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“Why is Sex Fun? is the best book on the subject I've read. This lively exploration of our sexual heritage offers fascinating reading for anyone curious about why lovers do what they do.”

— Diane Ackerman, author of

“I am so jealous of Jared Diamond, for he writes with such an elegant simplicity! Here, he takes a loot at the endlessly fascinating topic of human sexuality His convincing arguments should persuade xm that there are very special reasons why we evolved to use sex for recreation as well as for procreatim whereas most other mammals are denied that pleasure…. It is a great little book, by one of the worlds foremost biological philosophers.”

— Roger Shohl, Professor of Physiology Monash University Australia

“Once again Jared Diamond provides us with answers to questions we may never have stopped to ask, but wish we had. In this long essay Diamond explains that recreational sex, while not unique to humans, is a rare behavior in the animal world. Above all, we learn, sexual activity divorced fron procreation is not only part of what it is to be human, but the very crux of our evolutionary success.”

— Bettyaxn Kevles, author of

The History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen, translated by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen, translated by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen, translated by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen, translated by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen, translated by William Purdie Dickson

A BLACK SWAN is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”

For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. Part literary essayist, part empiricist, part no-nonsense mathematical trader, he is currently taking a break by serving as the Dean’s Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His last book, the bestseller Fooled by Randomness, has been published in twenty languages, Taleb lives mostly in New York.

Considering the hundreds of thousands of words that have been written about Shakespeare, relatively little is known about the man himself. In the absence of much documentation about his life, we have the plays and poetry he wrote. In this addition to the Eminent Lives series, bestselling author Bryson (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid) does what he does best: marshaling the usual little facts that others might overlook-for example, that in Shakespeare's day perhaps 40% of women were pregnant when they got married-to paint a portrait of the world in which the Bard lived and prospered. Bryson's curiosity serves him well, as he delves into subjects as diverse as the reliability of the extant images of Shakespeare, a brief history of the theater in England and the continuing debates about whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon really wrote Shakespeare's works. Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive-as Bryson puts it, he is a kind of literary equivalent of an electron-forever there and not there.

The remarkable story of the Renaissance's preeminent financiers. "A swift and brilliant synthesis of finance, politics, and history."—Ben Sisario,

Their name is a byword for immense wealth and power, but before their renown as art patrons and noblemen the Medicis built their fortune on banking—specifically, on lending money at interest. Banking in the fifteenth century, even at the height of the Renaissance, meant running afoul of the Catholic Church's prohibition against usury. It required more than merely financial skills to make a profit, and the legendary Medicis—most famously Cosimo and Lorenzo ("the Magnificent")—were masterly in wielding the political, diplomatic, military, and even metaphysical tools that were needed to maintain their family's position.

In this brisk and witty narrative, Tim Parks uncovers the intrigues, dodges, and moral qualities that gave the Medicis their edge. Vividly evoking the richness of the Florentine Renaissance and the Medicis' glittering circle, replete with artists, popes, and kings, Medici Money is a brilliant look into the origins of modern banking and its troubled relationship with art and religion. 14 illustrations.

The city of St. Petersburg became the center of liberal opposition to the dominating power of the state, whether czarist or communist. Acclaimed Russian historian and emigre Volkov writes the definitive “cultural biography” of that famed city, sharply detailing the well-known figures of the arts whose works are now part of the permanent fabric of Western high culture.

Photos.

As the twentieth century draws to a close, we find that the world has grown smaller and the world's people have become almost one community. Political and military alliances have created large multinational groups, industry and international trade have produced a global economy, and worldwide communications are eliminating ancient barriers of distance, language and race. We are also being drawn together by the grave problems we face: overpopulation, dwindling natural resources, and an environmental crisis that threatens our air, water, and trees, along with the vast number of beautiful life forms that are the very foundation of existence on this small planet we share.

Путеводитель по истории английского романа, выполненный учёными Колумбийского университета.

Such standard texts as Ernest Baker's 11-volume (1924-39) and Walter Allen's (1955) were published many years ago. Those single-author opuses reflected their eras; the , arranged chronologically, uses 39 essays by 39 scholars to present our own era's varied critical perspectives and to bring things up-to-date. Some essays are devoted to individual authors (e.g., Austen, Dickens), others to several authors (e.g., Amis, Snow, and Wilson), and still others to such topics as "The Gothic Novel, 1764–1824." Each essay has a brief selected bibliography; an appendix includes thumbnail sketches of 100 of the British novelists discussed. This excellent work is indispensable to any library supporting the study of English literature.

Путеводитель по истории американского романа, выполненный учёными Колумбийского университета.

Designed as a companion to The Columbia Literary History of the United States (LJ 1/88), this compilation of 31 major essays covers the American novel from the 1700s to the present (although the majority deal with the 20th century). Within each era, themes, genres, and topics such as realism, gender, romance, and technology are discussed in depth, as well as modern Canadian, Caribbean, and Latin American fiction. Unfortunately, each essayist selects only the authors who best illustrate his or her topic, thus subtly skewing the view of the literary scene at that time. Since women, minorities, popular fiction, and even the book marketplace are included, coverage is uneven, with some major figures getting short shrift. Best as a supplement to other sources, this is recommended for all literature and reference collections. -

Alexander Sutherland (1852–1902) was a Scottish-Australian educator, writer and philosopher. Sutherland did a large amount of literary work. He was responsible for the first volume only of Victoria and its Metropolis, published in 1888, an interesting history of the first 50 years of the state of Victoria. In 1890 he published , the cultured verse of an experienced literary man, but his most important book was , which appeared in 1898 in two volumes.

George Sutherland (1855–1905), a writer, was born in Scotland. He was taken to Australia in 1864 and graduated from the University of Melbourne. After teaching for some time he took up journalism and worked for the South Australian Register from 1881 to 1902, after which he joined the Melbourne Age. His works include: (1880), (1886), (1898) and (1901). With his brother, Alexander Sutherland, he wrote (1894), which attained a sale of 120,000 copies.

In this lively and colorful book of popular history, journalist Betsy Israel shines a light on the old stereotypes that have stigmatized single women for years and celebrates their resourceful sense of spirit, enterprise, and unlimited success in a world where it is no longer unusual or unlikely to be unwed.

Drawing extensively on primary sources, including private journals, newspaper stories, magazine articles, advertisements, films, and other materials from popular media, Israel paints remarkably vivid portraits of single women—and the way they were perceived—throughout the decades. From the nineteenth-century spinsters, of New England to the Bowery girls of New York City, from the 1920s flappers to the 1940s working women of the war years and the career girls of the 1950s and 1960s, single women have fought to find and feel comfortable in that room of their own. One need only look at Bridget Jones and the gang to see that single women still maintain an uneasy relationship with the rest of society—and yet they radiate an aura of glamour and mystery in popular culture.

As witty as it is well researched, as thoughtful as it is lively, is a must-read for women everywhere.

In this brilliant exploration of the post-9/11 world, leading Lebanese novelist and intellectual Amin Maalouf sets out to understand how we have arrived at such disorder. He explores three different but related aspects of disorder: intellectual (manifested in an unleashing of statements on identity that allow no possibility of peaceful co-existence or debate), economic and financial (that is exhausting the earth’s resources), and climatic (the result of turning a blind eye to the consequences of rampant industrialization). Instead of seeing the current disorder of the post-9/11 world as ‘a clash of civilisations’ Maalouf sees it as the ‘exhaustion of two civilisations’, a period in which humanity has reached its threshold of ‘moral incompetence’. Islam and the West have theoretical coherence, he says, but in practice each betrays its true ideals: the West is unfaithful to its own enlightenment values, which has discredited it in the eyes of the people to whom it has introduced democracy by force; while Islam finds itself condemned to a headlong rush into radicalism. These symmetrical disorders are only some of the elements in a global disorder that requires humanity as a whole to take responsibility for its future and face up to the urgent tasks such as climate change and the global financial crisis that threaten us all.

Disordered World

On December 21, 2012, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, a 5,125-year cycle calendar system pioneered by the Maya, will come to an end. At the same time, the earth, the sun, and the center of the galaxy will come together in an extremely rare cosmic alignment. More and more people believe that the world as we know it will experience a transformation in 2012, but few are aware of the complete history or significance of the date.

John Major Jenkins, among the most authoritative voices of the 2012 movement, has written a definitive explanation of one of the most thought-provoking phenomena of our time. Drawing from his own groundbreaking research (including his involvement in the modern reconstruction of Mayan 2012 cosmology) and more than two decades of extensive study of Mayan culture, Jenkins has created the crucial guide to understanding the story of 2012 an essential overview of the history, theory, cultures, and personalities that have brought this extraordinary idea into modern awareness. Jenkins provides illuminating answers to some of the most-asked questions about 2012, including:

• How did the early Maya devise the calendar that gives us the cycle ending in 2012, and how does it work?

• How did the calendar come to be rediscovered and reconstructed in our era?

• What controversies and intrigues surround the topic, and what do scholars and researchers have to say about them?

• How can we cut through all the noise about 2012 and gain true wisdom from the Mayan teachings about this moment?

Most of us take for granted the features of our modern society, from air travel and telecommunications to literacy and obesity. Yet for nearly all of its six million years of existence, human society had none of these things. While the gulf that divides us from our primitive ancestors may seem unbridgeably wide, we can glimpse much of our former lifestyle in those largely traditional societies still or recently in existence. Societies like those of the New Guinea Highlanders remind us that it was only yesterday—in evolutionary time—when everything changed and that we moderns still possess bodies and social practices often better adapted to traditional than to modern conditions.

The World Until Yesterday

This is Jared Diamond’s most personal book to date, as he draws extensively from his decades of field work in the Pacific islands, as well as evidence from Inuit, Amazonian Indians, Kalahari San people, and others. Diamond doesn’t romanticize traditional societies—after all, we are shocked by some of their practices—but he finds that their solutions to universal human problems such as child rearing, elder care, dispute resolution, risk, and physical fitness have much to teach us. A characteristically provocative, enlightening, and entertaining book, will be essential and delightful reading.

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Paris. The name alone conjures images of chestnut-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafés, breathtaking façades around every corner—in short, an exquisite romanticism that has captured the American imagination for as long as there have been Americans.

In 1995, Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light. Gopnik is a longtime writer, and the magazine has sent its writers to Paris for decades—but his was above all a personal pilgrimage to the place that had for so long been the undisputed capital of everything cultural and beautiful. It was also the opportunity to raise a child who would know what it was to romp in the Luxembourg Gardens, to enjoy a croque monsieur in a Left Bank café—a child (and perhaps a father, too) who would have a grasp of that Parisian sense of style we Americans find so elusive.

So, in the grand tradition of the American abroad, Gopnik walked the paths of the Tuileries, enjoyed philosophical discussions at his local bistro, wrote as violet twilight fell on the arrondissements. Of course, as readers of Gopnik’s beloved and award-winning “Paris Journals” in know, there was also the matter of raising a child and carrying on with day-to-day, not-so-fabled life. Evenings with French intellectuals preceded middle-of-the-night baby feedings; afternoons were filled with trips to the Musée d’Orsay and pinball games; weekday leftovers were eaten while three-star chefs debated a “culinary crisis.”

As Gopnik describes in this funny and tender book, the dual processes of navigating a foreign city and becoming a parent are not completely dissimilar journeys—both hold new routines, new languages, a new set of rules by which everyday life is lived. With singular wit and insight, Gopnik weaves the magical with the mundane in a wholly delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. “We went to Paris for a sentimental reeducation—I did anyway-even though the sentiments we were instructed in were not the ones we were expecting to learn, which I believe is why they call it an education.”

From the author of , a beguiling tour of the morals and manners of our present food mania, in search of eating’s deeper truths.

Never before have we cared so much about food. It preoccupies our popular culture, our fantasies, and even our moralizing. With our top chefs as deities and finest restaurants as places of pilgrimage, we have made food the stuff of secular seeking and transcendence, finding heaven in a mouthful. But have we come any closer to discovering the true meaning of food in our lives? With inimitable charm and learning, Adam Gopnik takes us on a beguiling journey in search of that meaning as he charts America’s recent and rapid evolution from commendably aware eaters to manic, compulsive gastronomes.