Can climate fiction ever change minds, or does it merely confirm existing attitudes in the mind of the reader who chooses to read a book of that nature? Are more climate-related books aimed at children because their enquiring minds are supposed to be more open? Author and founder of Climate Outreach Information Network George Marshall talks to INSPIRE’s Jane Davidson, and authors Saci Lloyd and David Thorpe.
If a nation is a group of people with a sense of kinship, a political identity and representative institutions, then the English have a claim to be the oldest nation in the world. They first came into existence as an idea, before they had a common ruler and before the country they lived in even had a name. They have lasted as a recognizable entity ever since, and their defining national institutions can be traced back to the earliest years of their history.
The extraordinary story of Mary’s Meals: after watching a news bulletin about war-torn Bosnia, two brothers agreed to take a week’s hiatus from work to help. What neither of them expected is that what began as a one-off road trip in a beaten-up Land Rover rapidly grew to become Magnus’s life’s work – leading him to leave his job, sell his house and direct all his efforts into feeding thousands of the world’s poorest children. He talks to Sarah Crompton.
The 1215 Runnymede Charter was both radical, in the way subjects tried to limit the power and conduct of government, and conservative, in following the form of Anglo Saxon Charters and trying to return government to the ways of early Norman and Angevin kings. The QC and the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales examine what brought King John to the table, and the impact it’s had on the law of the land.
The leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have transformed our understanding of our daily communication through social media, email and mobile phones. Scholars from Cardiff University’s research project Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society will discuss the practices, implications and broader meanings of mass surveillance. Does it work? How does it work, and who and what is monitored? How does it affect civil rights? Have we been properly informed, and how should the media report? How can we protect ourselves?
A conversation with one of the world’s foremost jurists. The ruling in the Groups Areas Act and the Goldstone Commission were fundamental to the transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy in South Africa. At the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Goldstone prosecuted Radovan Karadzič and Ratko Mladić. In 2009, he led a fact-finding mission created by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the Gaza War.
On 11 September 2001 our world changed. The West’s response to 9/11 has morphed into a period of ‘exception’. Governments have decided that the rule of law and human rights are often too costly. The Director of Liberty explores why our fundamental rights and freedoms are indispensable and examines the unprecedented pressures those rights are under today. She talks to Susie Symes, economist and chair of 19 Princelet Street.
From Chilean revolutionaries and Russian punks to Iranian journalists, one of the most vocal and tenacious campaigners of her generation introduces inspiring stories from all around the world. Women are reinventing what it means to be female in cultures where power, privilege or basic freedoms are all too often equated with being male.
The news tends to focus on the antagonism between India and Pakistan. A distinguished panel of academics looks at the common ground between the two countries, in terms of environmental resources and challenges, trade and economic growth, and state formation and geo-politics. Chaired by Anatol Lieven.
We are delighted to launch Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble by the bestselling author of Stalingrad, Berlin and D-Day.
On 16 December 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back.
The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in western Europe. American troops, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians fled, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While many American soldiers fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters that slowed the German advance.
The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the eastern front. And after massacres by the Waffen-SS, even American generals approved when their men shot down surrendering Germans. The Ardennes was the battle that finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.
The Palestinian editor of Rai al-Youm offers a comprehensive review of the group’s organisational structure and leadership, strategies, tactics and diverse methods of recruitment. He traces the salafi-jihadi lineage of IS, its ideological differences with al-Qa’ida, and the deadly rivalry that has emerged between their leaders. Atwan also shows how the group’s rapid growth has been facilitated by its masterful command of social media platforms, the ‘dark web’, Hollywood ‘blockbuster’-style videos, and even jihadi computer games, producing a powerful paradox where the ambitions of the Middle Ages have re-emerged in cyber-space.
An evening to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh passage to Argentina aboard the Mimosa. Gower sets the scene with his Gwalia Patagonia – a tale of legendary giants and Andean condors, devil spirits and chapel-worshippers. He is joined by Argentinian writer Jorge Fondebrider, author of The Spaces Between. The evening is completed with the fascinating anecdotal and geographical ramblings of one of Wales’ best-loved guitarists, singers and actors, René Griffiths. Full of emotion and passion, Ramblings of a Patagonian is the revelation of one-man’s unrelenting love for his own Andean desert. Chaired by Oliver Balch.
The chief economics commentator of the Financial Times explains that further shocks could be ahead for the economy because governments have failed to deal with fundamental problems in the world’s financial systems. Wolf traces the causes of the great recession to the complex interaction between globalisation, destabilising global imbalances and fragile financial systems. He argues that management of the Eurozone in particular guarantees a future political crisis and he offers far more ambitious and comprehensive plans for reform than are presently being considered. Chaired by Susie Symes.
Timchenko is the executive editor of the independent news platform Meduza. Zygar is the editor-in-chief of TV RAIN, Russia’s only independent television channel. Bullough is author of The Last Man in Russia and Let Our Fame Be Great and has reported over the last two years from the Ukraine. Vasiliyeva writes about press freedom and politics for Associated Press in Moscow.
Four internationally acclaimed jurists discuss which rights might be argued into a new charter for the C21st. Buergenthal serves as a judge at the ICJ in the Hague; Goldstone served as a prosecutor at the ICT after running the Goldstone Commission in South Africa; Leveson is President of the Queens Bench Division and chaired the public inquiry into press ethics in the UK; Sands is Professor of Law at UCL.
It’s 100 years since drugs were first banned, and drug use and drug crime have continued to grow steadily across the world. What are people addicted to? Are any of the policies adopted around the world based on scientific data? Are any of them working? Hari is the author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War Against Drugs; Hitchens is the author of The War We Never Fought. Chaired by Hernando Alvarez, editor of BBC Mundo.
The cultural historian demonstrates the rise of China-phobia in popular culture with the help of some film clips. Frayling chronicles the entry of Dr Fu Manchu, known as ‘the yellow peril incarnate in one man’, into world literature a century ago and asks why the idea developed unfairly that China was a threat to Western civilization, and why such images continue to distort our image of its people. Frayling also explains how we neglect the history of popular culture at our peril if we are to understand our deepest desires and fears. Chaired by Sarah Crompton.
From the author of the bestselling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran comes a powerful and passionate case for the vital role of fiction today. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favourite novels, the scholar and teacher invites us to join her as citizens of her ‘Republic of Imagination’, a country where the villains are conformity and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.
On 2 August 1947 a young man gets off a train in a small Swedish town to begin his life anew. Having survived the ghetto of Lodz, the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the harrowing slave camps and transports during the final months of Nazi Germany, his final challenge is to survive the survival. In his intelligent and deeply moving book, Rosenberg returns to his own childhood in order to tell the story of his father; walking at his side, holding his hand, trying to get close to him again. It is also the story of the chasm that soon opens between the world of the child, permeated by the optimism, progress and collective oblivion of postwar Sweden, and the world of the father, darkened by the long shadows of the past.
The bracing manifesto of a radical thinker. His books on management – including Understanding Organizations and Gods of Management – have changed the way we view business. His work on broader issues and trends – such as Beyond Certainty – has changed the way we view society.
In The Second Curve, Handy builds on a life’s work to glimpse into the future and see what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. He looks at current trends in capitalism and asks whether it is a sustainable system. He explores the dangers of a society built on credit. He challenges the myth that remorseless growth is essential.
An exploration of C18th social networks looking at the Johnstone family, the Scottish siblings at the heart of her book The Inner Life Of Empires, and an interconnected group of French families in the first ‘age of information’. Rothschild is Professor of History and Economics at the University of Cambridge.
In 1519 an arrogant and unscrupulous man sailed from the Caribbean with orders to find a missing Spanish expedition. He immediately set about carving himself an empire in modern Mexico, while the governor of Cuba sent a force out to kill him. Hernán Cortés explored the coast to Veracruz then struck inland, seduced by tales of a great empire rich in gold. He found the largest and best-run city on earth and reduced it to rubble.
Award-winning travel writer and historian John Harrison followed in his footsteps for four months, finding the jungle ruins and sophisticated hilltop cities which put the lie to the popular image of the Aztecs and their neighbours as bloodthirsty savages. Popular accounts always suggest Cortés was mistaken for a returning god; the truth is very different and far more interesting. Both the Spanish and the Aztecs thought that the world was coming to a close soon, and that they were pleasing their gods in performing vital last deeds.
The award-winning Magnum photographer discusses his 30-year career shooting conflicts, vanishing traditions and contemporary culture with the Artistic Director of the Royal Academy. He presents his latest book From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail. This brand new collection documents all the important coffee-growing communities around the world. McCurry’s striking colour portraits reach beyond the physical processes, to capture the very essence of these communities: ‘This project is about coffee, but not in a literal sense. It’s about how we live, about how people interact with one another.’
Photo: Bruno Barbey