A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's fascinating and humorous quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. He takes subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry, and particle physics, and aims to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. In the company of some extraordinary scientists, Bill Bryson reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
"A short Review of Nearly Everything"
From the earliest civilizations to the 21st century: a global journey through human history, published alongside a landmark BBC One television series. Our understanding of world history is changing, as new discoveries are made on all the continents and old prejudices are being challenged. In this truly global journey, Andrew Marr revisits some of the traditional epic stories, from classical Greece and Rome to the rise of Napoleon, but surrounds them with less familiar material, from Peru to the Ukraine, China to the Caribbean.
"Awsome, educational and epic work"
January 1991: IRAQ. Eight members of the SAS regiment embark upon a top-secret mission to infiltrate deep behind enemy lines. Under the command of Sergeant Andy McNab, they are to sever a vital underground communication link and to seek and destroy mobile Scud launchers. Their call sign: BRAVO TWO ZERO. Each laden with 15 stones of equipment, they tab 20km across the desert to reach their objective. But within days, their location is compromised. After a fierce fire fight, they are forced into evasive action. Four men are captured. Three die. Only one escapes.
"Even Better Than The Book"
"A wonderful idea, gloriously put into practice. Greg Jenner as is witty as he is knowledgeable." (Tom Holland) Who invented beds? When did we start cleaning our teeth? How old are wine and beer? Which came first: the toilet seat or toilet paper? What was the first clock? Every day, from the moment our alarm clocks wake us in the morning until our heads hit our pillows at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old.
"Detailed, but could be more thorough"
In 1876, Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Her father Maharajah Duleep Singh was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, one of the greatest empires of the Indian subcontinent, a realm that stretched from the lush Kashmir Valley to the craggy foothills of the Khyber Pass and included the mighty cities of Lahore and Peshawar. It was a territory irresistible to the British, who plundered everything, including the fabled Koh-I-Noor diamond.
If in the year 1411 you had been able to circumnavigate the globe, you would have been most impressed by the dazzling civilizations of the Orient. The Forbidden City was under construction in Ming Beijing; in the Near East, the Ottomans were closing in on Constantinople. By contrast, England would have struck you as a miserable backwater ravaged by plague, bad sanitation and incessant war. The other quarrelsome kingdoms of Western Europe - Aragon, Castile, France, Portugal and Scotland - would have seemed little better.
"Very entertaining, interesting and informative"
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.
"An excellent work slightly spoilt"
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.
"Amazing! Wonderful! Couldn't get enough!"
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 and informative"
This Pulitzer Prize-winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Told from the Japanese perspective, The Rising Sun is, in the author's words, "a factual saga of people caught up in the flood of the most overwhelming war of mankind, told as it happened - muddled, ennobling, disgraceful, frustrating, full of paradox."
"The stupidity of war"
A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. His challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It's not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know.
"I love it"
Churchill's history of the Second World War is, and will remain, the definitive work. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction.
"Extremely good listening"
Once in a generation, a historian will redefine his field, producing a book that demands to be read or heard - a product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill. Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity is such a book. Breathtaking in ambition, it ranges back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and covers the world, following the three main strands of the Christian faith.
"Great content - disappointing narration"
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.
"A Distant Mirror"
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.
"Succint and ambitious"
History for busy people. Listen to a succinct history of World War Two in just one hour.World War Two was one of the most devastating conflicts the world has ever seen. Between 1939 and 1945 almost every country in the world was affected by the war in some way.World War Two: History in an Hour neatly covers all the major facts and events giving you a clear and straightforward overview of the politics involved, the violence that ensued and how it changed the world in unimaginable ways.
"A starting point"
Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. It lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. Its Great Pyramid of Cheops was the tallest building in the world until well into the 19th century and remains the only Ancient Wonder still standing. And it was the most technologically advanced of the ancient civilizations, with the medical knowledge that made Egyptian physicians the most famous in the world.
"fascinating, and a joy to listen to"
Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods is a work of monumental importance---the first book to introduce the shocking theory that ancient Earth was visited by aliens. This world-famous best seller has withstood the test of time, inspiring countless books and films, including the author's own popular sequel, The Eye of the Sphinx.
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.
"Interesting political narative"
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.
For many, the medieval world seems dark and foreign - a miraculous, brutal, and irrational time of superstition and strange relics. The pursuit of heretics, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the domination of the "Holy Land" come to mind.
Starting in early 1915, the Ottoman Turks began deporting and killing hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the first major genocide of the 20th century. By the end of the First World War, the number of Armenians in what would become Turkey had been reduced by 90 percent - more than 1,000,000 people. A century later, the Armenian genocide remains controversial but relatively unknown, overshadowed by later slaughters and the chasm separating Turkish and Armenian versions of events.
Revolutions come in waves and cycles. We are again riding the crest of a revolutionary epic, much like 1848 or 1917, from the Arab Spring to movements against austerity in Greece to the Occupy movement. In Wages of Rebellion, Chris Hedges - who has chronicled the malaise and sickness of a society in terminal moral decline in his books Empire of Illusion and Death of the Liberal Class - investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion, and resistance.
Kristie Macrakis combines a storyteller's sense of drama with a historian's respect for evidence in this pause-resisting history of intrigue and espionage, love and war, magic and secrecy. From the piazzas of ancient Rome to the spy capitals of the Cold War, Macrakis' global history reveals the drama and importance of invisible ink. From Ovid's advice to use milk for illicit love notes, to al-Qaeda's hidden instructions in pornographic movies, this book presents stories of secret messaging that chart its evolution in sophistication and its impact on history.
The youngest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World also turned out to be the most practical and one of the longest lived, surviving into the late Middle Ages. It was a lighthouse built on the northern coast of Egypt, in Africa, at the Greek city founded in Alexander's name. It was the Pharos, the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria. Among antiquity's wonders, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was fairly unique in terms of both its purpose and its secular nature.
While Nebuchadnezzar's name lives on mostly due to the Bible and the Hanging Gardens, behind it all was a man documented by the Babylonians and his contemporaries as a competent and successful king.
The Mayans maintained power in the Yucatan for over 1,000 years, and at the height of its Classical era, the city of Tikal was one of the power centers of the empire. Archaeologists believe Tikal had been built as early as the fifth or fourth century BC. Eventually it became a political, economic, and military capital that was an important part of a far-flung network across Mesoamerica.
In the course of 15 momentous years, the Spanish- and the Portuguese-American empires that had endured for three centuries came to an end in the mid-1820s. How did this come about? Not all Latin Americans desired such a change, and the independence wars were civil wars, often cruel and always violent. What social and economic groups lined up on one side or the other? Were there variations from place to place, region to region? Did men and women differ in their experiences of war?
While much has been written of the Battle of the Bulge, Okinawa, Midway, Stalingrad, and many other conflicts of the Second World War, the Battle for Berlin has remained in the shadows for many historians. Its importance in toppling Hitler cannot be denied, despite the fact that some thought its strategic value unnecessary to the war itself. The capture of the city and the red Soviet banner hanging victorious over the Reichstag is one of history's most famous (and ominous) images. The battle's implications would be felt for the next 50 years.
Thriving between AD 100-750, Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, with a population estimated at upwards of 150,000-250,000, over three times the size of contemporary Mayan capitals. Furthermore, Teotihuacan was a supremely well-planned and efficient city that was able to field massive armies and extend its power far beyond its home base. Teotihuacan not only served as a vital center for trade in Ancient Mesoamerica, but also spread its architecture, art, religion, and culture.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, or Mahatma Gandhi as he is more popularly known, is widely considered the father of India, the preeminent leader of the Indian struggle against British imperialism, and one of the most influential minds of the 20th century, Gandhi emerged to become one of the greatest advocates of peace and nonviolent resistance that the world has known. Gandhi became one of those rare leaders who preached through his own practices, motivating millions of people to follow his principles of freedom and peace.
After the last major pitched battle of the Overland Campaign was fought at Cold Harbor in early June, Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Potomac had suffered more casualties during the campaign than Robert E. Lee had in his entire Army of Northern Virginia at the start of May. Understandably, the American public was shocked by the carnage, and to this day Grant has been accused of being a butcher, but attrition had become a vital war aim for the North, and Grant remained undeterred.
Red: A History of the Redhead is the first audiobook to chronicle red hair and redheadedness from prehistory to present day. As both intrepid cultural detective and compelling storyteller, Jacky Colliss Harvey weaves a fascinating history beginning with the moment the redheaded gene made its way out of Africa with the early human diaspora.
Uranium is best known for the destructive power of the atom bombs, which ushered in the nuclear era at the end of World War II, but given the effectiveness of nuclear power, nuclear power plants were constructed around the developed world during the second half of the 20th century. While nuclear power plants were previously not an option and thus opened the door to new, more efficient, and more affordable forms of energy for domestic consumption, the use of nuclear energy understandably unnerved people living during the Cold War and amid ongoing nuclear detonations.
When the atomic bombs were used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, they ushered in a new era of power so destructive that nuclear weapons have not been used in any combat since then. The pictures of the devastated cities demonstrated the sheer strength of such weapons, and the impact was alarming enough to lead to efforts not only to control the proliferation of such weapons but to denuclearize altogether.
Odysseus is, without question, one of the most fascinating figures in classical mythology. Indeed, despite being an ancillary character in The Iliad, he was so beloved by ancient audiences that he warranted his own spin-off, The Odyssey. He was endemic throughout Greek thought and art. Unlike other notable figures of classical antiquity who were forgotten, Odysseus' fame endured through the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
Uranium is best known for the destructive power of the atom bombs, which ushered in the nuclear era at the end of World War II, but given the effectiveness of nuclear power, plants like those at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania were constructed to generate energy for Americans during the second half of the 20th century. While nuclear power plants were previously not an option and thus opened the door to new, more efficient, and more affordable forms of energy for domestic consumption, the use of nuclear energy understandably unnerved people.
Mexico City is not a new place. Mexico City instead has much in common with cities like London, Delhi or Cairo in the East in that it is an ancient city dating back centuries before the arrival of Colombus in Hispañola. For, while much (including the name) has changed, Mexico City is the mighty Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire and the great American metropolis of the Spanish Empire. There has been no break in occupation, and despite much devastation, the city was never fully destroyed.
Marco Polo (1254-1324) is an instantly recognizable name, and he is known for his travels, but it's safe to say that his influence and importance has been greatly overlooked in the nearly 700 years since he died. Born in Venice, Marco Polo was in a fortuitous position to participate in trade. He followed in the footsteps of his own family, setting off for Asia with his well-traveled father and uncle. They would not return to Venice for 24 years. When they came back, they had allegedly traveled about 15,000 miles.
Charles E. Lauriat, Jr., was an American who survived the sinking of the great ship. This is his eyewitness account of that disaster that helped bring America into WWI, narrated by award-winning audiobook narrator Mike Vendetti.
From primitive man's cowrie shells to the electronic cash card, from the markets of Timbuktu to the New York Stock Exchange, The History of Money explores how money and the myriad forms of exchange have affected humanity, and how they will continue to shape all aspects of our lives--economic, political, and personal.
"Money over the history of humanity"
I hate every wave of the ocean', the seasick Charles Darwin wrote to his family during his five-year voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle. It was this world-wide journey, however, that launched the scientists career.
"You'll never get bored!"
From William Dalrymple-award-winning historian, journalist and travel writer-a masterly retelling of what was perhaps the West's greatest imperial disaster in the East, and an important parable of neocolonial ambition, folly and hubris that has striking relevance to our own time.
"Feeble story, poorly read."
Here is a gripping account of the major postwar trial of the Nazi hierarchy in World War II. The Nuremberg Trial brilliantly recreates the trial proceedings and offers a reasoned, often profound examination of the processes that created international law. From the whimpering of Kaltenbrunner and Ribbentrop on the stand to the icy coolness of Goering, each participant is vividly drawn.
"Old but Unbowed"
Western interpretations of the Cold War--both realist and neoconservative--have erred by exaggerating either the Kremlin's pragmatism or its aggressiveness, argues Vladislav Zubok. Explaining the interests, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites, Zubok offers a Soviet perspective on the greatest standoff of the 20th century.
"Soviet Cold War History in an understandable form."
A brilliant investigative marrative: How six average Soviet men rose to the pinnacle of Russia's battered economy. David Hoffman, former Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post, sheds light onto the hidden lives of Russia's most feared power brokers: the oligarchs. Focusing on six of these ruthless men Hoffman reveals how a few players managed to take over Russia's cash-strapped economy and then divvy it up in loans-for-shares deals.
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."
From a leading expert in Japanese history, this is one of the first full histories of the art and culture of the Samurai warrior. The Samurai emerged as a warrior caste in Medieval Japan and would have a powerful influence on the history and culture of the country from the next 500 years. Clements also looks at the Samurai wars that tore Japan apart in the 17th and 18th centuries and how the caste was finally demolished in the advent of the mechanized world.
"Title is a Misnomer"
Andrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state.
"A level headed analysis of a complex topic"
One of the best selling History titles of 2009. Examining the Second World War on every front, Andrew Roberts asks whether, with a different decision-making process and a different strategy, Hitler's Axis might even have won. Were those German generals who blamed everything on Hitler after the war correct, or were they merely scapegoating their former Führer once he was safely beyond defending himself?
"An Outstanding Piece of Work"
With an introduction read by Max Hastings. A companion volume to his best-selling 'Armageddon', Max Hastings' account of the battle for Japan is a masterful military history. Featuring the most remarkable cast of commanders the world has ever seen, the dramatic battle for Japan of 1944-45 was acted out across the vast stage of Asia: Imphal and Kohima, Leyte Gulf and Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Soviet assault on Manchuria.
"Brilliant as usual"
Preeminent military historian Max Hastings presents Winston Churchill as he has never been seen before. Winston Churchill was the greatest war leader Britain ever had. In 1940, the nation rallied behind him in an extraordinary fashion. But thereafter, argues Max Hastings, there was a deep divide between what Churchill wanted from the British people and their army, and what they were capable of delivering.
"Superbly written and delivered"
The conflict between Palestine and Israel is one of the most highly publicized and bitter struggles in history. In this accessible and stimulating Very Short Introduction, Martin Bunton clearly explains the history of the problem, reducing it to its very essence - a modern territorial contest between two nations and one geographical territory. Adopting a fresh and original approach, each section covers a twenty-year span, to highlight the historical complexity of the conflict throughout successive decades.
Ancient China collides with newfangled America in this epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships. Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin now traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China.