MUP Books out August
This August, we've surely got something to strike your fancy.
Riveting reads this month from MUP: spanning memoir, artificial intelligence, true crime, the wonders of the universe and two little books on very big ideas, sleep and indignation.
One Hundred Years of Dirt, Rick Morton
One Hundred Years of Dirt is an unflinching memoir in which the mother is a hero who is never rewarded. It is a meditation on the anger, fear of others and an obsession with real and imagined borders. Yet it is also a testimony to the strength of familial love and endurance. Christos Tsiolkas called it "a memoir that dares to deal unflinchingly with the darkness of family and cultural history".
Morton writes: "the story of the Mortons is typical of the internecine struggles of so many squattocracy families that have redrawn boundaries across Australia as siblings jostle for favour and, in time, the reward of title."
The Mortons had been on the Birdsville Track since the turn of the century. It was theirs. A plausible explanation for the colony’s failure to launch a carbon copy of class as it was once known on milder shores is that great, yawning interior of the Australian continent and a distinct lack of hands. The need to survive required mutation. There was work to be done and free landholders couldn’t afford to sit back and issue orders from the sidelines. These typically highborn squatters became, in effect, Australia’s landed gentry but with a much more practical flourish. It was into such a family, quite some time later, that I was born.
Made by Humans: The AI Condition, Ellen Broad
Made by Humans explores our role and responsibilities in automation. Roaming from Australia to the UK and the US, elite data expert Ellen Broad talks to world leaders in AI about what we need to do next. It is a personal, thought-provoking examination of humans as data and humans as the designers of systems that are meant to help us.
Who is designing AI? A select, narrow group. How is their world view shaping our future?
Artificial intelligence can be all too human: quick to judge, capable of error, vulnerable to bias. It's made by humans, after all. Humans make decisions about the laws and standards, the tools, the ethics in this new world. Who benefits. Who gets hurt.
Read Made by Humans.
When Galaxies Collide, Lisa Harvey-Smith
As a kid, leading Australian astronomer and ultramarathon runner, Lisa Harvey-Smith swapped a traditional schoolroom for "space school". Read the tale of her rise to Australian top astronomer in When Galaxies Collide.
Humans are the only known astronomers in the universe. When we look up at the night sky, we are linked to our ancestors. Away from city lights, we can see what generations of people before us have wondered at and weaved stories around.
When Galaxies Collide will guide you to look at the night sky afresh. It peers 5.86 billion years into the future to consider the fate of Earth and its inhabitants. Will the solution be to live in space without a planet to call home? Will one of the other 100 billion planets spawn life? Learn how to watch this space.
On Sleep, Fleur Anderson
How do you sleep? It can be a loaded question and, in the countdown to those byelections, it’s a fair assumption that a good night’s sleep is a distant memory for many of the candidates. And how well rested are Australia’s top political leaders - Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten - whose political fates are constantly tested by the latest political drama?
On Sleep is the story of our love-hate relationship with slumber. Part-time insomniac Fleur Anderson ponders the big questions: Why can't I sleep? Do politicians and other high-fliers ever admit they too are exhausted? Do they get enough sleep to make sensible decisions? Where is society heading, and why did I have that glass of cab sav?
Away from the hothouse of political combat, it’s with surprising honesty that many current and former politicians, including Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Julie Bishop, Bob Brown and Jacqui Lambie, reveal the pressures on sleep that public life brings. Read Fleur Anderson on the sleep epidemic and how it affects our politics.
On Indignation, Don Watson
With characteristic wit, Don Watson has updated his classic essay to explore indignation in our post-truth world.
The Person prone to fits of indignation is frequently expert at teasing fits from others. Like those parasite birds that ride on the cow's back, teasers live off the indignant: they whisper in their ears, bait them, like Satan or Athena they play the Id. They spread the disease. In my childhood someone was always trying to get a rise, and someone was always stalking off in tears and slamming doors behind her; or marching out of the cowshed and down the hill as if determined that the rest of us would never see her again. "Huffs", they were called, or "scots". But the indignant very often walk into a void. They need resistance. And sooner or later they have to come in for tea. What then? What does it profit a man to throw his only bowl of custard at the wall?
Trump's pitch had less to do with offering voters money and security than with offering them vengeance. He exploited the anger we feel when we are slighted or taken for granted, turning the politics of a sophisticated democracy into something more like a blood feud. He promised to restore dignity, slay enemies, re-make the world according to old rites and customs. He stirred indignation into tribal rage and rode it into the White House.
Read On Indignation.
Ganglands: The Great Escapes
Since the arrival of the First Fleet, thousands of prisoners have escaped from prison, police stations, courts, prison vans and hospitals—even dentists' chairs. They have driven, walked, pedalled, swum or sailed away from custody. Some have killed or been killed in the process; a few have gone overseas or escaped from foreign prisons, and a handful have remained at home, undetected.
Gangland: The Great Escapes is filled with tall tales of crims—Ronald Ryan, Jockey Smith, Brenden Abbott, Julie Wright and Annie Davis, and many others—who have been recaptured in minutes and those who have stayed on the run.