What on Earth is Going on? A Crash Course in Current Affairs by Tom Baird and Arthur House - review by Philip Womack

Philip Womack

Stuff Happens

What on Earth is Going on? A Crash Course in Current Affairs


Fourth Estate 325pp £12.99

Today, more than ever, we are confronted by crisis after crisis as rolling news channels, websites and newspapers proclaim doom. It’s harder and harder to keep on top of things – as anyone who has ever sat next to a banker and listened to his or her personal take on the credit crunch will know. Even scientists are discombobulated: as the authors point out, ‘because matter and antimatter annihilate when they come together, and the Big Bang produced equal amounts of each, scientists don’t understand why any matter still exists’. Well, at least we have this chirpy, amiable volume, which does exactly what it purports to do: it condenses every conceivable current newsworthy subject into a few pages of lively, well-written summary that will arm you for any conversation.

There are many enjoyable nuggets. ETA, which you may not know stands for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom), has been responsible for many atrocities – but the Basque people have produced many star sportsmen, and the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz is home to one of Europe’s top

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