• Big Ideas in Brief provides an accessible and easily understood tour of 200 key concepts that really matter. The ideas covered come from a wide range of subjects - Philosophy, Religion, Science, Politics, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and the Arts. A series of short and lively articles accompanied by 100 illustrations introduce a host of diverse topics, all explained simply and clearly.

  • Anglais Caught in the Crossfire

    Crofton Ian

    • Birlinn
    • 1 Juillet 2012

    Scotland’s deadliest gang war of a generation – the Daniel family versus the Lyons – was sparked by a cocaine theft from a house party which unleashed a decade of murderous violence. Devastation ensued… beatings, slashings, abductions and torture. Homes were firebombed while children slept; witnesses were forced into protection and families ripped apart. Michael Lyons, 21, was slaughtered with British Army guns in a triple shooting at a north Glasgow garage. Daniel enforcer Kevin ‘Gerbil’ Carroll, 29, had 13 shots pumped into him outside an Asda supermarket. The desecration of the grave of eight-year-old cancer victim Garry Lyons marked a sickening low. Caught in the crossfire were brave residents of Milton, Glasgow, who opposed their community centre being used as a taxpayer-funded gang hut by the Lyons. Against the odds, they won their six-year battle which exposed a murky nexus between police officers, politicians and the underworld. This is the explosive story of how the Daniel-Lyons feud engulfed a community and spread from the mean streets into the corridors of power.

  • People often complain that in history lessons at school they were taught just a few topics - the Romans, the Tudors, the Nazis - and how they have no idea at all about what happened in between. To remedy this, World History: 50 Key Milestones You Really Need to Know offers brief and stimulating outlines of key developments in the history of the world, from the beginning of agriculture 10,000 years ago to the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. Each essay is accompanied by a detailed time line of dates and events, and the flavour of the period concerned is brought to life by selected contemporary quotations from figures as diverse as Aristotle, Saladin, Christopher Columbus, Suleiman the Magnificent, Galileo, Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. In addition, box features throw light on a range of related topics, from Confucianism and the state to Alexander the Great's horse, and from Islamic science to the Enigma code and the atomic bomb.

  • Conventional chronologies of world history concentrate on the reigns of kings and queens, the dates of battles and treaties, the publication dates of great books, the completion of famous buildings, the deaths of iconic figures, and the years of major discoveries. But there are other more interesting stories to tell - stories which can bring the past vividly and excitingly to life. Imagine a book that tells you the date of the ancient Roman law that made it legal to break wind at banquets; the name of the defunct medieval pope whose putrefying corpse was subjected to the humiliation of a trial before a court of law; the identity of the priapic monarch who sired more bastards than any other king of England; and last but not least the date of the demise in London of the first goat to have circumnavigated the globe - twice. Imagine a book crammed with such deliciously disposable information, and you have History without the Boring Bits. By turns bizarre, surprising, trivial, and enlightening, History without the Boring Bits offers rich pickings for the browser, and entertainment and inspiration aplenty for those who have grown weary of more conventional works of history.

  • This authoritative, entertaining and eminently browsable reference book, arranged in easily accessible A - Z format, is an absorbing and imaginative feast of Scottish lore, language, history and culture, from the mythical origins of the Scots in Scythia to the contemporary Scotland of the Holyrood parliament and Trainspotting. Here Tartan Tories rub shoulders with Torry girls, the Misery from the Manse exchanges a nod with Stalin's Granny, Thomas the Rhymer and the Wizard of Reay walk hand in hand with Bible John, and the reader is taken for a rollercoaster ride round Caledonia, from Furry Boots City to the Costa Clyde, via the Cold Shoulder of Scotland, the West Lothian Alps and the Reykjavik of the South. The result is a breathtaking and quirky celebration of Scotland, packed with fact and anecdote.

  • Ever wondered where noodles came from? How Worcester Sauce was invented? Or even who the 'Cucumber King of Burma' was? Beginning with the hippo soup eaten in Africa in 6000 BC, through to the dangerous blowfish enjoyed in contemporary Japan, A Curious History of Food and Drink reveals the bizarre origins of the food and drink consumed throughout history. From the pheasant brains and flamingo tongues scoffed by the Roman emperor Vitellius, to the unusual uses of liquorice (once a treatment for sore feet) - Ian Crofton makes use of original sources - including journals, cookbooks and manuals - to reveal the bizarre, entertaining and informative stories behind the delicacies enjoyed by our ancestors.

  • Anglais Walking the Border

    Crofton Ian

    • Birlinn
    • 1 Octobre 2014

    In 2013 Ian Crofton undertook a journey he had been pondering for years: a walk along the Border between Scotland and England. It would be an exploration both of his own identity – not quite Scottish, not quite English – and of a largely unexplored stretch of country. Apart from the line marked on the map, the route is not obvious. For much of its length the Border either follows the middle of various rivers, or traces the Southern Upland watershed, an area of bleak moorland and dense conifer plantations. During the course of his walk, Ian Crofton investigates the history, literature and legend of the Border. He talks to a range of people he comes across – farmers, landladies, bar staff, anglers, labourers, shepherds, shopkeepers – to find out what they make of the Border, if anything at all. Such conversations lead to a consideration of the very nature of borders. Do they provide a necessary defence of the nationstate? Or are they, in this day and age, an affront to global justice? Walking the Border is in the best traditions of travel writing, combining vivid description with human insight, the whole spiced with a wry sense of the absurdity and necessity of both inward and outward journeys.

  • ‘Under Crofton's collector's eye, the rollicking spirit of Scotland, old and modern, comes proudly alive' – Sunday Herald Scottish History without the Boring Bits offers a colourful melange of the bawdy, the bloody, the horrific and the hilarious episodes and characters that have spattered the pages of our nation's story. From the War of the One-Eyed Woman to the MP cleared of stealing his ex-mistress's knickers, Ian Crofton presents a host of little-known tales that you won't find in more conventional works of history. The story starts in the 4th millennium BC with the expulsion from Eden of the first Scot. It then makes its way via the medieval bishop roasted in butter and the appearance of the Devil in Ayrshire disguised as a lady's lapdog, right up to the twenty-first century, when US intelligence identified a distillery on Islay as a possible threat to world peace. So forget the usual parade of what James Bridie called ‘Wallace-the-Bruceism' and ‘Charlie-over-the-waterism'. That's all history. Here, for the first time, is the story of Scotland as it's never been told before. Praise for Ian Crofton's A Dictionary of Scottish Phrase and Fable: ‘The kind of book you find yourself immersed in long after you should have put it down' Times Literary Supplement

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