If you're a traveller looking for something that takes a richer and more longitudinal approach; a business person or civil servant looking for insight beyond the usual Dos, Don'ts, honorifics, platitudes and rituals; a student of the humanities and social sciences wanting something more grounded in the world today; or a seasoned dinner party socialite and pub quiz pro looking for a global Zeitgeist to boost your social capital - then this is definitely the book for you. There's plenty to learn, it sinks in easily, and this is the sort of book that you'll find yourself marking-up and folding page corners on.
This is an enormous debate and affects countries far beyond the UK, but the recent UK election demonstrates clearly how the public are losing faith in a traditional approach to politics. Democracy can be difficult for most politicians to swallow, but if they don't listen to the people it's going to choke them all.
We visited over the Christmas/New Year's holiday. Four days of torrential rain storms greeted us. My boyfriend hadn't been on a beach holiday in years, later asking me if I checked the weather report before booking the trip (oops, hello monsoon season). Luckily the rain lifted on day 5 and the next week was blissfully sunny.
"We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope," said US President Obama during his address to the United Nations. Stock markets still do not feel the same urgency. There is a huge gap between geopolitical reality and the financial markets.
This is a perfect storm scenario. Countries such as the UK, with a history of dominance and empire and educational excellence, need to look beyond the obvious. The world is going to be a very different place in just a couple of decades. Economic and cultural hegemony is not a birthright and can easily shift to the east throughout this century.
Only in the past couple of years have the rise of digital networks really facilitated the internationalisation of press... Not only are consumers reading online newspapers in growing numbers, but interestingly, their primary online newspaper is increasingly likely to be based in a country other than their own.
Should optimistic views about globalization like those of Michael Mandelbaum hold true, Europe may manage to defuse the crisis as new markets open, economic ties strengthen, and member states realize they have a common goal. Namely, to increase prosperity and profit from the ongoing technological innovation.
To a great number of people, philosophy has become obsolete; to others it's mind-numbingly boring; to others it's incredibly confusing and too hard a subject to get around. The latter two may certainly be correct, depending on your own opinion; however the first one, the idea that philosophy has lost its purpose, most certainly isn't.
It is true of life that opportunities wait for us around every corner. The unexpected is what keeps our eyes open and our hearts full of vigor, what enables us to bear through difficulties and grow stronger from them. And when these opportunities find you, you must chase them swiftly and absorb all that you can from them.
The notion of cultural Americanization begs a related question: is America an exceptional country? Clearly, the United States military can transport troops and resources at a scale and speed that no other country can match. Moreover, domestic crises at home, including bi-partnership disputes and financial instability, have repercussions all over the world.
I like the US as country and I love Americans as people. I feel comfortable enough generalizing to that effect. But I'm often so overwhelmed by "American-ness" these days, that I feel in danger of neglecting opportunities for new perspectives and daily variety in favour of the US. It's a real effort to escape from this risk in the Britain of today, and indeed in much of the Western world. One country should not hold that particular power over the rest of the globe.
The reason why Europe has fallen behind, quite simply, is money. Whilst funding of many European universities is being eroded all the time, countries like China are investing amounts unimaginable to us in facilities. Their scientific quality generally stills falls short of ours, but their facilities are well ahead.