Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fascinating books to revise concepts of history and the world

Fascinating books to revise concepts of history and the world:

“The Omnivore's Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, 2006. (VERY IMPORTANT)

“Alpha Beta, How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World”, by John Man

Bruce Chatwin’s “In Patagonia”, a fabulist travel narrative, and “The Songlines”, a beautiful, elegiac account of following the invisible pathways traced by the Australian aborigines

“Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky
“The Story of Salt” by Mark Kurlansky and S. D. Schindler
“The History Of Salt: With Observations on its Geographical Distribution, Geological Formation And Medicinal And Dietetic Properties” by Evan Marlett Boddy
“The Natural History of Coal” by Edward Alexander Newell Arber
“Coal: A Human History” by Barbara Freese

“The Measure of All Things” by Ken Alder
“Greenwich Time and Longitude” by Derek Howse
“Plotting the Globe: Stories of Meridians, Parallels, and the International Date Line (Explorations in World Maritime History)” by Avraham Ariel and Nora Ariel Berger
“On the Line: The Story of the Greenwich Meridian” by Graham Dolan
“Longitude” by Dana Sobel
“The Longitude Prize” by Joan Dash and Dusan Petricic
“Mapping the World: Maps and Their History”, by Nathaniel Harris
“Tracks in the Sea”, by Matthew Fontaine Maury
“The Mapping of the Oceans”, by Chester G. Hearn
“The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon” by Robert Whitaker
”Pendulum – Léon Foucault and the Triumph of Science”, by Amir D. Aczel

“Aurora : The Northern Lights in Mythology, History and Science” by Harald Falck Ytter and Torbjorn Lovgren
“The Northern Lights: The True Story of the Man Who Unlocked the Secrets of the Aurora Borealis” by Lucy Jago and Michael Cumpsty (the story of Norwegian physicist Kristen Birkeland)
“The Invention of Clouds – How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies” by Richard Hamblyn

“Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World”, by Mark Kurlansky
“A Continent of Islands”, by Mark Kurlansky

“A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present” by Jan Rogonzinski

“Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History”, by Giles Milton

“Time's Pendulum: From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, the Fascinating History of Timekeeping” and “How Our Discoveries Changed the World” by Jo Ellen Barnett

“Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets”, by John McMillan

“Hermit of Peking: The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse (History & Politics)” by H. R. Trevor-Roper

“Our Inner Ape”, by Frans de Waal, 2005

“The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary”, by Simon Winchester, and “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary” also by Simon Winchester

“Plagues and Peoples” by William H. McNeill
“Viruses, Plagues, and History” by Michael B. A. Oldstone
“Man and Microbes: Disease and Plagues in History” and “Modern Times” by Arno Karlen
“Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond(although not holding up as well as hoped)

“Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World”, by David Berlinski

“Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney, Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius” (Citadel Press Book) by Marc Seifer

DEATH OF A PEOPLE: Volume (1) (i) One: “People of the Deer - The Ihalmiut”; Volume (2) (ii) Two: “The Desperate People - The Ihalmiut” by Farley Mowat

“Foreign Mud: Being an Account of the Opium Imbroglio at Canton in the 1830's and the Anglo-Chinese War That Followed”, and also “Siamese White”, both by Maurice Collis

“Crude Chronicles: Indigenous Politics, Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism in Ecuador” (American Encounters/Global Interactions) by Suzana Sawyer “Savages”, by Joe Kane

“Lost World of the Kalahari” by Laurens Van der Post

“Great Plains”, by Ian Frazier (geography as history), and maybe his “On the Rez” too…

“Evolution's Captain: The Story of the Kidnapping That Led to Charles Darwin's Voyage Aboard the Beagle” by Peter Nichols

“The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World” by David W. Anthony
“The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia by Rene Grousset (has important material but goes back and forth across such varied geographic areas and uses such far-flung place names so quickly that it is impossible for anyone without a PhD in Central Asian history or geography to keep up)…

“Storming Heaven”, by Jay Stevens (has interesting history up to Leary and the Pranksters) - “LSD and the American Dream is the subtitle.
“The Haight-Ashbury”, by Charles Perry – another, no more valid, look, at my own preferred ‘sub-culture’…

“Flushed; How the Plumber Saved Civilization” by W. Hodding Codder (2006) – only about 60,000 very chatty words, and on page 30 he gets the dates for Helen of Troy wrong by a millennium, but he is trying to do something good and interesting, and recommends:
“Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century” by Stephen Fenichell, which sounds quite interesting… W. Hodding Codder says it's a good read... In his bibliography, Codder mentions:
“The History of Shit” – but I haven’t seen it… maybe interesting, but surely a better title...?

and, for a comprehensive view of the half of civilization our histories tend to leave out, neglect, forget, disparage and ignore:
“Science and Civilisation in China”, by Joseph Needham

"The Assassination of Julius Caesar; A People’s History of Ancient Rome", by Michael Parenti, The New Press, NY, USA, 2003
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, 2006
The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan, Random House, NY 2001
“Alpha Beta, How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World”, by John Man

For a comprehensive view of the half of civilization our histories tend to leave out, neglect, forget, disparage and ignore:
“Science and Civilisation in China”, by Joseph Needham

The many essays, blogs and editorials of Joe Bageant, author of "Deer Hunting With Jesus", and the forthcoming Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir (neither of which I’ve seen, but both of which I understand to be quite good).

and, perhaps the master narrative of our time, Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine", which demonstrates that the global 'free market' has never been democratic. At over 500 pages, the mass of depressing detail can be overwhelming - to me reminiscent of Mort Rosenblum's "Mission to Civilize: The French Way": another depressing mass of details regarding our all-too-human failure to be very human to each other (or, rather, to anyone not of one's particular class, culture, religion, street address or whatever). A must read for anyone truly concerned with current events, economics, politics and truth. Also important for understanding the way things are is "War is a Racket" by General Smedley Butler.



Blogger James Free said...

This Cold Heaven by Gretel Ehrlich, an account of seven seasons amoung the Greenland Inuit.

5:03 AM  

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