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Daniel Headrick's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Daniel Headrick recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Daniel Headrick's favorite book recommendations of all time.

The history of the twentieth century is most often told through its world wars, the rise and fall of communism, or its economic upheavals. In his startling new book, J. R. McNeill gives us our first general account of what may prove to be the most significant dimension of the twentieth century: its environmental history. To a degree unprecedented in human history, we have refashioned the earth's air, water, and soil, and the biosphere of which we are a part. Based on exhaustive research, McNeill's story—a compelling blend of anecdotes, data, and shrewd analysis—never preaches: it is our... more
Recommended by Daniel Headrick, and 1 others.

Daniel HeadrickThe author traces the conflict between the growing power of technology on the one hand and the global environment on the other, in which this conflict plays out. (Source)

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Ecological Imperialism

People of European descent form the bulk of the population in most of the temperate zones of the world--North America, Australia and New Zealand. The military successes of European imperialism are easy to explain because in many cases they were achieved by using firearms against spears. Alfred Crosby, however, explains that the Europeans' displacement and replacement of the native peoples in the temperate zones was more a matter of biology than of military conquest. Now in a new edition with a new preface, Crosby revisits his classic work and again evaluates the ecological reasons for... more
Recommended by Daniel Headrick, and 1 others.

Daniel HeadrickEcological Imperialism shows how environments influenced the relations between civilisations and how, in turn, contact between the old world and the new changed environments around the world. (Source)

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In Medieval Technology and Social Change, Lynn White considers the effects of technological innovation on the societies of medieval Europe: the slow collapse of feudalism with the development of machines and tools that introduced factories in place of cottage industries, and the development of the manorial system with the introduction of new kinds of plows and new methods of crop rotation. One invention of particular import, writes White, was the stirrup, which in turn introduced heavy, long-range cavalry to the medieval battlefield. The development thus escalated small-scale conflict... more
Recommended by Daniel Headrick, and 1 others.

Daniel HeadrickThis book opened my eyes to the role of technology in human affairs. One of the most important, though neglected, aspects of history. (Source)

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Plagues and Peoples

Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill... more
Recommended by Arthur Ammann, Daniel Headrick, and 2 others.

Arthur AmmannHe comes to the conclusion that these epidemics happen primarily because of ecological influences. (Source)

Daniel HeadrickWhat this book does is bring the role of natural forces to the forefront and show how, despite what we think of ourselves, we really are a part of nature. (Source)

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In Jared Diamond’s follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel, the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization

Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of...

Bill GatesI found this to be an interesting follow-up to the excellent Guns, Germs, and Steel. It examines the downfall of some of history's greatest civilizations. (Source)

Matthew YglesiasI wanted to get a book on my list that is actually enjoyable to read, so not everything is quite so dry and dull as a narrative. I also wanted to include something that reflects the growing importance of environmental and ecological concerns to progressive politics in America. This is relatively new to the agenda – it’s only been in the last 30 to 35 years. But going forward, one of the most... (Source)

Stefan LessardHe should read this book I’m almost finished with. Jared Diamond is one of my favorite historical authors. (Source)

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