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The Most Unlikely of Places

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Writers often use unorthodox and unusual research methods for their writing, along with visits to remote and dangerous locations in search of a story. Roald Dahl's famous quote sums up the journey for many authors. “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” 

The Art of Time Travel

No matter how practised we are at history, it always humbles us. No matter how often we visit the past, it always surprises us. The art of time travel is to maintain critical poise and grace. In this landmark book, eminent historian and award-winning author Tom Griffiths explores the craft of discipline and imagination that is history. Through portraits of fourteen historians, including Inga Clendinnen, Judith Wright, Geoffrey Blainey and Henry Reynolds, Griffiths traces how a body of work is formed out of a lifelong dialogue between past evidence and present experience. With meticulous research and glowing prose, he shows how our understanding of the past has evolved, and what this changing history reveals about us. Passionate and elegant, The Art of Time Travel conjures fresh insights into the history of Australia and renews our sense of the historian's craft.

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Blitzed is the sensational German bestseller on the overwhelming role of drug-taking in the Third Reich, from Hitler to housewives. The Nazis presented themselves as warriors against moral degeneracy. Yet, as Norman Ohler's gripping bestseller reveals, the entire Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin, morphine and, most of all, methamphetamines, or crystal meth, used by everyone from factory workers to housewives, and crucial to troops' resilience - even partly explaining German victory in 1940. The promiscuous use of drugs at the very highest levels also impaired and confused decision-making, with Hitler and his entourage taking refuge in potentially lethal cocktails of stimulants administered by the physician Dr Morell as the war turned against Germany. 

Blitzed took author Ohler on a research trail that included visits to some of Hitler's remote bunkers and forest retreats,  the  former Third Reich Medical Academy and to the bowels of the National Archives in Washington, DC.

 'Blitzed is making me rethink everything I've ever seen and read about WWII.' Douglas Coupland 

Street of Eternal Happiness

Rob Schmitz has created a memorable portrait of the people who live, hope and struggle on a single street in China’s most dynamic metropolis. Schmitz lived on the Street of Eternal Happiness for several years while he was the Shanghai Correspondent for NPR.

Rob cuts through tired stereotypes and reveals a society of extraordinary texture and complex humanity. The Street of Eternal Happiness is a timely and engaging look at the new China told through the stories of its ordinary people.

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Last Seen in Lhasa

Some go to Tibet seeking inspiration, others for adventure. The award-winning journalist, Claire Scobie, found both when she left her ordinary life in London and went to the Himalayas in search of a rare red lily. Her journey took her to Pemako, where few Westerners have set foot and where the myth of Shangri-la was born. It was here she became friends with Ani, an unusual Tibetan nun who was to change her life. 

Through seven journeys in Tibet, Claire chronicles a rapidly changing world - where monks talk on mobiles and Lhasa's sex industry thrives. Evoking the luminous landscape of snow peaks and wild alpine gardens, Claire Scobie captures the paradoxes of contemporary Tibet, a land steeped in religion, struggling against oppression and galloping towards modernity. "Last Seen in Lhasa" is a unique story of insight and adventure that can touch us all.

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The Story of a Brief Marriage

Described as ‘brave’ and ‘brilliant’ by the New York Times Book Review, Anuk Arudpragasam’s  The Story of a Brief Marriage packs a powerful emotional punch. The devastating novel weaves in tales of refugees Dinesh and Ganga, brought together by an arranged marriage as Sri Lanka’s civil war rages around them. When having a future seems impossible, what happens to the promise of a life together? 

For a few brief hours, Dinesh and Ganga tentatively explore their new and unexpected connection, trying to understand themselves and each other, until the war once more closes over them. Told in meditative, nuanced and powerful prose, this shattering novel marks the arrival of an extraordinary new literary voice.

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Julia is a Sydney based writer covering sustainable living, innovation, books and art.

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