What I’ve been reading

1. The Half-Made World, by Felix Gilman.  I very much enjoyed this mix of dystopian steampunk and speculative science fiction, reviewed by Henry here.

2. Vassily Grossman, Everything Flows.  I found this more fluent and compelling than his longer Life and Fate; it's the story of a man who returns home from a concentration camp.  Recommended.

3. Richard Overy, 1939: Countdown to War.  I didn't think a book so short on this topic could be good.  I was wrong.  Overy has a strong overall track record as an author.

4. Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History.  I don't have any objections to this much-touted book, but I expected to learn more from it than I did.  It didn't feel like 352 pp. 

5. Nicholas Ostler, The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel.  A provocative book on the forthcoming decline of English as a globally dominant language.  I'm not (yet?) convinced, but I'm less unconvinced than I thought I would be.  One main point is that more and more business will be done without English at all, often through the BRICS countries.  It is interesting to see that fewer people in South Africa are learning English.


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