Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Browser's Five Books

Like an internet version of the Five Books of Moses, or a print variant of the BBC's Desert Island Discs radio program, The Browser offers a Five Books feature on topics of current interest (ht Charles Crawford). What does it mean?
FiveBooks – Become an expert with FiveBooks.

Every day an eminent writer, thinker, commentator, politician, academic chooses five books on their specialist subject. From Einstein to Keynes, Iraq to the Andes, Communism to Empire. Read the interviews, share in the knowledge, buy the books.

Our site is funded by the small percentage we get from every Amazon sale made through us. So please support us by buying your books from FiveBooks, the authoritative way to become an authority.
This week, the theme is a world gone mad:
This Week on Five Books--Mad World

Sociology Professor Frank Furedi chooses books on the crisis in education and says schools have got to stop trying to solve social problems and start educating kids, stop hiding behind gimmicks and interactive white boards and start talking to young people in an intelligent way.
BTW, there's a Russian connection, in the person of the founder, Al Breach:
I’m Al Breach, am 39, and started working on what was to become The Browser with Robert in early 2008. Along with managing the set-up of the business, I’m on the board / advisor to a few companies (Vostok Nafta and Bank of Georgia) and invest actively. My home is in a village in the Swiss mountains.

I spent most of my adult life in Moscow working as an economist. I started in Moscow in mid 1996 writing a journal, before joining Goldman Sachs to become their Russia & FSU economist. After an 8 month sabbatical in Japan in 2002, I joined what was then Brunswick UBS and worked there until late 2007 heading research.

I was born and raised in London, but along with Moscow and Switzerland have lived in Beijing, Tokyo, New York and Zimbabwe. I did an MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE), studied Mathematics with Philosophy at Edinburgh University, and my secondary school was Westminster.
By sheer coincidence, I actually saw Al Breach speak a few years ago, at a panel on the Russian economy chaired by Leon Aron, at the American Enterprise Institute. If he is as knowledgable about literature as about Russian business, this site should prove to be of interest...especially since Nick Clegg also went to Westminster School--Breach's alma mater.

Another Russian connection, for editor Anna Blundy:
I am a novelist and journalist, and I studied Russian at University College, Oxford. I covered Russia’s financial crisis and Yeltsin’s demise in the late 1990s as Bureau Chief for The Times AND once interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev live in Russian on Radio Svoboda. I am the author of seven critically acclaimed novels and a memoir and have appeared as a commentator on the BBC’s Newsnight Review, Radio Four’s Midweek and Woman’s Hour among others and have written for publications such as The Spectator and Cosmopolitan. My five Faith Zanetti books feature a female war correspondent at odds with a rumbling world, and my latest novel, The Oligarch’s Wife, is published by Random House in December 2009. I wrote a single-girl column for The Times in the early 1990s and now write a regular column in The Times entitled ‘How Did I Get Here?’ about life in northern Italy. I have a masters in Psychoanalytic Theory and am currently working on a PhD thesis psychoanalysing Samuel Pepys from his diaries.
And yet another Russian connection, in the person of Browser co-founder Robert Cottrell:
My name is Robert Cottrell, and I am editor of The Browser. Which is to say, mainly, that I choose the pieces we recommend in "Best of the Moment", and I collect the fragments we publish under "Browsings".

I take suggestions gladly from all sides for pieces to recommend: my email address is robert[at]thebrowser.com. Most links come from my daily reading of RSS feeds, and, increasingly, from following other strong readers on Twitter, where I am @robertcottrell.

Until 2008 I was in print journalism as a staff writer variously for The Economist, the Financial Times, the Independent and the Far Eastern Economic Review. I also contributed to the New York Review of Books for ten years, mostly on Russian topics.

In 2004 I moved to New York as deputy editor of Economist.com. I found over time that I wanted to try building something new, rather than maintaining a large and established site. My first attempt in that direction was the creation of More Intelligent Life, a "baby" site for a re-launched Economist quarterly magazine, Intelligent Life: the site has since been taken over, and improved out of all recognition, by Emily Bobrow. I left The Economist in 2008 to form a business partnership with Al Breach, out of which The Browser has grown.

I live now in Riga, Latvia, where I have a second-hand-book shop.

In my print-journalism days the pieces I most enjoyed writing were the relatively relaxed ones done for The Economist's Christmas issues. Most of those are behind a pay barrier now—such as this one, about the art of conversation. But I see my profile of Santa Claus can still be had for nothing; and, for the time being, my piece about being foreign, in the latest Christmas issue, is also free. Most of my pieces for the New York Review of Books are behind a pay barrier, though last time I looked, one of them, on Chechnya, has remained in the wild.
I wonder if they need a Washington correspondent?