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Blackwell Podcasts

 

Blackwell's Book Podcasts

Blackwell's Book podcasts bring a fantastic selection of in-depth author interviews straight to your PC, packed full with over 30 minutes of insight into some of the most fascinating titles available. Listen to the show as you browse the internet or work at your PC, or download the file to transfer to your iPod/MP3 player and take it with you wherever you go!

Listen to the content that interests you!

While we believe that we will bring you some of the best author interviews around, we appreciate that not all titles are to everybody's taste. Therefore, if you don't want to listen to the full show, you can listen to or download the segments that interest you the most. And if you do find a title that is really up your street, you'll find easy links to buy the featured title.

Scroll down to view our most recent podcasts or browse by category via the left-hand menu.

You can also subscribe to Blackwell's Book Podcasts via iTunes or through our YouTube Channel. Simply search for 'Blackwell Online' in the search box on the iTunes Podcasts page or click the 'Subscribe' button on YouTube.

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine Blackwell Online is proud to present a special three-part podcast series about one of the most successful medical books ever published, the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, a book so beloved by generations of medical students and junior doctors that it is commonly known as "the cheese and onion" for its distinctively coloured cover.

These three podcasts provide an opportunity to meet the people behind the OHCM, whose names you have perhaps only glanced at as you pick up your well-thumbed copy of the book -

1. In programme one we hear how the book came into existence and how it set out to challenge the prevailing culture of medical education;

2. In the second programme, we explore the philosophy behind the book and what part the authors hope it plays in helping students become good doctors;

3. And in the final programme we look at how the handbook is kept up to date and how it is preparing to meet the challenges of the future, both in the world of medicine and electronic publishing.

Appearing in these programmes with interviewer George Miller are the two authors who originally conceived the handbook in the early 1980s, Murray Longmore and Tony Hope, along with Ian Wilkinson, who has been a co-author on the book since the fifth edition, and Elizabeth Reeve, the book's editor at Oxford University Press.

Listen to these podcasts and you'll discover why the first edition had to be written on squared paper; why a copy of the book was thrown out of a window by an angry doctor; and what links scorpions, pancreatitis and mnemonics...

To listen, click on the links below:

Play Part 1
Play Part 2
Play Part 3





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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com

Podcast 112 - Caspar Henderson - The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

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Play Podcast Caspar Henderson's 21st century bestiary, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, is one of the most imaginatively conceived and beautifully produced books we've come across this year. In the introduction Caspar describes how the book was inspired when he was on a riverside picnic in Oxford a few years ago. He had been reading Borges' Book of Imaginary Beasts, and having leafed through this book, fell asleep. Then, he writes: 'I woke with the thought that many real animals are stranger than imaginary ones, and it is our knowledge and understanding of them that are too cramped and fragmentary to accommodate them: we have barely imagined them.' And so was conceived this A-Z of weird and wonderful creatures - all of them real - and their unfamiliar ways of being in the world.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 111 - Staff Picks of 2012

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There are some fabulous books being published this year, but in case you missed any of last year's delights, four staff members from Blackwell's flagship shop on Broad Street, Oxford, have chosen their favourite books of 2012. If you're looking for something to curl up with this winter, you're bound to get some inspiration from our booksellers' selections.

Books chosen:

Veronica Roth - Divergent
Scott Westerfield - Leviathan
Tarun Tejpal - The Story of my Assassins
Caspar Henderson - The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
Richard Coles - The Lives of Improbable Saints
Christopher MacDougall - Born to Run
Misha Glenny - McMafia
Philip Pullman - Grimm Tales

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com

Podcast 110 - Richard Wiseman - Paranormality: Why We Believe the Impossible

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Play Podcast Our guest on this podcast is psychologist and former magician Richard Wiseman, who has long been interested in why people are fascinated by the paranormal - and willing to believe things for which there is not a shred of scientific evidence. The result of his interest is Paranormality, a book which lifts the lid on the tricks that psychics and mindreaders play and investigates why humans developed and retained a readiness to believe the impossible. In the podcast he explains how he rose to the challenge of investigating Hampton Court Palace's ghost...

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com






Podcast 109 - Lucy Worsley - If Walls Could Talk

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Play Podcast George Miller recently met historian, curator and TV presenter Lucy Worsley at Kensington Palace to talk to her about her latest book, If Walls Could Talk, based on her popular BBC TV series. The book takes you through the homes of the past room by room, from bedroom to bathroom to living room and kitchen, and reveals all the things you have ever wondered about how our ancestors actually lived: from sex and nightwear, via toothbrushing and sewage systems, to table manners and the political consequences of sauces.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com








Podcast 108 - Nigel Warburton - A Little History of Philosophy

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Play Podcast Our guest on this programme is no stranger to the microphone: Nigel Warburton the co-creator of very successful Philosophy Bites podcasts, a series of some 200 interviews with contemporary philosophers, which have had 14.5m downloads to date. Nigel also teaches philosophy at the Open University and is the author of a number of introductory books to philosophy including Philosophy: The Basics and Philosophy: The Classics, and Thinking from A to Z.

George Miller met Nigel to discuss his Little History of Philosophy, which takes the newcomer, whether young or old, on a whistle-stop tour of some of the high points of Western philosophy told through the life and work of forty thinkers from Socrates to Peter Singer. Without ever patronising the reader, the book succeeds brilliantly in making difficult ideas accessible and enjoyable to explore.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 107 - Mark Forsyth - The Horologicon

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Play Podcast Our guest on this edition of the podcast is Mark Forsyth, whose first book, The Etymologicon, subtitled A Circular Stroll through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, was published to great acclaim last year. It was described as 'the stockfiller of the season' by Robert McCrum in the Observer - and made several appearances on the bestseller lists.

He has now followed that success up with The Horologicon, in which Mark takes you on a day's journey through the lost words of the English Language, pausing hour by hour to offer you a feast of forgotten words appropriate to the time of day, some of which you might wonder how you ever did without.Who would not be the better for knowing that a single serving of toothpaste on a brush is properly known as a 'nurdle', or that the protective sleeve round your coffee cup is a 'zarf'? There are plenty more equally beguiling words to discover in this edition of the podcast.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 106 - Philip Pullman - Grimm Tales

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Play Podcast We were delighted to have the chance to talk to Philip Pullman about his new collection of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm when he visited Broad Street recently. Marking the bicentenary of the first publication of their fairy tales, Philip's Grimm Tales is a marvellous selection of fifty stories told in pared-back prose which he said he wanted to be 'as clear as water'.

In the interview he talks about how he produced these new versions of well-loved and also less familiar tales and how much he felt it was legitimate to diverge from the sources. You'll also hear which is his favourite story and about the role of wicked stepmothers...

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 105 - Bernd Brunner - The Invention of the Christmas Tree

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Play Podcast Our guest in this special pre-Christmas edition of the podcast is cultural historian, Bernd Brunner. Bernd has already produced acclaimed cultural histories of humanity’s relationship with bears and the moon, and this season sees publication of his latest book, on the history of the Christmas Tree and all the customs and traditions associated with it.

Inventing the Christmas Tree is full of surprising and quirky details – did you know, for example, that Christmas trees were long hung upside down from a beam rather than planted upright in a pot, or that Christmas tree fires were a constant danger in the centuries before electric lights? And what about Christmas trees in the Third Reich? Listen to this interview with Bernd Brunner to find out...

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 104 - Richard Ford - Canada

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Play Podcast We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome Richard Ford, one of America's greatest living writers, to the Blackwell Podcast. The Times has referred to ‘quality writing in the highest American tradition of Faulkner, Hemingway and Steinbeck’ and the Washington Post has called him ‘one of the finest curators of the great American living museum’. A new novel from Richard Ford is, it’s no exaggeration to say, an event. Ford’s seventh novel, Canada, examines the consequences of a sudden rupture in the course of family life. The book tells the story of Dell Parsons, in his mid-teens in 1960, from the vantage point of old age, recollecting how one impetuous act caused his family to fall apart and his own flight to Canada and the new life he found there. John Banville called Canada a ‘luminous and utterly forlorn novel’ and the New York Times praised its 'level of linguistic mastery that is rivalled by few, if any, in American letters today.' George Miller met Richard Ford recently when he made a brief visit to the UK and talked to him about the novel.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 103 - Roger Luckhurst - The Mummy's Curse

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Play Podcast Roger Luckhurst's new book, The Mummy's Curse, is much more than just an opportunity to revisit the familiar story of Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in the winter of 1922 and the death soon after of his patron Lord Carnarvon in circumstances ascribed to the eponymous curse. Roger's real interest is in finding out where the story of the curse came from and what it says about the society in which the rumours circulated. George Miller met Roger recently to explore 'the lumber room of the Victorian exotic unconscious' and tune in to the shuffling footsteps of the mummy...

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com






Podcast 102 - D. T. Max - Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace

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Play Podcast Our guest in this programme is journalist and author DT Max, who has recently brought out the first biography of American author David Foster Wallace, who took his own life at the age of 46 in 2008. Wallace is best known for his vast novel Infinite Jest, which runs to over a thousand pages and is now regularly found on lists of the most important and influential books of the past half-century. But Wallace, for all his brilliance and inventiveness, was troubled through much of his life, suffering from severe depression – "a black hole with teeth" as his mother memorably put it - and the effects and after-effects of drug and alcohol addiction.

When George Miller met DT Max in London recently, they had a wide-ranging conversation about Wallace and his work; his mid-Western upbringing, his relations with women and his literary standing since his suicide.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 101 - Simon Garfield - On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way It Does

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Play Podcast We are delighted to welcome back to the Blackwell podcast Simon Garfield, who appeared on the programme a couple of years ago to talk about Just My Type, his immensely entertaining exploration of the world of typography. From type and fonts, Simon has moved on to maps and cartography and this month his new book, On the Map - Why the World Looks the Way it Does is published. Ranging from Ptolemy's first stab at a world map nearly two millennia ago to contemporary computer-generated maps that show the world as a ghostly glow of Facebook connections, it reveals that maps are rarely just about getting you from A to B - they're also about power and belief, culture and ideas. In this podcast, Simon talks about some of the larger-than-life characters in the history of map-making and reveals whether he prefers to find his way using a printed map or an iPhone.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcasts 99 and 100 - Julia Copus - The World's Two Smallest Humans

The World's Two Smallest Humans We are delighted to welcome Julia Copus to the Blackwell Online podcast as our first poet to appear on the programme. Earlier this summer Julia published her third collection, The World's Two Smallest Humans; the title comes from the sequence which closes the volume and movingly describes a course of IVF treatment. Before that, there are poems reflecting on time and love and loss, two of them in the 'specular' form invented by Julia in which the lines of the second half of the poem are a mirror image of those in the first.

There are also two other longer poems, 'Hero', in which Leander's eponymous lover from Greek legend waits for him to swim across the Hellespont to her, and 'The Particella of Franz Xaver Suessmayr', in which Mozart's scribe dutifully transcribes the composer's notes for The Magic Flute into short score - or particella - and sends them back to Vienna. Suessmayr meanwhile is gradually falling in love with the composer's pregnant wife, whom he has accompanied at his employer's request to a spa town for the summer.
In both parts of the podcast you'll be able to hear Julia reading from her work. To listen, click on the links below:

Play Poetry Podcast 1
Play Poetry Podcast 2






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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com

Podcast 98 - Anna Reid - Leningrad - Tragedy of a City Under Siege, 1941-4

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Play Podcast Our guest this week is Anna Reid, a historian of Russia, whose previous books include The Shaman's Coat, A Native History of Siberia and Borderland, A Journey through the History of Ukraine. George Miller met her to discuss her latest book, just out in paperback, called Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege 1941-4, the first book in English to be devoted to the siege since 1969.

The siege by the German army lasted 900 days and led to the deaths of three quarters of a million people. The city was cut off, encircled by a siege ring in September 1941 as the Wehrmacht inflicted on Leningraders one of the oldest and most appalling forms of warfare that aimed to bombard and starve them into submission or death. A directive from German High Command in September 1941 was unambiguous: "The city of Leningrad is to be sealed off, the ring being drawn as tightly as possible so as to spare our forces unnecessary effort. Surrender terms will not be offered." Anna's book reveals great acts of heroism and self-sacrifice alongside ones of hideous brutality and cruelty. It also emphasizes the stubborn human will to survive.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com





Podcast 97 - Charles Freeman - Holy Bones, Holy Dust

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Play Podcast Charles Freeman is perhaps best known as a historian of the ancient world and the early centuries of the Christian church, and it is the latter interest which has inspired his fascinating new book, Holy Bones Holy Dust, which sets out to show how the relics of the saints and martyrs of the Christian church - a much neglected topic for historians - shaped the history of medieval Europe. Accumulating relics meant accumulating status and power; it was also good for cash flow. In a world pervaded by magic, saints and martyrs became the posthumous celebrities of their day. Charles's book - and this interview - are full of fascinating tales of the curious appeal that relics held for centuries.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com





Podcast 96 - Kwasi Kwarteng - Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World

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Play Podcast Our guest on this programme is historian and MP Kwasi Kwarteng. "I have not," he writes in his introduction to his highly acclaimed Ghosts of Empire, "written one of those books that purport to show that the empire was a good thing or a bad thing. I have simply sought to enter into the mentality of the empire's rulers, to describe their thoughts and their ideals and values." Rather than attempt to tell the story of the entire British Empire, Kwasi has selected six case studies to show how the legacies of empire - the ghosts of the title - are with us still in Iraq, Kashmir, Burma, Sudan, Nigeria and Hong Kong. In this wide-ranging interview he explains how some of those situations came about less by design than by accident.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com





Podcast 95 - Catherine Arnold - Underworld London: City of Crime

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Play Podcast We are delighted to welcome back Catherine Arnold to the Blackwell Online podcast. Catherine has appeared in two previous programmes, talking about London and its mad (Bedlam) and London's long relationship with Sex (City of Sin). Her new book (which completes a quartet that began with Necropolis - London and its Dead) focuses on Underworld London and the city's history of crime. The book is much more than a catalogue of grisly crimes and often even more grisly punishments. Arnold is interested in how justice was administered, how prisoners were treated, and how, over the centuries, capital punishment went from being a public entertainment to - by the mid-nineteen-sixties - being abolished for good.

Nonetheless, Catherine writes of the sense in London of crime never being too far away. "Beneath the veneer of sophistication," she says in her introduction, "lurks a lawless London, a substratum of passion, darkness and despair." It is that substratum that her book ventures into.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com



Podcast 94 - Charles Fernyhough - Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory

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Play Podcast Many popular science writers try to blend the autobiographical and the anecdotal into their work; few do it as seamlessly and successfully as Charles Fernyhough. Charles is a psychologist whose previous book looked at the first three years in a child's life by paying close attention to those of his own daughter. In his fascinating new book, Pieces of Light, he examines the workings of the human memory by scrutinizing how his own functions. In addition, he brings to bear all the latest research in neuroscience and psychology. The result is a fascinating book that might well change the relationship you have with your own memory. In this podcast, Charles talks about some of the memory's mysteries and surprises.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com





Podcast 93 - Paul Ormerod - Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise the World

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Play Podcast This week, our guest on the Blackwell Online podcast is economist Paul Ormerod, whose previous books include the very successful Why Most Things Fail.

George Miller spoke to Paul recently about his new book, Positive Linking, which argues for a fresh approach to economics that replaces the view of the economy as a machine with that of an organism. Rather than individuals taking economic decisions in isolation, we need to see them as part of interlocking networks in which copying and mutual influence play powerful roles. The implications of Paul's energizing thesis go beyond the economy, as he explains in this interview, and include all aspects of public policy that aim to shape human behaviour.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com



Podcast 92 - Robert Macfarlane - The Old Ways

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Play Podcast This week, we're delighted to welcome to the programme Robert Macfarlane, one of the most distinguished of contemporary British nature writers and the author most recently of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. This book completes what Macfarlane has called 'a loose trilogy about landscape and the human heart' which began with Mountains of the Mind in 2003, followed four years later by The Wild Places. The Old Ways is an account of some of the most memorable of the seven or eight thousand miles of footpaths Robert has followed in his lifetime and the reflections they have given rise to, in him and in a host of other writers, venturers and restless souls.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com





Podcast 91 - Antonia Macaro and Julian Baggini - The Shrink and the Sage

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Play Podcast On this week's programme we have two guests: Antonia Macaro and Julian Baggini, the eponymous shrink and sage, whose unique brand of self-help with a distinctly cerebral flavour is a regular feature in the FT Weekend magazine. Antonia Macaro is the shrink, an existential therapist and philosophical counsellor with many years’ experience. And Julian Baggini is the sage, the founding editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine and the author of numerous successful works of popular philosophy, some of which we have previously featured on this programme. Together they aim to bring the insights of philosophy, psychology and therapy to bear on some of the big questions we all grapple with at times in our daily lives.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com





Podcast 90 - Diego Marani - New Finnish Grammar

Play Podcast Diego Marani's novel, New Finnish Grammar in a prizewinning translation by Judith Landry, was one of the surprise bestsellers of the past year. Blackwell's has been an enthusiastic promoter of the novel from the start, so we were delighted to get the chance to record an extended interview with Diego on a recent trip to England.

Part 1 Play Part 1 In part 1 of the interview, he explains how his own experience of learning Finnish shaped his desire to write the book and how he evoked the atmosphere of wartime Helsinki.

Part 2 Play Part 2 In part 2 of the podcast Diego introduces us to his latest book to appear in English, The Last of the Vostyachs, and talks about his interest in questions of language and identity which form a common thread between both works. He also reflects more widely on the fate of so-called minority languages and dialects in the modern world.



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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 89 - Elaine Fox - Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain

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Play Podcast In this programme we are delighted to have as our guest Elaine Fox, who is professor of cognitive psychology at the university of Essex. Elaine has just published Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: The New Science of Optimism and Pessimism, which explores such fascinating questions as: how does having an optimistic or a pessimistic outlook affect the successes and failures in our lives? How do small biases to look on the bright or the dark side become confirmed, even ingrained? What part do genes play in all this?

Based on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, this book is a world away from the facile self-help manuals which simply enjoin us to think positive thoughts, as Elaine explains in this interview.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 88 - Summer Reading Choices by Heffers, Cambridge

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Play Podcast In this programme, we hear the summer reading choices of two of Heffers' most experienced and knowledgeable booksellers, Richard Osborne and Richard Reynolds.

Whether you're after the best of this season's crop of new crime fiction or food for thought in the shape of some outstanding recent non-fiction, listen to this programme and you're bound to find something you'll want to take with you on holiday.

Titles mentioned in the podcast
The Hitman's guide to Housecleaning by Hallgrimur Helgason Contact Heffers
Dead Scared by S. J. Bolton
A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (Grantchester Mysteries) by James Runcie
The Track of Sand by Andrea Camilleri
Laurels are Poison by Gladys Mitchell - US import, Contact Heffers
The Glimpses of the Moon by Edmund Crispin
The Silence by Alison Bruce
The Great Sea – A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia
Vultures' Picnic by Greg Palast
Chavs by Owen Jones

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 87 - Marilynne Robinson - When I Was a Child I Read Books

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When I Was a Child I Read Books We are delighted to welcome to the programme one of America's greatest living novelists and essayists, Marilynne Robinson. In 2009 Elaine Showalter wrote of her: 'Marilynne Robinson has published only three novels, but each is a stunningly original exploration of the classic forms and formulas of American writing.'

And now comes a collection of essays entitled When I Was a Child I Read Books, in which Robinson’s enquiring mind considers questions of faith and spirituality, politics, economics and science, all of which might be gathered under the rubric – what does it mean to be human in this historical moment, and how are we to give fullest expression to our humanity?

And at the end of the interview, she answers the question which all of her fans will be interested in: are you working on a new novel?

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 86 - Rebecca Stott - Darwin's Ghosts

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Darwin's Ghosts Our guest in this week's podcast is novelist and historian, Rebecca Stott. Rebecca's previous non-fiction books include Darwin and the Barnacle, about the great naturalist's fascination with the tiny sea creatures. Her interest in all things Darwinian continues in her new book, Darwin's Ghosts, which investigates the life and work of some of "the shadowy figures behind Darwin, his predecessors, the less well-known rebels".

"The story of the discovery of natural selection" she writes, "is a story of meanderings and false starts, of outgrowths, adaptations and atrophies, of movements backwards as well as forwards, of sudden jumps and accelerations and convergences." Without in any way diminishing Darwin's achievement, Stott shows that others before him had asked similar questions and taken similar steps, however faltering, along the same road of intellectual enquiry - in this interview she introduces us to some of Darwin's fascinating predecessors.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 85 - Hilary Mantel - Bring Up the Bodies

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Bring Up the Bodies We are delighted to welcome Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel back to the Blackwell Online podcast. We spoke to Hilary shortly after Wolf Hall won the prize in 2009 and now we are very pleased to be able to present an in-depth, exclusive interview with her on its eagerly awaited sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.

Wolf Hall told of the rise of Thomas Cromwell from son of a brutal blacksmith to one of the most powerful men in Henry VIII's kingdom, set against a background of Tudor power politics. Mantel has called Bring up the Bodies a 'more concentrated, fiercer book than Wolf Hall': the new book begins where its predecessor left off and focuses on the events of just nine months from the autumn of 1535 to May 1536, culminating with Anne Boleyn's arrest, trial and execution.

In this interview Hilary reflects on how she writes historical fiction, why Thomas Cromwell and the exercise of power continue to fascinate her, and why she thinks she may be a dramatist manquée.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 84 - Jonah Lehrer - Imagine: How Creativity Works

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Imagine: How Creativity Works Our guest in this programme is New York Times bestselling author, Jonah Lehrer, whose latest book is called Imagine: How Creativity Works. We caught up with Jonah just after he arrived for the UK leg of his book tour to ask him what he had discovered in his attempt to 'break open the black box of the imagination'.

The book explores many facets of creativity in areas as diverse as poetry, product design, film and surfing. Along the way he tackles questions such as: what strategies can help us enhance our creativity? Do we work more creatively with people we know well? Does our creativity peak when we are young? And what effect do substances such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs have on our creativity? You can hear his answers to some of those questions in this wide-ranging interview with George Miller.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 83 - Tom Holland - In the Shadow of the Sword

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In the Shadow of the Sword Tom Holland is one of the most popular and successful historians of the ancient world at work today, probably best known for his books on the Roman Republic, Rubicon, and on the Graeco-Persian war, Persian Fire. George Miller was lucky enough to speak to Tom recently about his latest book, a meticulously researched, beautifully written and inevitably controversial examination of the origins of Islam and the rise of the global Arab empire.

'That the coming of Islam was one of the supreme revolutions of world history is evident enough,' Holland writes in the book. 'All the more devastating to realize, then, that of written evidence composed before AD 800, the only traces we possess are either the barest shreds of shreds, or else the delusory shimmering of mirages. ... Far from Islam having been born in the full light of history, its birth was shrouded in what has appeared, to an increasing number of scholars, an almost impenetrable darkness’. In this interview Tom explains how, as an ancient historian, he set about shedding light on that darkness.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 82 - Jan Zalasiewicz - The Goldilocks Planet

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The Goldilocks Planet In this programme, geologist Jan Zalasiewicz makes a return visit to the Blackwell Online podcast to talk about the new book he has co-authored with fellow Leicester-University geologist Mark Williams, entitled The Goldilocks Planet.

The book looks at four billion years in the planet's climate and asks how the conditions that proved propitious for complex life came about, setting them in the perpective of aeons during which the planet was far from the habitable domain we take for granted today. In the interview we tackle subjects that include whether the Earth was ever a giant snowball, how rapidly the planet's climate can change, and when humans started having an impact on climate. Jan's answers to all these questions may surprise you.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 81 - Susan Cain - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

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Quiet Susan Cain in her book, Quiet, speaks up for quiet people in a loudmouth world, or to put it differently, she puts the case for the approximately one-third of the population who are towards the introvert end of the extrovert-intovert spectrum.

This book is a delight for anyone who has suffered from the steamroller effect of loud know-it-alls in brainstorming sessions, or who doesn't like working in an open-plan office, or who thinks - like Susan Cain - that the pendulum in modern western societies has swung too far in the extrovert's favour, to the detriment of the quieter virtues her book defends.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 80 - Emily Cockayne - Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours

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Cheek by Jowl If you enjoy peeking into your neighbour's recycling bin, you're guaranteed to find much to enjoy in this book. Emily Cockayne has written a fascinating history of neighbours in England from the Middle Ages to the present day.

In this podcast, she tells George Miller about some of the perennial nuisances that bad neighbours have caused for centuries and some - like slaughtering a hundred sheep or locating a dunghill by your neighbour's property - that are mercifully rare today. They also discuss whether the concept of neighbourliness is really as endangered as the media would have us believe.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 79 - Neil Faulkner - A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics

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A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient Olympics In this podcast archaeologist and broadcaster Neil Faulkner takes us back to 388BC to reveal what the ancient Olympics were really like.

What will we find when we eventually reach Olympia after a long and dusty journey at the height of the Greek summer? Where will we stay, and what will we eat and drink? What events are on offer and how different are they from their modern equivalents? And will we find anything resembling what we think of today as the Olympic spirit?

Join George Miller in conversation with Neil Faulkner for an eye-opening discussion of a Panhellenic extravaganza that was a heady mix of sport, sex and religion.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 78 - Ian Mortimer - The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England

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The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England Our guest in this programme is historian - and time-traveller - Ian Mortimer. Following on from his very successful Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, Ian now whisks us off to the England of Elizabeth I, a land where witchcraft was still a crime, bear-baiting a pastime, and medical knowledge and sanitation rudimentary. Yet it was also an age which produced great literature, architecture and discoveries about the world.

In this podcast, Ian tells George Miller about a time of violence and division in English history as well as creativity and discovery. And of course, no conversation about visiting the past would be complete without some discussion of what it smelled like.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 77 - Stephen Armstrong - The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited

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The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited Our guest in this podcast is writer and journalist, Stephen Armstrong. Last year Stephen retraced the journey George Orwell made through the north of England in 1936 during the Depression, which he wrote about in The Road to Wigan Pier. Orwell wanted to see for himself the effects of poverty on working class communities, and seventy-five years on, Stephen Armstrong wanted to discover what had changed.

What he found was shocking – people living in absolute poverty on just a few pounds a day, children with no hope, families living in housing classed as unfit for habitation, the safety nets of the state progressively being removed, communities with no role and no sense that anyone cared what happened to them. As you’ll hear in this interview and find in Stephen's book, though, he also encountered people who showed great resilience in the face of terrible adversity; he uncovered tales of hope as well as desperation.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 76 - Michael Hofmann - Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters

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Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters Poet and translator Michael Hofmann has an association with the works of Jewish Austrian writer Joseph Roth (1894-1939) that dates back nearly a quarter of a century. In that time he's translated ten books by Roth, the best known of which - The Radetzky March - is widely regarded as one of the finest novels of the twentieth century.

Now Michael Hofmann has translated a selection of Roth's letter that describe his turbulent life as a peripatetic journalist often beset with money and drink problems in the early decades of last century. Hofmann says he "likes the idea of a sort of accidental biography, told in the subject's own words, the sort of book that isn't nine parts starch, that is always medias in res". In this interview he talks about what the letters reveal about the man behind the novels.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com


Podcast 75 - Alain de Botton - Religion for Atheists

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Religion for Atheists If there is a common thread running through Alain de Botton’s bestselling oeuvre, it is surely the question how are we to live richly, meaningfully, well. And in seeking answers to that question he has frequently had recourse to the wisdom of the great thinkers and philosophers of the past.
In his new book he turns to religion (though not to God) for answers to that question - not just in the form of texts and thinkers - but also to religion’s rituals, sense of community, its attitudes of reverence, humility and gratitude. In this interview, he explains why.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com






Podcast 74 - Robert Holland - Blue-Water Empire

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Blue-Water Empire In this podcast, George Miller talks to historian Robert Holland about his action-packed new history of the British involvement in the Mediterranean world since 1800.
That involvement originated in the accidents of war with revolutionary France, but went on to be deeply entrenched, even instinctive; in time it extended from Gibraltar and Malta to Egypt, Palestine and Cyprus. In the interview, Robert Holland explains how this came about.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com







Podcast 73 - Mark Lynas - The God Species

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The God Species According to our guest in this podcast, Mark Lynas, many current Green preoccupations are simply wrong. If humanity is to learn to live within the natural boundaries set by our planet, we are going to have to learn to embrace nuclear power, consume GM foods and stop thinking of 'technofixes' as a dirty word.

Lynas believes we have to face up to the fact that we are The God Species: the fate of the Earth is in our hands and the clock is ticking. At the same time, Lynas does not see the future as necessarily one of privation and self-denial. In this challenging and thought-provoking interview about our common future he sets out the reasons why and explains why his own thinking has changed since his earlier activist days.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com




Podcast 72 - Philip Oltermann - Keeping Up with the Germans

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Keeping Up with the Germans At the age of fifteen, Philip Oltermann's parents told him that the family was relocating from their native Germany to England. Philip's new book, Keeping up with the Germans, is an entertaining account of his experiences getting to grips with a new culture: everything from food, football and plumbing to language and humour. He also looks more widely at the history of Anglo-German encounters and reflects on what they tell us about the nature of our two countries.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com







Podcast 71 - James Palmer - The Death of Mao

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The Death of Mao In this first podcast of 2012, George Miller talks to James Palmer about his new account of a momentous year in Chinese history - 1976. Not only did the year witness the death of Chairman Mao, who had ruled the country for over three decades, it also was the year of the Tangshan earthquake, one of the most devastating natural disasters in human history.

In the interview, James explains why, after the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, 1976 marked a turning point in Chinese history and set the country on the path from basket case to global superpower. He also speculates on the inadvertent part played by the earthquake on setting China on a new course.

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Audio recordings produced by George Miller of podularity.com