Born OTD in 1961, Rebecca Solnit. She has written on a variety of subjects, including feminism, the environment, social history, politics, place, landscape and art. In this acclaimed exploration of the culture of others, Rebecca Solnit travels through Ireland, the land of her long-forgotten maternal ancestors. “A Book of Migrations” portrays in microcosm a history made of great human tides of invasion, colonization, emigration, nomadism and tourism.

Enriched by cross-cultural comparisons with the history of the American West, “A Book of Migrations” carves a new route through … More

Born OTD in 1912, English mathematician, computer scientist, philosopher, & theoretical biologist, Alan Turing. Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic, & in so doing helped win the war. It has been estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years & saved over 14 million lives. Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts; the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 had mandated that “gross indecency” was a criminal offence in the UK. He accepted chemical castration treatment, with DES, as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning..

Taking its cue from the arrest and legally enforced chemical castration of the mathematician Alan Turing, Murmur is the account … More

Born OTD in 1898, Dutch graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, & mezzotints, M C. Escher. Despite wide popular interest, Escher was for long somewhat neglected in the art world, even in his native Netherlands. He was 70 before a retrospective exhibition was held. In the 21st century, he became more widely appreciated, with exhibitions across the world.

Long before the first computer-generated 3-D images, Escher was a master of the third dimension. His lithograph Magic Mirror dates … More

OTD in 1381, The Peasant’s Revolt began in Blackheath. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic and political tensions generated by the Black Death pandemic in the 1340s, the high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years’ War, and instability within the local leadership of London.

In this majestic tour de force, celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of … More

Born OTD in 1917, British historian of the rise of industrial capitalism, socialism & nationalism, Eric Hobsbawm. This collection of 26 essays range over the history of working men & women between the late 18th century & the present day, and brings back into print a selection of this celebrated historian’s pioneering studies into labour history, together with more recent reflections previously unpublished in book form. Hobsbawm’s penetrating essays on labour history & social protest opened up a new field of study & set standards of wide-ranging, evocative, incisive analysis.

Essays in this collection include the formation of the British working class; labour custom and traditions; the political radicalism of … More

First published OTD in 1949, George Orwell’s, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Thematically, 1984 centres on the consequences of government over-reach, totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society, The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda.

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from … More

Born OTD in 1883, economist John Maynard Keynes. A groundbreaking debunking of moderate attempts to resolve financial crises In the ruins of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, self-proclaimed progressives the world over clamored to resurrect the economic theory of John Maynard Keynes. The crisis seemed to expose the disaster of small-state, free-market liberalization and deregulation. Keynesian political economy, in contrast, could put the state back at the heart of the economy and arm it with the knowledge needed to rescue us.

But what it was supposed to rescue us from was not so clear. Was it the end of capitalism or … More

Born OTD in 1925, American Muslim minister & human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement, Malcolm Little, AKA Malcolm X. His remarkable autobiography, completed just before his murder in 1965, ranges from Omaha & Michigan to Harlem & Mecca, & tells of a young, disenfranchised man whose descent into drug addition, robbery & prison was only reversed by his belief in the rights struggle for black America, & his conversion to the Nation of Islam. Celebrated & vilified the world over for his courageous but bitter fight to gain for millions of black men & women the equality & respect denied them by their white neighbours, Malcolm X inspired as many people in the United States as he caused to fear him.

They called him the ‘angriest black man in America’ . . . Not only is this an enormously important record … More

Born OTD in 1944, German essayist, writer & academic, W. G. Sebald. At first The Emigrants appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish emigres in the 20th century. But gradually, as Sebald’s precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile & loss. Written with a bone-dry sense of humour & a fascination with the oddness of existence The Emigrants is highly original in its heady mix of fact, memory, fiction & photographs.

A concomitant theme is the impact of World War II and the Holocaust on German nationals, particularly on those of … More

Born OTD in 1907, English author & playwright, Daphne du Maurier. Jaded by the numbing politeness of Restoration London, Lady Dona St. Columb revolts against high society. She rides into the countryside, guided only by her restlessness & her longing to escape. But when chance leads her to meet a French pirate, hidden within Cornwall’s shadowy forests, Dona discovers that her passions and thirst for adventure have never been more aroused. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger & glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.

Frenchman’s Creek is the breathtaking story of a woman searching for love and adventure who embraces the dangerous life of … More