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A vivid, geeky travelogue of a journey to meet the inventors, engineers, and young scientists helping to give birth to the world's next scientific superpower—a nation built not on conquest, oil, or minerals, but on the scientific ingenuity of its people
A vivid, geeky travelogue of a journey to meet the inventors, engineers, and young scientists helping to give birth to the world's next scientific superpower—a nation built not on conquest, oil, or minerals, but on the scientific ingenuity of its people One in six employed scientists with science or engineering doctorates in the U.S. is Asian, and by the turn of the millennium, there were claims that a third of all engineers in Silicon Valley were of Indian origin, with Indians running 750 of its tech companies. In this entertaining exploration of India's rise as a center of scientific excellence, Angela Saini delves inside the psyche of the nation's science-hungry citizens, explaining how ancient science is giving way to new, and how the technology of the wealthy are passing on to the poor. She also explores why the government of the most religious country on earth has put its faith in science and technology. Through witty first-hand reportage and penetrative analysis, she explains what this means for the rest of the world, and how a spiritual nation squares its soul with hard rationality. Full of curious, colorful characters and gripping stories, it describes India through its people—a nation of "geeks."
From the award-winning author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City, a riveting, intimate account of America’s troubled war in Afghanistan.
When President Barack Obama ordered the surge of troops and aid to Afghanistan, Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran followed. He found the effort sabotaged not only by Afghan and Pakistani malfeasance but by infighting and incompetence within the American government: a war cabinet arrested by vicious bickering among top national security aides; diplomats and aid workers who failed to deliver on their grand promises; generals who dispatched troops to the wrong places; and headstrong military leaders who sought a far more expansive campaign than the White House wanted. Through their bungling and quarreling, they wound up squandering the first year of the surge.
Chandrasekaran explains how the United States has never understood Afghanistan—and probably never will. During the Cold War, American engineers undertook a massive development project across southern Afghanistan in an attempt to woo the country from Soviet influence. They built dams and irrigation canals, and they established a comfortable residential community known as Little America, with a Western-style school, a coed community pool, and a plush clubhouse—all of which embodied American and Afghan hopes for a bright future and a close relationship. But in the late 1970s—after growing Afghan resistance and a Communist coup–the Americans abandoned the region to warlords and poppy farmers.
In one revelatory scene after another, Chandrasekaran follows American efforts to reclaim the very same territory from the Taliban. Along the way, we meet an Army general whose experience as the top military officer in charge of Iraq’s Green Zone couldn’t prepare him for the bureaucratic knots of Afghanistan, a Marine commander whose desire to charge into remote hamlets conflicted with civilian priorities, and a war-seasoned diplomat frustrated in his push for a scaled-down but long-term American commitment. Their struggles show how Obama’s hope of a good war, and the Pentagon’s desire for a resounding victory, shriveled on the arid plains of southern Afghanistan.
Meticulously reported, hugely revealing, Little America is an unprecedented examination of a failing war–and an eye-opening look at the complex relationship between America and Afghanistan.
Miraculous Abundance is the eloquent tale of the couple’s evolution from creating a farm to sustain their family to delving into an experiment in how to grow the most food possible, in the most ecological way possible, and create a farm model that can carry us into a post-carbon future … when oil is no longer moving goods and services, energy is scarcer, and localization is a must.
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Bigger has turned out not to be better. Servicing the global economy has exacted a heavy toll in the erosion of our communities and the destruction of our environment. Increasingly, we are coming to realize that the way forward looks a lot like the way back — back to strong local economies, back to resilient, tight-knit communities, back to the land and work that is real.
As we chart our course through these uncertain times, we are hungry for inspiration. Robert Swann was a self-taught economist, a tireless champion of decentralism, and the father of the relocalization movement. A conscientious war resistor imprisoned for his beliefs, Swann engaged in lifelong nonviolent direct action against war, racism and economic inequity. His legacy is a vision of a life-affirming, alternative economy of peace founded on innovations in land and monetary reform.
Swann's story is also the untold history of decentralism in the United States. He associated with a constellation of vital, intelligent independent authors and activists, and ultimately co-founded the Schumacher Society based on the philosophies of Small Is Beautiful author E. F. Schumacher.
Swann forged tools to build productive, resilient local and regional economies. Now as global industrial civilization flails in the throes of ecological and economic crisis, Swann's working innovations are at the ready to help neighborhoods, local entrepreneurs, and willing communities to rebuild at appropriate scales.
America's once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities-Syracuse, N.Y.; Worcester, Mass.; Akron, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Rockford, Ill.; and others-increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Gutted by deindustrialization, outsourcing and middle-class flight, disproportionately devastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric and displaced the working poor, and struggling with pockets of poverty reminiscent of postcolonial squalor, small industrial cities have become invisible to a public distracted by the Wall Street (big city) versus Main Street (small town) matchup. These cities would seem to be part of America's past, not its future. And yet, journalist and historian Catherine Tumber argues in this provocative book, America's gritty Rust Belt cities could play a central role in a greener, low-carbon, relocalized future.
As we wean ourselves from fossil fuels and realize the environmental costs of suburban sprawl, we will see that small cities offer many assets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small town counterparts: population density (and the capacity for more); fertile, nearby farmland available for local agriculture, windmills and solar farms; and manufacturing infrastructure and workforce skill that can be repurposed for the production of renewable-energy technology.
Tumber, who has spent much of her life in Rust Belt cities, traveled to 25 cities in the Northeast and Midwest-from Buffalo, N.Y., to Peoria, Ill., to Detroit to Rochester, N.Y.-interviewing planners, city officials and activists, and weaving their stories into this exploration of small-scale urbanism. Smaller cities can be a critical part of a sustainable future and a productive green economy. Small, Gritty, and Green will help us develop the moral and political imagination we need to realize this.
Taras Grescoe rides the rails all over the world and makes an elegant and impassioned case for the imminent end of car culture and the coming transportation revolution.
"I am proud to call myself a straphanger," writes Taras Grescoe. The perception of public transportation in America is often unflattering—a squalid last resort for those with one too many drunk-driving charges, too poor to afford insurance, or too decrepit to get behind the wheel of a car. Indeed, a century of auto-centric culture and city planning has left most of the country with public transportation that is underfunded, ill maintained, and ill conceived. But as the demand for petroleum is fast outpacing the world's supply, a revolution in transportation is under way.
Grescoe explores the ascendance of the straphangers—the growing number of people who rely on public transportation to go about the business of their daily lives. On a journey that takes him around the world—from New York to Moscow, Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Bogotá, Phoenix, Portland, Vancouver, and Philadelphia—Grescoe profiles public transportation here and abroad, highlighting the people and ideas that may help undo the damage that car-centric planning has done to our cities and create convenient, affordable, and sustainable urban transportation—and better city living—for all.