Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies – Jared Diamond
Life isn’t fair–here’s why: Since 1500, Europeans have, for better & worse, called the tune that the world has danced to. In Guns, Germs & Steel, Jared Diamond explains the reasons why things worked out that way. It’s an elemental question. Diamond is certainly not the 1st to ask it. However, he performs a singular service by relying on scientific fact rather than specious theories of European genetic superiority. Diamond, a UCLA physiologist, suggests that the geography of Eurasia was best suited to farming, the domestication of animals & the free flow of information. The more populous cultures that developed as a result had more complex forms of government & communication, & increased resistance to disease. Finally, fragmented Europe harnessed the power of competitive innovation in ways that China didn’t. (For example, the Europeans used the Chinese invention of gunpowder to create guns & subjugate the New World.) Diamond’s book is complex & a bit overwhelming. But the thesis he methodically puts forth–examining the “positive feedback loop” of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation etc.–makes sense. Written without bias, Guns, Germs & Steel is good global history.

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The Leopard – Jo Nesbø

The Leopard - Jo Nesbø
The Leopard – Jo Nesbø

In this electrifying new addition to Jo Nesbø’s internationally acclaimed series, Harry Hole must confront the darkest demons in his city—and in himself. Inspector Harry Hole has retreated to Hong Kong, escaping the trauma of his last case in squalid opium dens, when two young women are found dead in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches a fever pitch. There are no clues, the police investigation is stalled, and Harry—the one man who might be able to help—can’t be found. After he returns to Oslo, the killer strikes again, Harry’s instincts take over, and nothing can keep him from the investigation, though there is little to go on. Worse, he will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally, as never before.

“Meaty, gripping, full of tantalizing twists.”

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10th Anniversary – James Patterson

10th Anniversary -James Patterson
10th Anniversary -James Patterson

Detective Lindsay Boxer’s long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals–but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well. At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life–a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki’s career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct? Lindsay’s every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she’ll ever be able to start a family. With James Patterson’s white-hot speed and unquenchable action, 10th Anniversary is the most deliciously chilling Women’s Murder Club book ever.

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The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama

The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama
The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama

In this nuanced and complex portrait of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Remnick offers a thorough, intricate, and riveting account of the unique experiences that shaped our nation’s first African American president.

Through extensive on-the-record interviews with friends and teachers, mentors and disparagers, family members and Obama himself, Remnick explores the elite institutions that first exposed Obama to social tensions, and the intellectual currents that contributed to his identity. Using America’s racial history as a backdrop for Obama’s own story, Remnick further reveals how an initially rootless and confused young man built on the experiences of an earlier generation of black leaders to become one of the central figures of our time.

Masterfully written and eminently readable, The Bridge is destined to be a lasting and illuminating work for years to come, by a writer with an unparalleled gift for revealing the historical significance of our present moment.

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