Parallel universe to Harry Potter in which a Harry raised by a college professor for a father must engage his formidable skills as a rationalist to grapple with the magical wizarding world.
An important text in the history of sociobiology. Argues for the gene--as opposed to the individual or the species--as the unit upon which natural selection acts. Also introduces the concept of 'memetics' and coins the term. This boom is the first popular science novel in which morality is explained by natural selection. Dawkins' argument is often misunderstood as meaning that 'true' altruism does not exist.
A distributed Daemon created by a dead genius takes over the internet using deadly force, wages war with a ruthless plutocracy and facilitates the emergence of distributed civilization.
Published in 2010, this is a lucid and riveting account of the attempts by US intelligence agencies to develop the capacity to ensure "total information awareness"; something which has sparked considerable concern and ire among both left-wing activists, constitutional conservatives and libertarians. Great read.
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Roger Scruton is one of the most respected and thoughtful of contemporary philosophers. This is a marvelously temperate and constructive book and deserves to be widely read and discussed.
This is stunning tour de force on the differences between the human geography of the Americas before 1492 and that of Eurasia and Africa; coupled with an assessment of the ecological and human consequences of the conquest of the Americas by Europeans after 1492. It's brilliant. It sits comfortably alongside the excellent books by Charles Mann on this subject.
For more than a decade now, there have been an increasing number of pundits arguing that America's brief period of ascendancy, in the twentieth century, is over and that it is economically and politically declining, with military power set to follow. This is a highly readable and relatively sensible representative of the genre, which should help many a citizen grasp the main issues that are at stake.
The extended debate over the future of fossil fuels, in terms of both supply and atmospheric warming, is one of the greatest of our time. This succinct book sets out beautifully the argument of M. King Hubbert that oil supply would peak in the early twenty first century. It's written by one of his former colleagues.
Robert Shiller is the author of books such as Irrational Exuberance and The New Financial Order. He is a highly thoughtful analyst of the promise of financial instruments and argues in this elegant and understated book that the debacle of 2008 should not lead us to give up on financial capitalism, but prompt us to understand it better and construct more intelligent and fruitful capitalisms.
You should be able to find this book on Amazon. It was published in 2000 and is a crisp and insightful reflection on the logic of liberty, property and contract compared with command economics and plunder. It should be on everyone's reading list.
Krugman is a Nobel laureate and a champion of Keynesian stimulus and quantitative easing in the current fiscal climate. If you want a single short book to give you the inside running on how such economists think, it would be hard to go past this one.
The author is an authority on the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and the fascist rule of Francisco Franco that followed it. This is a magisterial inquiry into the mass killing that took place during the civil war and after Franco had secured power. Grim and compelling scholarship.
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This book has received rave reviews by a lot of highly credentialed people, including at least four laureates in economics; but it isn't nearly as good as their praise would suggest. It starts well, debunking several widely held theories about the causes of wealth and poverty, but deteriorates as it goes along, until it becomes merely rhetorical and platitudinous. Worth reading as a study in the disintegration of argument.
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