It is not often that you meet someone who seems completely content with their career choices. Chris Brazier, an editor at publishing company New Internationalist, is one.

For the past 24 years, he has worked for this workers’ co-operative, based in East Oxford, and is very obviously a round peg in a round hole.

Best known for its magazine, New Internationalist, the co-operative campaigns for global justice for the poor from a radical left perspective, offering an alternative view to most of the mainstream media.

It also publishes a range of books, CD-ROMs, diaries, calendars, maps and atlases that cover an eclectic variety of themes including current affairs, popular reference, world food, photography, fiction and alternative gift books.

A third source of income comes from sourcing products for Amnesty International’s catalogue.

As one of nine editors, Chris is responsible for putting together two editions of the monthly magazine each year and he also writes and edits books. Hitherto, his most successful has been The No Nonsense Guide to World History.

“Condensing the whole of world history into one brief volume was ridiculous really, but for whatever reason it worked,” he explained.

It has also sold well, particularly in North America, and been published in several languages. One of a series of books under the ‘No Nonsense’ soubriquet; others include guides to world food, women’s rights and Fairtrade.

His latest, Brief Histories of Almost Everything is more playful in design.

Split into various sections labelled commodities, ideas, culture, global issues, resistance, oppressions, regions and global institutions, the idea is to give the reader an alternative view of each topic. As the blurb describes so eloquently: “Each mini-history has been thoroughly reconstructed, distilled and refined into a short, sharp and easily digestible shot.”

Stand-outs for me were the sections on the history of bananas and blue jeans, while it was both worrying and fascinating to see how much slavery is connected by different themes. The book is unique in vision, bold in execution and gives a strong flavour of why the New Internationalist exists.

Where else would you find a book that rates the general effectiveness of past UN general secretaries in one part, while telling you how history has been hijacked in another?

Based on articles written mainly by other editors over the past ten years of the magazine, Chris has updated some topics and written about 12 from scratch.

Ranging from Islam to architecture, the roots of feminism to a brief history of the United Nations, it is an absorbing, quirky read.

A tome to dip into, I tell Chris that I see it as a toilet book when we meet at the NI office, just off St Clement’s.

“I think that could be a very good description of it,” he laughs.

Apart from a brief stint at Unicef, Chris, who is 52, has worked constantly for the New Internationalist since 1984.

He believes what he does is very unusual, because he has so much control in all aspects of his work.

As an editor, for example, once an idea has been approved by the other co-op members, he has carte blanche to do what he likes.

“You’re doing all the commissioning, the writing and editorials, the editing of the other material that comes in from outside. You’re responsible right down to the last dot and comma,” he said. It’s a very rare job in journalism, because normally you’re given something to do, you do it quickly and hand it over to someone else. You don’t actually have much control over how it appears in the end.”

That control extends to other parts of his work.

“Because we’re a co-operative, I’m a director of the company and we’re involved in all the key decisions that relate to that.”

It is very different from being subject to a hierarchy and the whims of the people above him.

“I greatly value that element of our work and would find it difficult to replace,” he said.

Highlights over the past 24 years include the magazine edition he did on the neglected plight of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, which raised its profile around the world.

Another is an ongoing project involving a village in Burkina Faso.

He first went there in 1985, returning in 1995 and 2005 to update its story.

“Journalists don’t often get the chance to return to the stories that they once covered and see things as a process,” he said.

So what made Chris want to join the New Internationalist in the first place?

“It brought together various aspects of my life, which had previously been very interesting, but not necessarily made much sense; travelling, campaigning for political change, writing, creative and journalism work and an interest in wider society. It brought together all those strands and has been a perfect job for me.”