Stewart Brand's favorite books

  • The Long Summer

    The Long Summer

    The Long Summer

    Brian Fagan
    Social Science
    3.92 (637)

    Humanity evolved in an Ice Age in which glaciers covered much of the world. But starting about 15,000 years ago, temperatures began to climb. Civilization and all of recorded history occurred in this warm period, the era known as the Holocene-the long summer of the human species. In The Long Summer, Brian Fagan brings us the first detailed record of climate change during these 15,000 years of warming, and shows how this climate change gave rise to civilization. A thousand-year chill led people in the Near East to take up the cultivation of plant foods; a catastrophic flood drove settlers to inhabit Europe; the drying of the Sahara forced its inhabitants to live along the banks of the Nile; and increased rainfall in East Africa provoked the bubonic plague. The Long Summer illuminates for the first time the centuries-long pattern of human adaptation to the demands and challenges of an ever-changing climate-challenges that are still with us today.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Scale
    Stewart Brand

    Geoffrey West did a talk version of his book Scale, which is particularly fantastic.

     — Source

  • The Good Ancestor

    The Good Ancestor

    The Good Ancestor

    Roman Krznaric
    4.11 (390)

    'This is the book our children's children will thank us for reading' - The Edge, U2 How can we be good ancestors? From the first seeds sown thousands of years ago, to the construction of the cities we still inhabit, to the scientific discoveries that have ensured our survival, we are the inheritors of countless gifts from the past. Today, in an age driven by the tyranny of the now, with 24/7 news, the latest tweet, and the buy-now button commanding our attention, we rarely stop to consider how our actions will affect future generations. With such frenetic short-termism at the root of contemporary crises, the call for long-term thinking grows every day - but what is it, has it ever worked, and can we even do it? In The Good Ancestor, leading public philosopher Roman Krznaric argues that there is still hope. From the pyramids to the NHS, humankind has always had the innate ability to plan for posterity and take action that will resonate for decades, centuries, even millennia to come. If we want to become good ancestors, now is the time to recover and enrich this imaginative skill. The Good Ancestor reveals six profound ways in which we can all learn to think long-term, exploring how we can reawaken oft-neglected but uniquely human talents like 'cathedral thinking' that expand our time horizons and sharpen our foresight. Drawing on radical solutions from around the world, Krznaric celebrates the innovators who are reinventing democracy, culture and economics so that we all have the chance to become good ancestors and create a better tomorrow.

    Stewart Brand

    A very good book coming in May.

     — Source

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Daniel Kahneman
    Psychology
    4.16 (361,441)

    Major New York Times bestseller Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012 Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011 A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Kahneman's work with Amos Tversky is the subject of Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Player of Games

    The Player of Games

    The Player of Games

    Iain M. Banks
    Fiction
    4.26 (63,290)

    The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game...a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death. Praise for Iain M. Banks: "Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy -- the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more" -- NME "An exquisitely riotous tour de force of the imagination which writes its own rules simply for the pleasure of breaking them." -- Time Out

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Brave New World

    Brave New World

    Brave New World

    Aldous Huxley
    Fiction
    3.99 (1,546,181)

    Set far in the future, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World depicts a world where “Controllers” have achieved what they believe to be the ideal society. Through scientific and genetic breakthroughs the human race has been brought to perfection: humans have pre-assigned roles in society, and everyone happily fulfills their purpose. Bernard Marx, however, is different. He is disgusted by the predestined behaviour of his peers and has a strong desire to break free from social pressures, leading him to set off on a journey to visit one of the few remaining Savage Reservations—places where the old, flawed, and imperfect life still continues. Inspired by the popularity of utopian novels at the time Aldous Huxley created a dystopian vision of what our world might one day become—and readers will be terrified to discover that some of his predictions may have already come true. Brave New World has twice been adapted for film, most recently in 1998 as a television movie starring Peter Gallagher and Leonard Nimoy. HarperPerennial Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Across Realtime

    Across Realtime

    Across Realtime

    Vernor Vinge
    4.15 (2,324)

    Encompassing time-travel, powerful mystery and the future history of humanity to its last handful of survivors, Across Realtime spans millions of years and is an utterly engrossing SF classic.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Beowulf
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Singularity Is Near

    The Singularity Is Near

    The Singularity Is Near

    Ray Kurzweil
    Social Science
    3.93 (10,310)

    “Startling in scope and bravado.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times “Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world.” —Los Angeles Times “Elaborate, smart and persuasive.” —The Boston Globe “A pleasure to read.” —The Wall Street Journal One of CBS News’s Best Fall Books of 2005 • Among St Louis Post-Dispatch’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2005 • One of Amazon.com’s Best Science Books of 2005 A radical and optimistic view of the future course of human development from the bestselling author of How to Create a Mind and The Singularity is Nearer who Bill Gates calls “the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence” For over three decades, Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • One True God

    One True God

    One True God

    Rodney Stark
    Religion
    3.63 (68)

    Western history would be unrecognizable had it not been for people who believed in One True God. There would have been wars, but no religious wars. There would have been moral codes, but no Commandments. Had the Jews been polytheists, they would today be only another barely remembered people, less important, but just as extinct as the Babylonians. Had Christians presented Jesus to the Greco-Roman world as ''another'' God, their faith would long since have gone the way of Mithraism. And surely Islam would never have made it out of the desert had Muhammad not removed Allah from the context of Arab paganism and proclaimed him as the only God. The three great monotheisms changed everything. With his customary clarity and vigor, Rodney Stark explains how and why monotheism has such immense power both to unite and to divide. Why and how did Jews, Christians, and Muslims missionize, and when and why did their efforts falter? Why did both Christianity and Islam suddenly become less tolerant of Jews late in the eleventh century, prompting outbursts of mass murder? Why were the Jewish massacres by Christians concentrated in the cities along the Rhine River, and why did the pogroms by Muslims take place mainly in Granada? How could the Jews persist so long as a minority faith, able to withstand intense pressures to convert? Why did they sometimes assimilate? In the final chapter, Stark also examines the American experience to show that it is possible for committed monotheists to sustain norms of civility toward one another. A sweeping social history of religion, One True God shows how the great monotheisms shaped the past and created the modern world.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Look to Windward

    Look to Windward

    Look to Windward

    Iain Banks
    Fiction
    4.19 (24,664)

    A Chelgrian emissary is sent to the Masaq' Orbital to bring Ziller, a famous but reclusive Chelgrian composer, home, on a mission that also has a top-secret purpose that will take him on a haunting odyssey into his own past and into memories of terrible war that cost billions of lives and whose legacy threatens the present. Reprint.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Gift

    The Gift

    The Gift

    Lewis Hyde
    Self-Help

    “A manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art [and] cares for it.” —Zadie Smith “The best book I know of for talented but unacknowledged creators. . . . A masterpiece.” —Margaret Atwood “No one who is invested in any kind of art . . . can read The Gift and remain unchanged.” —David Foster Wallace By now a modern classic, The Gift is a brilliantly orchestrated defense of the value of creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities. This book is even more necessary today than when it first appeared. An illuminating and transformative book, and completely original in its view of the world, The Gift is cherished by artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers. It is in itself a gift to all who discover the classic wisdom found in its pages.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Why the West Rules--for Now

    Why the West Rules--for Now

    Why the West Rules--for Now

    Ian Morris
    History
    4.11 (4,767)

    Why does the West rule? In this magnum opus, eminent Stanford polymath Ian Morris answers this provocative question, drawing on 50,000 years of history, archeology, and the methods of social science, to make sense of when, how, and why the paths of development differed in the East and West — and what this portends for the 21st century. There are two broad schools of thought on why the West rules. Proponents of "Long-Term Lock-In" theories such as Jared Diamond suggest that from time immemorial, some critical factor — geography, climate, or culture perhaps — made East and West unalterably different, and determined that the industrial revolution would happen in the West and push it further ahead of the East. But the East led the West between 500 and 1600, so this development can't have been inevitable; and so proponents of "Short-Term Accident" theories argue that Western rule was a temporary aberration that is now coming to an end, with Japan, China, and India resuming their rightful places on the world stage. However, as the West led for 9,000 of the previous 10,000 years, it wasn't just a temporary aberration. So, if we want to know why the West rules, we need a whole new theory. Ian Morris, boldly entering the turf of Jared Diamond and Niall Ferguson, provides the broader approach that is necessary, combining the textual historian's focus on context, the anthropological archaeologist's awareness of the deep past, and the social scientist's comparative methods to make sense of the past, present, and future — in a way no one has ever done before.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    A Short History of Nearly Everything

    A Short History of Nearly Everything

    Bill Bryson
    Science
    4.18 (330,859)

    One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey -- into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer. In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail -- well, most of it. In In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand -- and, if possible, answer -- the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Rise of the West

    The Rise of the West

    The Rise of the West

    William H. McNeill
    History
    4.10 (451)

    The Rise of the West, winner of the National Book Award for history in 1964, is famous for its ambitious scope and intellectual rigor. In it, McNeill challenges the Spengler-Toynbee view that a number of separate civilizations pursued essentially independent careers, and argues instead that human cultures interacted at every stage of their history. The author suggests that from the Neolithic beginnings of grain agriculture to the present major social changes in all parts of the world were triggered by new or newly important foreign stimuli, and he presents a persuasive narrative of world history to support this claim. In a retrospective essay titled "The Rise of the West after Twenty-five Years," McNeill shows how his book was shaped by the time and place in which it was written (1954-63). He discusses how historiography subsequently developed and suggests how his portrait of the world's past in The Rise of the West should be revised to reflect these changes. "This is not only the most learned and the most intelligent, it is also the most stimulating and fascinating book that has ever set out to recount and explain the whole history of mankind. . . . To read it is a great experience. It leaves echoes to reverberate, and seeds to germinate in the mind."—H. R. Trevor-Roper, New York Times Book Review

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Military Misfortunes

    Military Misfortunes

    Military Misfortunes

    Eliot A. Cohen
    History
    3.75 (221)

    Why do competent armies fail? • Why did the American-led coalition in Iraq fail to wage a classic counter-insurgency campaign for so long after the fall of Baghdad? • Why was the sophisticated Israeli intelligence service so thoroughly surprised by the onslaught of combined Arab armies during the Yom Kippur War of 1973? • How did a dozen German U-boats manage to humiliate the U.S. Navy for nine months in 1942 -- sinking an average of 650,000 tons of shipping monthly? • What made the 1915 British-led invasion of Gallipoli one of the bloodiest catastrophes of the First World War? Since it was first published in 1990, Military Misfortunes has become the classic analysis of the unexpected catastrophes that befall competent militaries. Now with a new Afterword discussing America's missteps in Iraq, Somalia, and the War on Terror, Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch's gripping battlefield narratives and groundbreaking explanations of the hidden factors that undermine armies are brought thoroughly up to date. As recent events prove, Military Misfortunes will be required reading for as long as armies go to war.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Water Will Come

    The Water Will Come

    The Water Will Come

    Jeff Goodell
    Nature
    4.18 (3,042)

    A New York Times Critics' Top Book of 2017One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction in 2017One of Booklist's Top 10 Science Books of 2017 "An immersive, mildly gonzo and depressingly well-timed book about the drenching effects of global warming, and a powerful reminder that we can bury our heads in the sand about climate change for only so long before the sand itself disappears." (Jennifer Senior, New York Times) What if Atlantis wasn't a myth, but an early precursor to a new age of great flooding? Across the globe, scientists and civilians alike are noticing rapidly rising sea levels, and higher and higher tides pushing more water directly into the places we live, from our most vibrant, historic cities to our last remaining traditional coastal villages. With each crack in the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctica, and each tick upwards of Earth's thermometer, we are moving closer to the brink of broad disaster. By century's end, hundreds of millions of people will be retreating from the world's shores as our coasts become inundated and our landscapes transformed. From island nations to the world's major cities, coastal regions will disappear. Engineering projects to hold back the water are bold and may buy some time. Yet despite international efforts and tireless research, there is no permanent solution-no barriers to erect or walls to build-that will protect us in the end from the drowning of the world as we know it. The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean. As he travels across twelve countries and reports from the front lines, acclaimed journalist Jeff Goodell employs fact, science, and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world.

    Stewart Brand

    Do read Jeff Goodells THE WATER WILL COME.

     — Source

  • Consider Phlebas

    Consider Phlebas

    Consider Phlebas

    Iain M. Banks
    Fiction
    3.86 (79,416)

    The first book in Iain M. Banks's seminal science fiction series, The Culture. Consider Phlebas introduces readers to the utopian conglomeration of human and alien races that explores the nature of war, morality, and the limitless bounds of mankind's imagination. The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Powers of Ten
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Prince

    The Prince

    The Prince

    Niccolò Machiavelli
    Philosophy
    3.82 (280,876)

    The classic handbook of statecraft written four centuries ago by an Italian nobleman recommends guile and craftiness to attain and maintain political power.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Adventures of a Bystander

    Adventures of a Bystander

    Adventures of a Bystander

    Peter F. Drucker
    Biography & Autobiography
    4.36 (227)

    Peter Drucker’s lively and thoughtful memoirs are now available in paperback with a new introduction by the author. He writes with wit and spirit about people he has encountered in a long and varied life, including Sigmund Freud, Henry Luce, Alfred Sloan, John L. Lewis, and Marshall McLuhan. After beginning with his childhood in Vienna during and after World War I, Drucker moves on to Europe in the 1920s and early 1930s, describing the imminent doom posed by Hitler and the Nazis. He then goes on to describe London during the 1930s, America during the New Deal era, the World War II years, and beyond. According to John Brooks of The New York Times Book Review, “Peter Drucker is at a corner cafe, delightfully regaling anyone who will listen with tales of what must be one of the more varied—and for a practitioner of such a narrow skill as that of management counseling, astonishing—of contemporary professional lives.” Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Washington Post writes, “The famous are here as well as the infamous.… All are the beneficiaries, for better or for worse, of Drucker’s unerring eye for psychological detail, his remorseless curiosity, and his imaginative sympathy.… Drucker’s book appears in a stroke to have restored the art of the memoir and of the essay.” Adventures of a Bystander reflects Drucker’s vitality, infinite curiosity, and interest in people, ideas, and the forces behind them. His book is a personal and informal account of the rich life of an independent man of letters, a life that spans eight decades and two continents. It will be of interest to scholars and professionals in the business world, historians, sociologists, and admirers of Peter Drucker.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on Tim Ferriss' podcast

     — Source

  • The Past From Above
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Discoverers

    The Discoverers

    The Discoverers

    Daniel J. Boorstin
    Science
    4.12 (11,218)

    An original history of man's greatest adventure: his search to discover the world around him. In the compendious history, Boorstin not only traces man's insatiable need to know, but also the obstacles to discovery and the illusion that knowledge can also put in our way. Covering time, the earth and the seas, nature and society, he gathers and analyzes stories of the man's profound quest to understand his world and the cosmos.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Finite and Infinite Games

    Finite and Infinite Games

    Finite and Infinite Games

    James Carse
    Philosophy
    3.86 (4,483)

    “There are at least two kinds of games,” states James Carse as he begins this extraordinary book. “One could be called finite; the other infinite.” Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life; they are played in order to be won, which is when they end. But infinite games are more mysterious. Their object is not winning, but ensuring the continuation of play. The rules may change, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change—as long as the game is never allowed to come to an end. What are infinite games? How do they affect the ways we play our finite games? What are we doing when we play—finitely or infinitely? And how can infinite games affect the ways in which we live our lives? Carse explores these questions with stunning elegance, teasing out of his distinctions a universe of observation and insight, noting where and why and how we play, finitely and infinitely. He surveys our world—from the finite games of the playing field and playing board to the infinite games found in culture and religion—leaving all we think we know illuminated and transformed. Along the way, Carse finds new ways of understanding everything from how an actress portrays a role, to how we engage in sex, from the nature of evil, to the nature of science. Finite games, he shows, may offer wealth and status, power and glory. But infinite games offer something far more subtle and far grander. Carse has written a book rich in insight and aphorism. Already an international literary event, Finite and Infinite Games is certain to be argued about and celebrated for years to come. Reading it is the first step in learning to play the infinite game.

    Stewart Brand

    A fundamental interest is gamification

     — Source

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature

    The Better Angels of Our Nature

    The Better Angels of Our Nature

    Steven Pinker
    Psychology
    4.13 (26,522)

    Presents a controversial history of violence which argues that today's world is the most peaceful time in human existence, drawing on psychological insights into intrinsic values that are causing people to condemn violence as an acceptable measure.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • State of the Art

    State of the Art

    State of the Art

    Iain M. Banks
    Fiction

    The first ever collection of Iain M. Banks's short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast. The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks's staggering talent. Praise for the Culture series: 'Epic in scope, ambitious in its ideas and absorbing in its execution' Independent on Sunday 'Banks has created one of the most enduring and endearing visions of the future' Guardian 'Jam-packed with extraordinary invention' Scotsman 'Compulsive reading' Sunday Telegraph The Culture series: Consider Phlebas The Player of Games Use of Weapons The State of the Art Excession Inversions Look to Windward Matter Surface Detail The Hydrogen Sonata Other books by Iain M. Banks: Against a Dark Background Feersum Endjinn The Algebraist

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Sleepwalkers

    The Sleepwalkers

    The Sleepwalkers

    Arthur Koestler
    Fiction

    Arthur Koestler's extraordinary history of humanity's changing vision of the universe In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between 'sciences' and 'humanities' to bring to life the whole history of cosmology from the Babylonians to Newton. He shows how the tragic split between science and religion arose and how, in particular, the modern world-view replaced the medieval world-view in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. He also provides vivid and judicious pen-portraits of a string of great scientists and makes clear the role that political bias and unconscious prejudice played in their creativity.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on Tim Ferriss' podcast

     — Source

  • The Landmark Thucydides

    The Landmark Thucydides

    The Landmark Thucydides

    Thucydides
    History
    4.25 (2,289)

    Chronicles two decades of war between Athens and Sparta.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Story of Writing

    The Story of Writing

    The Story of Writing

    Andrew Robinson
    Language Arts & Disciplines

    An accessible discussion of the major writing systems of the world explains the interconnection between sound, symbols, and script while providing a history of decipherment that traces in the latest edition the most recent discoveries and how they have impacted the modern world's understanding of writing throughout time. Original.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Future of Life

    The Future of Life

    The Future of Life

    Edward O. Wilson
    Nature
    4.15 (2,863)

    Calls for decisive action to save Earth's endangered biological heritage, profiling threatened animals and plants and offering a program based on economic, ethical, and religious ideals for preserving our biosphere.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel

    Guns, Germs, and Steel

    Guns, Germs, and Steel

    Jared Diamond
    Civilization
    4.03 (337,185)

    This book answers the most obvious, the most important, yet the most difficult question about human history: why history unfolded so differently on different continents. Geography and biography, not race, moulded the contrasting fates of Europeans, Asians

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended on Tim Ferriss' podcast

     — Source

  • Use of Weapons

    Use of Weapons

    Use of Weapons

    Iain M. Banks
    Fiction
    4.17 (42,339)

    The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action. The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought. The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past. Ferociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, USE OF WEAPONS is a masterpiece of science fiction.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Star Maker

    Star Maker

    Star Maker

    Olaf Stapledon
    Fiction

    'A prodigious novel ... Stapledon's literary imagination was boundless' Jorge Luis Borges A lasting influence on successive generations of science fiction writers and on the physicist Freeman Dyson, this poetic, philosophical tale of one man's unexpected voyage through the universe is imbued with a sense of mystery and vast cosmic loneliness. 'The most wonderful novel I have ever read ... Star Maker remains light years ahead' Brian Aldiss 'Probably the most powerful work of imagination ever written' Arthur C. Clarke 'A unique genius' Doris Lessing 'One of the most creative thinkers of our time' Greg Bear

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Idea of Decline in Western History

    The Idea of Decline in Western History

    The Idea of Decline in Western History

    Arthur Herman
    History
    4.22 (144)

    Historian Arthur Herman traces the roots of declinism and shows how major thinkers, past and present, have contributed to its development as a coherent ideology of cultural pessimism. From Nazism to the Sixties counterculture, from Britain's Fabian socialists to America's multiculturalists, and from Dracula and Freud to Robert Bly and Madonna, this work examines the idea of decline in Western history and sets out to explain how the conviction of civilization's inevitable end has become a fixed part of the modern Western imagination. Through a series of biographical portraits spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, the author traces the roots of declinism and aims to show how major thinkers of the past and present, including Nietzsche, DuBois, Sartre, and Foucault, have contributed to its development as a coherent ideology of cultural pessimism.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Our Bodies, Ourselves
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended on Tim Ferriss' podcast

     — Source

  • Imagined Worlds
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Coming Population Crash

    The Coming Population Crash

    The Coming Population Crash

    Fred Pearce
    Social Science
    3.82 (244)

    A leading environmental writer looks at the unexpected effects—and possible benefits—of a shrinking, graying population Is overpopulation the most important environmental issue of our time? Already widely covered on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN's Amanpour, and NPR's The Brian Lehrer Show, The Coming Population Crash begs to differ: half the world's women are now having two children or fewer—in developing countries as well as in rich ones. Fred Pearce chronicles the troubling history of efforts to contain the demographic explosion, and then he dives into the environmental, social, and economic effects of our surprising demographic future: a shrinking, graying population; mass migrations; and, just maybe, a wiser world.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Collapse

    Collapse

    Collapse

    Jared Diamond
    Epic poetry
    Greek
    History

    From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations. Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder - and what this means for our future. What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island? What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids? Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the temples at Angkor Wat? Bringing together new evidence from a startling range of sources and piecing together the myriad influences, from climate to culture, that make societies self-destruct, Jared Diamond's Collapse also shows how - unlike our ancestors - we can benefit from our knowledge of the past and learn to be survivors. 'A grand sweep from a master storyteller of the human race' - Daily Mail 'Riveting, superb, terrifying' - Observer 'Gripping ... the book fulfils its huge ambition, and Diamond is the only man who could have written it' - Economis 'This book shines like all Diamond's work' - Sunday Times

    Stewart Brand

    Collapse book also has some interesting stuff to propose

     — Source

  • Meditations

    Meditations

    Meditations

    Marcus Aurelius
    4.22 (149,987)

    Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome, may be the closest mankind has ever come to producing the philosopher king that Plato envisioned in The Republic. A reluctant ruler and a reluctant warrior, much of his reign was spent in battle, defending the frontiers of the empire from the "barbarian" hordes. Fortunately for us, he carried a notebook along on his military campaigns, and thus we have the Meditations. Marcus's writings reveal him to be the last and greatest of the classical Stoics. Stoicism is a school of thought that asserts we have no control over our lives, only control over our perceptions. It advocates that the best life is the life that is lived in accordance with nature (not "nature" as in grass and trees, but "nature" as in the order of the universe). By concentrating one's thoughts and choices on what is good and virtuous, and disregarding the unimportant distractions of everyday life (even life and death are said to be neither good nor bad, but "indifferent"), we can avoid negative emotions like fear, anger, grief, and frustration, and live a life of happiness and tranquility. That's an oversimplification, of course. If you really want to know what Stoicism is and how it works read Epictetus or Seneca. What Marcus provides us with are the reflections of a man who studied and lived the Stoic life, and was its ultimate exemplar. Even if you don't buy into Stoicism, or have no interest in Philosophy with a capital P, you can still find inspiration and solace in the Meditations, as Marcus instructs us in dealing justly with others, overcoming emotional hardship, living life to the fullest by overcoming the fear of death, and resigning oneself to the insignificance of man in the universe. The Meditations are divided into twelve books. Each book contains anywhere from 16 to 75 numbered paragraphs, ranging in length from a sentence to a page. The paragraphs are arranged without regard to sequence or subject matter. This haphazard method of compilation is really the book's only flaw. What the Meditations has always needed is a good index, but I've never found a volume that has one. It is a pleasure to publish this new, high quality, and affordable edition of this timeless book.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Thinking in Time

    Thinking in Time

    Thinking in Time

    Richard E. Neustadt
    Business & Economics
    3.76 (531)

    “A convincing case that careful analysis of the history, issues, individuals, and institutions can lead to better decisions—in business as well as in government” (BusinessWeek). Two noted professors offer easily remembered rules for using history effectively in day-to-day management of governmental and corporate affairs to avoid costly blunders. “An illuminating guide to the use and abuse of history in affairs of state” (Arthur Schlesinger).

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    Edward Gibbon
    History

    In judging the 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' it should carefully be observed that it falls into two parts which are heterogeneous in the method of treatment. The first part, a little more than five-eighths of the work, supplies a very full history of 460 years (A.D. 180–641); the second and smaller part is a summary history of about 800 years (A.D. 641–1453) in which certain episodes are selected for fuller treatment and so made prominent. To the first part unstinted praise must be accorded; it may be said that, with the materials at the author’s disposition, it hardly admitted of improvement, except in trifling details. But the second, notwithstanding the brilliancy of the narrative and the masterly art in the grouping of events, suffers from a radical defect which renders it a misleading guide. The author designates the story of the later empire at Constantinople (after Heraclius) as “a uniform tale of weakness and misery,” a judgment which is entirely false; and in accordance with this doctrine, he makes the empire, which is his proper subject, merely a string for connecting great movements which affected it, such as the Saracen conquests, the Crusades, the Mongol invasions, the Turkish conquests. He failed to bring out the momentous fact that up to the 12th century the empire was the bulwark of Europe against the East, nor did he appreciate its importance in preserving the heritage of Greek civilization. He compressed into a single chapter the domestic history and policy of the emperors from the son of Heraclius to Isaac Angelus; and did no justice to the remarkable ability and the indefatigable industry shown in the service of the state by most of the sovereigns from Leo III. to Basil II. He did not penetrate into the deeper causes underlying the revolutions and palace intrigues. His eye rested only on superficial characteristics which have served to associate the name “Byzantine” with treachery, cruelty, bigotry and decadence. It was reserved for Finlay to depict, with greater knowledge and a juster perception, the lights and shades of Byzantine history. Thus the later part of the Decline and Fall, while the narrative of certain episodes will always be read with profit, does not convey a true idea of the history of the empire or of its significance in the history of Europe. It must be added that the pages on the Slavonic peoples and their relations to the empire are conspicuously insufficient; but it must be taken into account that it was not till many years after Gibbon’s death that Slavonic history began to receive due attention, in consequence of the rise of competent scholars among the Slavs themselves. This is volume eight out of twelve.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Grand Design

    Grand Design

    Grand Design

    Georg Gerster
    Aerial photography

    The beauty of aerial photographs.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Gaia

    Gaia

    Gaia

    James Lovelock
    Nature
    3.83 (1,724)

    First published 1979, first issued as an Oxford University paperback 1982.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

    The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

    The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

    Samuel P. Huntington
    Political Science
    3.76 (10,529)

    The classic study of post-Cold War international relations, more relevant than ever in the post-9/11 world, with a new foreword by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Since its initial publication, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order has become a classic work of international relations and one of the most influential books ever written about foreign affairs. An insightful and powerful analysis of the forces driving global politics, it is as indispensable to our understanding of American foreign policy today as the day it was published. As former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says in his new foreword to the book, it “has earned a place on the shelf of only about a dozen or so truly enduring works that provide the quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time.” Samuel Huntington explains how clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace but also how an international order based on civilizations is the best safeguard against war. Events since the publication of the book have proved the wisdom of that analysis. The 9/11 attacks and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the threat of civilizations but have also shown how vital international cross-civilization cooperation is to restoring peace. As ideological distinctions among nations have been replaced by cultural differences, world politics has been reconfigured. Across the globe, new conflicts—and new cooperation—have replaced the old order of the Cold War era. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order explains how the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of East Asia are changing global politics. These developments challenge Western dominance, promote opposition to supposedly “universal” Western ideals, and intensify intercivilization conflict over such issues as nuclear proliferation, immigration, human rights, and democracy. The Muslim population surge has led to many small wars throughout Eurasia, and the rise of China could lead to a global war of civilizations. Huntington offers a strategy for the West to preserve its unique culture and emphasizes the need for people everywhere to learn to coexist in a complex, multipolar, muliticivilizational world.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Learning to Breathe Fire
    Stewart Brand

    Theres a nice book on it by J.C. Herz called Learning to Breathe Fire, which tells the story of how CrossFit came about.

     — Source

  • Turing's Cathedral

    Turing's Cathedral

    Turing's Cathedral

    George Dyson
    Computers
    3.58 (4,257)

    Presents the history of the invention of computers, describing the collaboration of John von Neumann and his colleagues as they worked together to create the first computer, an event which led to the hydrogen bomb and the birth of the digital age.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Art of the Long View

    The Art of the Long View

    The Art of the Long View

    Peter Schwartz
    Business & Economics
    3.81 (772)

    What increasingly affects all of us, whether professional planners or individuals preparing for a better future, is not the tangibles of life—bottom-line numbers, for instance—but the intangibles: our hopes and fears, our beliefs and dreams. Only stories—scenarios—and our ability to visualize different kinds of futures adequately capture these intangibles. In The Art of the Long View, now with the addition of an all-new User's Guide, Peter Schwartz outlines the "scenaric" approach, giving you the tools for developing a strategic vision within your business. Schwartz describes the new techniques, originally developed within Royal/Dutch Shell, based on many of his firsthand scenario exercises with the world's leading institutions and companies, including the White House, EPA, BellSouth, PG&E, and the International Stock Exchange.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Excession

    Excession

    Excession

    Iain M. Banks
    Fiction
    4.19 (27,798)

    The fifth Culture book from the awesome imagination of Iain M. Banks, a modern master of science fiction. Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back. Praise for the Culture series: 'Epic in scope, ambitious in its ideas and absorbing in its execution' Independent on Sunday 'Banks has created one of the most enduring and endearing visions of the future' Guardian 'Jam-packed with extraordinary invention' Scotsman 'Compulsive reading' Sunday Telegraph The Culture series: Consider Phlebas The Player of Games Use of Weapons The State of the Art Excession Inversions Look to Windward Matter Surface Detail The Hydrogen Sonata Other books by Iain M. Banks: Against a Dark Background Feersum Endjinn The Algebraist

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Infinite in All Directions

    Infinite in All Directions

    Infinite in All Directions

    Freeman J. Dyson
    Science
    3.95 (342)

    Infinite in All Directions is a popularized science at its best. In Dyson's view, science and religion are two windows through which we can look out at the world around us. The book is a revised version of a series of the Gifford Lectures under the title "In Praise of Diversity" given at Aberdeen, Scotland. They allowed Dyson the license to express everything in the universe, which he divided into two parts in polished prose: focusing on the diversity of the natural world as the first, and the diversity of human reactions as the second half. Chapter 1 is a brief explanation of Dyson's attitudes toward religion and science. Chapter 2 is a one–hour tour of the universe that emphasizes the diversity of viewpoints from which the universe can be encountered as well as the diversity of objects which it contains. Chapter 3 is concerned with the history of science and describes two contrasting styles in science: one welcoming diversity and the other deploring it. He uses the cities of Manchester and Athens as symbols of these two ways of approaching science. Chapter 4, concerned with the origin of life, describes the ideas of six illustrious scientists who have struggled to understand the nature of life from various points of view. Chapter 5 continues the discussion of the nature and evolution of life. The question of why life characteristically tends toward extremes of diversity remains central in all attempts to understand life's place in the universe. Chapter 6 is an exercise in eschatology, trying to define possible futures for life and for the universe, from here to infinity. In this chapter, Dyson crosses the border between science and science fiction and he frames his speculations in a slightly theological context.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Eternal Frontier

    The Eternal Frontier

    The Eternal Frontier

    Tim Flannery
    History
    4.07 (755)

    A comprehensive history of the continent, “full of engaging and attention-catching information about North America’s geology, climate, and paleontology” (The Washington Post Book World). Here, “the rock star of modern science” tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent, from the time of the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago to the present day (Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel). Flannery describes the development of North America’s deciduous forests and other flora, and tracks the migrations of various animals to and from Europe, Asia, and South America, showing how plant and animal species have either adapted or become extinct. The story spans the massive changes wrought by the ice ages and the coming of the Native Americans. It continues right up to the present, covering the deforestation of the Northeast, the decimation of the buffalo, and other consequences of frontier settlement and the industrial development of the United States. This is science writing at its very best—both an engrossing narrative and a scholarly trove of information that “will forever change your perspective on the North American continent” (The New York Review of Books).

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Dirt

    Dirt

    Dirt

    David R. Montgomery
    Nature
    4.01 (1,216)

    Ranging from ancient times to modern-day environmental threats, a natural and cultural history of soil explains how an elimination of protective vegetation and an exposure to wind and rain causes severe erosion of cultivated soils, how the use and abuse of soil has shaped human history, and the how the rise of organic and no-till farming holds hope for the future.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Iliad
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Map Book
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Time Travel

    Time Travel

    Time Travel

    James Gleick
    History
    3.58 (3,771)

    Gleick's story begins at the turn of the twentieth century with the young H.G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book, an international sensation, The Time Machine. A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological--the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilizations, and the perfection of clocks. Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture--from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on Tim Ferriss' podcast

     — Source

  • Dune

    Dune

    Dune

    Frank Herbert
    Fiction
    4.24 (881,432)

    Follows the adventures of Paul Atreides, the son of a betrayed duke given up for dead on a treacherous desert planet and adopted by its fierce, nomadic people, who help him unravel his most unexpected destiny.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • A Pattern Language

    A Pattern Language

    A Pattern Language

    Christopher Alexander
    Architecture

    You can use this book to design a house for yourself with your family; you can use it to work with your neighbors to improve your town and neighborhood; you can use it to design an office, or a workshop, or a public building. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction. After a ten-year silence, Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure are now publishing a major statement in the form of three books which will, in their words, "lay the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture, building and planning, which will we hope replace existing ideas and practices entirely." The three books are The Timeless Way of Building, The Oregon Experiment, and this book, A Pattern Language. At the core of these books is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets, and communities. This idea may be radical (it implies a radical transformation of the architectural profession) but it comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people. At the core of the books, too, is the point that in designing their environments people always rely on certain "languages," which, like the languages we speak, allow them to articulate and communicate an infinite variety of designs within a forma system which gives them coherence. This book provides a language of this kind. It will enable a person to make a design for almost any kind of building, or any part of the built environment. "Patterns," the units of this language, are answers to design problems (How high should a window sill be? How many stories should a building have? How much space in a neighborhood should be devoted to grass and trees?). More than 250 of the patterns in this pattern language are given: each consists of a problem statement, a discussion of the problem with an illustration, and a solution. As the authors say in their introduction, many of the patterns are archetypal, so deeply rooted in the nature of things that it seemly likely that they will be a part of human nature, and human action, as much in five hundred years as they are today.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • Governing the Commons

    Governing the Commons

    Governing the Commons

    Elinor Ostrom
    Business & Economics
    4.20 (865)

    Tackles one of the most enduring and contentious issues of positive political economy: common pool resource management.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Western Canon

    The Western Canon

    The Western Canon

    Harold Bloom
    Literary Criticism

    A study of twenty-six canonical writers details the qualities that make them literary essentials, and includes Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Beckett, Tolstoy, and Freud.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • The Causes of War
    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

  • A History of Civilizations

    A History of Civilizations

    A History of Civilizations

    Fernand Braudel
    History
    3.86 (945)

    The French historian takes an anti-ethnocentric look at the broad, continuing sweep of the history of civilization since the eighth century. By the author of The Structures of Everyday Life.

    Stewart Brand

    Stewart Brands recommendations

     — Source

  • Homo Ludens

    Homo Ludens

    Homo Ludens

    Johan Huizinga
    Social Science

    This volume traces the modern critical and performance history of this play, one of Shakespeare's most-loved and most-performed comedies. The essay focus on such modern concerns as feminism, deconstruction, textual theory, and queer theory.

    Stewart Brand

    Homo Ludens basically says Man, the player. Games are basically what we do.

     — Source

  • What Technology Wants

    What Technology Wants

    What Technology Wants

    Kevin Kelly
    Technology & Engineering
    3.72 (6,981)

    Profiles technology as an evolving international system with predictable trends, counseling readers on how to prepare themselves and future generations by anticipating and steering their choices toward developing needs.

    Stewart Brand

    Recommended read on One Grand Book

     — Source

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