Book cover of American Exceptionalism: A New History of an Old Idea by Ian Tyrrell
History

American Exceptionalism: A New History of an Old Idea

A powerful dissection of a core American myth.

The idea that the United States is unlike every other country in world history is a surprisingly resilient one. Throughout his distinguished career, Ian Tyrrell has been one of the most influential historians of the idea of American exceptionalism, but he has never written a book focused solely on it until now. […Learn More]

Book cover of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution by Lee Alan Dugatkin
Biological Sciences

How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution

Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs—they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken—imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time in order to witness the process of domestication. […Learn More]

Book cover of Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of "Moby-Dick" by Richard J. King
Biological Sciences

Ahab’s Rolling Sea: A Natural History of “Moby-Dick”

Although Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is beloved as one of the most profound and enduring works of American fiction, we rarely consider it a work of nature writing—or even a novel of the sea. Yet Pulitzer Prize–winning author Annie Dillard avers Moby-Dick is the “best book ever written about nature,” and nearly the entirety of the story is set on the waves, with scarcely a whiff of land. In fact, Ishmael’s sea yarn is in conversation with the nature writing of Emerson and Thoreau, and Melville himself did much more than live for a year in a cabin beside a pond. He set sail: to the far remote Pacific Ocean, spending more than three years at sea before writing his masterpiece in 1851.
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Book cover of The Great Paleolithic War: How Science Forged an Understanding of America's Ice Age Past by David J. Meltzer
Americas

The Great Paleolithic War: How Science Forged an Understanding of America’s Ice Age Past

Following the discovery in Europe in the late 1850s that humanity had roots predating known history and reaching deep into the Pleistocene era, scientists wondered whether North American prehistory might be just as ancient. And why not? The geological strata seemed exactly analogous between America and Europe, which would lead one to believe that North American humanity ought to be as old as the European variety. […Learn More]

Book cover of What's Eating the Universe?: And Other Cosmic Questions by Paul Davies
Astronomy & Space Science

What’s Eating the Universe?: And Other Cosmic Questions

Combining the latest scientific advances with storytelling skills unmatched in the cosmos, an award-winning astrophysicist and popular writer leads us on a tour of some of the greatest mysteries of our universe.
 
In the constellation of Eridanus, there lurks a cosmic mystery: It’s as if something has taken a huge bite out of the universe. But what is the culprit? The hole in the universe is just one of many puzzles keeping cosmologists busy. […Learn More]

Book cover of Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire by Sujit Sivasundaram
Asia

Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire

This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. It is also a retelling of indigenous creativity, agency, and resistance in the face of unprecedented globalization and violence. Waves Across the South shifts the narrative of the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire; it foregrounds a vast southern zone that ranges from the Arabian Sea and southwest Indian Ocean across to the Bay of Bengal, and onward to the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea. As the empires of the Dutch, French, and especially the British reached across these regions, they faced a surge of revolutionary sentiment. […Learn More]

Africa

A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution

By the time the “Scramble for Africa” among European colonial powers began in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for centuries. Its gold had fueled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world for nearly a millennium, and the sophisticated kingdoms spanning its west coast had traded with Europeans since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies–most importantly, cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and nzimbu shells imported from Brazil. […Learn More]