World History

Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen

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$29.00

"Insightful and well-written . . . [Suzman chronicles] how much humankind can still learn from the disappearing way of life of the most marginalized communities on earth." --Yuval Noah Harari, author of SAPIENS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMAN KIND and HOMO DEUS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TOMORROW

WASHINGTON POST'S 50 NOTABLE WORKS OF NONFICTION IN 2017
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2017

A vibrant portrait of the "original affluent society"--the Bushmen of southern Africa--by the anthropologist who has spent much of the last twenty-five years documenting their encounter with modernity.

If the success of a civilization is measured by its endurance over time, then the Bushmen of the Kalahari are by far the most successful in human history. A hunting and gathering people who made a good living by working only as much as needed to exist in harmony with their hostile desert environment, the Bushmen have lived in southern Africa since the evolution of our species nearly two hundred thousand years ago.

In Affluence Without Abundance, anthropologist James Suzman vividly brings to life a proud and private people, introducing unforgettable members of their tribe, and telling the story of the collision between the modern global economy and the oldest hunting and gathering society on earth. In rendering an intimate picture of a people coping with radical change, it asks profound questions about how we now think about matters such as work, wealth, equality, contentment, and even time. Not since Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's The Harmless People in 1959 has anyone provided a more intimate or insightful account of the Bushmen or of what we might learn about ourselves from our shared history as hunter-gatherers.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781632865724
Publication Date: 
2017-07-11
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Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives

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$35.00

Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, Antony: the names resonate across thousands of years. Major figures in the civil wars that brutally ended the Roman republic, their lives still haunt us as examples of how the hunger for personal power can overwhelm collective politics, how the exaltation of the military can corrode civilian authority, and how the best intentions can lead to disastrous consequences. Plutarch renders these history-making lives as flesh-and-blood characters, often by deftly marshalling small details such as the care Brutus exercised in his use of money or the disdain Caesar felt for the lofty eloquence of Cicero.

Plutarch was a Greek intellectual who lived roughly one hundred years after the age of Caesar. At home in the world of Roman power, he preferred to live in the past, among the great figures of Greek and Roman history. He intended his biographical profiles to be mirrors of character that readers could use to inspire their own values and behavior--emulating virtues and rejecting flaws. For Plutarch, character was destiny for both the individual and the republic. He was our first master of the biographical form, a major source for Shakespeare and Gibbon.

This edition features a new translation by Pamela Mensch that lends a brilliant clarity to Plutarch's prose. James Romm's notes guide readers gracefully through the people, places, and events named in the profiles. And Romm's preface, along with Mary Beard's introduction, provide the perfect frame for understanding Plutarch and the momentous history he narrates.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780393292824
Publication Date: 
2017-01-31
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Aphrodite and the Rabbis

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$26.99

Hard to believe but true:

- The Passover Seder is a Greco-Roman symposium banquet
- The Talmud rabbis presented themselves as Stoic philosophers
- Synagogue buildings were Roman basilicas
- Hellenistic rhetoric professors educated sons of well-to-do Jews
- Zeus-Helios is depicted in synagogue mosaics across ancient Israel
- The Jewish courts were named after the Roman political institution, the Sanhedrin
- In Israel there were synagogues where the prayers were recited in Greek.

Historians have long debated the (re)birth of Judaism in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple cult by the Romans in 70 CE. What replaced that sacrificial cult was at once something new-indebted to the very culture of the Roman overlords-even as it also sought to preserve what little it could of the old Israelite religion. The Greco-Roman culture in which rabbinic Judaism grew in the first five centuries of the Common Era nurtured the development of Judaism as we still know and celebrate it today.

Arguing that its transformation from a Jerusalem-centered cult to a world religion was made possible by the Roman Empire, Rabbi Burton Visotzky presents Judaism as a distinctly Roman religion. Full of fascinating detail from the daily life and culture of Jewish communities across the Hellenistic world, Aphrodite and the Rabbis will appeal to anyone interested in the development of Judaism, religion, history, art and architecture.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781250085764
Publication Date: 
2016-09-13
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Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

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$16.00
To save ancient Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean's Eleven in this "fast-paced narrative that is...part intellectual history, part geopolitical tract, and part out-and-out thriller" (The Washington Post).

In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that were crumbling in the trunks of desert shepherds. His goal: to preserve this crucial part of the world's patrimony in a gorgeous library. But then Al Qaeda showed up at the door.

"Part history, part scholarly adventure story, and part journalist survey....Joshua Hammer writes with verve and expertise" (The New York Times Book Review) about how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist from the legendary city of Timbuktu, became one of the world's greatest smugglers by saving the texts from sure destruction. With bravery and patience, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali. His heroic heist "has all the elements of a classic adventure novel" (The Seattle Times), and is a reminder that ordinary citizens often do the most to protect the beauty of their culture. His the story is one of a man who, through extreme circumstances, discovered his higher calling and was changed forever by it.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781476777412
Publication Date: 
2017-04-04
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BATTLE OF THE DAY

$22.00
ISBN/SKU: 
978080508861852
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Battle Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1440-1462

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$27.95

England, 1454. A kingdom sliding into chaos.

The mentally unstable King Henry VI, having struggled for a decade to contain the violent feuding of his dukes, is losing his mind. Disgruntled nobles support the regal claims of Richard, Duke of York, great-grandson of Edward III. The stage is set for civil war.

The first volume of an enthralling two-part history of the dynastic wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York, Battle Royal traces the conflict from its roots in the 1440s to the early 1460s--a period marked by the rise and fall of Richard of York, the deposition of Henry VI following the Lancastrian defeat at Towton, and the subsequent seizure of his throne by Richard's son Edward.

Populating this late-medieval saga of ambition, intrigue, and bloodshed are such fascinating characters as the vacillating Henry VI himself, his indefatigable queen Marguerite of Anjou, Richard of York (father of kings but never king himself), his opportunist ally Richard Neville--"the Kingmaker"--and the precociously virile Edward of York.

Charting a clear course through the dynastic complexities of fifteenth-century power politics, and offering crisply authoritative analysis of the key battles of the Wars of the Roses, Battle Royal is a dynamic and rigorously researched account of England's longest and bloodiest civil war.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781681773063
Publication Date: 
2017-01-10
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Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

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$18.00
A brilliant, haunting, and profoundly original portrait of the defining tragedy of our time.

In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first. Based on new sources from eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, Black Earth recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close to us, more comprehensible than we would like to think, and thus all the more terrifying.

The Holocaust began in a dark but accessible place, in Hitler's mind, with the thought that the elimination of Jews would restore balance to the planet and allow Germans to win the resources they desperately needed. Such a worldview could be realized only if Germany destroyed other states, so Hitler's aim was a colonial war in Europe itself. In the zones of statelessness, almost all Jews died. A few people, the righteous few, aided them, without support from institutions. Much of the new research in this book is devoted to understanding these extraordinary individuals. The almost insurmountable difficulties they faced only confirm the dangers of state destruction and ecological panic. These men and women should be emulated, but in similar circumstances few of us would do so.

By overlooking the lessons of the Holocaust, Snyder concludes, we have misunderstood modernity and endangered the future. The early twenty-first century is coming to resemble the early twentieth, as growing preoccupations with food and water accompany ideological challenges to global order. Our world is closer to Hitler's than we like to admit, and saving it requires us to see the Holocaust as it was -- and ourselves as we are.

Groundbreaking, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, Black Earth reveals a Holocaust that is not only history but warning.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781101903476
Publication Date: 
2016-09-06
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Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

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$27.95

Two years ago, Graham Robb moved to a lonely house on the very edge of England, near the banks of a river that once marked the southern boundary of the legendary Debatable Land. The oldest detectable territorial division in Great Britain, the Debatable Land served as a buffer between Scotland and England. It was once the bloodiest region in the country, fought over by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James V. After most of its population was slaughtered or deported, it became the last part of Great Britain to be brought under the control of the state. Today, it has vanished from the map and its boundaries are matters of myth and generational memories.

Under the spell of a powerful curiosity, Robb began a journey--on foot, by bicycle, and into the past--that would uncover lost towns and roads, and unlock more than one discovery of major historical significance. These personal and scholarly adventures reveal a tale that spans Roman, Medieval, and present-day Britain.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, The Debatable Land takes us from a time when neither England nor Scotland existed to the present day, when contemporary nationalism and political turmoil threaten to unsettle the cross-border community once more. With his customary charm, wit, and literary grace, Graham Robb proves the Debatable Land to be a crucial, missing piece in the puzzle of British history.

ISBN/SKU: 
9780393285321
Publication Date: 
2018-06-12
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Flag Worth Dying for: The Power and Politics of National Symbols

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$26.00
Combining keen analysis of current events with world history, Tim Marshall, author of the New York Times bestseller Prisoners of Geography, "one of the best books on geopolitics you could imagine," (The Evening Standard), explains flags and their symbols--how their power is used to unite and divide populations and intimidate enemies.

From the renewed sense of nationalism in China, to troubled identities in Europe and the USA, to the terrifying rise of Islamic State, the world is a confusing place right now and we need to understand the symbols, old and new, that people are rallying round. For thousands of years flags have represented our hopes and dreams. We wave them. Burn them. March under their colors. And still, in the twenty-first century, we die for them. Flags fly at the UN, on Arab streets, from front porches in Texas. They represent the politics of high power as well as the politics of the mob.

In nine chapters (covering the USA, UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, international flags, and flags of terror), Tim Marshall's A Flag Worth Dying For examines the systems of symbols that represent nation states and non-state actors (including ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas), and how they figure in diplomatic relations and events today.

Drawing on more than twenty-five years of global reporting experience to reveal the true meaning behind the symbols that unite us--and divide us--A Flag Worth Dying For is a winning combination of current affairs, politics, and world history.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781501168338
Publication Date: 
2017-07-04
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Forged Through Fire

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$29.95

Having spent their celebrated careers exploring this provocative question, John Ferejohn and Frances McCall Rosenbluth trace the surprising ways in which governments have mobilized armies since antiquity, discovering that our modern form of democracy not only evolved in a brutally competitive environment but also quickly disintegrated when the powerful elite no longer needed their citizenry to defend against existential threats.

Bringing to vivid life the major battles that shaped our current political landscape, the authors begin with the fierce warrior states of Athens and the Roman Republic. While these experiments in "mixed government" would serve as a basis for the bargain between politics and protection at the heart of modern democracy, Ferejohn and Rosenbluth brilliantly chronicle the generations of bloodshed that it would take for the world's dominant states to hand over power to the people. In fact, for over a thousand years, even as medieval empires gave way to feudal Europe, the king still ruled. Not even the advancements of gunpowder--which decisively tipped the balance away from the cavalry-dominated militaries and in favor of mass armies--could threaten the reign of monarchs and "landed elites" of yore.

The incredibly wealthy, however, were not well equipped to handle the massive labor classes produced by industrialization. As we learn, the Napoleonic Wars stoked genuine, bottom-up nationalism and pulled splintered societies back together as "commoners" stepped up to fight for their freedom. Soon after, Hitler and Stalin perfectly illustrated the military limitations of dictatorships, a style of governance that might be effective for mobilizing an army but not for winning a world war. This was a lesson quickly heeded by the American military, who would begin to reinforce their ranks with minorities in exchange for greater civil liberties at home.

Like Francis Fukuyama and Jared Diamond's most acclaimed works, Forged Through Fire concludes in the modern world, where the "tug of war" between the powerful and the powerless continues to play out in profound ways. Indeed, in the covert battlefields of today, drones have begun to erode the need for manpower, giving politicians even less incentive than before to listen to the demands of their constituency. With American democracy's flanks now exposed, this urgent examination explores the conditions under which war has promoted one of the most cherished human inventions: a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The result promises to become one of the most important history books to emerge in our time.

ISBN/SKU: 
9781631491603
Publication Date: 
2016-12-06
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