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At first sight this looks like another of those increasingly common commodity books, some of which are intended to be global in scope, and which include studies of chocolate, sugar, cod, salt and many others (digestible or not!). As Riello points out, commodities are a good way to tell a global story since many of them have been traded throughout the world for centuries.
In his new book Steven Pinker, psychologist at Harvard University, sets out to fundamentally alter our understanding of the trajectory of violence from pre-historic times to the present. He takes issue with the widely held perception that the most recent past, the 20th century, was an age of large-scale bloodshed and genocidal slaughter.
Intelligence is a peculiar idea. Most human beings have some sense of the meaning of the word, yet they are all too often left with insipid definitions when they assign meaning to it. Some definers have been reduced to acknowledging that intelligence is what the intelligence tester is testing. Others have claimed that intelligence is merely the absence of lack-of-intelligence.
David Wootton discloses to the reader on page 182 that his aim is to provide an intellectual biography of Galileo Galilei. But this book does not. Wootton's aim is rather to re-enter, re-open or even unhinge the structures of all arguments about the so-called Galileo affair that have been written until now.
The concept of contagion is entangled with so many themes in the history of medicine that any on-line collection on the subject can hardly fail to generate interest among the scholarly community. Harvard University’s Contagion: Historical Views of Disease and Epidemics does not disappoint.
I received the invitation to review this book during the same week – 16-20 November 2009 – that over 1,000 emails to and from climate scientists in the Climatic Research Unit at my university found their way into the public domain.
In spite of the time period implied in her subtitle, Ann Thomson’s book covers debates about the materiality of the soul from 1650 to the early 19th century. She deals with a vast range of thinkers – primarily in England and France, but also in the Netherlands.
Chandra Mukerji offers us an important book on the design and construction of the Canal du Midi, called Canal royal du Languedoc during the French Ancient Regime. This outstanding canal was constructed during the Louis XIV reign, in parallel to Versailles, at the time was both the largest civil engineering work and the biggest canal ever built in the Western world.
The intellectual historian Martin Jay once championed the cause of ‘ocular-eccentricity’ as an alternative mode of visual engagement.(1) The term, of course, was a play on ‘ocularcentricity’, the concept that the rational power of the eye had come to dominate the nature and scope of our interactions.
In Thomas Cannon’s 1749 pamphlet Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d, the author recounts a chance meeting with a ‘too polish’d Pederast’ who, ‘attack’d upon the Head, that his Desire was unnatural, thus wrestled in Argument; Unnatural Desire is a Contradiction in Terms; downright Nonsense.