February books: Decolonizing Design, Theodore Savage, Tenacious Beasts, and more

Explore some of our most anticipated new releases for February

This month: a guidebook to the institutional transformation of design theory and practice; the latest installment in the science-fiction Radium Age series; a road map for a future in which humans and animals can once again coexist; and more. Explore these books and a selection of our other new and soon-to-be-released titles below.

Cover of You Know You're Black in France When..., featuring a headshot of a Black person looking up toward the sky wearing a crown of gold miniatures of the Eiffel Tower.

#You Know You’re Black in France When…: The Fact of Everyday Antiblackness by Trica Keaton

What does it mean to be racialized-as-black in France on a daily basis? This study responds to that question. Under the banner of universalism, France messages a powerful and seductive ideology of blindness to race that disappears blackened people and the antiblackness they experience. As Keaton notes, in everyday life, France is anything but raceblind.

“Trica Keaton proves that she is one of the most insightful observers of the contradictions that constitute France as a racial state.” —Roderick A. Ferguson, Yale University

You might also like A Black Gaze: Artists Changing How We See by Tina M. Campt

Cover of Decolonizing Design, featuring a burgundy, red, yellow, and blue mandala design with a drawn image of author Elizabeth Dori Tunstall at the center.

Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook by Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall

From the excesses of world expositions to myths of better living through technology, modernist design, in its European-based guises, has excluded and oppressed the very people whose lands and lives it reshaped. Decolonizing Design first asks how modernist design has encompassed and advanced the harmful project of colonization—then shows how design might address these harms by recentering its theory and practice in global Indigenous cultures and histories.

“A once-in-a-decade book. An inspiring, informative, and powerful blueprint that can enable any of us to engage with a topic of our time—decolonization.” —Rama Gheerawo, Royal College of Art; author, Creative Leadership: Born from Design

You might also like Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need by Sasha Costanza-Chock

Cover of Espionage, featuring a yellow crosshairs symbol with a black outline of a man and woman wielding guns at the center.

Espionage: A Concise History by Kristie Macrakis

Espionage is one of the most secret of human activities. It is also, as the popularity of spy stories suggests, one of the most intriguing. This book pulls the veil back on the real world of espionage, revealing how spying actually works. In a refreshingly clear, concise manner, Kristie Macrakis guides readers through the shadowy world of espionage, from the language and practice of spycraft to its role in international politics, its bureaucratic underpinnings, and its transformation in light of modern technology. Espionage traces spying all the way back to antiquity, while also moving beyond traditional accounts of military and diplomatic intelligence to shine a light on industrial espionage and the new techno-spy. As thorough—and thoroughly readable—as it is compact, the book is an ideal introduction to the history and anatomy of espionage.

You might also like Memory by Fergus Craik and Larry Jacoby

Cover of Invention and Innovation, featuring a busy drawing of a town center. Inside the town are men and women at a picnic; a court jester; a flying fish; a four-part hot air balloon, and two ornate buildings.

Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure by Vaclav Smil

The world is never finished catching up with Vaclav Smil. In his latest and perhaps most readable book, Invention and Innovation, the prolific author—a favorite of Bill Gates—pens an insightful and fact-filled jaunt through the history of human invention. Impatient with the hype that so often accompanies innovation, Smil offers in this book a clear-eyed corrective to the overpromises that accompany everything from new cures for diseases to AI. He reminds us that even after we go quite far along the invention-development-application trajectory, we may never get anything real to deploy. Or worse, even after we have succeeded by introducing an invention, its future may be marked by underperformance, disappointment, demise, or outright harm.

“Smil, the author of more than 40 books on scientific subjects and global matters, is always worth reading… An informative, entertaining package from a gifted, original thinker.” —Kirkus Reviews

You might also like Energy and Civilization: A History by Vaclav Smil

Cover of the Phantom Scientist, featuring a drawing of a lobby-like room with three sets of open-air stairs reaching toward the vaulted ceiling. Several figures sit in the foreground on red chairs, in front of a tall window with evergreen trees in the background.

The Phantom Scientist by Robin Cousin

When physicist Stéphane Douasy arrives to occupy the vacant twenty-fourth lab at the Institute for the Study of Complex and Dynamic Systems, an ominous problem rises in his wake: what has happened to his missing neighbor in Building F? When Stéphane’s neighbors, a discouraged linguist and a computer scientist bent on predicting the future, discover that the missing researcher may have solved the P versus NP problem—a coup in computer science with revolutionary implications for everything from mathematics to philosophy—before vanishing, things turn stranger still, and even more menacing. Solving the mystery of the Institute and its devolution into mayhem and violence every seventh year quickly shifts from being an intellectual exercise to a matter of life and death.

The Phantom Scientist is not only a mystery story that’s difficult to put down, it’s a deep dive into questions raised by the science of self-organized complex systems that hover on the edge of chaos. You will not regret reading this book.” —Sabine Hossenfelder, physicist; author, Existential Physics

You might also like The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe by Clifford V. Johnson

Cover of the Price of Cake, featuring a drawing of a three-tiered ornate cake with one single candle.

The Price of Cake and 99 Other Classic Mathematical Riddles by Clément Deslandes and Guillaume Deslandes

In The Price of Cake, brothers Clément and Guillaume Deslandes have assembled a uniquely rich and accessible collection of mathematical riddles, organized by difficulty and accompanied by unique hand-drawn illustrations. The challenges are exceptional in both their range and their precision. There are no “tricks” here—just good math to test your skills. Entertaining and rigorous in equal measure, The Price of Cake is bound to captivate mathematics enthusiasts and students of all levels.

You might also like The Raven’s Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games by Jonas Peters and Nicolai Meinshausen

Cover of Tenacious Beasts, featuring drawings of a grey wolf, a barn owl, an American Bison, and a whale's tail.

Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think about Animals by Christopher J. Preston

The news about wildlife is dire—more than 900 species have been wiped off the planet since industrialization. Against this bleak backdrop, however, there are also glimmers of hope and crucial lessons to be learned from animals that have defied global trends toward extinction. Bear in Italy, bison in North America, whales in the Atlantic. These populations are back from the brink, some of them in numbers unimaginable in a century. How has this happened? What shifts in thinking did it demand? In crisp, transporting prose, Christopher Preston reveals the mysteries and challenges at the heart of these resurgences. 

“In the midst of ecological crisis, Preston brings genuinely good news: a few of our fellow species are not only thriving, but demanding that we do better by the rest of life on Earth.” —Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts

You might also like Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery: The Illustrated Edition by Paul Jepson and Cain Blythe

Cover of Theodore Savage, featuring a cartoon drawing of a large man wearing circular glasses, a suit vest with pocket watch, a button-up short with black tie, checkered pants, and no shoes. He carries a spiked club. A woman holds on to his right arm and looks up toward him.

Theodore Savage by Cicely Hamilton

When war breaks out in Europe, British civilization collapses overnight. The ironically named protagonist must learn to survive by his wits in a new Britain. When we first meet Savage, he is a complacent civil servant, primarily concerned with romancing his girlfriend. During the brief war, in which both sides use population displacement as a terrible strategic weapon, Savage must battle his fellow countrymen. He shacks up with an ignorant young woman in a forest hut—a kind of inverse Garden of Eden, where no one is happy. Eventually, he sets off in search of other survivors . . . only to discover a primitive society where science and technology have come to be regarded with superstitious awe and terror. 

“A particularly effective and chilling version of a theme that dominates British speculative fiction between the wars.” —Neil Barron, editor of Anatomy of Wonder

You might also like The Lost World and The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle

Cover of White Sight, featuring a neon sign of a blue-tinted eyeball with a diagonal line through it.

White Sight: Visual Politics and Practices of Whiteness by Nicholas Mirzoeff

White supremacy is not only perpetuated by laws and police but also by visual culture and distinctive ways of seeing. Nicholas Mirzoeff argues that this form of “white sight” has a history. By understanding that white sight was not always common practice, we can devise better ways to dismantle it. Spanning centuries across this wide-ranging text, Mirzoeff connects Renaissance innovations—from the invention of perspective and the erection of Apollo statues as monuments to (white) beauty and power to the rise of racial capitalism dependent on slave labor—with ever-expanding surveillance technologies to show that white sight creates an oppressively racializing world, in which subjects who do not appear as white are under constant threat of violence.

“An urgent handbook for how to see, to unlearn, and to dismantle the infrastructures of cultural whiteness.” —Dan Hicks, University of Oxford; author of The Brutish Museums

You might also like Whiteness by Martin Lund

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