Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.
"Very informative, fun to listen to"
Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die.
"Danger and Discovery in the Jungle"
Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology.
"Compelling pre-history and emergent history"
The Crusades is an authoritative, accessible single-volume history of the brutal struggle for the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. Thomas Asbridge - a renowned historian who writes with "maximum vividness" (Joan Acocella, The New Yorker) - covers the years 1095 to 1291 in this big, ambitious, listenable account of one of the most fascinating periods in history.
"A Thorough Look"
The Nazis presented themselves as warriors against moral degeneracy. Yet, as Norman Ohler's gripping best seller reveals, the entire Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin, morphine and, most of all, methamphetamines, or crystal meth, used by everyone from factory workers to housewives, and crucial to troops; resilience - even partly explaining German victory in 1940.
"One Reich, One God, One Dealer"
The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.
"Brilliant, insightful, intriguing."
This book is the culmination of 15 years of research and travels that have taken the author completely around the world twice. Its purpose has been to try to understand the role of cultural differences within nations and between nations, today and over the centuries of history, in shaping the economic and social fates of peoples and of whole civilizations.
An exhilarating journey into the mind and spirit of a remarkable man, a legendary teacher, and a masterful storyteller, conducted by TV journalist Bill Moyers for their acclaimed PBS series.
"A series that changed my life"
Ice Ghosts weaves together the epic story of the Lost Franklin Expedition of 1845 - whose two ships and crew of 129 were lost to the Arctic ice - with the modern tale of the scientists, divers, and local Inuit behind the incredible discovery of the flagship's wreck in 2014. Paul Watson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was on the icebreaker that led the discovery expedition, tells a fast-paced historical adventure story: Sir John Franklin and the crew of the HMS Erebus and Terror setting off in search of the fabled Northwest Passage.
Most of us have a limited understanding of the powerful role economics has played in shaping human civilization. This makes economic history - the study of how civilizations structured their environments to provide food, shelter, and material goods - a vital lens through which to think about how we arrived at our present, globalized moment. Designed to fill a long-empty gap in how we think about modern history, these 48 lectures are a comprehensive journey through more than 600 years of economic history.
The deep-seated origins and wide-reaching lessons of ancient myths built the foundation for our modern legacies. Explore the mythologies of Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Learn what makes these stories so important, distinctive, and able to withstand the test of time. Discover how, despite geographical implausibilities, many myths from across the oceans share themes, morals, and archetypes.
"Three Fantastic Lecturers, + one iffy one."
A major audiobook about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
"Lifts you out of the ordinary"
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" So goes the signature introduction of New York Herald star journalist Henry Morton Stanley to renowned explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who had been missing for six years in the wilds of Africa. Into Africa ushers us into the meeting of these remarkable men. In 1866, when Livingstone journeyed into the heart of the African continent in search of the Nile's source, the land was rough, unknown to Europeans, and inhabited by man-eating tribes.
In this masterpiece, Solzhenitsyn has orchestrated thousands of incidents and individual histories into one narrative of unflagging power and momentum. Written in a tone that encompasses Olympian wrath, bitter calm, savage irony, and sheer comedy, it combines history, autobiography, documentary, and political analysis as it examines in its totality the Soviet apparatus of repression from its inception following the October Revolution of 1917.
"Not for the feint of heart"
This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. This 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.
"Entertaining history lesson with dry telling."
This classic, definitive account of totalitarianism traces the emergence of modern racism as an "ideological weapon for imperialism", beginning with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the 19th century and continuing through the New Imperialism period from 1884 to World War I.
"Vast and intricate analysis of horror"
Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.
"You'll Never Look at Languages the Same Way Again"
The study of Western Civilization traditionally follows a well-known but incomplete arc: the grand achievements of Greece and Rome, several hundred years of the Dark Ages, and then the bright emergence of the European Renaissance. But amid the "dark" Middle Ages, the Abbasid Empire, which ruled the Middle East as well as much of Northern Africa and Central Asia from 750 to 1258, serves as a vitally important but often overlooked bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.
In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn't stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon 34 more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had been stricken by the mysterious dancing plague. In late-19th-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome - a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure.
"Didn't know syphilis could be so fascinating."
This is how wars are fought now by children, hopped up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. In the more than 50 violent conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But it is rare to find a first-person account from someone who endured this hell and survived. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now 26 years old, tells a riveting story in his own words: how, at the age of 12, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence.
For much of the 20th century, South American governments in large part lived under a system of military junta governments. The mixture of indigenous peoples, foreign settlers and European colonial superpowers produced cultural and social imbalances into which military forces intervened as a stabilizing influence. The proactive personalities of military heads and the rigid structures of such a hierarchy guaranteed the "strong man" commanding officer an abiding presence in the form of executive dictator.
From royalty to suffragettes and from campaigners to contemporary rebels, Sky News Presenter Sophy Ridge explains the ways that women have changed the face of politics. Sophy Ridge has uncovered the extraordinary stories of the women who have shaped British politics. Never has the role of women in the political world ever been more on the news agenda, and Sophy has interviewed current and former MPs to gain exclusive insight into the role women play in politics at the highest level.
Welcome to Today in History, your daily time capsule to historical happenings by the Associated Press. Featuring multiple moments from years past, Today in History brings you back in time to the world’s most impactful events.
The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population which makes for a continually changing culinary landscape. But a young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In Eight Flavors, Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.
There was a time when Israel could do no wrong in America's eyes. That time is long past, and justly so - no nation is absolutely perfect, particularly not one that is engaged in a conflict as long as the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the myth of the perfect Israel has been supplanted by a far more deleterious myth: the myth of the evil Israel. This new myth has so pervaded contemporary culture that the history of Israel - as well documented as it is - has been recast and retold to fit a false narrative of Israel as violent occupier.
Like most legends, the origins of Freemasonry are still disputed to this day. The earliest mention of the society traces back to The Halliwell Manuscript, or Regius Poem, authored sometime between the late 14th and the early 15th centuries. The Society of Freemasonry is one of the most controversial brotherhoods in the history of mankind. This book examines the origins and history of the controversial brotherhood, its expansion across the globe, and some of the most mindboggling conspiracy theories that surround the society to this day.
Since the Gutenberg Bible first went on sale in 1455, printing has been viewed as one of the highest achievements of human innovation. But the march of progress hasn't been smooth; downright bizarre is more like it. Printer's Error chronicles some of the strangest and most humorous episodes in the history of Western printing. Take, for example, the Gutenberg Bible. While the book is regarded as the first printed work in the Western world, Gutenberg's name doesn't appear anywhere on it.
For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That role, reports Howard French, has been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players.
"Some Notable Errors"
In 1948, a young white English woman, Ruth Williams, made headline news all over the world. For she had met, fallen in love with, and married Seretse Khama, an African prince and heir to the chieftainship of a tribe of more than 100,000 people - the Bamangwato. At first, the marriage was no more welcome in Africa than in government circles in London. Within a year of their wedding, the young couple had provoked an astonishing series of events that had never been explained.
The abridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Niall Ferguson's epic history, The Ascent of Money. Behind each great historical phenomenon there lies a financial secret - Niall Ferguson uncovers the hidden stories behind history. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot. Call it what you like, it matters now more than ever. In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is the foundation of all human progress and the lifeblood of history.
Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.
"Few forests, but lots of trees"
A mind-expanding and myth-destroying exploration of notions of white race—not merely a skin color but also a signal of power, prestige, and beauty to be withheld and granted selectively. Ever since the Enlightenment, race theory and its inevitable partner, racism, have followed a crooked road, constructed by dominant peoples to justify their domination of others. Filling a huge gap in historical literature that long focused on the non-white, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, tracing not only the invention of the idea of race but also the frequent worship of “whiteness” for economic, social, scientific, and political ends.
"Destroys the myth that race is about skin color"
Fukuyama examines the effects of corruption on governance, and why some societies have been successful at rooting it out. He explores the different legacies of colonialism in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and offers a clear-eyed account of why some regions have thrived and developed more quickly than others. And he boldly reckons with the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West.
"Understanding our place thru Poly Sci"
Beginning in the heady days just after the First Crusade, this volume - the third in the series that began with The History of the Ancient World and The History of the Medieval World - chronicles the contradictions of a world in transition. Impressively researched and brilliantly told, The History of the Renaissance World offers not just the names, dates, and facts but the memorable characters who illuminate the years between 1100 and 1453 - years that marked a sea change in mankind's perception of the world.
"The 2nd Half of the Medieval World"
Living and dying with bravery and honor is at the heart of Hagakure, a series of texts written by an 18th-century samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It is a window into the samurai mind, illuminating the concept of bushido (the Way of the Warrior), which dictated how samurai were expected to behave, conduct themselves, live, and die.
A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were - and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book.
"Better than prior reviews led me to believe"
In 1967, not long after the Six-Day War, three young Arab men ventured into the town of Ramle, in what is now Jewish Israel. They were cousins, on a pilgrimage to see their childhood homes; their families had been driven out of Palestine nearly 20 years earlier. One cousin had a door slammed in his face, and another found his old house had been converted into a school. But the third, Bashir Al-Khairi, was met at the door by a young woman called Dalia, who invited them in.
Lost Enlightenment recounts how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asia led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and, above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields. Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology, among other subjects.
"What a wonderful find!"
In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.
"Mystery & Intrigue In The Ural Mountains"
Hailed as the most compelling biography of the German dictator yet written, Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the heart of its subject's immense darkness. Ian Kershaw's Hitler brings us closer than ever before to the character of the bizarre misfit in his thirty-year ascent from a Viennese shelter for the indigent to uncontested rule over the German nation that had tried and rejected democracy in the crippling aftermath of World War I.
"The heart of evil"
lf a man cannot stand freedom, he will probably turn fascist. This, in the fewest possible words, is the essential argument in this modem classic, Escape from Freedom. The author, Erich Fromm, is a distinguished psychologist, late of Berlin and Heidelberg, now of New York City.
"Why is this not required reading in high school?"
Since its U.S. debut a quarter-century ago, this brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx. Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation.
This landmark book, first published in 1978, remains one of the most influential books in the Social Sciences, particularly Ethnic Studies and Postcolonialism. Said is best known for describing and critiquing "Orientalism", which he perceived as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East. In Orientalism Said claimed a "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture."
"We're lucky to have this on audio"
For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told in the words of the Spanish victors. Miguel León-Portilla has long been at the forefront of expanding that history to include the voices of indigenous peoples. In this new and updated edition of his classic The Broken Spears, León-Portilla has included accounts from native Aztec descendants across the centuries.
"learning new information"
As Nemesis opens, Adolf Hitler has achieved absolute power within Germany and triumphed in his first challenge to the European powers. Idolized by large segments of the population and firmly supported by the Nazi regime, Hitler is poised to subjugate Europe. Nine years later, his vaunted war machine destroyed, Allied forces sweeping across Germany, Hitler will end his life with a pistol shot to his head.
"Well worn ground"
During the German occupation of Rome from 1942-1944, Irishman Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty ran an escape organization for Allied POWs and civilians, including Jews. Safe within the Vatican state, he regularly ventured out in disguise to continue his mission, which earned him the nickname 'The Pimpernel of the Vatican'. When the Allies entered Rome, he and his collaborators - priests, nuns, and laypeople of numerous nationalities and religious beliefs - had saved the lives of over 6,500 people.
"What a character"
The Clockwork Universe is the story of a band of men who lived in a world of dirt and disease but pictured a universe that ran like a perfect machine. A meld of history and science, this book is a group portrait of some of the greatest minds who ever lived as they wrestled with natures most sweeping mysteries. The answers they uncovered still hold the key to how we understand the world.
"It's a Wonder We Left the Dark Ages"
In this compelling, powerful book, highly respected writer and commentator Jack Holland sets out to answer a daunting question: How do you explain the oppression and brutalization of half the world's population by the other half, throughout history? The result takes the listener on an eye-opening journey through centuries, continents, and civilizations as it looks at both historical and contemporary attitudes to women.
"A Unique Take on History"