Non-fiction book of the month: may 2018

non-fiction book of the month: may 2018

The top ten non-fiction books along with a personal recommendation

Presented every month by Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Literarische Welt, ORF-Radio osterreich 1 and Telepolis.

Isolde Charim

Me and the Others
How the new pluralization is changing us all

We live in a pluralized society. Each culture stands alongside others, there is no longer a self-evident allegiance. But what is a pluralized society anyway?? And what does it mean for the individual to live in such a one? The perspective that things could always be different, that you could believe differently, live differently – is part of every culture today. And this change affects everyone. She changes the reference to the community, to one’s own identity. Philosopher Isolde Charim applies her thesis to a variety of ies, from the politics of integration to the definition of home to debates about religious signs. Zsolnay publishing house, 224 pages, € 22,00

non-fiction book of the month: may 2018

Jonathan B. Losos
lucky human being
Is evolution predictable?

If evolution could not do otherwise, it had to produce man as the crown of creation? Or would dinosaurs rule the world today if an asteroid had not hit the earth 66 million years ago?? Evolutionary biologist Jonathan Losos, in his research on lizards, succeeded in watching evolution at work and proving that evolution repeats itself. On a journey around the globe, he teaches us that evolution is not random – and yet mankind owes its existence to luck. translated from English by Sigrid Schmid and Renate Weitbrecht. Hanser publishing house, 384 pages, € 26,00

Christopher de Bellaigue
The Islamic Enlightenment
The conflict between faith and reason 1798 until today

Die islamische Aufklarung hat langst stattgefunden. In his narrative, Christopher de Bellaigue dismantles the often self-centered Western view of the Arab world. After 1800, there was also a broad movement in Egypt, Iran and Turkey for freedom, equality and democracy and for a secular state, for women’s rights and trade unions, a free press and the abolition of slavery. Arab societies have modernized at breathtaking speed. But the counter-revolution followed on its heels, with autocratic regimes and fundamentalist terror. De Bellaigue describes the struggle between faith and reason and for a new Muslim identity. Translated from English by Michael Bischoff. S. Fischer Verlag, 542 pages, € 25,00

Horst Dreier
State without God
Religion in the secular modern age

Horst Dreier’s thesis is: In modern democracy, the state must not identify with any particular religion, even if it is Christianity. Only in a state without God can all citizens live in freedom according to their quite different religious or other convictions. State without God does not mean world without God, nor does it mean society without God, and certainly not man without God. It is rather that the democracy of the Basic Law is completely incompatible with any form of a state of God, a theocracy, a sacral order or a Christian state. Edition of the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation. C. H. Beck publishing house, 256 pages, € 26,95

nonfiction book of the month: may 2018

Ed Yong
Tiny dangers
How microbes give us a broader view of life

Our body is a whole world: Trillions of microorganisms inhabit it. They help shape our organs, protect us from disease, control our behavior, and bombard us with their genes. These tiny hazards hold the key to understanding all of life on Earth, how it began, how it evolved. Ed Yong tells of the symbioses that drive corals to build powerful reefs or enable dwarf squids to camouflage their own outlines with a diffuse light to protect themselves from hunters. We learn how microbes can keep viruses at bay, influence our emotions and our nature, and even change our genetic makeup. We meet the scientists who study these tiny companions with infectious enthusiasm, much to our benefit. Translated from English by Sebastian Vogel. Publisher Antje Kunstmann, 444 pages, € 28,00

Stefan Weidner
Beyond the West
For a new cosmopolitan thinking

We were used to Europe and North America dominating the world. In the age of globalization, other major powers are now making political and economic claims and challenging the "western" world interpretation in question. Progress, sacularization, liberalism: Why should these principles of our history of ideas apply to the whole globe?? Stefan Weidner argues for taking world developments from Arabia, Africa or China seriously. The "West" must not believe that the whole world will sooner or later adopt his ideas. We need a cosmopolitan way of thinking that overcomes the idea of cultural superiority. Hanser Verlag, 368 pages, € 24.00

Marco d’Eramo
The world in a selfie
A tour of the tourist age

Tourist numbers are exploding worldwide, with industry revenues more than doubling in the last 15 years; in Mallorca, there were 1.8 million visitors for every 900000 locals in July 2016. These protesters – dressed as tourists – wore tennis socks and carried cameras around their necks. In doing so, they picked up on two aspects that have always been central around the historically young phenomenon of mass tourism: aesthetic demarcation (badly dressed tourists are always the others) and the fascination of vacation photography. Marco d’Eramo visits our tourist age. Why do we contort ourselves in order to take pictures – if necessary with a selfie stick – in front of buildings that we have never seen? "in real" find less impressive than in the travel guide? What distinguishes it, the tourist look? And how does tourism change destinations like Las Vegas, Paris or Venice?? Translated from the Italian by Martina Kempter. Suhrkamp Verlag, 363 pages, € 26.00

non-fiction book of the month: may 2018

Stefan Baron/Guangyan Yin-Baron
The Chinese
Psychogram of a World Power

With their portrait of a people that will shape the world of tomorrow like no other, the German-Chinese authors present a standard work on understanding the Chinese. Econ Verlag, 445 pages, € 25.00

Hannes Leidinger
The Decline of the Habsburg Monarchy

November 1918: The Habsburg monarchy lies in tatters. The army disbanded, and Emperor Charles left Schonbrunn Palace through the back door. Was this end really inevitable, or even delayed?? With the death of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1916, the monarchy had not only lost its symbolic figure, but also its emperor. Or was it the other way around, the downfall merely a chain of unfortunate circumstances? The war had by no means simplified the situation in Austria-Hungary. But the signs of a complete collapse were limited, despite social tensions and economic crises. Hannes Leidinger tells of everyday history as well as of old and new ones "Gentlemen", whose deeds and decisions had and still have far-reaching consequences for Europe. And he explores the question of whether the monarchy does not live on in many small empires to this day. Haymon Verlag, 440 pages, € 29.90

Hamad Abdel-Samad
A protocol of failure

German-Turks support Erdogan, Muslims born in Europe carry out terrorist attacks. Hamed Abdel-Samad denounces the elements of Islamic culture that hinder integration. But he also reckons with European integration lies. For those who for decades "Guest workers" The market speaks for itself, refuses integration offers – and should not be surprised about parallel societies. Those who close their eyes to cultural, mentalitarian and religious differences are bound to fail in their endeavors. Abdel-Samad formulates a list of demands for politics and society, because the future of Germany will be decided by the topic of integration. Droemer publishing house, 272 pages, € 19.99

Special recommendation of the month May by Ulrike Guerot:

nonfiction book of the month: may 2018

Yasha Mounk
The decay of democracy
How populism threatens the rule of law

Democracy is in a deep crisis worldwide. The number of protest voters is rising, populists are gaining strength, and traditional party systems are collapsing. Yascha Mounk examines this alarming state of affairs, which reveals two patterns: Either demagogues are elected to office, as in the U.S., Hungary, Poland, and Turkey, who trample on the rights of minorities, or a government, guaranteeing libertarian rights, entrenches itself behind technocratic decisions – and, as in Germany, the U.K., and France, increasingly loses its closeness to the people. Mounk explains the complex reasons and mechanisms that can bring down democracy. He names measures to save threatened social and political values for the future. This includes building a broad coalition against populists, defending the independence of the judiciary and the press, strengthening popular participation in political processes, fighting social inequality – and, above all, leaving one’s personal comfort zone to engage in politics for the sake of democracy. Translated from English by Bernhard Jendricke. Publisher Droemer, 352 pages, € 22,99

The jury: Tobias Becker, Der Spiegel; Kirstin Breitenfellner, Falter (Vienna); Peter Ehmer, WDR 5; Dr. Eike Gebhardt; Daniel Haufler, Berlin; Prof. Jochen Horisch, University of Mannheim; Gunter Kaindlstorfer, Vienna; Dr. Otto Kallscheuer; Petra Kammann, FeuilletonFrankfurt; Elisabeth Kiderlen; Jorg-Dieter Kogel; Prof. Dr. Ludger Lutkehaus; Prof. Dr. Herfried Munkler, Humboldt University of Berlin; Marc Reichwein, DIE WELT; Thomas Ribi, Neue Zurcher Zeitung; Prof. Dr. Sandra Richter, Uni Stuttgart; Wolfgang Ritschl, ORF Vienna; Florian Rotzer, TELEPOLIS; Dr. Frank Schubert, Spektrum der Wissenschaft; Norbert Seitz; Prof. Dr. Joachim Treusch, Jacobs University, Bremen; Dr. Andreas Wang; Michael Wiederstein, Schweizer Monat; Prof. Dr. Harro Zimmermann; Stefan Zweifel, Switzerland