Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World (November 2013, Chicago Review Press)

This social, cultural, and culinary history charts soda’s remarkable, world-changing journey from awe-inspiring natural mystery to ubiquity.

Off-the-wall and offbeat stories abound, including how quack medicine peddlers spawned some of the world’s biggest brands, how fizzy pop cashed in on Prohibition, how soda helped presidents reach the White House, and even how Pepsi influenced Apple’s marketing of the iPod.

This history of carbonated drinks follows a seemingly simple everyday refreshment as it zinged and pinged over society’s taste buds and, in doing so, changed the world.

Replay: The History of Video Games (2010, Yellow Ant)

A riveting account of the birth and remarkable evolution of the most important development in entertainment since television, Replay: The History of Video Games is the ultimate history of video games.

From its origins in the research labs of the 1940s to the groundbreaking success of the Wii, Replay sheds new light on gaming’s past. Along the way it takes in the spectacular rise and fall of Atari, the crazed cottage industry spawned by the computers of Sir Clive Sinclair, Japan’s rapid ascent to the top of the gaming tree and the seismic impact of Doom.

Replay tells the sensational story of how the creative vision of game designers across the globe gave rise to one of the world’s most popular and dynamic art forms.

Based on extensive research and more than 140 interviews, Replay includes insights from video game legends such as Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Will Wright – the creator of The Sims, Doom designer John Romero and Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame.

Replay also includes a foreword by Richard Garriott (aka Lord British), a gameography covering more than 800 of the most notable games ever made and a 26-page guide to the consoles and computers of gaming’s past and present.

A Danish language edition of the book, Replay – Computerspillenes Historie 1945-2010, was published by Forlaget Herreværelset in 2012.

Death Threats and Dogs: Life on the Social Work Frontline (2013, Reed Business Information)

Social work is no ordinary career. How many other jobs see you thrust daily into the centre of a storm featuring any combination of child neglect, sexual exploitation, suicide, death threats, domestic violence, dementia, drink and drug addiction, prostitution, learning disabilities and much, much more?

Yet the realities of day-to-day practice for the UK’s tens of thousands of social workers is often hidden from view. The public’s only glimpse of social work is often when high-profile scandal hits and a media witch-hunt pursuing a profession cast as ‘child snatchers’ ensues.

In this collection of articles written by frontline professionals you’ll find out what daily life for UK social workers is really like – from the baffling bureaucratic hurdles and the funny incidents to the sad, dark corners of society that social workers confront daily, but many people remain only dimly aware of.

You’ll hear shocking tales of the family who tied their children to a garden fence “for a bit of fun”, the asylum seekers found hiding in wheelie bins behind a Chinese takeaway, the helicopter search for a boy with chronic disabilities who had no sense of danger, and the care workers struggling to protect teenage girls from sexual exploitation.

You’ll read about the frustrations of working in a profession that is drowning in red tape. Where staff feel that box-ticking and targets are too often prioritised above care, social workers are forced to ‘hot desk’ as dated council offices creak under the pressure of accommodating teams, and the threat of redundancies looms each time the government announces a new round of spending cuts.

You’ll also see the toll this work takes on an overstretched and under-resourced workforce, from the stress and sleepless nights that follow 12-hour shifts and traumatic cases, to the social worker who had a severe mental breakdown and found himself on the receiving end of support he was used to providing for others.

But, as one, social worker says in her diary: “this job is not all form filling and human misery”. Throughout these tales there are plenty of moments, however fleeting, that remind us of how rewarding a career in social work can be and the amazing achievements of the people who use social care services each day.