If This Is A Man is quite simply the best book I have ever read. Primo Levi was an Italian Jew who was captured by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz in 1944. This beautifully written book details his time spent in the camp, and the struggle for survival in the most degrading of circumstances. Despite the depravity of his ordeal, Levi is never bitter or consumed with hatred and he gives an objective description of the gradual erosion of what makes us human. The concentration camps of the Second World War were an extreme example of man’s inhumanity to man, and this book is one that should be read so that we do not forget what we are capable of.
An excellent book which is supposed to be about the 1883 volcanic eruption of Krakatoa. This was arguably the first ‘global village’ event as a global telegraphic network had only recently been completed, and the whole world got the news within a day or so. The book covers much more than just the eruption. There’s a history of the Dutch East India Company & Lloyds, whose officers reported on the disaster, sections on the science of plate tectonics which led to the volcano and lots more besides. The story ties together a number of different yet interrelated strands into a coherent whole and is well worth a read even for those who would not normally read a popular science title.