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
ISBN: 9780393081923
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2011

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.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393064476
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 26th, 2011

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393343403
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 4th, 2012

In the past twenty years, since he won the Pulitzer for The Prize, his encyclopedic history of the discovery of oil and the ensuing battles for control over the world’s supply, Daniel Yergin, our neighbor, has become the global media’s go-to expert on all matters about oil, energy, and geopolitics. The media loves him not only because he is so smart, but because he has the rare ability to communicate his knowledge clearly. The exploding growth in energy demand and the growing awareness of the ominous effects of energy use on Earth’s climate are the two major global issues that require national leaders to come to consensus, and Yergin clearly lays out what and where the options are. The New York Times book critic Dwight Garner says Yergin’s new The Quest (Penguin Press, $37.95) should be required reading for “C.E.O.s, conservationists, lawmakers, generals, spies, tech geeks, and thriller writers,” and that means a lot of people in Washington.

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143121947
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - September 26th, 2012