I was looking for something explaining the history and evolution of the world's major languages - a book which was consistent with ancestral population genomics and the historical record. Nicholas Ostler does a fine job for written languages over the last 5,000 years.
On the strength of that I ordered (for both Clare and myself):
which is due to arrive today.
I recently reread Quantico, a testament to the power of Greg Bear's writing when he really cares about the subject matter. It's anthrax-based biological warfare - a revenge attack against the world's great religions. The main protagonist is an Americanised Muslim, sympathetically-drawn, and there is no preachiness to speak of. An exciting and chilling narrative.
On the strength of that I'm now in the middle of his follow-up.
After immersing myself in Bukharin's life, I was naturally curious about Stalin.
In my youth I was educated in the Trotskyist tradition, which sees Stalin as a malevolent dullard who broke with Marxist principle in a murderous struggle for absolute power.
On the other hand ... he did preside over the crash-industrialisation of Russia in the 1930s and arguably did ensure allied victory in the second world war. Would Bukharin's or Trotsky's policies really have worked better, given the objective situation?
I'm no longer so sure.
I selected this biography after carefully reviewing the three or four major candidates, looking for an author without too many moralistic preconceptions or an overt agenda. The book arrives tomorrow and I hope for the best.
And finally, I'm waiting for the arrival of James Hogan's classic pulp SF novel, which I first read more than thirty years ago.
I mentioned "The Genesis Machine" recently in this post.