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1. Ten Great Events In History
2. A Short History of Nearly Everything:
3. A People's History of the United
4. The History of Love: A Novel
5. At Home: A Short History of Private
6. Zero History
7. A Renegade History of the United
8. A Short History of the United
9. United States History: Preparing
10. The Beginner's American History
11. A Brief History of Time
12. A Briefer History of Time
13. History of France
14. The History of England, Volume
15. AP United States History Flash
16. The History of England from the
17. A History of the Japanese People
18. A Little History of the World
19. An Illustrated History of Ireland
20. The History Of Julius Caesar

1. Ten Great Events In History
by James Johonnot
Hardcover: 174 Pages (2010-05-23)
list price: US$37.95 -- used & new: US$25.63
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1161455590
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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15. But England possessed two elements of strength--her people, although differing in creed and often warring with one another, were intensely patriotic, and were united as one man against a foreign foe; and the ships of England, manned by English crews and commanded by her great captains--the legitimate successors of the old Vikings--dominated the seas. No enterprise was too hazardous for these hardy mariners to undertake, and no disparity of force ever induced them to pause. Philip was often wrought to frenzy as he saw these bold corsairs capture his treasure-ships and ravage his coasts in sight of his invincible but impotent armies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Colorful storytelling
This is how all history books should be! Really interesting colorful detail.. Most of these Great Events were new to me and very amazing to read. Only problem is I wish the book was better organized and had a proper contents page? If you want to skip ahead to the next Great Event it was hard to find. But still very good writing. :) ... Read more

2. A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition
by Bill Bryson
Paperback: 624 Pages (2010-10-05)
list price: US$28.00 -- used & new: US$16.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307885151
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This new edition of the acclaimed bestseller is lavishly illustrated to convey, in pictures as in words, Bill Bryson’s exciting, informative journey into the world of science.

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, beloved author Bill Bryson confronts his greatest challenge yet: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as his 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. The result 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.

Now, in this handsome new edition, Bill Bryson’s words are supplemented by full-color artwork that explains in visual terms the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study. Eloquently and entertainingly described, as well as richly illustrated, science has never been more involving or entertaining.

From the Hardcover edition.Amazon.com Review
From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields. His aim is to help people like him, who rejected stale school textbooks and dry explanations, to appreciate how we have used science to understand the smallest particles and the unimaginably vast expanses of space. With his distinctive prose style and wit, Bryson succeeds admirably. Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting 500-plus pages and covers the same material as every science book before it, it reads something like a particularly detailed novel (albeit without a plot). Each longish chapter is devoted to a topic like the age of our planet or how cells work, and these chapters are grouped into larger sections such as "The Size of the Earth" and "Life Itself." Bryson chats with experts like Richard Fortey (author of Lifeand Trilobite) and these interviews are charming. But it's when Bryson dives into some of science's best and most embarrassing fights--Cope vs. Marsh, Conway Morris vs. Gould--that he finds literary gold. --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (841)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning
For those who slept through their science classes, merely memorized facts to pass the tests and concluded that science is either irrelevant or beyond comprehension, read this 30 chapter book.

Better yet,read just the 14 pages in chapter 19 on "The Rise of Life".You'll be hooked by the content, the author's style and the relevance to your life and every life. In a few short pages Bryson manages to connect atoms, amino acids, proteins and DNA to the origin, structure and probability of life and the universe.This book cannot replace the content of university science courses, but it can motivate the reader to invest some time in learning what scientists have found and ponder what it means.

5-0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly entertaining read
His subject matter is extensive, his research comprehensive, his storytelling brilliant.Bill Bryson is able to craft truly interesting and many times captivating narrative out of historical scientific knowledge and the quest for it. He brings forth the petty grievances, and fragile egos that are behind much of the scientific knowledge we enjoy today, and he does it in a way that sometimes will make you laugh.

Not to mention that you may well acquire some real knowledge about dinosaurs, geology, biology, astronomy, taxonomy and more.His writing may even make taxonomy nterest you.

I highly recommend the audio version also as read by Richard Matthews who brings an English style of speaking that is ideally suited to Bryson's writing.

Without question one of the best books I have ever read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome overview of the sciences, and a little history.
Bill bryson does a wonderful job of captivating your imagination, and writing in a compelling manner while still including copious amounts of information.

this should be a required science book for schoolchildren, maybe we would have more scientists, and less business men.

5-0 out of 5 stars A really and truly interesting book!
Who would have thought that a book required for a science class would be written
like a novel?This has been an extremely interesting book.Word of warning though:You may learn some things about this earth and space that will disturb you!Avoid chapter 13 before bed.:)

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful blend of scientific inquiry and human interest
Bill Bryson's narrative is as much about the follies and foibles of scientists and observers past and present as it is about the enigmatic history of the natural world which their human eyes have sought to uncover.This backdrop alone make this wonderful story more informative and engaging than any dogmatic high school or science textbook I have ever had to read and showed me just how truly awe-inspiring the expanse of Creation is.But at the same time, the more I read Bryson's book, the more the admonition of C.S. Lewis sunk into my mind about confusing reading for religious discipleship with reading to stay informed about the world around us. Wrote Lewis:

"Science is in continual change and we must try to keep abreast of it. We may mention such things; but we must mention them lightly and without claiming that they are more than 'interesting.' Sentences beginning "Science has now proved" should be avoided. If we try to base our apologetic on some recent development in science, we shall usually find that just as we have put the finishing touches to our argument science has changed its mind and quietly withdrawn the theory we have been using as our foundation stone."

Bryson's tapestry of human interest stories interwoven into the epic history of scientific discovery eloquently bears this out. ... Read more

3. A People's History of the United States (P.S.)
by Howard Zinn
Paperback: 768 Pages (2010-11-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061965588
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A classic since its original landmark publication in 1980, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is the first scholarly work to tell America’s story from the bottom up—from the point of view of, and in the words of, America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers. From Columbus to the Revolution to slavery and the Civil War—from World War II to the election of George W. Bush and the “War on Terror”—A People’s History of the United States is an important and necessary contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American history.

Amazon.com Review
Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency.

Addressing his trademark reversals of perspective, Zinn--a teacher, historian, and social activist for more than 20 years--explains, "My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)--that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth."

If your last experience of American history was brought to you by junior high school textbooks--or even if you're a specialist--get ready for the other side of stories you may not even have heard. With its vivid descriptions of rarely noted events, A People's History of the United States is required reading for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the rich, rocky history of America. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (793)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Perspective
Mr. Zinn presents a perspective that is not often taught in Amrica's schools at any level.Well worth the time for any student of history, even the minor ones like myself.I enjoyed every minute and have purchased additional copies for members of my family.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Important
I found some parts of the book to be somewhat boring, but I think that's mostly because I personally don't always find history to be fascinating (the older it gets, the more boring for me). But, this is an excellently researched book and I think an important read for any American (and an interesting read for anyone of any nationality). The chapter on Vietnam was the most eye-opening for me. Makes me feel inspired to get involved in politics and grassroots movements, since Zinn shows that this involvement really can and does make a difference, despite the fact that most history books prefer to concentrate on the acts of individuals.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Untold American History
This book does an awesome job chronicling the American history you were never taught in high school.Zinn paints a extremely negative view of America.The reason he does this is so that we as citizens can learn from the terrible mistakes in our great nation's history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Matt Damon is a wiseman
I was led to this book by Matt Damon's reference to it in the movie "Good Will Hunting". His character said it would blow your fing mind. He was right it is an amazing eyeopener for the truth of mans in humanity to man. From Columbus to Bush it reveals the truth of our nature as money grubbing slave drivers that I wish we were just beginning to be released from the chains of in the age of Obama. Alas we are still reminded by the progress in Congress with the partisan bickering and the lack of real productivity they exhibit on a regular basis. Take a look at this book and see just how slowly we have gone in so long a time. Will mankind ever get their heads out of their asses?

1-0 out of 5 stars Buy a copy of your high school text book.
Thought it was going to be a history book. Ended up with a long winded apology for the American spirit. You'd be better off buying a copy of your high school textbook.

The author whines about how we, as Americans, owe the world an apology for having built a strong nation. He glosses over (ignores) our triumphs, and places the blame for all international problems squarely at the doorstep of the American public.

If you do decide to buy this book, purchase a copy of "A Patriot's History of the United States" along with it, so that you may get a balanced outlook between the two books. Better yet, skip this and go strait to A Patriots History.

I also recommend "The American Pageant" ... Read more

4. The History of Love: A Novel
by Nicole Krauss
Paperback: 252 Pages (2006-05-17)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393328627
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The illuminating national bestseller: "Vertiginously exciting…vibrantly imagined….[Krauss is] a prodigious talent."—Janet Maslin, New York TimesA long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother's loneliness.

Leo Gursky is just about surviving, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And though Leo doesn't know it, that book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book. And although she has her hands full—keeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild—she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together their stories.

This extraordinary book was inspired by the author's four grandparents and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by loss—Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, and more. It is truly a history of love: a tale brimming with laughter, irony, passion, and soaring imaginative power.Amazon.com Review
Nicole Krauss's The History of Love is a hauntingly beautiful novel about two characters whose lives are woven together in such complex ways that even after the last page is turned, the reader is left to wonder what really happened. In the hands of a less gifted writer, unraveling this tangled web could easily give way to complete chaos. However, under Krauss's watchful eye, these twists and turns only strengthen the impact of this enchanting book.

The History of Love spans of period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character's psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love. Leo Gursky is a retired locksmith who immigrates to New York after escaping SS officers in his native Poland, only to spend the last stage of his life terrified that no one will notice when he dies. ("I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I'm out, I'll buy a juice even though I'm not thirsty.") Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer vacillates between wanting to memorialize her dead father and finding a way to lift her mother's veil of depression. At the same time, she's trying to save her brother Bird, who is convinced he may be the Messiah, from becoming a 10-year-old social pariah. As the connection between Leo and Alma is slowly unmasked, the desperation, along with the potential for salvation, of this unique pair is also revealed.

The poetry of her prose, along with an uncanny ability to embody two completely original characters, is what makes Krauss an expert at her craft. But in the end, it's the absolute belief in the uninteruption of love that makes this novel a pleasure, and a wonder to behold. --Gisele Toueg ... Read more

Customer Reviews (348)

2-0 out of 5 stars Jejune?
When I saw the authors photo on the cover of the NYT Book Review (Oct 17,2010)I was struck by how young she looked and before I'd entertain buying or reading her latest novel I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and whether someone as young as she had enough life experience to write novels that were so highly touted.
Here's what happened: I got "The History of Love" out of the library and started to read it. Granted, I already had a bias, but I was liking it for the first section. Although the "voice" was familiar and she kind'a sounded like a young female Phillip Roth but without his immense talent and "force" of writing.So I was familiar with Krauss's voice, anybody who'd grown up in Bkly'n as I did and read all the "Jewish" writers would be, so it was entertaining for a while. But now I want to say,"is that all you got?"
The mystery is no mystery.I mean I didn't get far enough in the novel to unearth it and I didn't care. I'm not amused by mysteries and I don't read them and this is no different,so that takes care of that part. Her writing is "average," I find nothing about it "wonderful," in the least, and the structure of the whole thing, I'll have to go with gimmicky as some of the other reviewers here said.
So other than sustaining herself writing for this length I find nothing extraordinary about this novel.I'd put it on the level of an average popular novel, nothing more, and I wouldn't invest my time to finish reading it.

2-0 out of 5 stars This is a review for the audio version
I stopped reading during the third disc (about 1/4 of the way through the book) for two reasons: 1) mainly because I had ZERO interest in what happened to the annoyingly precocious Alma and 2) the voice of the person who was reading about Alma was as irritating as fingers on a blackboard. The first section -- from Leo's quirky perspective -- was charming and endearing. That narration was performed by the always superb George Guidall. Once he became silent, the book lost its oomph.Two stars for that brief visit.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great
Alma and Leo are both fascinating characters and great narrators.The author seems to have complicated her plot a bit too much and it does require the reader to go back and forth in the book searching for clarity.The ending is ambiguous at best.

3-0 out of 5 stars Similar ideas by other authors
The idea of a holocaust survivor never getting over a lost loveis a story plot that echoes in many novels
By elie weisel. In fact some expressions used in the book such as "and yet" seemed to be copied. Also an idea of locating a lost child from another love is a theme I have seen before.What is new here?And yet she writes flowingly well. " and yet"!

4-0 out of 5 stars so close to a five, but...
This is truly a gorgeously written book, with compelling, sympathetic characters and a coherent plot despite non-linear construction & shifts in viewpoint. The language is poetic and truly touching. The climax on the park bench is fraught with tension and my heart almost leapt out of my chest. However, there are too many loose ends left hanging. This leaves a feeling that the book is incomplete.

*SPOILERS FOLLOW: Is Bruno fictional? We know that Bird believes his chessed will prove he's a lamed-vavnik, but what happens once the chessed is complete? What happens to Bernard? to Bird's mentor in the hospital? Is Alma's theory about Jacob Marcus's identity correct? END OF SPOILERS*

This book is actually better-written than 85% of 5-star books, but because you sense it could yet be even better...I just can't bring myself to give it the 5-star.

However, I also can't wait to read another book by this immensely gifted author! ... Read more

5. At Home: A Short History of Private Life
by Bill Bryson
Hardcover: 512 Pages (2010-10-05)
list price: US$28.95 -- used & new: US$13.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767919386
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From one of the most beloved authors of our  time—more than six million copies of his books have been sold in this country alone—a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home.

“Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”
Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.” The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has fig­ured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.

Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposi­tion imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010: Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) turns his attention from science to society in his authoritative history of domesticity, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. While walking through his own home, a former Church of England rectory built in the 19th century, Bryson reconstructs the fascinating history of the household, room by room. With waggish humor and a knack for unearthing the extraordinary stories behind the seemingly commonplace, he examines how everyday items--things like ice, cookbooks, glass windows, and salt and pepper--transformed the way people lived, and how houses evolved around these new commodities. "Houses are really quite odd things," Bryson writes, and, luckily for us, he is a writer who thrives on oddities. He gracefully draws connections between an eclectic array of events that have affected home life, covering everything from the relationship between cholera outbreaks and modern landscaping, to toxic makeup, highly flammable hoopskirts, and other unexpected hazards of fashion. Fans of Bryson's travel writing will find plenty to love here; his keen eye for detail and delightfully wry wit emerge in the most unlikely places, making At Home an engrossing journey through history, without ever leaving the house. --Lynette Mong

... Read more

Customer Reviews (63)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story

Bryson gives his own house the same reatment he gives to his travel books. It's amazing to see how he finds humor and fascination in even the most mundane. It goes to show how a great writer doesn' need elaborate setting to create a complex and enjoyable story,

5-0 out of 5 stars One simple word, fascinating!
Bill Bryson has the amazing ability to find the interesting and fascinating in what most people would hardly think of. In At Home, he continues to find and share the history of such items as ice, sanitary disposal and the lives of servants and he does it in an informative and enjoyable manner. Bryson deserves a lot of credit as this book must have taken an enormous amount of research and he really shows how much thought he has put into the book.

Now speaking as someone who is a huge fan of his previous works and enjoys Bryson's wit, I will warn any readers that the normal humor and wit is almost entirely missing here.But still the extraordinary origins of our lives is so fascinating that it is a small price to pay to hear these fascinating histories.The way he finds the smallest cue to lead into a fascinating segue into such things as burial rituals (in gardening of all things) is just fascinating.

This is a great and enjoyable book. I strong recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the world around them and broadening their minds, while being greatly entertained!

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
If you are expecting Bryson's usual humor and wit, you will be disappointed in this book.He leads the reader by hand and discusses minutiae of everyday life in England, how things came to be and where they came from.If the average reader has this much time to devote to such things, then go ahead.However, for Bryson fans of A Walk in the Woods and I'm A Stranger Here Myself, this will be a pure disappointment.

3-0 out of 5 stars Reusing earlier research?
While this has the usual Bryson hook of starting out with something familiar (his house) and expanding on the theme, an awful lot of material in this book seemed to be recycled from his earlier "A Short History of Nearly Everything". We've heard about the Crystal Palace before, not to mention many of the eccentric-but-brilliant British amateur scientists. And we've seen some of it even earlier - the long section on Victorian plant collectors in this book wasn't very different from the same information in "A Walk in the Woods". I suppose everyone is entitled to have topics they're interested in, but if you're going to recycle, it'd be nice if the book was funny. Which this isn't, mostly. So not my favorite of his books, but it's Bill Bryson, so still a good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A history of the world, one room at a time
Even more than his boundless curiosity and wit, or his appreciation for the foibles and capacities of human nature, what makes Bryson so much fun to follow as he leads us on a tour of his 19th century English rectory house is the meandering pathway of his thoughts, probing back, back to the nub of things.

He doesn't know much about Mr. Marsham, the rector who built his house in 1851, for instance, but he makes up for that with fascinating snippets about more interesting clergymen. The church was a job for upper-class younger sons and required a university degree, but no study of divinity. "Though no one intended it, the effect was to create a class of well educated, wealthy people who had immense amounts of time of their hands. In consequence, many of them began, quite spontaneously, to do remarkable things."

Bryson, an American who has lived in England for many years, gives us a number of eye-opening examples, like the 18th century amateur mathematician Reverend Thomas Bayes whose elegant probability theorem had no practical use until the invention of the computer. It now models climate change, fixes radiocarbon dates, predicts the stock market, etc.

Readers familiar with Bryson's wide-ranging mind (A Short History of Nearly Everything, A Walk in the Woods, The Mother Tongue) know that a tour of his house is really a framework for a global history, from the vantage point of private life. The dining room provides a portal into the scourge of scurvy and the age of exploration. "I can tell you at once that nothing you touch today will have more bloodshed, suffering and woe attached to it than the innocuous twin pillars of your salt and pepper set."

There's nothing he enjoys so much as delving back to the beginnings of things, including words, and gives us the genesis of most room names as well as the word "comfort," which, until the 19th century, meant solace, there being no concept of "comfortable," as in padded chairs and warm rooms.

He traces the beginnings of the middle class and the interconnections between rising global commerce and the new notion of comfort. Chippendale's mass-produced (comparatively speaking) furniture was made possible by imported mahogany (a type now extinct), shellac and more people with money.

Dining rooms were only invented to save upholstered furniture, which didn't come into being until the flying shuttle was invented in 1733, allowing wider fabric bolts. Once the room was invented, the 19th century took it to absurd lengths with as many as nine wineglasses (plus more for dessert) and up to 146 different pieces of flatware. All meant to distinguish the hoi polloi from the elite, of course.

Behind the excitement of every innovation are the people. Bryson is enthralled (another word he traces the origin of) by the non-professional innovator; men (mostly) of boundless energy and inquisitiveness.

If not for a forgotten canal worker, Canvass White, New York City might still be the backwater it was after the Revolution. At that time The Appalachian Mountains formed such an impenetrable barrier to trade along the Eastern seaboard "that many people believed that the pioneers living beyond the mountains would eventually, of practical necessity, form a separate nation."

While New York City's 1810 mayor (soon to be governor), DeWitt Clinton, gets credit for the Erie Canal, which connected the city with the Great Lakes, and the farmlands beyond, it was White who went to England to learn about hydraulic cement, without which no canal can be built. White not only picked up the English technique, he improved upon it, but instead of becoming rich and famous he was cheated by the manufacturers and died broke and bitter.

Bryson also manages to include histories of interior light, air, and heat, eating and sleeping habits, windows, the politics and consequences of taxes, farming innovations, and horticultural science. "The Stairway" provides a statistical analysis of falls throughout the world; "The Passage" leads us to Eiffel and his Tower, the many Vanderbilt mansions (in one a Rembrandt graced a breakfast nook) and other American excesses, Thomas Edison's crackbrained inventions, one of which was the concrete house, and the history of the telephone.

"The Bedroom" naturally evokes sex and death and surgery before the advent of anesthesia, and "The Bathroom" prompts a history of hygiene. "The Study," favored by Bryson's English mice, leads to discussions of mousetraps, rats, bats, germs and locusts.

Entertaining anecdotes abound and while Bryson debunks some apocryphal stories, he includes others of dubious factuality, like the one about John Jacob Astor wiping his greasy hands on a dinner guest's gown.

He entertains and educates and arouses a sense of wonder and the satisfied reader gets the distinct impression no one is having more fun than Bryson himself. Recommended for all who like their history accessible, idiosyncratic and humorous. ... Read more

6. Zero History
by William Gibson
 Paperback: 416 Pages (2011-08-02)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$10.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425240770
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Unabridged, 9 CDs, 11 hours

Read by TBA

William Gibson's first new novel since Spook Country. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (45)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not zero when it comes to reading
So if you haven't read the previous 3 Gibson novels you can probably follow this one, but there would be a lot missing from your total appreciation of the current novel. This one certainly ties up a lot of loose ends and has all kinds of cool stuff (like the Festo devices) to make it interesting. I can't be sure how this would read if I hadn't read the last 3. I highly recommend this novel AFTER you have read the this "sequence" from the beginning.

1-0 out of 5 stars Search for Pants goes nowhere
A long term fan of Gibson, I found this to be a "one sequel too many" type of book. My impression is he is attempting to apply espionage type scenarios over the fashion industry which ends up leaving the reader puzzled as to the extreme reactions of the antagonists (the good and bad guys) over attempts to find out the source of blue jeans. And the scenarios are endlessly repeated with Mr. BigEnds "full english breakfast" scene being played out numerous times. I finally gave up after 75% of the book as it was not going anywhere with any believable story line.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tickled Blue

Every three or four years, for the last 26, a new William Gibson book emerges from the shadows to stand blinking in the light of day. Zero History has arrived, clothed in International Klein Blue. It's the third in his latest not quite trilogies... "not quite" as like its predecessors each book includes cross referenced characters, that may or may not reappear in the next book, and if they do, secondary characters become the main focus and past main characters may be glimpsed at a distance or have no more than a walk on part. Each book also follows in a vaguely sequential timeline, yet each stands alone, the narratives not necessarily intertwined, nor are the back-stories from each previous book more than obliquely referenced to.

Gibson likes oblique. He comes at the world from unusual angles, viewpoints looking up from sewer grates or down from security cameras. He again displays his fascination with the fringe elements of the worlds interwoven cultures and the people that inhabit them, be they cult status indie bands, military black ops, advertising visionaries, or the collectors of obscure ephemera. His writing style continues to engage a near pornographic fascination with details, a gritty awareness of the warp and weave of societies trappings, surfaces, and hardware, yet his characters are rarely given more than off hand personal descriptions, if at all, and usually by an outsiders casual reference that they looked vaguely like an obscure European model from the 70's or an actor more known for tabloid appearances then film, leaving you to either fill in the blanks or go a-googling.

His first trilogy was set not too far into the future, and brought us unearthly visions of the dark recesses of cyberspace... a truly prophetic vision, Gibson having coined the term that has become real since his first publications. He is credited as being the father of the Cyberpunk genre, and his worldly visions are steeped in silicon, drugs, violence and madness. His second trilogy reeled in the timeline, bringing us just ahead of current day happenings, but his observations and extrapolations of technology and society retained its grit and near hallucinogenic lucidity as well as its within reach quality. With this current trilogy, Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and now Zero History, Gibson settled into Here and Now territory, essentially Contemporary Action and Adventure rather than anything more than vaguely Cyber or even Punk for that matter, with boutique hotels and stealth fashion design holding his fascination with the cutting edge, with the obscure reaches outside of the ken of most who walk this planet. He continues to dish up scenarios as filled with technical arcana and behavioral norms that still smack of amphetamine fueled Vernian flights of fancy, but however far removed from your day to day reality his tales are woven it seems assured that sufficient research will reveal fact far more prevalent than fiction, and as usual you will find yourself willingly lost in his worlds.

October 2010

4-0 out of 5 stars Reality check for this book
I marked up every page of this book as I plowed through it.

"Plowed," not because the concepts were so difficult, but because the writing is rather of opaque, and also because it reads like a Russian novel, with constant references to some person who was briefly introduced 213 pages ago, and my memory isn't good enough to keep them all in mind! It's such a hodge-podge of cutting edge real science and woo-woo guys without credibility.

My main complaint is that so much of it reads like "If we can for the moment assume..." and "Could it really be that...?" that I have to take it as a work of science fiction. And, as such a work, I enjoyed reading it very much.

Here are my comments on those of the main claims that I know anything about:

1) Optical cloaking is not a crazy idea at all. However, it's very recent that objects have been able to be cloaked, but it has happened. It's on the very forefront of optical physics, the last few years. I heard about it first in St. Petersburg at the Laser Optics Conference there in 2008. The Russians, as they often do, first did the mathematics about materials with negative refractive index, and then people began to see the implications of that in the laboratory - in the microwave regime. Still, only small objects and only at one wavelength. It works optically only on tiny objects at one wavelength of laser light - certainly not for a whole ship. I would love to think people did that sixty years ago, but I think the probability is very small. "Stealth" is a different concept from cloaking, in which a craft is designed with several flat surfaces with low radar reflectance so that what energy is reflected goes off as a beam that is unlikely to point in the right direction to be received.

2) Regarding "foo fighters" and so on, I keep an open mind. I've always thought the coincidence between the start of the work at Los Alamos and the first reports of zero-inertia flying objects deserved some thought, and that it is possible that the unique emanations from such tests, even in the lab, might have drawn to us observers with different technology than ours. Or, maybe, the fear and paranoia associated with war produced hallucinations that fulfilled wishful hopes that "the government" or "the Germans" were way, way ahead of what we ordinary people knew, in their secret projects. Having been a part of government science for so long, I'm a bit cynical about that, which leaves the other possible explanation.

3) Fleissiges Lieschen: great idea. The Germans seem to have originated the vast majority of great ideas with practical application (Vertical takeoff and landing planes, ICBM's, jet engines, inertial navigation, random key codes, organic chemistry, cruise missiles..) so I'm not surprised that a small version of the Jules Verne "Columbiad" was a German first. Then cameFreeman Dyson during the original "ORION" project down in La Jolla about 1958, when he envisioned propelling a 5-m diameter spaceship to the moon with a nitrocellulose driver in a cannon 3km long. Finally, Gerald Bull was killed in 1990, probably by Mossad, for actually building a 1-m bore cannon 156m long for Saddam Hussein.

4) T. T. Brown and "electrogravitic lift?" or antigravity for the B-2? No, I think not. Crazy people have been inventing new physics for decades - my job at Navy Electronics Lab back in 1963 was to answer letters from people who had, for example, invented "electrohydromagnetic" forces and demanded that the Navy fund them. A typical real result involved a spinning eccentric mass which, placed on a bathroom scale, reduced its weight by 5% or so when it was turned on. It could be explained by resonances in the workings of the scale, which was not designed to weigh a vibrating thing. Unfortunately, generals almost never had technical educations in those days, and were very vulnerable to the woo-woo guys, sometimes giving them undeserved credibility.

5) Avro Silverbug radial-flow gas turbine "flying saucer"-shaped aircraft? Great idea! The photograph of the design had me thinking for several days. If built, of course, it would not turn corners instantly because it has mass. If anyone had ever developed a way of annulling mass, we'd have a whole different world, not just rumors of super-secret projects.

6) German directed-energy weapons: maybe. No one had even thought how to make a laser yet, I'm sure of that. But a microwave beam that could generate a few kV at distance and mess up vehicle ignitions? Possible. The fascinating thing I learned from the book is how creatively organized and energetic the German weapons research effort was - many research projects funded in parallel to give the maximum probability of one useful result in the short time available.

7) Hal Puthoff and "remote viewing?" Yeah, well... I try to keep and open mind on Hal, whom I know,not for this stuff but for his ideas about zero point energy, the idea that the force of acceleration itself is "the wind of the zero point" in your face so to speak. He's not all crackpot. He began as a good semiconductor physics person. I used to call him up once a month or so in the early 70's to hear the latest on his ESP experiments, which he could only get published in Hungary at the time, where it was shown that polygraphs attached to plants responded dramatically to thoughts of, say, cutting down the tree, or approaching with a lighter. He managed to show that ESP thought transmission was possible in one experiment on two separated people that I find credible. The point that made the results believable to me was that he eliminated the effects of the conscious mind (which, I believe, will always screw up such an experiment by trying to "show off"). He did that by having the "transmitter" person watch a flashing strobe light while the "receiver person" simply sat there in a distant barn. Then the receiver's brainwaves were cross correlated with the strobe waveform to give a chance of one in a billion that he or she was not receiving information from the person who was watching the light.

8) Spinning superconducting disks, "torsion fields," "the Repulsine," etc.? This guy Marckus sounds a little quacky to me, making statements that don't sound like those of "an eminent scientist," but he makes a great character if you look at the book as a science fiction effort. I also know Mark Millis and through him NASA's breakthrough propulsion program, to which I've pitched a few projects that never were funded. He has funded lots of things, but to my knowledge nothing "breakthrough" in the sense of this book has ever come out of the program. Supposedly, he was hoping for a nonconservative gravitational field with nonzero curl, perhaps using "negative mass." The program was terminated in 2002.
Some of these fantastic claims about the possibility of tapping the vacuum energy for weapons seem to me most likely to have originated, as Nick Cook himself admits somewhere, as cold war disinformation.

9) Project Paperclip: hundreds or thousands of nasty Nazis imported into U.S. research programs up until the 1950's instead of being hung? That is interesting, and likely. Of course, it's easy for people in the U.S. to forget that Huntsville, Alabama spoke mostly German for quite a while! Von Braun became our hero. And Oberth and...

10) The Black world? Oh yes, it exists. According to the internet sources, $40B or more a year go into black programs in the U.S.

11) Finally, the "Blackbird": It indeed did what Nick Cook claims, flying to Paris and back to California in 2-3 hours. See the attached powerpoint, which I love! It was retired because satellite technology simply made fast, high reconnaissance planes redundant.

If you don't take every word seriously, you will enjoy this book!
The Hunt for Zero Point: Inside the Classified World of Antigravity Technology [HUNT FOR ZERO POINT] [Paperback]

4-0 out of 5 stars Best iPhone advertisement ever!
Great book!Now I really want to get an iPhone and shop for some vintage clothing. ... Read more

7. A Renegade History of the United States
by Thaddeus Russell
Hardcover: 400 Pages (2010-09-28)
list price: US$27.00 -- used & new: US$14.63
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Asin: 141657106X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In this groundbreaking book, noted historian Thaddeus Russell tells a new and surprising story about the origins of American freedom. Rather than crediting the standard textbook icons, Russell demonstrates that it was those on the fringes of society whose subversive lifestyles helped legitimize the taboo and made America the land of the free.

In vivid portraits of renegades and their “respectable” adversaries, Russell shows that the nation’s history has been driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires—insiders versus outsiders, good citizens versus bad. The more these accidental revolutionaries existed, resisted, and persevered, the more receptive society became to change.

Russell brilliantly and vibrantly argues that it was history’s iconoclasts who established many of our most cherished liberties. Russell finds these pioneers of personal freedom in the places that usually go unexamined—saloons and speakeasies, brothels and gambling halls, and even behind the Iron Curtain. He introduces a fascinating array of antiheroes: drunken workers who created the weekend; prostitutes who set the precedent for women’s liberation, including “Diamond Jessie” Hayman, a madam who owned her own land, used her own guns, provided her employees with clothes on the cutting-edge of fashion, and gave food and shelter to the thousands left homeless by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; there are also the criminals who pioneered racial integration, unassimilated immigrants who gave us birth control, and brazen homosexuals who broke open America’s sexual culture.

Among Russell’s most controversial points is his argument that the enemies of the renegade freedoms we now hold dear are the very heroes of our history books— he not only takes on traditional idols like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy, but he also shows that some of the most famous and revered abolitionists, progressive activists, and leaders of the feminist, civil rights, and gay rights movements worked to suppress the vibrant energies of working-class women, immigrants, African Americans, and the drag queens who founded Gay Liberation.

This is not history that can be found in textbooks— it is a highly original and provocative portrayal of the American past as it has never been written before. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars The founders of our actual freedom
Since I was small, I've always regarded hippies, along with civil rights and anti-war protesters, as the real founders of freedom in the United States.Most of the good things in our culture, from rock and R&B music to sexual freedom to marijuana, seemed to come from folks such as these, rather than from the peruqued heads of the Revolutionary War.This book points out that this view of things has deeper roots than the 1960s.

That said, many passages are likely to make you uncomfortable.Not with the tales of factory workers pushing back against industrial discipline, of whores and gay pirates: they're still safe to cheer for.

But the book's treatment of issues involving African-Americans and slavery may well cause some discomfort.For I'm still enough of a product of a Puritan culture that frequent examination of conscience is an indelible part of my background; and what is white guilt but the fruit of examination of conscience brought to racial issues?

Now, the tale the book tells is convincing, and likely true.The author tells us that many former slaves found that the movement from being valuable livestock to hired hands was no improvement.As livestock, they knew they would be fed and taken care of.Giving this up for the "liberty" of being able to switch employers and move on was a bargain many would not have chosen. As slaves, being property, their sexual relationships were unregistered, and could be changed as was convenient.Nobody expected different."Liberty" brought with it the tyranny of nineteenth century marriage law.

The author argues that blackface minstrelsy, which we assume was pure stereotype, in fact was popular because it portrayed a people relatively free from work ethic, sexual repression, and able to engage in public merriment without fear of shame.Some White people in the nineteenth century liked it for some of the same reasons that some White people in the twenty-first century like gangsta rap.This rouses a perhaps unwholesome curiosity about what the performances were actually like.An entire genre of Americana has vanished leaving only the slightest traces; it made previous generations that uncomfortable.

The author, despite his disclaimer that the "renegades" are not really heroes, seems to take a pleasantly subversive delight in making these arguments.He likes to make his readers squirm a little.You might have preferred to have these themes broached first in a stuffily scholarly and less readable text than this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Thaddeus Russell explores US social history in an engaging and straightforward way.What we recognize today as American culture was shaped by disenfranchised groups such as African-Americans, Gays, Jews, Irish, and prostitutes.Although "respectable" people often looked down on the lower classes and the disenfranchised, these renegades gave us freedoms such as jazz, contraception, women baring their ankles, and interracial relationships.

2-0 out of 5 stars Seminally shocking but slightedly selective...
That this is the screed of a rebellious academic from Berkeley is sure to enlighten and amuse those of us free thinkers who refuse to accept historical truth written by corrupt elitists or establishment blue eyed devils. Nevertheless, while it reveals the untold impetus behind many progressive US events, it leaves out vital information and snubbed sources. For instance, in tracing cultural contributions of organized crime, from jazz to Hollywood to Broadway to gay rights, he uses the word mafia and yet gives more credit to PC non Italian gangsters than voweled surnames who suffer media stereotypes.

Also lost in translation are the paisans who were among the first jazz musicians and the impact of a certain New Jersey saloon singer who singlehandedly helped integrate Las Vegas if not America itself. This is a worthy real people history lesson, don't get me wrong. But it's still a major rewrite, footnote and index away from telling the whole complete story. As is, this reads like an abridged version of what might have been a more thorough inclusive effort. Like a good franchise movie serial, it begs for a sequel with a longer list of supporting cast stars curiously missing from the renegade debut.

5-0 out of 5 stars I like this style of history!
What if the author of this book came back some day to apply his analytic methods and writing style to the history of the last 20 years? It might read something like this ...

The internet, originally a project of the U.S. Defence Department, had by 1995 become the notorious home of hackers, flamers and trolls. Individualists and non-conformists ruled the day. In fact, the internet had become the last, best home of fun in a repressive American society. Because of its apparent cloak of anonymity, everyone could dare to be provocative, profane, and uninhibited on the internet. They could be drunk, or at least act drunk, even while at work. They could be a girl, or at least pretend to be a girl. On the internet, Americans could live out their fantasies in public from the privacy of their keyboards. In short, they could be "black" whenever and wherever they wished, without giving up their day job.

During these years, the leading names of the internet (at least the ones the history books record) were doing everything they could to dampen animal spirits and enforce sobriety. Flame wars were banned from many Usenet groups, and flamers and trolls were often banished. Even Al Gore declaimed in an obscure Senate speech "I did not invent the internets in order to promote the greater dissemination of pornography and mindless discourse. If there is not some self-imposed restraint, I may need to consider regulation."

As it turned out, neither restraint nor regulation were needed. The internet's renegade renaissance lasted only ten years before it was squashed by a complete corporate takeover between 1998 and 2001. After that, when the RIAA began tracking down Napster "pirates", and ISP's started naming names, addresses and phone numbers of their not-so-anonymous-any-more internet subscribers, the jig was up.

But before you settle back into the comfort of your safe, corporate-controlled internet with its ubiquitous spell checking and massive NSA supercomputers endlessly sifting every phrase you write (or perhaps auto-completing your phrases so it can analyze them before you've even finished writing or thinking them), spare a thought for the renegades, the pirates, and yes even the whores of the early internet. They're the ones who expanded our freedoms. Without their pluck, our goose would already be cooked.

1-0 out of 5 stars Some amazing historical theories
This is an astounding collection of historical facts, contradictory and with some pretty inflammatory quotes and statements. The author does not seem to have anything `good' to say about anyone, with the exception that the `bad' classes and their behavior gave Americans their freedom - pitted against the always repressive authoritarian classes. It is true as he claims, that ordinary people do not make the history books, and it is true that many of the customs and freedoms of those classes gradually move up the social strata. I can agree with that premise, but with that said as one reads further into this book there are continued statements that, for many can be viewed as extremely insulting: That slaves were happier and had more freedom as slaves,the first ladies have taken up the color red (a symbol of prostitutes)and made it respectable, "'good ` Americans have never been able to dance", "racial purity was a prominent theme in New Deal culture". Chapter titles give a hint of their content: "from white chimps to Yankee doodles: the Irish", "The Jew was a Negro", "Italian Americans: out of Africa.

Many of the statements and ideas are contradictory and there is often no depth in the historical facts given, for example the amount of alcohol consumed in revolutionary times - there was often no other safe drink and in a hotter climate than Europe, workers drank to assuage their thirst and their continued dehydration from drinking alcohol. Premarital pregnancies and behavior was really no different than in Europe, as were concerns about the lower classes' alcohol consumption.
There was a good theory to start this book, but the way it is proved leaves a questionable taste. ... Read more

8. A Short History of the United States
by Edward Channing
Paperback: 274 Pages (2010-07-12)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003VPX3J6
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A Short History of the United States is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Edward Channing is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Edward Channing then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

9. United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination
by John J. Newman
Paperback: Pages (2003-01)
list price: US$28.92 -- used & new: US$25.00
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Asin: 1567656609
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (60)

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book!
OMG!!! I love this book. It is freaking better than the text book itself. I was able to read it and understand what I am reading. I just love it!

5-0 out of 5 stars The best study guide for US HISTORY.
This book not only helps with any US History you have but is also a great study tool for the AP exam in US History. Its easy and fast to read and understand the text in this book. They have it broken down into sections and divided by chapters so its simple to flip through and find what you may be looking for. I use it all the time in AP US History and almost the rest of the class has this book to help them also. Its actually such a great book, that my teacher is trying to replace this book with the current textbook we have now. :) Its also very interesting to read compared to most school text books that contain lots of information we dont need.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect!
The product was like it said in the description, and it got here right on time.I recommend other users who haven't used amazon, to buy products from here.

5-0 out of 5 stars great condition
when i received it, it was in great condition in the packaging, and it was exactly what i wanted.

1-0 out of 5 stars Newman book
the book said used, but it had no pictures of how badly it was used, so when i got it i just threw it away ... Read more

10. The Beginner's American History
by D. H. Montgomery
Paperback: 146 Pages (2010-03-07)
list price: US$23.46 -- used & new: US$21.11
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Asin: 1770456201
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: History / General; Biography ... Read more

11. A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking
Paperback: 224 Pages (1998-09-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$7.88
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Asin: 0553380168
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic world--observations that have confirmed many of Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book.

Now a decade later, this edition updates the chapters throughout to document those advances, and also includes an entirely new chapter on Wormholes and Time Travel and a new introduction. It make vividly clear why A Brief History of Time has transformed our view of the universe.Amazon.com Review
Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists inhistory, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to helpnonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today:Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come toan end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (andwhere we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Amongthe topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, thenature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This isdeep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to causevertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's abilityto synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking aboutthings like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking,for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be aglimpse of "the mind of God." --Therese Littleton ... Read more

Customer Reviews (331)

3-0 out of 5 stars Uneven level of detail
The first chapters of the book are nice preliminary material for the more advanced subjects. However, starting from chapter 3, when the more complex arguments are discussed, Mr Hawking does not spend much time and detail to introduce difficult concepts. He just talks about black holes, virtual particles, strings, symmetry and higher dimensions as one can talk about apples.
I had the feeling that he switched from the really basic to the really advanced without providing the necessary logical connection and intermediate steps.
I think this is a missed opportunity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great For the Interested Non-scientist!
Dr. Hawking is an extremely intelligent individual who can take his theories, as well as other theories related to the Universe and our existence, breaking them down into easy to understand concepts.I found the book to be very interesting and entertaining, as it expanded my awareness and thoughts on what is happening all around us.I recommend the book for anyone interested in the various theories surrounding the Universe and our existence!

Terry M. Drake, LSW, NBCCH
Author of Live Happily, Ever After... Now!

4-0 out of 5 stars A little deep but mostly readable.
I'm slogging through this.It's very interesting but, of course, a little over most people's heads.I like how he presents a theory and then gives an example.

5-0 out of 5 stars a brief classic
Many readable introductions to the concepts and issues of modern physical theory have been offered over the last few decades. I have enjoyed many of them. With the publication of The Grand Design by Hawking and Mlodinow, I decided to revisit Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

After two decades, this remains the most succinct, parsimonious and carefully written introduction for the non-specialist that I have read. He passes over bits ( a whole Newtonian law of motion) for brevity and clarity, and pads it out for relevance, all appropriately. For example, introducing quantum theory through black body radiation and the uncertainty principle is a common approach, but Hawking is lucid and direct, inspiring a "wow, that was easy" moment. Many books roll out phenomena and theories, duality, tunnelling, entanglement etc, and while these are excellent for learning about elements of quantum theory, a clear take-home message is usually elusive. Rolling this, black whole theory, anthropic principles, no boundary condition, string theory and the unification of physics all together is a singular achievement for this classic. What an inspiration to tackle the maths and learn more.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Hobo Philosopher
A Brief History of Time

By Stephen W. Hawking

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I read this book several years ago and since that time I have read it several more times. Since my first reading, I have not been able to get this book off my mind. On that account I should give it five stars. But the things that I can't get off my mind are all negative criticisms. On that account I should give it one star.

My criticisms start before I even get to the author.

In his introduction Carl Sagan speaks of "Einstein's famous question about weather God had any choice in creating the universe." Unfortunately Mr. Sagan paraphrases this one of Einstein's many famous questions incorrectly, as my memory recalls.

If there were a God why would he not have a choice in creating the universe? This paraphrasing makes no sense.
Einstein's question as I recall it was whether or not God had any choice in his own existence.

Now that is a big question to all us philosophy buffs. Mr. Sagan's incorrect paraphrasing makes Einstein's "famous question" no question at all.

Asking whether God had a choice in his own existence is a subtle way of stating the impossibility of the God concept.

If there is a God he could not have had the choice to exist or not to exist. He either was or he wasn't. If he wasn't, he could never have been because something can not come from "nothing."

The answer to the rhetorical question is that he had no choice and therefore was lacking in freedom. God can not be God and be lacking in freedom. Therefore the concept of God is untenable.

The above is not my opinion; it is simple philosophic logic that can be found in any philosophy book debating the God concept.

This was really a rhetorical question in my opinion on the part of Einstein. He was expressing his dubiousness on this subject.

If there is a God whether or not to create the universe is no problem at all; God can do as he pleases. He can create it or not create it. Who or what is going to make him do it or not do it? What logic says he can't do it? Sagan's question makes no sense.

Now we come to Mr. Hawking and friends.

Unfortunately there is a lot of sloppy language going on in the scientific community. Mr. Hawking is just one of many who "slop" around terms to the point of meaninglessness. One such term is the word "universe."

The universe is defined briefly as, "all that is." I am sorry but there can not be two "all that is." All that is, covers everything. It follows then that there can be no multiple universes, parallel universes or competing universes. There can only be one universe.

Scientists are obviously using the word "universe" with a different understanding than "all that is." Somebody should explain to readers how the scientific community is defining the word universe.

Other improperly used words are infinite and annihilate.

The universe can not be at the same time infinite and limited. An infinite universe can not expand. It is already infinite. It can't get no bigger than that.

A particle can not be annihilated and at the same time transformed into something else. If a particle is annihilated it not only disappears, it ceases to exist. It doesn't just disappear. As far as I know annihilation is impossible. Therefore if a particle turns into light and/or energy, then it hasn't been annihilated. It has been transformed. It can only be annihilated if it has been turned into nothing - and this is an impossible theoretical state. A state of "nothing" does not exist.

Space is also something. Its influences may be so minimal that they are not necessary to mathematical equations but space is more than a state or condition fabricated by gravity and other magnetic forces. There are scientists who are presently working to discover exactly what space is and what its influences are on the universe.

Light travels in straight lines in all directions infinitely - but it also bends. This is impossible. It does one or the other. It either travels infinitely in straight lines or it bend and wiggles its way through space.

If light bends and wiggles it way through space then it certainly can not be used as a measurement of the distance between planets or galaxies. Unless someone can measure the exact amount of wiggle at every distance in space - which I doubt very much is possible. What the heck are these scientists talking about?

An ellipse is an extended circle? Then I suppose a circle is a square with rounded sides. I know these guys are trying to dumb this stuff down for folks like me but if they dumb it down too much they are me and then we are all going nowhere.

I'm not a Big Bang guy and neither was Mr. Hubble. I have read that Mr. Hubble who established the notion of red shifts and blue shifts said that he in no way concluded from this observation that the universe is actually expanding or that any Big Bang was involved.

I think the Big Bang notion is comparable to "the world is flat" notion along with the Ptolemaic universe and phlogiston. It is being challenged by plasma theorists and others. The whole concept seems to be imploding in favor of an infinite, self-evolving universe.

I am reading a book at the moment by Eric J. Lerner "The Big Bang Never Happened." It is making some sense to my way of thinking.

Question posed in Mr. Hawking book: What was God doing before he created the universe?
Answer provided in book by St. Augustine: Time did not exist before the beginning of the universe.

So then where was God? He obviously did not exist before the universe either. Is God not a part of "all that is"? Does he exist? If so then he must have existed within the concept of "all that is" - the universe. No universe, no God.

And if the universe had no beginning - and the Big Bang can not be construed as the beginning of "all that is" -then St. Augustine may be right. Time began when the universe began; the universe always was and always will be
(in one shape or another) therefore time always was and always will be.

Mr. Hawking, Mr. Sagan and others in the scientific community I don't think are/were big on philosophy. They know their math but seem short on logic and semantics.

This book to me is pretty much an exercise in scientific madness (time going backwards, the universe collapsing, parallel universes, universes that are cone shaped, or infinite but finite and limited) but it is not just Mr. Hawking who has gone mad. He has a whole bunch lined up to jump off the edge of the universe and splatter on the nothingness below following eagerly behind him.

Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
"Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
"A Summer with Charlie" Salisbury Beach, Lawrence YMCA
"A Little Something: Poetry and Prose
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" Novel - Lawrence, Ma.
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.
"Noble Notes on Famous Folks" Humor - satire - facts.
"America on Strike" American Labor - History
"A Baker's Dozen" Short Stories

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12. A Briefer History of Time
by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow
Paperback: 176 Pages (2008-05-13)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$11.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553385461
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From One of the Most Brilliant Minds of Our Time
Comes a Book that Clarifies His Most Important Ideas

Stephen Hawking’s worldwide bestseller, A Brief History of Time, remains one of the landmark volumes in scientific writing of our time. But for years readers have asked for a more accessible formulation of its key concepts—the nature of space and time, the role of God in creation, and the history and future of the universe.

Professor Hawking’s response is this new work that will guide nonscientists everywhere in the ongoing search for the tantalizing secrets at the heart of time and space.…

Although “briefer,” this book is much more than a mere explanation of Hawking’s earlier work. A Briefer History of Time both clarifies and expands on the great subjects of the original, and records the latest developments in the field—from string theory to the search for a unified theory of all the forces of physics. Thirty-seven full-color illustrations enhance the text and make A Briefer History of Time an exhilarating and must-have addition in its own right to the great literature of science and ideas.

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Customer Reviews (100)

3-0 out of 5 stars A brief encounter with the Universe
Prior to reading "A Briefer..." I had read "A Brief..." which mentioned several deep and complex theories of the universe quickly and left me slightly confused (i.e. the shape of the universe, God, String Theory...) due partly to its brevity.
I read "A Briefer..." five or so years later and found the "read" to be quick and easy to digest and quite clear in its points. Hawking writes a chapter on Quantum Gravity (reconciling Einstein's theory of Gravity with Quantum physics). He points to conclusions but he leaves me curious and wanting more information about this new theory. In many ways, I wish he would write "A not so brief history of time" to add more "meat" to the topics discussed which again discuss both God, The Meaning of Life and String Theory. He also discusses Einstein's theories in details that would help a college student taking a class in Modern Physics. Hawking also discusses other very early but important physicists.
I would recommend this book to a non-scientist with the patience and interest to learn some modern physics.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reviewing Dr. Hawking
It is one of the simplest and better-explained accounts that I have read on the subject.A Brief History of TimeThe Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition

5-0 out of 5 stars It does what it says
If you're not a mathematician or a ohysicist, you're not going to spend a lot of time wrapping your head around the concept of strings that possibly have 26 dimensions. That said, this book will describe string theory, particles, the expansion of the universe, and general relativity in about as much detail as the average lay person can handle without making a career out of it. I am very interested in these topics myself, and love hearing about discoveries in the news, etc., but never really sat down and read a book that summarized it all in a way that made me feel I had a grip on all of the basics. In other words, I had heard of string theory, but only in second-hand accounts from people who might not have understood it themselves. And although I often heard that Einstein said it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, I never understood the mechanics of why that is. This book informed me exactly to the point where I felt I had understood the general concepts, and stopped short of going into the level of detail that would require lots of math on a chalkboard. In keeping the subject matter limited to a clear understanding of the basics, the authors also managed to make it a quick, enjoyable read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brief History of Time
I liked the book. It read well, but since I have read other books by Mr. Hawkings. This book contained a lot of the same material that was in some other work.
But there were some new material that I enjoyed reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Educate yourself
Seldom you will find a book on cosmic physics which will cover creation of universe and world around us and is still readable. Leonard is an excellent teacher and when you couple this with smartest brain of our time Hawking you know you are in for a treat. ... Read more

13. History of France
by Charlotte Mary Yonge
Paperback: 136 Pages (2010-08-02)
list price: US$20.75 -- used & new: US$15.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1176682903
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Enjoyable afternoon read to learn about France, it's fedal past, disparity of classes, kings and nobles, revolution and its various experiments with social egalitarianism as a response to a millenium of oppressive rule by its own increasingly aloof nobility.Fascinating to learn how the nobilty actually became entrapped by their own separation from the peasantry and in essence bacame slaves themselves to the Court by the pensions they accepted from the Crown that itself was bankrupt even though it levied ever heavier taxes on the workers.

Can there be parallels to today's social economic systems that pay out to government workers?Are the non-government workers becoming a form of over taxed peasantry and pensioners a form of government supported nobility?

The history ends in late 1800's.

You will want to have some historical maps of Europe handy. ... Read more

14. The History of England, Volume I
by David Hume
Paperback: 402 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003VPWSHE
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The History of England, Volume I is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by David Hume is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of David Hume then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

15. AP United States History Flash Cards (Barron's Ap)
by Michael Bergman, Kevin Preis
Cards: 504 Pages (2005-08-01)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$10.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764178377
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Students preparing for the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam will welcome this set of flash cards, which offers them the flexibility to study history in ways not available from textbooks and study guides. 504 cards encompass the entire AP course, reviewing all key topics. Cards are numbered and labeled so that students can arrange them within a chronological time frame or according to any of seven categories. The cards run chronologically from the Colonial era of the early 1600s to the present day. The seven categories are: Arts and Sciences, Domestic Policies, Presidential Matters, Wars and Foreign Relations, Economy and Business, Legal Issues, and Society and Culture. Questions and answers on flash cards cover every significant aspect of U.S. history from Abolitionism and Articles of Confederation to the Yalta Conference and Zachary Taylor. Here is an efficient and productive way to brush up on facts for the Advanced Placement exam, and an ideal supplement to classroom textbooks. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
Far more helpful than some of the other AP flashcards or study helpers I have looked at. I love that they are divided by time and type of event (economic, presidential, society, ect...). I have found these quite helpful even for studying for tests throughout the year.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Cool Indeed
The notecards are helpful when you need to review information and do not have the time to scour a textbook. The notecards do not cover information in detail(as they are notecards)but they hit the best points which is all you can ask for when you're in a rush.

You can organize the information by categories, numbers(dates) and however else you want. They are hole-punched which is so much more helpful.

The information was pretty helpful especially with information I had forgotten and had never covered. It gave me the basis to do my own studying in the areas I was weak in.

I would recommend them---if you are actually going to use them.

5-0 out of 5 stars TG
This is a fabulous tool for any student taking AP US History. My daughter reviews these cards daily.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great addition
These cards are a really great addition. Highly recommend them for group studies or just easy practice whenever and wherever and a great way to see how much you KNOW about each specific topic instead of just reading a book and hoping you retain it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Valuable resource
I purchased these cards for my daughter when she was taking AP US History 2 years ago and now my son is taking the same course.Both of my kids use these as one of their primary study guides.My daughter got a 5 on her AP exam and B+ / A- during her AP US History class her Jr. year of high school.My son just got a B on his AP US History mid term for his class as well as his buddy who borrowed the cards to study with. Needless to say, these cards are quite helpful!My only complaint is that they aren't numbered so keeping them in order can be a bit tricky if you aren't meticulous with them.Put the card after it sideways, always, and it will be fine. ... Read more

16. The History of England from the Norman Conquestto the Death of John (1066-1216)
by George Burton Adams
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-04)
list price: US$1.99
Asin: B002RKS3O6
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Product Description
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

17. A History of the Japanese People From the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era
by F. Brinkley
Paperback: 788 Pages (2010-09-05)
list price: US$82.99 -- used & new: US$82.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1153805987
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Japan; History / Asia / Japan; Travel / Asia / Japan; ... Read more

18. A Little History of the World
by E. H. Gombrich
Paperback: 304 Pages (2008-10-07)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 030014332X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited by a publishing acquaintance to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in seventeen languages across the world.

Toward the end of his long life, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, at last, an English translation. A Little History of the World presents his lively and involving history to English-language readers for the first time. Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savored and collected.

In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colorful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. This is a text dominated not by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind’s experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity’s achievements and an acute witness to its frailties.

The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history.

(20051125) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (69)

5-0 out of 5 stars THE BEST HISTORY BOOK EVER
I bought this book about a month ago and I'm still reading it.I love history books and i have read alot of them and some were so boring that they made me go to sleep.But this one takes history to a whole new level Gombrich tells you the history in a summery like a story but with important details and it is very fun to read.NOT BORING AT ALL.

2-0 out of 5 stars This author did insert opinions.
I read the other reviews and decided to try this book.From the reviews, I thought this would not be written from any particular worldview.It is.This author did provide facts and he did insert his opinions.I bought this book to read out loud to my children.I only read the first half of the book to myself and stopped.I kept trying to find a reason to share this book with my children.The information provided was better provided in the VP History Cards. Here is one quote of advice that the author offered, "One day - but there's no hurry - you may come to read the Bible". (pg. 25) One book review from the book says it well, "Gombrich opens with the most magical definition of history I have ever read... Tolerance, reason and humanity.... suffuse every page of the Little History" by Amanda Vickery, Guardian Review.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful easy to read history book
What a breath of freash air!A history book written from a different point of view.It reads as if you are being read a story by your grandfather.If we do not learn from history we are doomed to make the same mistakes.A must read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice book for a general history of the west!!!
I heard of this book on NPR radio and had to buy it! The radio story was actually about a similar style book titled "A Little Book of Language" I didn't care much about that title, but this one piqued my interest, so I bought it! I read a chapter or two (only a few pages)each night and as a person who didn't care much for or pay attention to history during my school years, I now understand what I missed!! This book gets the main ideas/topics across without overwhelming you with minute details. I love it! Definitely a good book/gift for an older child!

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, easy to understand, a must-read.
"A Little History of the World" is a wonderful book. The whole book is presented as a "story", all the historical events are mostly linked together and in a sequence. Also, this book introduces a wide range of historical events and stories, from Jesus Christ to Mecca, and from Constantinople to the Qin Dynasty in China.

But because this book was written in 1936, the WWII was not described, which some (including me) might find it disappointing.

In a nutshell, "A Little History of the World" is an interesting read. The words used are very easy to understand, so I recommend this book to most age groups, especially children and teens. Futhermore, I think this book is a must-read to all those people who are interested in world history. Although the book does not include the epic WWII, but you can still find some very inspiring and exciting stories, from the ancient times to the First World War.
Hope you all like this book. Enjoy! ... Read more

19. An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800
by Mary Frances Cusack
Paperback: 494 Pages (2010-07-12)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003XYE5E2
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Product Description
An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800 is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Mary Frances Cusack is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Mary Frances Cusack then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

20. The History Of Julius Caesar
by Jacob Abbott
 Paperback: 132 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$16.76 -- used & new: US$16.48
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Asin: 1162666110
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The news of his passage spread rapidly to all Pompey's stations along the coast, and the ships began to gather, and the armies to march toward the point where Caesar had effected his landing. The conflict and struggle commenced. One of Pompey's admirals intercepted the fleet of galleys on their return, and seized and burned a large number of them, with all who were on board. This, of course, only renewed the determined desperation of the remainder. Caesar advanced along the coast with the troops which he had landed, driving Pompey's troops before him, and subduing town after town as he advanced. ... Read more

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