Niall Ferguson, perhaps the most famous historian of our generation, offers yet another breakthrough in his latest work, The Square and the Tower.
Why The West Rules – for Now: the Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, by Ian Morris
Is there a logic to history?
Many scholars balk even at the idea of searching for such logic, insisting that each culture may only be understood on its own terms.
Merchants of Doubt is not just a book about how illusions of scientific controversy have been constructed, it’s also about the people who constructed them.
If civilization collapsed, and people in the future could rediscover a single work to get humanity back on track scientifically and technologically, this book would be a contender: Peter Atkins’ Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, published in 2004.
Humanity has been at the mercy of disease forever – plagues have destroyed entire civilizations – but through custom, science, and medicine, we’ve learned so much about disease in recent centuries that its threat has faded somewhat from modern life. Another way to say this might be that, while disease used to be perhaps the most important historical factor in the success or failure of societies, it no longer is.
In 1493, Charles Mann shows us how Europeans emerged at the center of a modern, globalized world by establishing the Columbian Exchange; a system they created but could not control, and with consequences none of them could imagine.
In all four episodes of Context released so far, we’ve focused on big picture historical events; on how environment and economics and politics and science shaped the rise of the modern world. History is chaotic, but it’s always been my impression that by focusing on patterns instead of persons, forces instead of figures, it’s easier to make some sense of it, to trace its general direction. Jack Weatherford’s book from 2004, Genghis Khan, and the Making of the Modern World, provides an exception. Genghis Khan was so influential that it’s worth zooming all the way in.