Weird Life

Weird Life

Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own by David Toomey
2013 | EPUB | 864.4KB

Science that sounds like science fiction.

In recent years, scientists have hypothesized life-forms that can only be called "weird": organisms that live off acid rather than water, microbes that thrive at temperatures and pressure levels so extreme that their cellular structures should break down, perhaps even organisms that reproduce without DNA. Some of these strange life-forms, unrelated to all life we know, might be nearby: on rock surfaces in the American southwest, hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, or even in our own bodies. Some, stranger still, might live in Martian permafrost, swim in the dark oceans of Jupiter's moons, or survive in the exotic ices on comets. Others--the strangest of all--might inhabit the crusts of neutron stars, interstellar nebulae, or even other spatial dimensions.

In Weird Life, David Toomey takes us on a breathtaking tour of a universe of hypothetical life, a universe of life as we do not know it.

The Last Tsar: Emperor Michael II

The Last Tsar: Emperor Michael II

The Last Tsar: Emperor Michael II by Donald Crawford
2013 | EPUB | 350.6KB

WHO WAS THE LAST TSAR OF RUSSIA?

Across the world, among those who have any knowledge of the subject, the overwhelming answer to that would be — Nicholas II.

Yet it is the wrong answer. The real last Tsar of Russia, as this book will demonstrate beyond doubt, was his younger brother Michael.

But correcting an historical fact is not the primary purpose here. Although the Soviet Union airbrushed him from history, Michael remains an important figure, as growing numbers of Russians have come to agree. For he is the best means of closing that gap which exists between the end of the Tsarist Russia and the emergence of the Soviet Union. He is also not only a bridge to the past, but a bridge to the future, if Russia — as it must — is to come to terms with its own history.

Put simply, to know about Michael is to know what might have been, and thus to know what might yet be. For in rediscovering its last Tsar, Russia might also rediscover something of itself.

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
2013 | EPUB | 3.47MB

Frozen in Time is a gripping true story of survival, bravery, and honor in the vast Arctic wilderness during World War II, from the author of New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-La.

On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished.

Frozen in Time tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors, bringing vividly to life their battle to endure 148 days of the brutal Arctic winter, until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen brought them to safety. Mitchell Zuckoff takes the reader deep into the most hostile environment on earth, through hurricane-force winds, vicious blizzards, and subzero temperatures.

Moving forward to today, he recounts the efforts of the Coast Guard and North South Polar Inc. – led by indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza – who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and recover the remains of its crew.

A breathtaking blend of mystery and adventure Mitchell Zuckoff's Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and a tribute to the everyday heroism of the US Coast Guard.

Lost in Shangri-La

Lost in Shangri-La

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
2011 | EPUB | 13.89MB

On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over “Shangri-La,” a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea. Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumored to be cannibals.

But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed. Miraculously, three passengers pulled through. Margaret Hastings, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. John McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the plane, masked his grief with stoicism. Kenneth Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a gaping head wound.

Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site. Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside—a journey into the unknown that would lead them straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man—or woman.

Drawn from interviews, declassified U.S. Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the determined trio—dehydrated, sick, and in pain—traversed the dense jungle to find help; how a brave band of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors; and how a cowboy colonel attempted a previously untested rescue mission to get them out.

By trekking into the New Guinea jungle, visiting remote villages, and rediscovering the crash site, Zuckoff also captures the contemporary natives’ remembrances of the long-ago day when strange creatures fell from the sky. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

Hitler's Eagles: The Luftwaffe 1933-45

Hitler's Eagles: The Luftwaffe 1933-45

Hitler's Eagles: The Luftwaffe 1933-45 by Chris McNab
2012 | EPUB | 86.33MB

At the beginning of World War II, the Luftwaffe was the world's most advanced air force. With superior tactics, aircraft and training, it cut through the air forces of Poland and Western Europe in 1939 and 1940, and those of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Despite this auspicious beginning, by 1945 the Luftwaffe was a dying force. The Allies were destroying German aircraft at unequal rates, and Luftwaffe aviators were dying in their thousands in an unbalanced battle to save Germany from destruction. The Luftwaffe's lack of a convincing long-range bomber force also meant that it could not return strategic devastation upon its enemies. In the words of one historian, the Luftwaffe had a 'strategy for defeat'.

Hitler's Eagles - The Luftwaffe 1933-45 charts the turbulent history of the Luftwaffe from its earliest days to its downfall. It explores the secretive development of German air power during the 1920s and early 1930s, and the training of a new generation of aviators, including combat experience in the Spanish Civil War. Once Hitler was in power, the Luftwaffe came out of the shadows and expanded under a massive rearmament programme, then embarked upon the war that would define its existence. Hitler's Eagles explains the Luftwaffe's operations in every theatre of the war - Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Eastern Front. As well as providing a detailed history of the Luftwaffe's history and combat experience, the book also expands on its human and material aspects. Aces and commanders are profiled, uniforms and equipment are explained, and aircraft ranging from the Fiesler Storch to the Fw 200 Condor are described both technologically and tactically. The book conveys all the drama of the Luftwaffe's existence, from bombing raids over London to jet-fighter dogfights over Berlin, with Osprey's famous aviation artwork and more than 150 photos bringing the story incomparably to life.

Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend

Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend

Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend by Mitchell Zuckoff
2005 | EPUB | 1.01MB

You’ve heard of the scheme. Now comes the man behind it. In Mitchell Zuckoff's exhilarating book, the first nonfiction account of Charles Ponzi, we meet the charismatic rogue who launched the most famous and extraordinary scam in the annals of American finance.

It was a time when anything seemed possible–instant wealth, glittering fame, fabulous luxury–and for a run of magical weeks in the spring and summer of 1920, Charles Ponzi made it all come true. Promising to double investors’ money in three months, the dapper, charming Ponzi raised the “rob Peter to pay Paul” scam to an art form and raked in millions at his office in downtown Boston. Ponzi’s Scheme is the amazing true story of the irresistible scoundrel who launched the most successful scheme of financial alchemy in modern history–and uttered the first roar of the Roaring Twenties.

Ponzi may have been a charlatan, but he was also a wonderfully likable man. His intentions were noble, his manners impeccable, his sales pitch enchanting. Born to a genteel Italian family, he immigrated to the United States with big dreams but no money. Only after he became hopelessly enamored of a stenographer named Rose Gnecco and persuaded her to marry him did Ponzi light on the means to make his dreams come true. His true motive was not greed but love.

With rich narrative skill, Mitchell Zuckoff conjures up the feverish atmosphere of Boston during the weeks when Ponzi’s bubble grew bigger and bigger. At the peak of his success, Ponzi was taking in more than $2 million a week. And then his house of cards came crashing down–thanks in large part to the relentless investigative reporting of Richard Grozier’s Boston Post.

In Zuckoff's hands, Ponzi is no mere swindler; instead he is appealing and magnetic, a colorful and poignant figure, someone who struggled his whole life to attain great wealth and who sincerely believed–to the very end–that he could have made good on his investment promises if only he’d had enough time. Ponzi is a classic American tale of immigrant life and the dream of success, and the unexpectedly moving story of a man who–for a fleeting, illusory moment–attained it all.

Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning Volume One

Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning Volume One

Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning Volume One: The Authorized Biography by Charles Moore
2013 | EPUB | 4.71MB

Not For Turning is the first volume of Charles Moore's authorized biography of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century and one of the most influential political figures of the postwar era. Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher, published after her death on 8 April 2013, immediately supersedes all earlier books written about her.

At the moment when she becomes a historical figure, this book also makes her into a three dimensional one for the first time. It gives unparalleled insight into her early life and formation, especially through her extensive correspondence with her sister, which Moore is the first author to draw on. It recreates brilliantly the atmosphere of British politics as she was making her way, and takes her up to what was arguably the zenith of her power, victory in the Falklands. (This volume ends with the Falklands Dinner in Downing Street in November 1982.).

Moore is clearly an admirer of his subject, but he does not shy away from criticising her or identifying weaknesses and mistakes where he feels it is justified. Based on unrestricted access to all Lady Thatcher's papers, unpublished interviews with her and all her major colleagues, this is the indispensable, fully rounded portrait of a towering figure of our times.

A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett

A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett

A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett by Rob Chapman
2010 | EPUB | 2.25MB

“I don't think I'm easy to talk about. I've got a very irregular head. And I'm not anything that you think I am anyway.”—Syd Barrett’s last interview, Rolling Stone, 1971

Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett (1946–2006) was, by all accounts, the very definition of a golden boy. Blessed with good looks and a natural aptitude for painting and music, he was a charismatic, elfin child beloved by all, who fast became a teenage leader in Cambridge, England, where a burgeoning bohemian scene was flourishing in the early 1960s. Along with three friends and collaborators—Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason—he formed what would soon become Pink Floyd, and rock ’n’ roll was never the same.

Starting as a typical British cover band aping approximations of American rhythm ’n’ blues, they soon pioneered an entirely new sound, and British psychedelic rock was born. With early, trippy, Barrett-penned pop hits such as “Arnold Layne” (about a clothesline-thieving cross-dresser) and “See Emily Play” (written specifically for the epochal “Games For May” concert), Pink Floyd, with Syd Barrett as their main creative visionary, captured the zeitgeist of “Swinging” London in all its Technicolor glory.

But there was a dark side to all this new-found freedom. Barrett, like so many around him, began ingesting large quantities of a revolutionary new drug, LSD, and his already-fragile mental state—coupled with a personality inherently unsuited to the life of a pop star—began to unravel. The once bright-eyed lad was quickly replaced, seemingly overnight, by a glowering, sinister, dead-eyed shadow of his former self, given to erratic, highly eccentric, reclusive, and sometimes violent behavior. Inevitably sacked from the band, Barrett retreated from London to his mother’s house in Cambridge, where he would remain until his death, only rarely seen or heard, further fueling the mystery.

In the meantime, Pink Floyd emerged from the underground to become one of the biggest international rock bands of all time, releasing multi-platinum albums, many that dealt thematically with the loss of their friend Syd Barrett: The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall are all, on many levels, about him.

In A Very Irregular Head, journalist Rob Chapman lifts the veil of secrecy that has surrounded the legend of Syd Barrett for nearly four decades, drawing on exclusive access to family, friends, archives, journals, letters, and artwork to create the definitive portrait of a brilliant and tragic artist. Besides capturing all the promise of Barrett’s youthful years, Chapman challenges the oft-held notion that Barrett was a hopelessly lost recluse in his later years, and creates a portrait of a true British eccentric who is rightfully placed within a rich literary lineage that stretches through Kenneth Graham, Hilaire Belloc, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, John Lennon, David Bowie, and on up to the pioneers of Britpop.

A tragic, affectionate, and compelling portrait of a singular artist, A Very Irregular Head will stand as the authoritative word on this very English genius for years to come.

Kissing the Mask

Kissing the Mask

Kissing the Mask by William T Vollmann
2010 | EPUB | 620.2KB

From the National Book Award-winning author of Europe Central comes a charming, evocative and piercing examination of an ancient Japanese tradition and the keys it holds to our modern understanding of beauty....

What is a woman? To what extent is femininity a performance? Writing with the extraordin-ary awareness and endless curiosity that have defined his entire oeuvre, William T. Vollmann takes an in-depth look into the Japanese craft of Noh theater, using the medium as a prism to reveal the conception of beauty itself.

Sweeping readers from the dressing room of one of Japan's most famous Noh actors to a transvestite bar in the red-light district of Kabukicho, Kissing the Mask explores the enigma surrounding Noh theater and the traditions that have made it intrinsic to Japanese culture for centuries. Vollmann then widens his scope to encompass such modern artists of attraction and loss as Mishima, Kawabata and even Andrew Wyeth. From old Norse poetry to Greek cult statues, from Japan's most elite geisha dancers to American makeup artists, from Serbia to India, Vollmann works to extract the secrets of staged femininity and the mystery of perceived and expressed beauty, including explorations of gender at a transgendered community in Los Angeles and with Kabuki female impersonators.

Kissing the Mask is illustrated with many evocative sketches and photographs by the author.

Museum Legs: Fatigue and Hope in the Face of Art

Museum Legs: Fatigue and Hope in the Face of Art

Museum Legs: Fatigue and Hope in the Face of Art by Amy Whitaker
2010 | EPUB | 238.01KB

An irreverent, highly original look at our rocky relationship with museums and museums' rocky relationship with us.

If you've ever considered going to an art museum and then thought, errr, I'll do something else . . . If you've ever arrived and left a little glazed and confused . . . If you've ever thought, I might read an eight-page article about art museums but not a whole book . . . Then this is your story.

"Museum Legs"—taken from a term for art fatigue—starts with a question: Why do people get bored and tired in art museums and why does that matter? As Whitaker writes in this humorous and incisive collection of essays, museums matter for reasons that have less to do with art as we know it and more to do with business, politics, and the age-old question of how to live.

Maybe the great age of museums will yet be a great age of creativity and hopeful possibility in everyday life.

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang
2012 | EPUB | 392.45KB

Scottish Renaissance man Andrew Lang made important contributions in a staggering array of academic and creative disciplines. In addition to publishing many works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, he also was instrumental in the formation of the field of study now known as anthropology and was an important collector of folk tales in Europe and the UK. This volume of collected tales and scholarly analysis offers fascinating insight into the role that dreams and supernatural elements play in folklore and myth.

Entering the Mind of the Tracker

Entering the Mind of the Tracker

Entering the Mind of the Tracker: Native Practices for Developing Intuitive Consciousness and Discovering Hidden Nature by Tamarack Song
2013 | EPUB | 3.59MB

Training methods for tracking and wilderness observation woven into extraordinary real-life stories of intuitive animal-reading skills.

  • Explains technical tracking methods and observational skills such as shadowing and envisioning through the innermost thoughts of an accomplished native tracker
  • Reveals how to track by expanding your awareness and consciousness to become one with the animal you are tracking
  • Shares stories of tracking Wolves, Bears, Deer, Cougars, and many other animals

Stepping beyond the shape of a footprint and into the unseen story of the track, veteran wilderness guide Tamarack Song takes you inside the eyes and mind of an intuitive tracker, with intimate stories where Frogs show the way out of the woods, scat reveals life histories, and Bears demonstrate how to find missing people.

Drawing from his years of surviving in the wild, apprenticing to native elders, and living with a family of wolves, Tamarack reveals how to achieve a level of perception like that of aboriginal trackers by becoming one with the animal you are tracking, whether Fox, Deer, Coyote, or Cougar. Sharing his innermost thoughts while following track and sign, the book’s adventures merge technical tracking methods with skills such as shadowing and envisioning, while demonstrating animal-reading skills considered outside the human realm. The author explains how to expand your awareness--to learn from nature by becoming nature--and tap in to the intuitive tracking consciousness each of us has inherited from our Paleolithic ancestors.

Through his stories from the trail, Tamarack shows the art of tracking not simply as a skill for hunters and naturalists but as a metaphor for conscious living. By exploring the intricacies of the natural world, we explore not only our connections to the world around us but also our internal landscapes. We learn to better express ourselves and listen, meet our needs, and help others. Intuitive tracking provides a path to finding ourselves, becoming one with all life, and restoring humanity’s place in the Great Hoop of Life.

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts
1989 | AZW3 | 1.76MB

Modern Western culture and technology is inextricably tied to the belief in the existence of a self as a separate ego, separated from and in conflict with the rest of the world. In this classic book, Watts provides a lucid and simple presentation of an alternative view based on Hindu and Vedantic philosophy.

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan W Watts
2011 | EPUB | 1.71MB

An exploration of man's quest for psychological security and spiritual certainty in religion and philosophy.

“Reading Alan Watts challenges us to explore new avenues of thinking, inspires us to lead more fulfilling lives. His legacy lives on in The Wisdom of Insecurity, a work that energetically displays Watts’s piercing intellect, razor-sharp wit, and winning grace. For the clarity and wisdom with which it engages timeless concerns crucial to us all, it is unmatched. An important book.”
—Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea

“Perhaps the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West, Watts had the rare gift of ‘writing beautifully the unwritable.’”
—Los Angeles Times

“This book proposes a complete reversal of all ordinary thinking about the present state of man. The critical condition of the world compels us to face this problem: how is man to live in a world in which he can never be secure, deprived, as many are, of the consolations of religious belief? The author shows that this problem contains its own solution—that the highest happiness, the supreme spiritual insight and certitude are found only in our awareness that impermanence and insecurity are inescapable and inseparable from life. Written in a simple and lucid style, it is a timely message.”
—Book Exchange (London)

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
2010 | EPUB | 1.82MB

Jaron Lanier, a Silicon Valley visionary since the 1980s, was among the first to predict the revolutionary changes the World Wide Web would bring to commerce and culture. Now, in his first book, written more than two decades after the web was created, Lanier offers this provocative and cautionary look at the way it is transforming our lives for better and for worse.

The current design and function of the web have become so familiar that it is easy to forget that they grew out of programming decisions made decades ago. The web’s first designers made crucial choices (such as making one’s presence anonymous) that have had enormous—and often unintended—consequences. What’s more, these designs quickly became “locked in,” a permanent part of the web’s very structure.

Lanier discusses the technical and cultural problems that can grow out of poorly considered digital design and warns that our financial markets and sites like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are elevating the “wisdom” of mobs and computer algorithms over the intelligence and judgment of individuals.

Lanier also shows:

  • How 1960s antigovernment paranoia influenced the design of the online world and enabled trolling and trivialization in online discourse
  • How file sharing is killing the artistic middle class;
  • How a belief in a technological “rapture” motivates some of the most influential technologists
  • Why a new humanistic technology is necessary.

Controversial and fascinating, You Are Not a Gadget is a deeply felt defense of the individual from an author uniquely qualified to comment on the way technology interacts with our culture.

The Economist Audio Edition [May 11, 2013]

The Economist Audio Edition [May 11, 2013]

The Economist Audio Edition [May 11, 2013]
English | MP3@48 kbps | 8 hrs 52 min | 184.79MB

The audio edition contains word-for-word recordings of all articles published in The Economist, read by professional broadcasters and actors. It is ideal for anyone who wants to listen to articles while travelling, exercising or just relaxing.

The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by "The Economist Newspaper Ltd" and edited in London. It has been in continuous publication since James Wilson established it in September 1843. As of summer 2007, its average circulation topped 1.2 million copies a week, about half of which are sold in North America. Consequently it is often seen as a transatlantic (as opposed to solely British) news source.

The aim of The Economist is "to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress."Subjects covered include international news, economics, politics, business, finance, science, technology, and the arts. The publication is targeted at the high-end "prestige" segment of the market and counts among its audience influential business and government decision-makers.

It takes a strongly argued editorial stance on many issues, especially its support for free trade and fiscal conservatism; it can thus be considered as a magazine which practises advocacy journalism.

Although The Economist calls itself a newspaper and refers to its staff as correspondents, it is printed in magazine form on glossy paper, like a newsmagazine.