the stories old towns tell: a journey through cities at the heart of europe

Yale University Press, 2023

What Stories Do Old Towns Tell? A Story Map

An introduction to The Stories Old Towns Tell from a city in the heart of Europe.

Szaber Square: trading 'loot' and possessions in devastated post-war Wrocław.

Fritz Haarman: the serial killer who gave an Old Town a bad name.

Modern Old Town, Traditional Island.

four words for friend: The Rewards of Using More Than One Language In A Divided World

Yale University Press, 2020

In a divided world, using more than one language helps us to understand ourselves and others better, to live together better, and to make the most of our various cultures. The challenge is to resolve the fundamental  contradiction of languages: that they exist as much to prevent communication as to make it happen.

'Beautifully written … Makes a powerful case for knowing more than one language as a life-enriching skill that may enlarge our sympathies in a world that wants to build walls.' Steven Poole, Guardian

'It's especially insightful in the way it discusses future trends ...' David Crystal on

hardback edition:

Yale University Press, 2019

turned out nice: how the british isles will change as the world heats up

Faber & Faber, 2010

Climate change will change the relationships between the British Isles and the rest of the world, between the nations of the Isles, and between the north and south of Britain. Precisely because the British Isles will be sheltered from the physical extremes of climate change, they offer an opportunity to think about just how profound and pervasive the effects of a disrupted Earth system on human societies will be.

' ... grimly realistic and yet in many ways inspiring ... A richly detailed, engrossingly readable history of how Britain came to be the way it is, Turned Out Nice is also a riveting description of what Britain is likely to become.' John Gray, New Statesman

' ... delightful coolness and subtlety' Andrew Marr, Financial Times

' a tour de force of information and speculation ... Nature writing which takes the future and its possibilities as seriously as the past ' The Economist

'intimate and stylish' Fred Pearce, Guardian

' a science writer of rare gifts' Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail

trust: self-interest and the common good

Oxford University Press, 2008

A short account of how to build trust by finding or creating common interests.

'Brilliant' - Guardian

.Reason for Everything

a reason for everything: natural selection and the english imagination

Faber & Faber, 2004

How a series of British scientists shaped evolutionary thought, and how evolutionary thinking shaped their views of the world: Alfred Russel Wallace, Ronald Fisher, J.B.S. Haldane, John Maynard Smith, Bill Hamilton and Richard Dawkins.

'Brilliant' Sunday Telegraph ... 'Beautifully written' Times  ... 'Brilliant ... beautifully written' Daily Telegraph

'a supremely intelligent author’ Graham Farmelo, Sunday Telegraph

'a wonderful writer' A.C. Grayling, Literary Review

'One of the best science writers we have' Andrew Brown, Guardian

'yet another brilliant book' Neal Ascherson, Observer

'A marvellous book'  James Flint,  New Scientist

'a very good book' Richard Fortey FRS

'a talented and witty writer' Paul Harvey FRS, Times Higher Education Supplement

as we know it: coming to terms with an evolved mind

Granta, 1999

The core of this book is a reflection about handaxes and their makers - not human as we know it, not apes; not creatures, but beings of a kind that we will never know. It develops an argument that handaxes stayed much the same for a million years because the ability to make them to a standard pattern was a reliable indicator of the makers' capacities and therefore their potential as mates.

'Utterly fascinating ... a beautiful and moving picture of evolution.' Andrew Marr, Observer

the race gallery: the return of racial science

Jonathan Cape, 1995

The Race Gallery reflected on different ways of thinking and talking about race. It pointed out that ideas about biologically based differences between human groups persisted or reappeared in various strands of science, although opposition to racism drew on science as a source of authority.

'elegant, timely and devastating' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

'invaluable' Tom Nairn, London Review of Books

dope girls: the birth of the british drug underground

Granta, 2003

Moral panics broke out during and after the First World War as reports emerged of drug use on the streets and in the clubs of London's West End. They expressed a traumatised society's fears about modernity and change - especially the rapidly changing lives of young women.

'The best, most perceptive and most authoritative account of the British drug scene ever.' Will Self

narcomania: On heroin

Faber & Faber, 1987

How panics about drugs express society's deepest anxieties.