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A revealing history of U.S.-China relations(0)

February 21, 2017

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present, by John Pomfret @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Some Americans seem to have the impression that the U.S. relationship with China began in 1972 when Richard Nixon flew to Beijing. In The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom, journalist and long-time… Read More ›

New perspectives on world history

Less than three decades ago an American historian¬† named David Christian who was teaching at an Australian university at the time launched a new approach to world history. His unique take on the subject took the discipline far beyond the limits of the written word. Calling it Big History, Christian started his new course at… Read More ›

The origins of the American empire

The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire, by Stephen Kinzer @@@@@ (5 out of 5) In The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of the American Empire, award-winning journalist and author Stephen Kinzer recalls the four-year period 1898-1902, when the United States made its debut… Read More ›

Why is economic development so uneven around the world?

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Two decades ago a UCLA geography professor named Jared Diamond published Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Diamond hypothesized that the arc of human history was dramatically shifted by geographic, environmental, biological, and other factors,… Read More ›

The true story of a lost city in Central America

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story, by Douglas Preston @@@@ (4 out of 5) In 2015, an expedition led by an American filmmaker ventured deep into the Honduran rain forest in search of a fabled ancient city known variously as The White City and The Lost City of the Monkey God…. Read More ›

A true story of high finance and murder in Putin’s Russia

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice, by Bill Browder @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Even if you follow international news only casually, you’re likely to be aware that Putin’s Russia is a kleptocracy. The country is effectively governed by fewer than two dozen oligarchs. Some, including… Read More ›

Microbes, good and bad

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, by Ed Yong @@@@ (4 out of 5) If you’re a physician, a nutritionist, or have studied biology, you’re probably aware that our bodies contain an immense number of microbes. Most of the rest of us find that surprising. Though I knew… Read More ›

Indian history portrayed through biography

Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives, by Sunil Khilnani @@@@ (4 out of 5) Picture a stretch of territory of nearly 1.9 million square miles, housing 1.7 billion people. These people speak 26 major languages and more than 1,500 lesser languages and dialects. How can such a place be a single nation? In… Read More ›

The science of decision-making

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis @@@@ (4 out of 5) Funny thing. Michael Lewis’ newest book, The Undoing Project, tells the story of two surpassingly brilliant Israeli psychologists whose work earned a Nobel prize in economics and, according to the subtitle, “Changed Our Minds.” As always, Lewis writes… Read More ›

An intimate take on German history

The House by the Lake: One House, Five Families, and a Hundred Years of German History, by Thomas Harding @@@@ (4 out of 5) There are several ways to approach history. You can focus on the broad political and social trends in society at large and how they evolve over time. You can look into… Read More ›