A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg
From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”
One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?
Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.
Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?
Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.
The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out “war against cancer.” The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.
From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave may have cut off her diseased breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease.
Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.
Our Occulted History: Do the Global Elite Conceal Ancient Aliens? is an extensive survey that includes a mass of well-documented scientific and historical texts and sources. It will change the way you view the origins of mankind and the current state of society.
No subject is too controversial for Marrs, an award-winning journalist whose other investigative works include Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, the basis for the Oliver Stone film JFK; Rule by Secrecy; and The Trillion-Dollar Conspiracy.
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post and Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a fascinating history of the gene and “a magisterial account of how human minds have laboriously, ingeniously picked apart what makes us tick” (Elle).
“Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee dazzled readers with his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies in 2010. That achievement was evidently just a warm-up for his virtuoso performance in The Gene: An Intimate History, in which he braids science, history, and memoir into an epic with all the range and biblical thunder of Paradise Lost” (The New York Times). In this biography Mukherjee brings to life the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
“Mukherjee expresses abstract intellectual ideas through emotional stories…[and] swaddles his medical rigor with rhapsodic tenderness, surprising vulnerability, and occasional flashes of pure poetry” (The Washington Post). Throughout, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—reminds us of the questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In riveting and dramatic prose, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.
“A fascinating and often sobering history of how humans came to understand the roles of genes in making us who we are—and what our manipulation of those genes might mean for our future” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), The Gene is the revelatory and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master. “The Gene is a book we all should read” (USA TODAY).
Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Collapse moves from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society’s apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana.
Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?
From the Trade Paperback edition.
-Dan Jones, author of The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England
There is an increasing realisation that our knowledge of world history – and how it all fits together – is far from perfect. A Short History of the World aims to fill the big gaps in our historical knowledge with a book that is easy to read and assumes little prior knowledge of past events.
The book does not aim to come up with groundbreaking new theories on why things occurred, but rather gives a broad overview of the generally accepted version of events so that non-historians will feel less ignorant when discussing the past.
While the book covers world history from the Big Bang to the present day, it principally covers key people, events and empires since the dawn of the first civilisations in around 3500 BC. To help readers put events, places and empires into context, the book includes 36 specially commissioned maps to accompany the text.
The result is a book that is reassuringly epic in scope but refreshingly short in length. An excellent place to start to bring your historical knowledge up to scratch!
He is history's most familiar figure, yet he is the man no one knows. His impact on the world is immense and non-accidental. From the Dark Ages to Post-Modernity he is the Man who won't go away.
And yet . . .you can miss him in historical lists for many reasons, maybe the most obvious being the way he lived his life. He did not loudly and demonstrably defend his movement in the spirit of a rising political or military leader. He did not lay out a case that history would judge his brand of belief superior in all future books.
His life and teaching simply drew people to follow him. He made history by starting in a humble place, in a spirit of love and acceptance, and allowing each person space to respond.
His vision of life continues to haunt and challenge humanity. His influence has swept over history bringing inspiration to what has happened in art, science, government, medicine, and education; he has taught humans about dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.
Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.
Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.
What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.
With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.
In 1532, the fifty-four-year-old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor Atahualpa had defeated his brother Huascar. Pizarro and his men soon clashed with Atahualpa and a huge force of Inca warriors at the Battle of Cajamarca. Despite being outnumbered by more than two hundred to one, the Spaniards prevailed—due largely to their horses, their steel armor and swords, and their tactic of surprise. They captured and imprisoned Atahualpa. Although the Inca emperor paid an enormous ransom in gold, the Spaniards executed him anyway. The following year, the Spaniards seized the Inca capital of Cuzco, completing their conquest of the largest native empire the New World has ever known. Peru was now a Spanish colony, and the conquistadors were wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.
But the Incas did not submit willingly. A young Inca emperor, the brother of Atahualpa, soon led a massive rebellion against the Spaniards, inflicting heavy casualties and nearly wiping out the conquerors. Eventually, however, Pizarro and his men forced the emperor to abandon the Andes and flee to the Amazon. There, he established a hidden capital, called Vilcabamba—only recently rediscovered by a trio of colorful American explorers. Although the Incas fought a deadly, thirty-six-year-long guerrilla war, the Spanish ultimately captured the last Inca emperor and vanquished the native resistance.
In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With their accessible compendium of philosophy and social progress, the Durants take us on a journey through history, exploring the possibilities and limitations of humanity over time. Juxtaposing the great lives, ideas, and accomplishments with cycles of war and conquest, the Durants reveal the towering themes of history and give meaning to our own.
Dozens of maps provide a clear geography of great events, while timelines give the reader an ongoing sense of the passage of years and cultural interconnection. This old-fashioned narrative history employs the methods of “history from beneath”—literature, epic traditions, private letters and accounts—to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled. The result is an engrossing tapestry of human behavior from which we may draw conclusions about the direction of world events and the causes behind them.
Every year millions of Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but they may not be aware of how great an influence St. Patrick was on the subsequent history of civilization. Not only did he bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become "the isle of saints and scholars" -- and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians.
In this entertaining and compelling narrative, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Without Ireland, the transition could not have taken place. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western civilization -- copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost -- they brought their uniquely Irish world-view to the task.
As Cahill delightfully illustrates, so much of the liveliness we associate with medieval culture has its roots in Ireland. When the seeds of culture were replanted on the European continent, it was from Ireland that they were germinated.
In the tradition of Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, How The Irish Saved Civilization reconstructs an era that few know about but which is central to understanding our past and our cultural heritage. But it conveys its knowledge with a winking wit that aptly captures the sensibility of the unsung Irish who relaunched civilization.
BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Thomas Cahill's Heretics and Heroes.
Edward Gibbon’s magnum opus narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century A.D. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century. Alongside the magnificent narrative lies the author’s wit and sweeping irony, exemplified by Gibbon’s famous definition of history as “little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.”
An epic chronicle of uncommon literary distinction, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This unabridged eBook bundle of the celebrated text edited by Professor J. B. Bury, considered a classic since it first appeared in 1896, includes Gibbon’s own exhaustive notes, Bury’s original Introduction and index, as well as a modern appraisal of Gibbon in an Introduction from Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin.
The epic history of the crossroads of the world—the meeting place of East and West and the birthplace of civilization
It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures and religions. From the rise and fall of empires to the spread of Buddhism and the advent of Christianity and Islam, right up to the great wars of the twentieth century—this book shows how the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East.
Peter Frankopan realigns our understanding of the world, pointing us eastward. He vividly re-creates the emergence of the first cities in Mesopotamia and the birth of empires in Persia, Rome and Constantinople, as well as the depredations by the Mongols, the transmission of the Black Death and the violent struggles over Western imperialism. Throughout the millennia, it was the appetite for foreign goods that brought East and West together, driving economies and the growth of nations.
From the Middle East and its political instability to China and its economic rise, the vast region stretching eastward from the Balkans across the steppe and South Asia has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent years. Frankopan teaches us that to understand what is at stake for the cities and nations built on these intricate trade routes, we must first understand their astounding pasts. Far more than a history of the Silk Roads, this book is truly a revelatory new history of the world, promising to destabilize notions of where we come from and where we are headed next.
From the Hardcover edition.
--The Wall Street Journal
The blockbuster New York Times bestseller and the companion volume to the wildly popular radio series
When did people first start to wear jewelry or play music? When were cows domesticated, and why do we feed their milk to our children? Where were the first cities, and what made them succeed? Who developed math--or invented money?
The history of humanity is one of invention and innovation, as we have continually created new things to use, to admire, or leave our mark on the world. In this groundbreaking book, Neil MacGregor turns to objects that previous civilizations have left behind to paint a portrait of mankind's evolution, focusing on unexpected turning points.
Beginning with a chopping tool from the Olduvai Gorge in Africa and ending with a recent innovation that is transforming the way we power our world, he urges us to see history as a kaleidoscope--shifting, interconnected, constantly surprising. A landmark bestseller, A History of the World in 100 Objects is one f the most unusual and engrossing history books to be published in years.
“None could have imagined quite how the radio series would permeate the national consciousness. Well over 12.5 million podcasts have been downloaded since the first programme and more than 550 museums around Britain have launched similar series featuring local history. . . . MacGregor’s voice comes through as distinctively as it did on radio and his arguments about the interconnectedness of disparate societies through the ages are all the stronger for the detail afforded by extra space. A book to savour and start over.”
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With his trademark erudition, imagination, and thematic breadth, Fernández-Armesto ranges over commerce, religion, agriculture, the environment, the slave trade, culture, and politics. He takes us from man’s arrival in North America to the Colonial and Independence periods, to the “American Century” and beyond. For most of human history, the south dominated the north: as Fernández-Armesto argues in his provocative conclusion, it might well again.
A panoramic yet richly textured story that embodies fresh ways of looking at cross-cultural exchange, conflict, and interaction, The Americas demolishes our traditional ways of looking at the hemisphere, putting in place a compelling and fruitful new vision.
From the Hardcover edition.
In all this, the Vikings took untold treasures, but they weren't just barbarians, content to plunder and burn. They were builders of cities, founders of states, writers of poetry, and makers of laws. The Vikings also were bold and tenacious explorers who ventured across oceans to discover new territories - including the New World. Indeed, not since the golden age of the Roman Empire had any people so powerfully influenced the Western world. Here, from award-winning journalist Robert Wernick, is their dramatic story.
“Sprezzatura,” or the art of effortless mastery, was coined in 1528 by Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier. No one has demonstrated effortless mastery throughout history quite like the Italians. From the Roman calendar and the creator of the modern orchestra (Claudio Monteverdi) to the beginnings of ballet and the creator of modern political science (Niccolò Machiavelli), Sprezzatura highlights fifty great Italian cultural achievements in a series of fifty information-packed essays in chronological order.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Introduction by Daniel J. Boorstin
Illustrations by Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century A.D. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This abridgment retains the full scope of the original, but in a breadth comparable to a novel. Casual readers now have access to the full sweep of Gibbon’s narrative, while instructors and students have a volume that can be read in a single term. This unique edition emphasizes elements ignored in all other abridgments—in particular the role of religion in the empire and the rise of Islam.
For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness—something bad for society. But how accurate is that view? With deep learning and sympathetic understanding, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present.
While many historians have looked at violence in connection with particular religious manifestations (jihad in Islam or Christianity’s Crusades), Armstrong looks at each faith—not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism—in its totality over time. As she describes, each arose in an agrarian society with plenty powerful landowners brutalizing peasants while also warring among themselves over land, then the only real source of wealth. In this world, religion was not the discrete and personal matter it would become for us but rather something that permeated all aspects of society. And so it was that agrarian aggression, and the warrior ethos it begot, became bound up with observances of the sacred.
In each tradition, however, a counterbalance to the warrior code also developed. Around sages, prophets, and mystics there grew up communities protesting the injustice and bloodshed endemic to agrarian society, the violence to which religion had become heir. And so by the time the great confessional faiths came of age, all understood themselves as ultimately devoted to peace, equality, and reconciliation, whatever the acts of violence perpetrated in their name.
Industrialization and modernity have ushered in an epoch of spectacular and unexampled violence, although, as Armstrong explains, relatively little of it can be ascribed directly to religion. Nevertheless, she shows us how and in what measure religions, in their relative maturity, came to absorb modern belligerence—and what hope there might be for peace among believers of different creeds in our time.
At a moment of rising geopolitical chaos, the imperative of mutual understanding between nations and faith communities has never been more urgent, the dangers of action based on misunderstanding never greater. Informed by Armstrong’s sweeping erudition and personal commitment to the promotion of compassion, Fields of Blood makes vividly clear that religion is not the problem.
In Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Wright asserts that, ever since the primordial ooze, life has followed a basic pattern. Organisms and human societies alike have grown more complex by mastering the challenges of internal cooperation. Wright's narrative ranges from fossilized bacteria to vampire bats, from stone-age villages to the World Trade Organization, uncovering such surprises as the benefits of barbarian hordes and the useful stability of feudalism. Here is history endowed with moral significance–a way of looking at our biological and cultural evolution that suggests, refreshingly, that human morality has improved over time, and that our instinct to discover meaning may itself serve a higher purpose. Insightful, witty, profound, Nonzero offers breathtaking implications for what we believe and how we adapt to technology's ongoing transformation of the world.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The story of how their citizens took on the Great King of Persia, and thereby saved not only themselves but Western civilization as well, is as heart-stopping and fateful as any episode in history. Tom Holland’s brilliant study of these critical Persian Wars skillfully examines a conflict of critical importance to both ancient and modern history.
Drawing on a comprehensive array of examples, from Montezuma’s senseless surrender of his empire in 1520 to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Barbara W. Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives. In brilliant detail, Tuchman illuminates four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly: the Trojan War, the breakup of the Holy See provoked by the Renaissance popes, the loss of the American colonies by Britain’s George III, and the United States’ own persistent mistakes in Vietnam. Throughout The March of Folly, Tuchman’s incomparable talent for animating the people, places, and events of history is on spectacular display.
Praise for The March of Folly
“A glittering narrative . . . a moral [book] on the crimes and follies of governments and the misfortunes the governed suffer in consequence.”—The New York Times Book Review
“An admirable survey . . . I haven’t read a more relevant book in years.”—John Kenneth Galbraith, The Boston Sunday Globe
“A superb chronicle . . . a masterly examination.”—Chicago Sun-Times
From the Trade Paperback edition.
“I and my companions suffer from a disease of the heart which can be cured only with gold.” —Hernán Cortés
It was a moment unique in human history, the face-to-face meeting between two men from civilizations a world apart. Only one would survive the encounter. In 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived on the shores of Mexico with a roughshod crew of adventurers and the intent to expand the Spanish empire. Along the way, this brash and roguish conquistador schemed to convert the native inhabitants to Catholicism and carry off a fortune in gold. That he saw nothing paradoxical in his intentions is one of the most remarkable—and tragic—aspects of this unforgettable story of conquest.
In Tenochtitlán, the famed City of Dreams, Cortés met his Aztec counterpart, Montezuma: king, divinity, ruler of fifteen million people, and commander of the most powerful military machine in the Americas. Yet in less than two years, Cortés defeated the entire Aztec nation in one of the most astonishing military campaigns ever waged. Sometimes outnumbered in battle thousands-to-one, Cortés repeatedly beat seemingly impossible odds. Buddy Levy meticulously researches the mix of cunning, courage, brutality, superstition, and finally disease that enabled Cortés and his men to survive.
Conquistador is the story of a lost kingdom—a complex and sophisticated civilization where floating gardens, immense wealth, and reverence for art stood side by side with bloodstained temples and gruesome rites of human sacrifice. It’s the story of Montezuma—proud, spiritual, enigmatic, and doomed to misunderstand the stranger he thought a god. Epic in scope, as entertaining as it is enlightening, Conquistador is history at its most riveting.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
While Graham Hancock is no stranger to stirring up heated controversy among scientific experts, his books and television documentaries have intrigued millions of people around the world and influenced many to rethink their views about the origins of human civilization. Now he returns with an explosive new work of archaeological detection. In Underworld, Hancock continues his remarkable quest underwater, where, according to almost a thousand ancient myths from every part of the globe, the ruins of a lost civilization, obliterated in a universal flood, are to be found.
Guided by cutting-edge science and the latest archaeological scholarship, Hancock begins his mission to discover the truth about these myths and examines the mystery at the end of the last Ice Age. As the glaciers melted between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago, sea levels rose and more than 15 million square miles of habitable land were submerged underwater, resulting in a radical change to the Earth’s shape and the conditions in which people could live. Using the latest computer techniques to map the world’s changing coastlines, Hancock finds astonishing correspondences with the ancient flood myths.
Filled with thrilling accounts of his own participation in dives off the coast of Japan, as well as in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the Arabian Sea, we watch as Hancock discovers underwater ruins exactly where the myths say they should be—sunken kingdoms that archaeologists never thought existed. Fans of Hancock’s previous adventures will find themselves immersed in Underworld, a provocative book that provides both compelling hard evidence for a fascinating, forgotten episode in human history and a completely new explanation for the origins of civilization as we know it.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Every century or so, our republic has been remade by a new technology: 170 years ago the railroad changed Americans’ conception of space and time; in our era, the microprocessor revolutionized how humans communicate. But in the early twentieth century the agent of creative destruction was the gasoline engine, as put to work by an unknown and relentlessly industrious young man named Henry Ford. Born the same year as the battle of Gettysburg, Ford died two years after the atomic bombs fell, and his life personified the tremendous technological changes achieved in that span.
Growing up as a Michigan farm boy with a bone-deep loathing of farming, Ford intuitively saw the advantages of internal combustion. Resourceful and fearless, he built his first gasoline engine out of scavenged industrial scraps. It was the size of a sewing machine. From there, scene by scene, Richard Snow vividly shows Ford using his innate mechanical abilities, hard work, and radical imagination as he transformed American industry.
In many ways, of course, Ford’s story is well known; in many more ways, it is not. Richard Snow masterfully weaves together a fascinating narrative of Ford’s rise to fame through his greatest invention, the Model T. When Ford first unveiled this car, it took twelve and a half hours to build one. A little more than a decade later, it took exactly one minute. In making his car so quickly and so cheaply that his own workers could easily afford it, Ford created the cycle of consumerism that we still inhabit. Our country changed in a mere decade, and Ford became a national hero. But then he soured, and the benevolent side of his character went into an ever-deepening eclipse, even as the America he had remade evolved beyond all imagining into a global power capable of producing on a vast scale not only cars, but airplanes, ships, machinery, and an infinity of household devices.
A highly pleasurable read, filled with scenes and incidents from Ford’s life, particularly during the intense phase of his secretive competition with other early car manufacturers, I Invented the Modern Age shows Richard Snow at the height of his powers as a popular historian and reclaims from history Henry Ford, the remarkable man who, indeed, invented the modern world as we know it.
Western civilization is the envy of the globe. It has given to the world universally accepted understandings of human rights (rooted in Judeo-Christian principles), created standards for art, music, and literature that have never been equaled, and originated political and social systems that have spread all across the planet.
Unfortunately, the fog of political correctness now obscures these and other truths about Western civilization. Leftists and Islamic jihadists find common cause in assailing Western "colonialism," "imperialism," and "racism" as its defining characteristics. Guilt-ridden Western leaders and public figures speak of their cultural patrimony in disparaging terms they would never dare to use about a non-Western culture. And in the academy, "multicultural"-minded professors flatter students into believing they have nothing really to learn from Sophocles or Shakespeare.
But now, Professor Anthony Esolen--one of the team-teachers of Providence College's esteemed Development of Western Civilization Core Curriculum--has risen to the West's defense. The Politically Incorrect Guide(TM) to Western Civilization takes on the prevailing liberal assumptions that make Western civilization the universal whipping boy for today's global problems, and introduces you to the significant events, individuals, nations, ideas, and artistic achievements that make Western civilization the greatest the world has ever known.
Today--with the West imperiled as never before by the global jihad and threats from China and elsewhere--defending the West has become an urgent imperative: if we don't value what we have and what we have inherited, we will surely lose it. The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to Western Civilization is an essential sourcebook for that defense.
From thoughtful pieces on the historian’s role to striking insights into America’s past and present to trenchant observations on the international scene, Barbara W. Tuchman looks at history in a unique way and draws lessons from what she sees. Spanning more than four decades of writing in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The Nation, and The Saturday Evening Post, Tuchman weighs in on a range of eclectic topics, from Israel and Mao Tse-tung to a Freudian reading of Woodrow Wilson. This is a splendid body of work, the story of a lifetime spent “practicing history.”
Praise for Practicing History
“Persuades and enthralls . . . I can think of no better primer for the nonexpert who wishes to learn history.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Provocative, consistent, and beautifully readable, an event not to be missed by history buffs.”—Baltimore Sun
“A delight to read.”—The New York Times Book Review
The Great Pyramid. Stonehenge. Machu Picchu. For centuries, these and other sacred sites have inspired wonder among those who ponder their origins.
Conventional science tells us they were constructed by local peoples working with the primitive tools of a fledgling civilization. But these megaliths nonetheless continue to attract pilgrims, scholars, and adventurers drawn by the possibility that their true spiritual and technological secrets remain hidden.
Who could have built these elaborate monuments? How did they do it? And what were their incomprehensible efforts and sacrifices designed to accomplish?
Now comes a revolutionary theory that connects these mysteries to reveal a hidden global pattern -- the ancient work of an advanced civilization whose warnings of planetary cataclysm now reverberate across one hundred millennia.
International bestselling author Colin Wilson and Canadian researcher Rand Flem-Ath join forces to share startling evidence of a fiercely intelligent society dating back as much as 100,000 years -- one that sailed the oceans of the world, building monuments to preserve and communicate its remarkable wisdom.
The Atlantis Blueprint is their term for a sophisticated network of connections between these sacred sites that they trace to Atlantis: a sophisticated maritime society that charted the globe from its home base in Antarctica ... until it was obliterated by the devastating global changes it anticipated but could not escape.
Here is adventure to realms beyond our imaginings ... to shifting poles, changing latitudes ... into the world of ancient mariners who recharted the globe ... to astonishing discoveries about our ancestors. Here are the great mysteries ... the incredibly complex geography of the Temple of Luxor ... the startling sophistication of Egyptian science and math ... and tantalizing similarities among the Hebrew, Greek, and Mayan alphabets to the Chinese lunar zodiac.
The Atlantis Blueprint opens up a Pandora's box of ancient mysteries, lost worlds, and millennial riddles. It is a story as controversial, fascinating, dangerous -- and inspiring -- as any ever told.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Father of Us All brings together much of Hanson's finest writing on war and society, both ancient and modern. The author has gathered a range of essays, and combined and revised them into a richly textured new work that explores such topics as how technology shapes warfare, what constitutes the "American way of war," and why even those who abhor war need to study military history. "War is the father and king of us all," Heraclitus wrote in ancient Greece. And as Victor Davis Hanson shows, it is no less so today.
Acclaimed author Eric Burns investigates the year of 1920, which was not only a crucial twelve-month period of its own, but one that foretold the future, foreshadowing the rest of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, whether it was Sacco and Vanzetti or the stock market crash that brought this era to a close.
Burns sets the record straight about this most misunderstood and iconic of periods. Despite being the first full year of armistice, 1920 was not, in fact, a peaceful time—it contained the greatest act of terrorism in American history to date. And while 1920 is thought of as starting a prosperous era, for most people, life had never been more unaffordable. Meanwhile, African Americans were putting their stamp on culture and though people today imagine the frivolous image of the flapper dancing the night away, the truth was that a new kind of power had been bestowed on women, and it had nothing to do with the dance floor. . .
From prohibition to immigration, the birth of jazz, the rise of expatriate literature, and the original Ponzi scheme, 1920 was truly a year like no other.
Rousseau takes an innovative approach by introducing a "hypothetical history" that presents a theoretical view of people in a pre-social condition and the ensuing effects of civilization. In his sweeping account of humanity's social and political development, the author develops a theory of human evolution that prefigures Darwinian thought and encompasses aspects of ethics, sociology, and epistemology. He concludes that people are inevitably corrupt as a result of both natural (or physical) inequalities and moral (or political) inequalities.
One of the most influential works of the Enlightenment, the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality offers a thought-provoking account of society's origins and a keen criticism of unequal modern political institutions.
This epic study unveils the esoteric masters who have covertly impacted the intellectual development of the West, from Pythagoras and Zoroaster to the little-known modern icons Jean Gebser and Schwaller de Lubicz.
Running alongside the mainstream of Western intellectual history there is another current which, in a very real sense, should take pride of place, but which for the last few centuries has occupied a shadowy, inferior position, somewhere underground.
This "other" stream forms the subject of Gary Lachman’s epic history and analysis, The Secret Teachers of the Western World.
In this clarifying, accessible, and fascinating study, the acclaimed historian explores the Western esoteric tradition – a thought movement with ancient roots and modern expressions, which, in a broad sense, regards the cosmos as a living, spiritual, meaningful being and humankind as having a unique obligation and responsibility in it.
The historical roots of our “counter tradition,” as Lachman explores, have their beginning in Alexandria around the time of Christ. It was then that we find the first written accounts of the ancient tradition, which had earlier been passed on orally. Here, in this remarkable city, filled with teachers, philosophers, and mystics from Egypt, Greece, Asia, and other parts of the world, in a multi-cultural, multi-faith, and pluralistic society, a synthesis took place, a creative blending of different ideas and visions, which gave the hidden tradition the eclectic character it retains today.
The history of our esoteric tradition roughly forms three parts:
Part One: After looking back at the earliest roots of the esoteric tradition in ancient Egypt and Greece, the historical narrative opens in Alexandria in the first centuries of the Christian era. Over the following centuries, it traces our “other” tradition through such agents as the Hermeticists; Kabbalists; Gnostics; Neoplatonists; and early Church fathers, among many others. We examine the reemergence of the lost Hermetic books in the Renaissance and their influence on the emerging modern mind.
Part Two begins with the fall of Hermeticism in the late Renaissance and the beginning of “the esoteric counterculture.” In 1614, the same year that the Hermetic teachings fell from grace, a strange document appeared in Kassel, Germany announcing the existence of a mysterious fraternity: the Rosicrucians. Part two charts the impact of the Rosicrucians and the esoteric currents that followed, such as the Romance movement and the European occult revival of the late nineteenth century, including Madame Blavatsky and the opening of the western mind to the wisdom of the East, and the fin-de-siècle occultism of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Part Three chronicles the rise of “modern esotericism,” as seen in the influence of Rudolf Steiner, Gurdjieff, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti, Aleister Crowley, R. A Schwaller de Lubicz, and many others. Central is the life and work of C.G. Jung, perhaps the most important figure in the development of modern spirituality. The book looks at the occult revival of the “mystic sixties” and our own New Age, and how this itself has given birth to a more critical, rigorous investigation of the ancient wisdom.
With many detours and dead ends, we now seem to be slowly moving into a watershed. It has become clear that the dominant, left-brain, reductionist view, once so liberating and exciting, has run out of steam, and the promise of that much-sought-after “paradigm change” seems possible. We may be on the brink of a culminating moment of the esoteric intellectual tradition of the West.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
He turns our attention to Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Kant, Edward Gibbon, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Jefferson, and Franklin, and to their then-radical thinking about inductive science, religious and political freedom, popular education, rational commerce, the nation-state, progress, and happiness.
Postman calls for a future connected to traditions that provide sane authority and meaningful purpose -- as opposed to an overreliance on technology and an increasing disregard for the lessons of history. And he argues passionately for specific new guidelines in the education of our children, with renewed emphasis on developing the intellect as successfully as we are developing a computer-driven world.
Witty, provocative, and brilliantly reasoned, Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century is Neil Postman's most radical, and most commonsensical, book yet.
From the Hardcover edition.
For more than a millennium, Byzantium reigned as the glittering seat of Christian civilization. When Europe fell into the Dark Ages, Byzantium held fast against Muslim expansion, keeping Christianity alive. Streams of wealth flowed into Constantinople, making possible unprecedented wonders of art and architecture. And the emperors who ruled Byzantium enacted a saga of political intrigue and conquest as astonishing as anything in recorded history.
Lost to the West is replete with stories of assassination, mass mutilation and execution, sexual scheming, ruthless grasping for power, and clashing armies that soaked battlefields with the blood of slain warriors numbering in the tens of thousands.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this enlightening and entertaining work, Paul Johnson, the bestselling author of Intellectuals and Creators, approaches the subject of heroism with stirring examples of men and women from every age, walk of life, and corner of the planet who have inspired and transformed not only their own cultures but the entire world as well.
Samson, Judith, and Deborah • Henry V and Joan of Arc • Elizabeth I and Walter Raleigh • George Washington, the Duke of Wellington, and Lord Nelson • Emily Dickinson • Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee • Mae West and Marilyn Monroe • Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II
Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub; Ha-Satan or the Adversary; Iblis or Shaitan: no matter what name he travels under, the Devil has throughout the ages and across civilizations been a compelling and charismatic presence. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the supposed reign of God has long been challenged by the fiery malice of his opponent, as contending forces of good and evil have between them weighed human souls in the balance.
In The Devil, Philip C. Almond explores the figure of evil incarnate from the first centuries of the Christian era. Along the way, he describes the rise of demonology as an intellectual and theological pursuit, the persecution as witches of women believed to consort with the Devil and his minions, and the decline in the belief in Hell and in angels and demons as corporeal beings as a result of the Enlightenment. Almond shows that the Prince of Darkness remains an irresistible subject in history, religion, art, literature, and culture.
Almond brilliantly locates the "life" of the Devil within the broader Christian story of which it is inextricably a part; the "demonic paradox" of the Devil as both God's enforcer and his enemy is at the heart of Christianity. Woven throughout the account of the Christian history of the Devil is another complex and complicated history: that of the idea of the Devil in Western thought. Sorcery, witchcraft, possession, even melancholy, have all been laid at the Devil's doorstep. Until the Enlightenment enforced a "disenchantment" with the old archetypes, even rational figures such as Thomas Aquinas were obsessed with the nature of the Devil and the specific characteristics of the orders of demons and angels. It was a significant moment both in the history of demonology and in theology when Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677) denied the Devil's existence; almost four hundred years later, popular fascination with the idea of the Devil has not yet dimmed.
The secrets of history’s most enduring mystery are finally revealed in The Lost Empire of Atlantis. Through impeccable research and intelligent speculation, Gavin Menzies, the New York Times bestselling author of 1421, uncovers the truth behind the mysterious “lost” city of Atlantis—making the startling claim that the “Atlanteans” discovered America 4,000 years ago and ruled a vast Mediterranean empire that was violently destroyed in 1,500 BC. Forget everything you’ve ever thought about the Atlantis legend—Gavin Menzies will make you a believer!
There is something profoundly romantic about lost civilizations. Europe's past is littered with states and kingdoms, large and small, that are scarcely remembered today, and while their names may be unfamiliar-Aragon, Etruria, the Kingdom of the Two Burgundies-their stories should change our mental map of the past. We come across forgotten characters and famous ones-King Arthur and Macbeth, Napoleon and Queen Victoria, right up to Stalin and Gorbachev-and discover how faulty memory can be, and how much we can glean from these lost empires. Davies peers through the cracks in the mainstream accounts of modern-day states to dazzle us with extraordinary stories of barely remembered pasts, and of the traces they left behind.
This is Norman Davies at his best: sweeping narrative history packed with unexpected insights. Vanished Kingdoms will appeal to all fans of unconventional and thought-provoking history, from readers of Niall Ferguson to Jared Diamond.