Four years ago, The New York Times ran a series of articles about a vast, menacing world rarely covered in the media, an offshore frontier crucial to the existence of the planet and yet one in which impunity is the norm in the face of murder, piracy, enslavement, commercial violations, and environmental offenses. The series documented a range of egregious crimes being committed on the high seas and largely going unpunished. It reported on killings of stowaways and others, sea slavery, intentional dumping, illegal fishing, gun running, and the stealing of ships. But there was more to reveal, and the author of the series, Ian Urbina, has gone on to write The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier (Knopf, $30). The book is a startling and riveting exposé that bears witness to a woefully under-protected part of the world beset by all kinds of ills but also one vital to the global economy.
Against the Grain is one of the most exhilarating, genre-defying, wild cards of a book on our shelves at the moment. Prehistory buffs, climate scientists, economists, Paleo-dieters, social justice warriors, libertarians, tax code reformers, anthropologists --- as well as curious minds of an ilk not covered by such categories ... all will have reason to find James Scott's reassessment of the earliest proto-states in the Mesopotamian alluvial delta fascinating beyond all expectation. It's the kind of book you'll want to reference in every conversation for months post-reading.
David Christian’s TED Talk “The history of our world in 18 minutes” has been viewed more than eight million times. It covers “Big History”, a framework to make sense of the history of the Universe, from the Big Bang to the present, and then into the distant future, from a human perspective. It covers eight “thresholds” at which “Goldilocks” conditions exist for the emergence of new and more complex phenomena. From a single college course in the late 1980’s, the idea has grown into a course taught at thousands of high schools and colleges, thanks to the personal enthusiasm and financial investment of Bill Gates, raising questions about the influence of private money on public education. Origin Story covers the same ground in book form, and will give you a new perspective on how everything, from salt to supernovas, is connected.