nice overview of the security issues in a networked environment.
Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams M. J. Simpson Biography ok [5] 31/05/2005
This biography is interesting but has a bit too much unnecessary detail in parts.
Some time with Feynman Leonard Mlodinow Biography good [7] 24/05/2005
The author narrates his experiences in his first year on the Caltech faculty, his conversations with Richard Feynman as a colleague.
A Devil's Chaplain Richard Dawkins Nature good [7] 12/05/2005
This is a selection of essays - mostly on evolution of course, given the author, but also his views on other topics.
Dawkins v/s Gould Kim Sterelny Nature good [7] 03/05/2005
This one is only for those interested in evolution. If you haven't read the works of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, it definitely isn't for you. It's a nice overview of the differences in their opinions, though perhaps not as clearly written as one could hope. Still, it's well worth reading.
Mother Tongue Bill Bryson History/Language very good [8] 22/04/2005
An entertaining history of the development of English. At times it gets a bit bogged down in word lists, but it's an enjoyable read on the whole.
The Art of Deception Kevin D. Mitnick & William L. Simon Computer very good [8] 12/03/2005
An excellent overview of social engineering. This is one book everyone interested in IT security should read.
Mahatma Gandhi, A Biography B. R. Nanda Biography quite good [6] 09/03/2005
This biography is light & pleasant reading, but it can't be considered balanced or unbiased by any stretch of imagination.
Battle for the Elephants Iain & Oria Douglas-Hamilton Nature good [7] 27/02/2005
The fight for the survival of the African Elephant. Informative and well told.
Blink Malcom Gladwell Science good [7] 11/02/2005
A well written book about the instinctive decision-making process.
A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson History/Science very good [8] 17/01/2005
This is a great overview of science written from a historical perspective. Since Bryson is clearly out of his field, there are some errors, but it's very well written and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Knoppix Hacks Kyle Rankin Computer good [7] 13/01/2005
This collection of tips for Knoppix (the Linux Live-CD) is filled with useful stuff - from speeding things up to remastering your own version of the CD. Definitely a must-read for any regular Knoppix user.
Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser Politics/Food good [7] 29/11/2004
An enlightening look at the fast food industry, their practices and impact on daily life. It's very well written and a quick read.
The Man Who Knew Infinity Robert Kanigel Biography very good [8] 04/11/2004
An excellently written biography of Ramanujan. Not perfectly balanced and perhaps the math is insufficiently explained, but a very enjoyable read - especially if you're already interested in Number Theory.
A Step Farther Out Jerry Pournelle Science good [7] 30/10/2004
An interesting look into the future, mostly concentrating on space and energy. This was published in 1979 and is out of date in parts, but still relevant. Since it's a collection of previously published essays, it does suffer from some repetition. One may not agree with all he says but most of it is well worth pondering over.
The Mumbai Nature Guide Sunjoy Monga Nature quite good [6] 09/10/2004
A very nice overview of places in and near Bombay that are of interest to the naturalist.
Exploring Indian Railways Bill Aitken Travel quite good [6] 30/09/2004
This is a nice overview of Indian Railways. It's written in a pleasing style, and inspite of excessive detail in some parts, remains a relaxing read.
Elephas Maximus: A Portrait of the Indian Elephant Stephen Alter Nature good [7] 16/09/2004
While the book is largely natural history, the author also covers the place of the elephant in history, religion, art and myth. A great overview of the topic - and well written too!
Pecked to death by ducks Tim Cahill Travel quite good [6] 13/09/2004
This random collection of travel stories makes entertaining light reading.
Crypto Steven Levy Computer/History good [7] 09/09/2004
This is an enjoyable book for anyone interested in cryptography. It covers the last 40 or so years.
Hold the Enlightenment Tim Cahill Travel quite good [6] 08/09/2004
An amusing collection of travel tales. Don't bank on his accuracy though - even my non-critical perusal revealed two serious errors.
The Great Physicists from Galileo to Einstein George Gamow Science quite good [6] 28/08/2004
A historical overview of Physics with interesting biographical anecdotes. It's a bit dated but well worth reading.
Byline M. J. Akbar Essays quite good [6] 21/08/2004
This is a collection of essays and editorials. The style is a bit staccato at times but it makes interesting and varied reading.
Rude Food Vir Sanghvi Food good [7] 15/08/2004
This is a light and entertaining collection of the author's food columns. It does suffer a bit from the usual problems of being a collection rather than an integrated book, but it's enjoyable all the same.
River Dog Mark Shand Travel good [7] 13/08/2004
Like most of Shand's other books, this tale of his journey down the Brahmaputra is entertaining and enjoyable.
Fighter Len Deighton History/Military good [7] 12/08/2004
A well written overview of the Battle of Britain.
The Dragons of Eden Carl Sagan Science quite good [6] 01/08/2004
This book is a Pulitzer Prize winner, but somehow I don't find it anywhere near as appealing as "The Demon-Haunted World". I think that's because it's so much more speculative - a collection of opinions and ideas, some of which are now quite dated.
India Unbound Gurcharan Das Economics/History good [7] 28/07/2004
This is a very interesting history of the economic progress of India from Independence to the present. It's a mixture of economics, management & autobiography. There are some inaccuracies and errors, but on the whole it's a good read.
Greetings Carbon-Based Bipeds! Arthur C. Clarke Essays/Biography quite good [6] 19/07/2004
These essays are arranged chronologically and span Clarke's entire writing career, so they need to be considered in context. The autobiographical notes make the book interesting despite some repetitiveness and minor inaccuracies.
Carrier: A Guided Tour of an Aircraft Carrier Tom Clancy Military quite good [6] 01/07/2004
This book is qualitatively quite inconsistent: parts of it are excellent, well-written & informative; others are boring data-dumps. Still, it's well worth reading for anyone interested in the topic. One must also keep in mind that Clancy isn't exactly an objective observer when it comes to the US services. The fictional scenario at the end of the book is almost hilarious - his lack of familiarity with India has come across in some of his novels but this takes the cake.
Blood, Tears and Folly Len Deighton History/Military good [7] 16/06/2004
This is a nice overview of the Second World War. It's well written and informative.
The Complete Guide to Close-Up & Macro Photography Paul Harcourt Davies Photography good [7] 13/06/2004
The writing is a bit convoluted in parts, but there are some good ideas here and the photos are excellent.
The Fall of a Sparrow Salim Ali Biography good [7] 01/06/2004
For some reason I was expecting this autobiography to be dry, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's filled with interesting anecdotes, and gives a great flavour of the times. An enjoyable read on the whole.
Being Digital Nicholas Negroponte Computer quite good [6] 30/05/2004
An interesting look at the future from the perspective of 1995. Some of his predictions have come to pass, while others are as far away as ever.
The Hacker Crackdown Bruce Sterling Computer good [7] 28/05/2004
It's dry at times and flowery at others, but on the whole a nice look at one specific period in the history of crackers and computer security.
Calcutta Geoffrey Moorhouse Travel/History quite good [6] 22/05/2004
This is a history of Calcutta upto the present (i.e. upto 1971, when it was published). One can't agree with everything - some of the author's prejudices filter through - but it's an interesting perspective nonetheless.
All the World's a Spittoon Samit Sawhny Travel good [7] 19/05/2004
Experiences on an overland journey from London to India via Scandinavia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet and Nepal. This seems to be the author's first book and that shows in parts, but on the whole it's well written and great fun.
Prejudice and Pride Krishna Kumar History/Politics good [7] 14/05/2004
This is a difficult book to classify - it could be considered as social studies. It's actually a comparative study of the school textbooks used for teaching history in India and Pakistan and how they differ in their interpretation of events. It's certainly interesting and informative but the writing is a bit wordy and academic.
The Life of Mahatma Gandhi Louis Fischer Biography very good [8] 11/05/2004
Of the various biographies of Gandhi I've read, this is definitely the best.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki & Sharon Lechter Finance very good [8] 17/04/2004
I very rarely read books on finance, but this one was fun. It's certainly a different way of looking at things.
The Demon-Haunted World Carl Sagan Science excellent [9] 09/04/2004
A superbly written overview of the application of scientific method to daily life. Much of the book is on debunking pseudoscience. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the rationalist/skeptical viewpoint.
The Art of Unix Programming Eric Steven Raymond Computer good [7] 31/03/2004
This book is a great read for programmers who want to know more about the Unix culture. It explains, with case studies, many of the assumptions and design patterns one comes across.
Trail of Feathers Tahir Shah Travel good [7] 11/03/2004
Wandering around Peru in search of the fabled Birdmen, Tahir Shah's journey is both interesting and funny.
Sorcerer's Apprentice Tahir Shah Travel good [7] 09/03/2004
Tahir Shah travels to India to learn the secrets of illusion from a magician. After his training, he wanders around India meeting godmen and sorcerers. Hilarious and well written, sometimes it's difficult to separate fact from imagination.
The Tipping Point Malcom Gladwell Science good [7] 07/03/2004
The concepts of epidemiology applied to social trends. An interesting and well written book.
Fundamentals of Fighter Design Ray Whitford Science/Military quite good [6] 14/02/2004
A fairly up-to-date (published in 2000) overview & history of fighter aircraft design. At first sight it looks like a coffee-table book, but this is no cake walk. If you don't already have at least a minimal knowledge of aerodynamics, a lot of this book will go over your head. Still, it's good fun on the whole.
Dr. Johnson's London Liza Picard History good [7] 11/02/2004
Life in London in 1740-1770. Presented in the form of short essays (2 paragraphs to a few pages), topics range from Medicine to the Workhouse, Gin to Tailors, Wallpaper to Boxing. It's well written and an enjoyable read.
Lenin's Tomb David Remnick History good [7] 08/02/2004
Subtitled "The Last Days of the Soviet Empire", that's exactly what it is about. Besides his other qualifications, the author spent four years as the Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post during the critical period, and has a brisk, readable style.
Stasiland Anna Funder History good [7] 06/02/2004
On the role of the East German Secret police, or Stasi, during the cold war. It's mostly on the experiences of individuals - both the officers and their victims. Unusual and interesting.
Modern Times Paul Johnson History good [7] 05/02/2004
A book on modern History from about 1920 down to the 1990s. Some of the author's biases show through, but the book does make you think.
Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science Micheal White & John Gribbin Biography good [7] 18/01/2004
A good introduction to Hawking, this biography not only talks about the man, but covers his work pretty well.
The Amateur Naturalist Gerald Durrell & Lee Durrell Nature good [7] 18/01/2004
If you're interested in Nature this is well worth reading. The book is divided into two main sections. The first is a habitat-wise overview which is decent enough (though I feel David Attenborough does this sort of thing better). The second section is what really shines - it's a sort of Do-It-Yourself coverage of equipment and things to try.
Embracing Defeat John Dower History good [7] 14/01/2004
This book covers the immediate post-war period of Japan - the attitude of the people & the beginning of its transformation into a democracy.
India: The Siege Within M. J. Akbar History very good [8] 06/01/2004
An excellently written overview of India's struggle to be a secular democracy. The book is divided into three main sections - Independence & Partition, Punjab, and Kashmir. Looking back, the author is able to see what was done right & what went wrong.