Butler to the World: How Britain Became the Servant of Tycoons, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals by Oliver Bullough
Britain, according to this damning book, is a land of dirty money. It has become the country of choice for dictators wanting to hide their cash, and oligarchs wishing to launder their reputations. Yet instead of waging war on this illicit finance, we’re helping it to propagate. Our national debasement is a sordid story, but Oliver Bullough canters through it with wit and such a colourful set of case studies that it is at least a little easier to stomach. His account begins with the Suez crisis in 1956, which Bullough pinpoints as the moment when Britain’s imperial power crumbled and the nation searched for a new role in the world. The job we chose? Playing Jeeves to kleptocrats. Since the Brexit vote there has been a lengthy debate about what kind of country Britain should strive to be; Bullough argues convincingly that we haven’t spent enough time scrutinising what it has already become. Ros Urwin Profile, £20 Buy a copy of Butler to the World here
Megathreats: The Ten Trends that Imperil Our Future, and How to Survive Them by Nouriel Roubini
Nouriel Roubini is not known as “Dr Doom” for nothing, and this book from the economist who predicted the 2008 financial crisis is a bleak look at some of the horrible threats facing our survival on Earth, from economic collapse to a new cold war and the rise of artificial intelligence. But it is also an important wake-up call to how fragile modern civilisation is. Roubini lucidly lays out the challenges we face. Maybe save reading this until after the festive period. TK John Murray, £20 Buy a copy of Megathreats here
A Pipeline Runs Through It: The Story of Oil from Ancient Times to the First World War by Keith Fisher
In this epic, deeply researched history of oil, Keith Fisher, who spent 15 years on the book, takes us from the Byzantine era to the US oil boom of the 19th century and the rise of barons such as John D Rockfeller, and ends with the First World War. He unsparingly shows what a great but terrible industry oil exploration has been. No one comes out well, but the brutality involved in clearing indigenous communities to open up areas for exploitation are harrowing, especially the cruelty from what would become Royal Dutch Shell. TK Allen Lane, £35 Buy a copy of A Pipeline Runs Through It here
Come and join us as we explore the Middle Ages! Germany has a lot to offer when it comes to this time period: Historic city gates, church towers and half-timbred houses. In German cities and towns, you’ll find a lot of well-preserved Medieval architecture, much of it on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
From Lübeck in the North to Bamberg in the South – we show you seven cities and towns which will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale.
Video timeline: 00:00 Intro 00:30 Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate 01:24 Aachen, North-Rhine Westfalia 02:24 Quedlinburg, Saxony Anhalt 03:08 Erfurt, Thuringia 03:55 Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein 04:49 Bamberg, Bavaria 05:40 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria
This small island is like an oasis from the rush of the city. It’s almost as if someone dropped a small French village into the center of Paris. It contains everything you would want from your neighborhood: markets, bakeries, fromageries, and cafes. While much of Paris has modernized over the years, this island remains romantically frozen in the 17th century. It is remarkably the same as it was centuries ago.
The Ile Saint-Louis is connected to the rest of Paris by four bridges to both banks of the Seine River and to the Ile de la Cité by the Pont Saint-Louis.
AKSense – Zurich – Vicosoprano village – the old capital of the Val Bregaglia valley in Graubunden region of Switzerland. This beautiful valley is framed by glaciated mountain ridges and opens up towards the south and Italy. The peaceful valley landscape surrounding this medieval village is in contrast to its eventful past.
The “Pretorio”, the old town hall and main courthouse, in the village was built in 1583. From the old town hall rises the round, medieval “Senvelen” Tower. The sight of the torture chamber and torture devices send chills down one’s spine. During the 17th century, many alleged witches were caught and held here and more than a few ended up on the gallows. Walking through this area, one comes to an arched bridge from which there is a magnificent view of the stunning mountains on both sides of the valley.
This medieval village is situated far from city life. It can only be reached by an hour long bus ride from St. Moritz train station or by car. The Maloja and Septimer passes link the Graubunden Val Bregaglia valley with the rest of Switzerland. Fragrant chestnut groves and the stone buildings of the Bergell villages lend the valley a Mediterranean ambiance.
PBS NewsHour – New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart join William Brangham to discuss the week in politics, including recent mass shootings in America and what can be done during the lame-duck session of Congress.