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The author of The Professor and the Madman and The Perfectionists explores the notion of property—our proprietary relationship with the land—through human history, how it has shaped us and what it will mean for our future. Land—whether meadow or mountainside, desert or peat bog, parkland or pasture, suburb or city—is central to our existence. It quite literally underlies and underpins everything. Employing the keen intellect, insatiable curiosity, and narrative verve that are the foundations of his previous bestselling works, Simon Winchester examines what we human beings are doing—and have done—with the billions of acres that together make up the solid surface of our planet. Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World examines in depth how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we can, and on occasion do, come to share it. Ultimately, Winchester confronts the essential question: who actually owns the world’s land—and why does it matter?
"In many ways, Land combines bits and pieces of many of Winchester's previous books into a satisfying, globe-trotting whole. . . . Winchester is, once again, a consummate guide."--Boston Globe The author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and The Perfectionists explores the notion of property--bought, earned, or received; in Europe, Africa, North America, or the South Pacific--through human history, how it has shaped us and what it will mean for our future. Land--whether meadow or mountainside, desert or peat bog, parkland or pasture, suburb or city--is central to our existence. It quite literally underlies and underpins everything. Employing the keen intellect, insatiable curiosity, and narrative verve that are the foundations of his previous bestselling works, Simon Winchester examines what we human beings are doing--and have done--with the billions of acres that together make up the solid surface of our planet. Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World examines in depth how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we can, and on occasion do, come to share it. Ultimately, Winchester confronts the essential question: who actually owns the world's land--and why does it matter?
Book Land: the Ownership of Everywhere Description/Summary:
From the bestselling author Simon Winchester, a human history of land around the world: who mapped it, owned it, stole it, cared for it, fought for it and gave it back. In 1889, thousands of hopeful people raced southward from the Kansas state line and westward from the Arkansas boundary to stake claims on the thousands of acres of unclaimed pastures and meadows. Across the twentieth century, water was dammed and drained in Holland so that a new province, Flevoland, rose up, unchartered and requiring new thinking. In 1850, California legislated the theft of land from Native Americans. An apology came in 2019 from the governor, but what of the call for reparations or return? What of government confiscation of land in India, or questions of fairness when it comes to New Zealand's Maori population and the legacy of settlers? The ownership of land has always been complicated, opaque, and more than a little anarchic when viewed from the outside. In this book, Simon Winchester explores the the stewardship of land, the ways it is delineated and changes hands, the great disputes, and the questions of restoration - particularly in the light of climate change and colonialist reparation. A global study, this is an exquisite exploration of what the ownership of land might really mean - not in dry-as-dust legal terms, but for the people who live on it.
In a captivating tour of cities famous and forgotten, acclaimed historian Ben Wilson tells the glorious, millennia-spanning story how urban living sparked humankind's greatest innovations. “A towering achievement. . . . Reading this book is like visiting an exhilarating city for the first time—dazzling.” —The Wall Street Journal During the two hundred millennia of humanity’s existence, nothing has shaped us more profoundly than the city. From their very beginnings, cities created such a flourishing of human endeavor—new professions, new forms of art, worship and trade—that they kick-started civilization. Guiding us through the centuries, Wilson reveals the innovations nurtured by the inimitable energy of human beings together: civics in the agora of Athens, global trade in ninth-century Baghdad, finance in the coffeehouses of London, domestic comforts in the heart of Amsterdam, peacocking in Belle Époque Paris. In the modern age, the skyscrapers of New York City inspired utopian visions of community design, while the trees of twenty-first-century Seattle and Shanghai point to a sustainable future in the age of climate change. Page-turning, irresistible, and rich with engrossing detail, Metropolis is a brilliant demonstration that the story of human civilization is the story of cities.
The revered New York Times bestselling author traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to explore the single component crucial to advancement—precision—in a superb history that is both an homage and a warning for our future. The rise of manufacturing could not have happened without an attention to precision. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in eighteenth-century England, standards of measurement were established, giving way to the development of machine tools—machines that make machines. Eventually, the application of precision tools and methods resulted in the creation and mass production of items from guns and glass to mirrors, lenses, and cameras—and eventually gave way to further breakthroughs, including gene splicing, microchips, and the Hadron Collider. Simon Winchester takes us back to origins of the Industrial Age, to England where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. It was Thomas Jefferson who later exported their discoveries to the fledgling United States, setting the nation on its course to become a manufacturing titan. Winchester moves forward through time, to today’s cutting-edge developments occurring around the world, from America to Western Europe to Asia. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?
The New York Times bestselling author of Krakatoa and The Professor and the Madman takes readers on a quirky and charming tour of the last outpost of the British empire Originally published in 1985, Outposts is Simon Winchester’s journey to find the vanishing empire, “on which the sun never sets.” In the course of a three-year, 100,000 mile journey—from the chill of the Antarctic to the blue seas of the Caribbean, from the South of Spain and the tip of China to the utterly remote specks in the middle of gale-swept oceans—he discovered such romance and depravity, opulence and despair tht he was inspired to write what may be the last contemporary account of the British empire. Written with Winchester’s captivating style and breadth, here are conversations and anecdotes, myths and political analysis, scenery and history—a poignant and colorful record of the lingering beat of what was once the heart of the civilized world.
Book The Men Who United the States Description/Summary:
Simon Winchester, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Atlantic and The Professor and the Madman, delivers his first book about America: a fascinating popular history that illuminates the men who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the U.S.A. from its beginnings. How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? To answer these questions, Winchester follows in the footsteps of America’s most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators, such as Lewis and Clark and the leaders of the Great Surveys; the builders of the first transcontinental telegraph and the powerful civil engineer behind the Interstate Highway System. He treks vast swaths of territory, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Rochester to San Francisco, Seattle to Anchorage, introducing the fascinating people who played a pivotal role in creating today’s United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. Featuring 32 illustrations throughout the text, The Men Who United the States is a fresh look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together.
"This book is a tour de force." -- Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work by leading anthropologist James Suzman Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like? To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of "work" from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present, challenging some of our deepest assumptions about who we are. Drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows that while we have evolved to find joy meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history our ancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now. He demonstrates how our contemporary culture of work has its roots in the agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago. Our sense of what it is to be human was transformed by the transition from foraging to food production, and, later, our migration to cities. Since then, our relationships with one another and with our environments, and even our sense of the passage of time, have not been the same. Arguing that we are in the midst of a similarly transformative point in history, Suzman shows how automation might revolutionize our relationship with work and in doing so usher in a more sustainable and equitable future for our world and ourselves.
"Variably genial, cautionary, lyrical, admonitory, terrifying, horrifying and inspiring…A lifetime of thought, travel, reading, imagination and memory inform this affecting account." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean. A gifted storyteller and consummate historian, Winchester sets the great blue sea's epic narrative against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution, telling not only the story of an ocean, but the story of civilization. Fans of Winchester's Krakatoa, The Man Who Loved China, and The Professor and the Madman will love this masterful, penetrating, and resonant tale of humanity finding its way across the ocean of history.
Book The Meaning of Everything Description/Summary:
"We visit the ugly corrugated iron structure that Murray grandly dubbed the Scriptorium -- the Scrippy or the Shed, as locals called it -- and meet some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to W.C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption. The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language. Simon Winchester's supple, vigorous prose illuminates this dauntingly ambitious project -- a seventy-year odyssey to create the grandfather of all word-books, the world's unrivaled uber-dictionary. Book jacket."--Jacket.
An esteemed journalist delivers a compelling on-the-ground account of the construction of President Trump’s border wall in San Diego—and the impact on the lives of local residents. In August of 2019, Donald Trump finished building his border wall—at least a portion of it. In San Diego, the Army Corps of engineers completed two years of construction on a 14-mile steel beamed barrier that extends eighteen-feet high and cost a staggering $147 million. As one border patrol agent told reporters visiting the site, “It was funded and approved and it was built under his administration. It is Trump’s wall.” 14 Miles is a definitive account of all the dramatic construction, showing readers what it feels like to stand on both sides of the border looking up at the imposing and controversial barrier. After the Department of Homeland Security announced an open call for wall prototypes in 2017, DW Gibson, an award-winning journalist and Southern California native, began visiting the construction site and watching as the prototype samples were erected. Gibson spent those two years closely observing the work and interviewing local residents to understand how it was impacting them. These include April McKee, a border patrol agent leading a recruiting program that trains teenagers to work as agents; Jeff Schwilk, a retired Marine who organizes pro-wall rallies as head of the group San Diegans for Secure Borders; Roque De La Fuente, an eccentric millionaire developer who uses the construction as a promotional opportunity; and Civile Ephedouard, a Haitian refugee who spent two years migrating through Central America to the United States and anxiously awaits the results of his asylum case. Fascinating, propulsive, and incredibly timely, 14 Miles is an important work that explains not only how the wall has reshaped our landscape and countless lives but also how its shadow looms over our very identity as a nation.
Book America's First Civilization Description/Summary:
Here is the story of America's oldest - and oddest - civilization, the Olmecs of the southern Mexican jungles. Virtually unknown to archaeologists until the early twentieth century, their true importance is only now being realized and shedding new light on how the Indian peoples of the Americas came to be here.
Created for map lovers by map lovers, this rich book explores the intriguing stories behind maps across history and illuminates how the art of cartography thrives today. In this visually stunning book, award-winning journalists Betsy Mason and Greg Miller--authors of the National Geographic cartography blog "All Over the Map"--explore the intriguing stories behind maps from a wide variety of cultures, civilizations, and time periods. Based on interviews with scores of leading cartographers, curators, historians, and scholars, this is a remarkable selection of fascinating and unusual maps. This diverse compendium includes ancient maps of dragon-filled seas, elaborate graphics picturing unseen concepts and forces from inside Earth to outer space, devious maps created by spies, and maps from pop culture such as the schematics to the Death Star and a map of Westeros from Game of Thrones. If your brain craves maps--and Mason and Miller would say it does, whether you know it or not--this eye-opening visual feast will inspire and delight.
Book About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks Description/Summary:
A captivating, surprising history of timekeeping and how it has shaped our world. For thousands of years, people of all cultures have made and used clocks, from the city sundials of ancient Rome to the medieval water clocks of imperial China, hourglasses fomenting revolution in the Middle Ages, the Stock Exchange clock of Amsterdam in 1611, Enlightenment observatories in India, and the high-precision clocks circling the Earth on a fleet of GPS satellites that have been launched since 1978. Clocks have helped us navigate the world and build empires, and have even taken us to the brink of destruction. Elites have used them to wield power, make money, govern citizens, and control lives—and sometimes the people have used them to fight back. Through the stories of twelve clocks, About Time brings pivotal moments from the past vividly to life. Historian and lifelong clock enthusiast David Rooney takes us from the unveiling of al-Jazari’s castle clock in 1206, in present-day Turkey; to the Cape of Good Hope observatory at the southern tip of Africa, where nineteenth-century British government astronomers moved the gears of empire with a time ball and a gun; to the burial of a plutonium clock now sealed beneath a public park in Osaka, where it will keep time for 5,000 years. Rooney shows, through these artifacts, how time has been imagined, politicized, and weaponized over the centuries—and how it might bring peace. Ultimately, he writes, the technical history of horology is only the start of the story. A history of clocks is a history of civilization.
There is little debate that health care in the United States is in need of reform. But where should those improvements begin? With insurers? Drug makers? The doctors themselves? In Big Med, David Dranove and Lawton Robert Burns argue that we’re overlooking the most ubiquitous cause of our costly and underperforming system: megaproviders, the expansive health care organizations that have become the face of American medicine. Your local hospital is likely part of one. Your doctors, too. And the megaproviders are bad news for your health and your wallet. Drawing on decades of combined expertise in health care consolidation, Dranove and Burns trace Big Med’s emergence in the 1990s, followed by its swift rise amid false promises of scale economies and organizational collaboration. In the decades since, megaproviders have gobbled up market share and turned independent physicians into salaried employees of big bureaucracies, while delivering on none of their early promises. For patients this means higher costs and lesser care. Meanwhile, physicians report increasingly low morale, making it all but impossible for most systems to implement meaningful reforms. In Big Med, Dranove and Burns combine their respective skills in economics and management to provide a nuanced explanation of how the provision of health care has been corrupted and submerged under consolidation. They offer practical recommendations for improving competition policies that would reform megaproviders to actually achieve the efficiencies and quality improvements they have long promised. This is an essential read for understanding the current state of the health care system in America—and the steps urgently needed to create an environment of better care for all of us.
One of Library Journal’s 10 Best Books of 2015 Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature. As the Mediterranean shaped the classical world, and the Atlantic connected Europe to the New World, the Pacific Ocean defines our tomorrow. With China on the rise, so, too, are the American cities of the West coast, including Seattle, San Francisco, and the long cluster of towns down the Silicon Valley. Today, the Pacific is ascendant. Its geological history has long transformed us—tremendous earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis—but its human history, from a Western perspective, is quite young, beginning with Magellan’s sixteenth-century circumnavigation. It is a natural wonder whose most fascinating history is currently being made. In telling the story of the Pacific, Simon Winchester takes us from the Bering Strait to Cape Horn, the Yangtze River to the Panama Canal, and to the many small islands and archipelagos that lie in between. He observes the fall of a dictator in Manila, visits aboriginals in northern Queensland, and is jailed in Tierra del Fuego, the land at the end of the world. His journey encompasses a trip down the Alaska Highway, a stop at the isolated Pitcairn Islands, a trek across South Korea and a glimpse of its mysterious northern neighbor. Winchester’s personal experience is vast and his storytelling second to none. And his historical understanding of the region is formidable, making Pacific a paean to this magnificent sea of beauty, myth, and imagination that is transforming our lives.
"As clear a picture of humanity's impact on earth's natural environment as any ever written." --E. O. Wilson (from the Introduction) An urgent, resounding call to protect 50 percent of the earth's land by 2050--thereby saving millions of its species--and a candid assessment of the health of our planet and our role in conserving it, from the award-winning author of The Experience of Place and veteran New Yorker staff writer. Beginning in the vast North American Boreal Forest that stretches through Canada, and roving across the continent, from the Northern Sierra to Alabama's Paint Rock Forest, from the Appalachian Trail to a ranch in Mexico, Tony Hiss sets out on a journey to take stock of the "superorganism" that is the earth: its land, its elements, its plants and animals, its greatest threats--and what we can do to keep it, and ourselves, alive. Hiss not only invites us to understand the scope and gravity of the problems we face, but also makes the case for why protecting half the land is the way to fix those problems. He highlights the important work of the many groups already involved in this fight, such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and the global animal tracking project ICARUS. And he introduces us to the engineers, geologists, biologists, botanists, oceanographers, ecologists, and other "Half Earthers" like Hiss himself who are allied in their dedication to the unifying, essential cause of saving our own planet from ourselves. Tender, impassioned, curious, and above all else inspiring, Rescuing the Planet is a work that promises to make all of us better citizens of the earth.