A History of the World in 12 Maps - Jerry Brotton

In his masterful survey of worlds and world views, the Renaissance scholar Jerry Brotton focuses on some of the most influential cartographic works of all times and places to tell A History of the World in 12 Maps (Viking, $40). Identifying pivotal moments when priorities shifted and crystallized, Brotton discusses Ptolemy’s enduring significance, looks at the rich science and art of 11th-century Islamic maps, presents 15th-century China’s neo-Confucian nonary (3x3) grids, explains Mercator’s—and later—projections of spherical models onto flat planes, and follows the Cassinis’ six-decade-long struggle to map France as a modern nation-state. The stories, personalities, and ideas are vivid, as are the repercussions so many maps have had, such as the violence unleashed by the 1947 line drawn between India and Pakistan. Knowledgeable and passionate about his subject, Brotton shows how maps have inspired and aided many a quest, whether for wealth, land, or power, even as map-makers themselves continue to pursue the elusive goal of objectivity.

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$23.00
ISBN: 9780143126027
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Published: Penguin Books - October 28th, 2014

The Great Big Book of Horrible Things - Matthew White

This is exactly what it claims to be – a great big book of massacres, genocides, famines and every other man-made calamity to befall civilization since 480 BCE. No event makes the cut if the death toll isn’t reliably estimated at 300 000 or more. White doesn’t take sides, doesn’t differentiate between types of death, and his numbers are middle of the road. One of the categories in the summary chapter headings is “another damn”, as in “another damn Mongol invasion”, for example. Refreshingly, the book is global in scope, and the author’s breadth of knowledge and storytelling skills make it an entertaining, at times even funny, read. Any attempt to face our violent past must begin with the truth and this is what White has made a valiant attempt to give us, although I guarantee you’ll want to quibble.
The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780393081923
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2011

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern - Stephen J. Greenblatt

The world into which Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things was reborn in 1417 felt threatened by the ideas expressed there. But The Swerve (W.W. Norton, $26.95) history took in this event, from a God-centered to a material conception of the universe, influenced subsequent thinkers and changed the course of Western culture. In his riveting and suspenseful story of those ideas and their rediscovery, the eminent scholar Stephen Greenblatt, author of the popular Will in the World, recounts how Poggio Bracciolini, a canny and ruthless papal apparatchik, but also an intrepid book hunter with exquisite handwriting, found the only surviving copy of this classical masterpiece secreted in a remote German monastery. Greenblatt, himself heir to the humanistic turn effected by the surfacing of On the Nature of Things, has made narrative central to our understanding of literature and culture and unfailingly finds anecdotes that catch the reflected light of an entire cosmos.

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$30.00
ISBN: 9780393064476
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 26th, 2011

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$16.95
ISBN: 9780393343403
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 4th, 2012

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