New and noteworthy – 22 February 2018

Revolution in Ukraine; the complexities of judging; international espionage past and present; neurogastronomy; and the surprising longevity of the kibbutz

February 22, 2018
Ukraine protests
Source: iStock

The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution
Marci Shore

Yale University Press

The Ukrainian revolution of 2013-14, writes Yale historian Marci Shore, was “the most extraordinary thing I have seen in the quarter century I have been coming to Eastern Europe”. Yet although Western politicians and journalists had much to say about what it meant for “NATO policy, oil pipelines, and international finance”, they were largely silent on “the transformation of human souls”. The Ukrainian Night, by contrast, offers “an exploration of revolution as a lived experience”, seeking to understand what pushed many of Shore’s friends and colleagues “to places they had never expected to find themselves [and] towards a willingness to risk their lives”.

Judged: The Value of Being Misunderstood
Ziyad Marar

Despite a demanding day job as president of global publishing at Sage Publications, Ziyad Marar has also written a series of accessible but deeply researched studies of intimacy, happiness and deception. His new book explores the complexities of judging and being judged. Although we constantly solicit the judgement of others – Twitter alone generates “half a billion attention-seeking messages every day” – we are also afraid of being judged, or judged in the wrong ways, and sometimes fall back on the fantasy of an “escape from judgement”. Drawing on film and fiction, philosophers and psychoanalysts, sociologists and Shakespeare, Marar attempts to untangle some of the knots.

Spy Chiefs
Edited by Christopher Moran, Mark Stout, Ioanna Iordanou and Paul Maddrell
Georgetown University Press

The first of two volumes, Intelligence Leaders in the United States and United Kingdom considers the development of the CIA, the changing policies of different directors, “the birth of atomic intelligence”, “Britain’s secret foreign policy” and responses to the Suez Crisis, but also the identity of M in Ian Fleming’s Bond novels and representations of espionage in British television series. A second volume adds an international dimension by surveying the intelligence leaders of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Contributors range from Renaissance Venice and 16th-century Istanbul to the early USSR and post-war East Germany before concluding with chapters on 20th-century India, Lebanon and Egypt.

Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food

Rachel Herz

Why do so many people order tomato juice on aeroplanes? Can unhappiness really make grapes taste more sour? Why does shopping with a reusable bag encourage people to stock up with treats? And what’s the best kind of plate if one wants to curb one’s intake? Welcome to “the budding field of neurogastronomy”, which neuroscientist Rachel Herz describes as “the scientific endeavour to understand the interactions between our brains, food, and eating”. As well as unearthing many strange and often counterintuitive insights about our relationship with food, she suggests, it can also help us to resist marketing campaigns, challenge much received dietary wisdom, lose weight more effectively and even reduce our susceptibility to disease.

The Mystery of the Kibbutz: Egalitarian Principles in a Capitalist World
Ran Abramitzky
Princeton University Press

The kibbutzim in Israel, like other forms of egalitarian communal living, present an obvious challenge to economic theory. If everybody is paid the same, where are the incentives to study and work hard, and why don’t the most talented members just go elsewhere for better wages? Yet although many kibbutzim moved away from equal sharing in the 1990s, Stanford economist Ran Abramitzky reminds us that “Overall, [they] survived, and many of them thrived, for almost a century.” His book draws on extensive statistical data to analyse this paradox, along with many stories of his relatives who forged, embraced and sometimes rejected the kibbutz way of life.

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