Graphing Influence

As today seems to be the day of cool visualizations on this blog, so on this note I’d like to highlight a really cool way of analyzing the influence of various people (philosophers, coding languages, etc) on history. One of the basic strategies is to feed the information in Wikipedia info-boxes into a computer program […]

Book Review: Kenneth Pomeranz – The Great Divergence

Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2001) Category: economy, history, world systems; Rating: 5*/5 Summary: Brad DeLong’s review; The Bactra Review; Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? The Power Of Contingency: Why China Didn’t Rule The World It’s a rare book that not only vastly informs you on a […]

Book Review: Howard Bloom – The Lucifer Principle

Depressingly fatalist, morbidly truthful, irresistibly Nietzschean. That’s Howard Bloom’s “The Lucifer Principle” in a nutshell: a meandering trawl through disciplines such as genetics, psychology and culture that culminates in a theory of evil, purporting to explain its historical necessity, its creative potential and the possibility of it ever being vanquished. The odds do not appear to […]

Book Review: Peter Turchin – War and Peace and War

Then you might get something like Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War, which I’ve finally read on the recommendations of Kolya and TG. Ranging from Ermak’s subjugation of the Sibir Khanate to the rise of Rome, Turchin makes the case that the rise and fall of empires is reducible to three basic concepts: 1) […]

Cliodynamics: Mathematizing History

One of the most interesting emerging sciences today, in my opinion, is cliodynamics. Their practitioners attempt to come to with mathematical models of history to explain “big history” – things like the rise of empires, social discontent, civil wars, and state collapse. To the casual observer history may appear to be chaotic and fathomless, devoid […]

Book Review: Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel

While trawling through my computer archives, I stumbled across this book review of Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel” from five years ago. Overall, it’s a great book, better than his follow-up “Collapse”, which is also interesting – especially in the psychological aspects of “collapse”, like creeping normalcy and “landscape amnesia” – but far from […]