Book List Category:
By Bill Bryson.
Bryson takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in the evolution of private life.
By David V. Herlihy.
"In this, the definitive history of the bicycle, David Herlihy recounts the saga of this far-reaching invention and the passions it aroused." "Because we live in an age of cross-country bicycle racing and high-tech mountain bikes, we may overlook the decades of development and ingenuity that transformed the basic concept of human-powered transportation into a marvel of engineering. This history retraces the extraordinary story of the bicycle - a history of disputed patents, brilliant inventions, and missed opportunities. Herlihy shows us why the bicycle captured the public's imagination and the myriad ways in which it reshaped our world."--Jacket.
By Christian Wolmar
In this book, the author, a transportation journalist, celebrates the vision and determination of the ambitious pioneers who developed the railways that would dominate the globe. She reveals the huge impact of the railways as they spread rapidly across the world, linking cities that had hitherto been isolated, stimulating both economic growth and social change on an unprecedented scale. From Panama to the Punjab, she describes the vision and determination of the pioneers who developed railways that would one day span continents, as well as the labour of the navvies who built this global network. She shows how cultures were enriched, and destroyed, by the unrelenting construction and how they had a vital role in civil conflict, as well as in two world wars. Indeed, the global expansion of the railways was key to the spread of modernity and the making of the modern world.
By Stephen M. Younger.
From his years at Los Alamos and the Nevada test site to his meetings with nuclear arms experts in Moscow, former weapons designer Stephen M. Younger has witnessed firsthand the making of nuclear policy. With a deep understanding of both the technology and the politics behind nuclear weapons, he guides us from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War and into the present day, illuminating how nuclear weapons fit into our globalized, war-plagued world. Does the United States genuinely need a massive stockpile in an era of precision bombs and missile defense? Under what circumstances might we need nuclear weapons in the future? How does the proliferation of weapons in the hands of other nations affect our own nuclear policy?--From publisher description.
By Florence Williams.
Feted and fetishized, the breast is an evolutionary masterpiece. But breasts are changing. They are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemicals. Increasingly, the odds are stacked against us in the struggle against breast cancer, even among men. What makes breasts so mercurial and so vulnerable? The author, a science journalist sets out to uncover the latest science from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine in this expose about the breast, an incredible life-giving organ and its imperiled modern fate.
By Jane Brox.
Documents the role of light in history, tracing how the development of specific innovations had a pivotal influence on social and cultural evolution.
By Barbara Freese.
Publisher's description: The fascinating history of a simple black rock that has shaped our world--and now threatens it. In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey that begins hundreds of millions of years ago and spans the globe. Prized as "the best stone in Britain" by Roman invaders who carved jewelry out of it, coal has transformed societies, expanded frontiers, and sparked social movements, and still powers our electric grid. Yet coal's world-changing power has come at a tremendous price, including centuries of blackening our skies and lungs--and now the dangerous warming of our global climate. Ranging from the "great stinking fogs" of London to the rat-infested coal mines of Pennsylvania, from the impoverished slums of Manchester to the toxic streets of Beijing, Coal is a captivating narrative about an ordinary substance with an extraordinary impact on human civilization.
By Mark Kurlansky.
Cod spans a thousand years and four continents. From the Vikings, who pursued the codfish across the Atlantic, and the enigmatic Basques, who first commercialized it in medieval times, to Bartholomew Gosnold, who named Cape Cod in 1602, and Clarence Birdseye, who founded an industry on frozen cod in the 1930s, Mark Kurlansky introduces the explorers, merchants, writers, chefs, and of course the fishermen, whose lives have interwoven with this prolific fish. He chronicles the fifteenth-century politics of the Hanseatic League and the cod wars of the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. He embellishes his story with gastronomic detail, blending in recipes and lore from the Middle Ages to the present. And he brings to life the cod itself: its personality, habits, extended family, and ultimately the tragedy of how the most profitable fish in history is today faced with extinction. From fishing ports in New England and Newfoundland to coastal skiffs, schooners, and factory ships across the Atlantic; from Iceland and Scandinavia to the coasts of England, Brazil, and West Africa, Mark Kurlansky tells a story that brings world history and human passions into captivating focus. The codfish. Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies and livelihoods have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. To the millions it has sustained, it has been a treasure more precious than gold. Indeed, the codfish has played a fascinating and crucial role in world history.
By Antony Wild.
"From obscure beginnings in east Africa in the fifteenth century as a stimulant in religious devotion, coffee became an imperial commodity, produced by poor tropical countries and consumed by rich temperate ones. Through the centuries, the influence of coffee on the rise of capitalism and its institutions has been enormous. Revolutions were once hatched in coffeehouses, commercial alliances were forged, secret societies were formed, and politics and art were endlessly debated. Today, while coffee chains spread like wildfire, coffee-producing countries are in crisis: with prices at a historic low, they are plagued by unprecedented unemployment, abandoned farms, enforced migration, and massive social disruption."--Jacket.
By Katherine Ashenburg.
What could be more routine than taking up soap and water and washing yourself? And yet cleanliness, or the lack of it, is intimately connected to ideas as large as spirituality and sexuality, and historical events that include plagues, the Civil War, and the discovery of germs. For the first-century Roman, being clean meant a two-hour soak in baths of various temperatures, scraping the body, and a final application of oil. For the aristocratic Frenchman in the seventeenth century, it meant changing your shirt once a day and using perfume to cover your own aroma as well as others', but never immersing yourself in water. Now we live in a deodorized world where sales of hand sanitizers and wipes are skyrocketing. Ashenburg's tour of history's baths and bathrooms reveals much about our changing and most intimate selves--what we desire, what we ignore, and what we fear.--From publisher description.
By David Bodanis.
Examines the science and scientists who provided the backdrop to Einstein's seminal 1905 discovery and offers a definitive explanation of the equation from a mathematical, historical, and scientific perspective.
By David Bodanis.
In his bestselling E=mc2, David Bodanis led us, with astonishing ease, through the world's most famous equation. Now, in Electric Universe, he illuminates the wondrous yet invisible force that permeates our universe and introduces us to the virtuoso scientists who plumbed its secrets. For centuries, electricity was seen as little more than a curious property of certain substances that sparked when rubbed. Then, in the 1790s, Alessandro Volta began the scientific investigation that ignited an explosion of knowledge and invention. The force that once seemed inconsequential was revealed to be responsible for everything from the structure of the atom to the functioning of our brains. In harnessing its power, we have created a world of wonders complete with roller coasters and radar, computer networks and psycho pharmaceuticals. A superb storyteller, Bodanis weaves tales of romance, divine inspiration, and fraud through lucid accounts of scientific breakthroughs. The great discoverers come to life in all their brilliance and idiosyncrasy, including the visionary Michael Faraday, who struggled against the prejudices of the British class system, and Samuel Morse, a painter who, before inventing the telegraph, ran for mayor of New York City on a platform of persecuting Catholics. Here too is Alan Turing, whose dream of a marvelous thinking machine what we know as the computer was met with indifference, and who ended his life in despair after British authorities forced him to undergo experimental treatments to cure his homosexuality. From the frigid waters of the Atlantic to the streets of Hamburg during a World War II firestorm to the interior of the human body, Electric Universe is a mesmerizing journey of discovery by a master science writer.A popular history of the science of electricity follows the work of the scientists and pioneers who investigated its unique properties and secrets, including Alessandro Volta, Michael Faraday, and Samuel Morse, and discusses the influence of their scientific breakthroughs on our ability to harness its power. By the author of E=mc2. 75,000 first printing.
By Mitchell Pacelle.
It is the most famous skyscraper in the world--a towering edifice whose silhouette defines New York's skyline. Each year, millions of visitors from all over the world flock to its upper reaches to take in its dramatic views. Yet few are aware of the triumphs and tragedies that have played out in its storied corridors. Ever since it was erected during the Great Depression, the Empire State Building has been coveted by ambitious, self-made men who have gone to great lengths to call it their own. It has carried some of them to prominence, others to the precipice of financial ruin. For a few, the building has exacted an even higher toll--costing them friends, family, and even their freedom.
By Edward Humes.
"Narrative science book about trash"--
By Mario Livio.
"The Golden Ratio is a captivating journey through art and architecture, botany and biology, physics and mathematics. It tells the human story of numerous phi-fixated individuals, including the followers of Pythagoras who believed that this proportion revealed the hand of God; astronomer Johannes Kepler, who saw phi as the greatest treasure of geometry; such Renaissance thinkers as mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa; and such masters of the modern world as Goethe, Cezanne, Bartok, and physicist Roger Penrose. Wherever his quest for the meaning of phi takes him, Mario Livio reveals the world as a place where order, beauty, and eternal mystery will always coexist."--Goggle Books.
By C.J. Chivers.
In a tour de force, a prize-winning "New York Times" reporter traces the invention and mass distribution of the assault rifle, and its effects on war.
By Daniel Nettle.
In a world obsessed by happiness, this is the first book to look thoroughly at what happiness is and how it works. Bringing together insights from psychiatry, psychology, and philosophy, psychologist Nettle examines whether people are basically happy or unhappy, whether success can make us happy, what sort of remedies to unhappiness work, why some people are happier than others, and much more. We discover the evolutionary reason why negative thoughts are more powerful than positive ones. We read that happiness varies from country to country--the Swiss are much more happy than Bulgarians. Nettle discusses the brain systems underlying emotions and moods, ranging from serotonin, "the happiness chemical"; to mood enhancing drugs such as D-fenfluramine, which reduces negative thinking in less than an hour; to the part of the brain that, when electrically stimulated, provides feeling of benevolent calm and even euphoria.--From publisher description.
By Petr Beckmann.
"Documents the calculation, numerical value, and use of the ratio from 2000 B.C. to the modern computer age, detailing social conditions in eras when progress was made."
By Catherine E. McKinley.
"For almost five millennia, in every culture and every major religion, indigo--a blue pigment obtained from the small green leaf of a parasitic shurb through a complex process that even scientists still regard as mysterious--has been at the center of turbulent human encounters. Indigo is the story of this precious dye and its ancient heritage... But Indigo is also the story of a personal quest: McKinley's adoptive parents descend from a clan of Scots who wore indigo tartan as their virile armor; she's also the kin of several generations of Jewish "rag traders," the maternal granddaughter of a Massachusetts textile factory owner; and the paternal granddaughter of African slaves--her ancestors were traded along the same Saharan routes as indigo, where a length of blue cotton could purchase a human life. McKinley's journey across the ancient trade routes of West Africa in search of this rare, luminous, and costly blue pigment--in search of beauty and her own history--ultimately leads her to a new and satisfying path, to finally 'taste life.'" -- dust jacket.
By James Gleick.
From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long misunderstood "talking drums" of Africa, James Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He also provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information, including Charles Babbage, Ada Byron, Samuel Morse, Alan Turing, and Claude Shannon.
By Dava Sobel ; with a foreword by Neil Armstrong.
Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that "the longitude problem" was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day -- and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution. The quest for a solution had occupied scientists for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, England's parliament upped the ante by offering a king's ransom (£20,000, or approximately $12 million in today's currency) to anyone whose method or device proved successful and reproducible. The scientific establishment throughout Europe -- from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton -- had mapped the heavens in it pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution -- a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land" --Cover, p. 2.
By Allan Metcalf.
It is said to be the most frequently spoken (or typed) word on the planet, more common than an infant's first word ma or the ever present beverage Coke. It was even the first word spoken on the moon. It is "OK", the most ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countless times every day. Yet few of us know the secret history of OK, how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence. The authot, a writer on language, here traces the evolution of America's most popular word, ranging across American history with portraits of the nooks and crannies in which OK survived and prospered. He describes how OK was born as a lame joke in a newspaper article in 1839, used as a supposedly humorous abbreviation for "oll korrect" (ie, "all correct"), but should have died a quick death, as most clever coinages do. But OK was swept along in a nineteenth century fad for abbreviations, was appropriated by a presidential campaign (one of the candidates being called "Old Kinderhook"), and finally was picked up by operators of the telegraph. Over the next century and a half, it established a firm toehold in the American lexicon, and eventually became embedded in pop culture, from the "I'm OK, You're OK" of 1970's transactional analysis, to Ned Flanders' absurd "Okeley Dokeley!" Indeed, OK became emblematic of a uniquely American attitude, and is one of our most successful global exports.
By Witold Rybczynski.
"... a story of mechanical discovery and genius ..."--Dust jacket.
By Jerry Langton.
Examines the characteristics, physiology, habits, behavior, evolution, history, myth, and psyche of one of the world's most successful animals, in a study that explores the reasons why the ever-adaptable rat has risen to the top of the animal kingdom.
By Michael Welland.
"From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years in the past to the future, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest, most powerful, and most ubiquitous materials"--Jacket.
By Tilar J. Mazzeo.
"From Tilar Mazzeo, the author of the bestselling The Widow Clicquot, a captivating new book that shares her journey to discover the secret behind the creation, iconic status, and extraordinary success of Chanel No. 5, the world's most famous perfume"--Provided by publisher.
By Robb Walsh.
Award-winning Texas food writer Walsh offers a gastronomic adventure story in this fascinating collection that highlights the most exciting, instructive, poignant, and just plain weird experiences during his five-year journey into the culture of one of the world's oldest delicacies.
By Jack Turner.
"Spice: The History of a Temptation is a history of the spice trade told not in the conventional narrative of politics and economics, nor of conquest and colonization, but through the intimate human impulses that inspired and drove it. Here is an exploration of the centuries-old desire for spice in food, in medicine, in magic, in religion, and in sex - and of the allure of forbidden fruit lingering in the scents of cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and clove." "We follow spices back through time, through history, myth, archaeology, and literature. We see spices in all their diversity, lauded as love potions and aphrodisiacs, as panaceas and defenses against the plague. We journey from religious rituals in which spices were employed to dispel demons and summon gods to prodigies of gluttony both fantastical and real. We see spices as a luxury for a medieval king's ostentation, as a mummy's deodorant, as the last word in haute cuisine." "Through examining the temptations of spice we follow in the trails of the spice seekers leading from the deserts of ancient Syria to thrill-seekers on the Internet. We discover how spice became one of the first and most enduring links between Asia and Europe. We see in the pepper we use so casually the relic of a tradition linking us to the appetites of Rome, Elizabethan England, and the pharaohs. And we capture the pleasure of spice not only at the table but in every part of life."--BOOK JACKET.
By Sheril Kirshenbaum.
From a noted biologist and science journalist comes a wonderfully witty and fascinating exploration of how and why we kiss.
By Hanne Blank.
Presents a history of heterosexuality, explores the contemporary psyche of sexual orientation, and shows how culture creates and manipulates thoughts and experiences of desire, love, and relationships.
By Kate Hopkins.
"Sweet Tooth is a book with a real edge, a balanced firsthand account of [the author's] obsession with candy and a detailed look at its history and development. The sugary treats we enjoy today have a prominent past: They've delighted kings, cured the ill, and were developed into a billion-dollar industry. At the same time, however, the bitter side of this chronicle tells how the confectionery industry helped create an environment of unhealthy overindulgence, quelled small-business competition deemed to pose risks to any corporation's bottom line, and was indeed largely responsible for the slave trade that evolved during America's colonial era."--Book jacket.
By John Emsley.
It was discovered by alchemists, prescribed by apothecaries, exploited by the industrialists of the nineteenth century, and abused by the combatants of the twentieth century. It can be found in many things that have improved our everyday life, from toothpaste to detergents to food additives. For more than 300 years, phosphorus--one of nature's deadliest creations--has continued to fascinate us with the many surprising roles it has played in human history. From murders-by-phosphorus where the bodies glowed green to the match-factory strike that helped end child labor in England, to the irony of the World War II firebombing of Hamburg, to even deadlier compounds derived from phosphorus today, this book weaves together a rich tableau of brilliant and oddball characters, social upheavals, and curious, bizarre, and horrific events that comprise the surprising 300-year history of nature's most nefarious element.--From publisher description.
By Tom Vanderbilt.
Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe, Traffic gets under the hood of the everyday activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological, and technical factors that explain how traffic works, why we drive the way we do, and what our driving says about us. Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He shows how roundabouts, which can feel dangerous and chaotic, actually make roads safer--and reduce traffic in the bargain. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots.--From publisher description.
By Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe.
it was used as a medicine, and find that the Spanish learned of chocolate through the Maya, not the Aztecs. From Maya hieroglyphs to kingdom of the Hershey Bar, this is a fascinating history, beautifully told, and enhanced with quotations, illustrations and old recipes - a book for chocolate-lovers everywhere.
By Richard Ellis.
The author of The Book of Sharks, Imagining Atlantis, and Encyclopedia of the Sea turns his gaze to the tuna--one of the biggest, fastest, and most highly evolved marine animals and the source of some of the world's most popular delicacies--now hovering on the brink of extinction. In recent years, the tuna's place on our palates has come under scrutiny, as we grow increasingly aware of our own health and the health of our planet. Here, Ellis explains how a fish that was once able to thrive has become a commodity, in a book that shows how the natural world and the global economy converge on our plates.--From publisher description.
By Tom Zoellner.
Uranium is a common element in the earth's crust, and the only naturally occurring mineral with the power to end all life on the planet. After World War II, it reshaped the global order. Marie Curie gave us hope that uranium would be a miracle panacea, but the Manhattan Project gave us reason to believe that civilization would end with apocalypse. Slave labor camps in Africa and Eastern Europe were built around mine shafts, and America would knowingly send more than 600 uranium miners to their graves in the name of national security. Fortunes have been made from this yellow dirt; massive energy grids have been run from it. Fear of it panicked the American people into supporting a questionable war with Iraq and its specter threatens to create another conflict in Iran. Now, some are hoping it can help avoid a global warming catastrophe.--From publisher description.
By Steven Solomon.
"A narrative account of how water has shaped human society from the ancient past to the present"--Provided by publisher.
By Aaron Bobrow-Strain.
White Bread is both an epic, often funny history of the industrial loaf and a wise commentary on today's polarized food politics.