What on Earth is Going On?

What on Earth is Going On?

Arthur House

Tom Baird

Pub date
Fourth Estate
A5 141x209mm
336 pages
Download jacket

Book Overview

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” Gertrude Stein

The world’s a complex and bewildering place. Every day we are bombarded with far information than we can possibly hope to absorb. We don’t have the time, energy or patience to process it all and select what’s important, and sometimes it’s tempting to drop the news section straight in the bin and curl up on the sofa with the colour supplements instead.

But there are a lot of things happening in the world that we simply can’t afford to ignore. What On Earth Is Going On? fills in the background to the key issues of our times – from Climate Change to the Credit Crunch, Darfur to Devolution – taking the form of an alphabetical glossary that can be consulted at convenient moments. This is a book for the bedside table, the morning commute or the downstairs loo. A rich hotchpotch of world events, current affairs, historical background and amusing trivia, it is a gentle survival guide for people of all ages who wish they knew a little bit more about what on earth is going on.

About the author

Tom Baird read English Literature and Music at Durham, worked on the Sunday Times Home News and News Review desks and now works for the Commonwealth Secretariat.


  • ‘A sharp and sober collection of succinct, background briefings on the current-affairs subjects we all pretend to know about … the perfect topical catch-up.’ Sunday Times (Stocking Filler of the Year)
  • ‘An incredibly clear, easy to read and, dare I say it, revelatory,crash course in current affairs.’ Easy Living
  • ‘A very worthy effort at plugging the gaps of knowledge about world events that assail us all … informative, concise and engaging.’ Daily Mail
  • ‘A 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 which will arm you for any conversation…clear-cut and intelligent, an excellent volume to keep within arm’s reach.’ Literary Review
  • ‘Elucidates all those big questions that you see in the newspapers every day but still aren’t quite up to speed on.’ Independent (50 best winter reads)
  • ‘Help for the perplexed.’ The Times