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"What on Earth is Going on?: A Crash Course in Current Affairs" (to give it its full title) is a book that I picked up with some intrigue. I unfortunately consider myself to be a bit ignorant when it comes to a lot of current affairs issues. It is not because I choose to be, its just that there are a lot of issues that I always intend to find out about but never quite manage for whatever reason.
The book is available in hardback and is 325 pages long.
There is a brief introduction where Baird and Howe set out their intentions for the book. They readily admit that it is not a comprehensive guide by any means, jsut a tool to inform you with the basic information that you need in order to feel a little more knowledgable.
The book takes on 63 different current affairs issues which all have their own sections. These include: Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, climate change, EU, Euthanasia, GM Food, Immigration, Israel/Palestine, NATO, North Korea, organic Food, Pandemic, Russia, Social networking, UK and US Political systems, Stem cells and Zimbabwe. Obviously these are only a small selection but I feel that I can vouch for the fact that the book covers a number of key issues affecting the world today, but is perhaps unsurprisingly more weighted to the political issues of a number of high-profile countries which are unique in their conflicts.
Each of these topics are themselves split up into subsections under headings which could probably be best described as being under the banner of 'Frequently Asked Questions.' For instance; What does ***** mean?, What do ***** do? Before going into more details about the history and impact of the subject. As far as I am concerned I think that the information that it provides is quite fair and neutral.
The pages are also punctuated with illustrations, pictures, maps and explanatory diagrams where needed.
I have personally found this to be a really good book. It is neither overly simplified in tone nor patronising. It recognises that if people are reading the book, then they have a genuine interest and just want to be well informed without the media hysteria that can come with it.
It is written clearly with the minimum of faff, but does enough to whet the appetite so that you may find that you wish to research the subject further. It is probably best described as one of those books that you can didp in and out of at your own leisure - a bedside or 'toilet' book as you will.
There really is not much more to say than I think that it really does fulfil its quota of making people well-informed about important world issues which may or may not affect them and definitely goes some of the way to satisfying an inquisitive and enquiring mind. I would definitely recommend this to anybody who wants to 'beef up' their knowledge.
However, I also think that it would be an interesting tome for a really wide range of people as it may well provide people with clarity of information on subjects that they thought they knew about but had in reality confused the details of. I think it would also be good for young people in their late teens who have developed an interest in current affairs but may have not been inn the right age bracket o have obtained all of the information or history on a subject.
In conclusion, this is a really useful reference book which I think would stand a lot of people in good stead and is unlikely to be one which you would regret buying. It is written in a way which is highly accessible and enjoyable and I would highly recommend it.