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YA Book Club POSTPONED! Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this Saturday's YA book club meeting. We will reschedule and post it here and on our social media as soon as we can. 

General History

CLUB

CLUB

$20.00
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The story of the group of extraordinary eighteenth-century writers, artists, and thinkers who gathered weekly at a London tavern

Named one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review - A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019 - A Kirkus Best Book of 2019

"Damrosch brings the Club's redoubtable personalities--the brilliant minds, the jousting wits, the tender camaraderie--to vivid life."--New York Times Book Review

"Magnificently entertaining."--Washington Post

In 1763, the painter Joshua Reynolds proposed to his friend Samuel Johnson that they invite a few friends to join them every Friday at the Turk's Head Tavern in London to dine, drink, and talk until midnight. Eventually the group came to include among its members Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, and James Boswell. It was known simply as "the Club."

In this captivating book, Leo Damrosch brings alive a brilliant, competitive, and eccentric cast of characters. With the friendship of the "odd couple" Samuel Johnson and James Boswell at the heart of his narrative, Damrosch conjures up the precarious, exciting, and often brutal world of late eighteenth-century Britain. This is the story of an extraordinary group of people whose ideas helped to shape their age, and our own.

Clutter: An Untidy History

Clutter: An Untidy History

$26.00
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A keen assessment of one of society's secret shames and its little-understood consequences.--Kirkus Reviews

"I'm sitting on the floor in my mother's house, surrounded by stuff." So begins Jennifer Howard's Clutter, an expansive assessment of our relationship to the things that share and shape our lives. Inspired by the painful process of cleaning out her mother's house, Howard sets her own personal struggle with clutter against a meticulously researched history of just how the developed world came to drown in material goods. With sharp prose and an eye for telling detail, she connects the dots between the Industrial Revolution, the Sears & Roebuck catalog, and the Container Store, and shines unsparing light on clutter's darker connections to environmental devastation and hoarding disorder. In an age when Amazon can deliver anything at the click of a mouse and decluttering guru Marie Kondo can become a reality TV star, Howard's bracing analysis has never been more timely.

Slim and compelling, Clutter is a book for anyone struggling to understand why they have so much stuff--and what do do about it.

COLLAPSE

COLLAPSE

$22.00
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In Jared Diamond's follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel, the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization. Diamond is also the author of Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis


Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Collapse moves from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society's apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana.

Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?

CR?FT: AN INQUIRY INTO THE ORI

CR?FT: AN INQUIRY INTO THE ORI

$16.95
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Faced with an endless supply of mass-manufactured products, we find ourselves nostalgic for goods bearing the mark of authenticity--hand-made tools, local brews, and other objects produced by human hands. Archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands reaches as far back as the Neolithic period to recover our lost sense of craft, combining deep history with detailed scientific analyses and his own experiences making traditional crafts. Craft brims with vivid storytelling, rich descriptions of natural landscape, and delightful surprises that will convince us to introduce more craft into our lives.

DICTATORS HANDBK

DICTATORS HANDBK

$17.99
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A groundbreaking new theory of the real rules of politics: leaders do whatever keeps them in power, regardless of the national interest.
As featured on the viral video Rules for Rulers, which has been viewed over 3 million times.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith's canonical book on political science turned conventional wisdom on its head. They started from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don't care about the national interest-or even their subjects-unless they have to.
This clever and accessible book shows that democracy is essentially just a convenient fiction. Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them. The picture the authors paint is not pretty. But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.
DISTANT MIRROR

DISTANT MIRROR

$20.00
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"Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . A great book, in a great historical tradition." Commentary
The 14th century gives us back two contradictory images: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a dark time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world plunged into a chaos of war, fear and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing both the great rhythms of history and the grain and texture of domestic life as it was lived.
Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

$30.00
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All disasters are in some sense man-made.

Setting the annus horribilis of 2020 in historical perspective, Niall Ferguson explains why we are getting worse, not better, at handling disasters.

Disasters are inherently hard to predict. Pandemics, like earthquakes, wildfires, financial crises. and wars, are not normally distributed; there is no cycle of history to help us anticipate the next catastrophe. But when disaster strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted, or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all.

Yet in 2020 the responses of many developed countries, including the United States, to a new virus from China were badly bungled. Why? Why did only a few Asian countries learn the right lessons from SARS and MERS? While populist leaders certainly performed poorly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work--pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters.

In books going back nearly twenty years, including Colossus, The Great Degeneration, and The Square and the Tower, Ferguson has studied the foibles of modern America, from imperial hubris to bureaucratic sclerosis and online fragmentation.

Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics, cliodynamics, and network science, Doom offers not just a history but a general theory of disasters, showing why our ever more bureaucratic and complex systems are getting worse at handling them.

Doom is the lesson of history that this country--indeed the West as a whole--urgently needs to learn, if we want to handle the next crisis better, and to avoid the ultimate doom of irreversible decline.

DYING COLONIALISM

DYING COLONIALISM

$16.00
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Frantz Fanon's seminal work on anticolonialism and the fifth year of the Algerian Revolution.

Psychiatrist, humanist, revolutionary, Frantz Fanon was one of the great political analysts of our time, the author of such seminal works of modern revolutionary theory as The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks. He has had a profound impact on civil rights, anticolonialism, and black consciousness movements around the world.

A Dying Colonialism is Fanon's incisive and illuminating account of how, during the Algerian Revolution, the people of Algeria changed centuries-old cultural patterns and embraced certain ancient cultural practices long derided by their colonialist oppressors as primitive, in order to destroy those oppressors. Fanon uses the fifth year of the Algerian Revolution as a point of departure for an explication of the inevitable dynamics of colonial oppression. This is a strong, lucid, and militant book; to read it is to understand why Fanon says that for the colonized, having a gun is the only chance you still have of giving a meaning to your death.

Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World

Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World

$17.99
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From Neanderthal string to 3D knitting, an "expansive" global history that highlights "how textiles truly changed the world" (Wall Street Journal)

The story of humanity is the story of textiles--as old as civilization itself. Since the first thread was spun, the need for textiles has driven technology, business, politics, and culture.

In The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel synthesizes groundbreaking research from archaeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. From Minoans exporting wool colored with precious purple dye to Egypt, to Romans arrayed in costly Chinese silk, the cloth trade paved the crossroads of the ancient world. Textiles funded the Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; they gave us banks and bookkeeping, Michelangelo's David and the Taj Mahal. The cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code.

Assiduously researched and deftly narrated, The Fabric of Civilization tells the story of the world's most influential commodity.

"We are taken on a journey as epic, and varying, as the Silk Road itself.... [The Fabric of Civilization is] like a swatch of a Florentine Renaissance brocade: carefully woven, the technique precise, the colors a mix of shade and shine and an accurate representation of the whole cloth."

--New York Times

"Textile-making hasn't gotten enough credit for its own sophistication, and for all the ways it undergirds human technological innovation--an error Virginia Postrel's erudite and complete book goes a long way toward correcting at last."

--Wired

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

$26.95
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In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy's southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers--slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers--who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.

Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate.