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Category Archives: Non Fiction

Vanished Kingdoms – Norman Davies

My final non-fiction read of 2016 was another large book that has been on my list for quite some time. Norman Davies Vanished Kingdoms is a weighty tome that purports to investigate the rise and fall of states. In my opinion, Davies falls short of this stated objective, but the book as a whole is […]

The Better Angels of Our Nature – Steven Pinker

We are surrounded by signs of the depravity of our ancestors’ way of life, but we are barely aware of them. Whatever causes violence, it is not a perennial urge like hunger, sex, or the need to sleep The Better Angels of Our Nature has been on my reading list basically since it came out, […]

Cheese and Culture – Paul Kindstedt

A cheese scientist at the University of Vermont by trade, Kindstedt’s Cheese and Culture traces the history of cheese and its role in Western Civilization. I grimaced at “Western Civilization” in the subtitle, but was reconciled to it because, as Kindstedt argues, cheese as it is currently known is a largely western phenomenon because lactase […]

Brunch: A History – Farha Ternikar

You don’t eat brunch. You do brunch. I took a break from reading War and Peace to breeze through Ternikar’s slim history of Brunch from its origins in Great Britain in the late 1800s to its global phenomenon. Although it began in Great Britain, Ternikar shows that Brunch took root in the United States. One […]

The Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan

Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads is an ambitious project, to offer a new global history that offers The Silk Road (the lines of communication and transit between China and Europe) as the spine of the world, not just in the premodern era, but also going forward. He is largely successful in this dizzying, weighty tome. […]

The Struggle for Sea Power, Sam Willis

I have said in the past that if I was not studying ancient Greece there is a short list of other subjects that I would study. One of those is 18th and 19th century naval history. I have a print of a watercolor rendition of the USS Constitution on my wall and used to eat […]