New Books Network

Douglas Rogers, “The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals” (Cornell UP, 2009)
What are ethics? What are morals? How are they constituted, practiced, and regulated? How do they change over time? My own research is informed by these question; so is Douglas Rogers‘. So it was only natural that I would be drawn to Rogers’ new book The Old Faith and the... Read More
Ann Fabian, “The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead” (University of Chicago, 2010)
What should we study? The eighteenth-century luminary and poet Alexander Pope had this to say on the subject: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man ” (An Essay on Man, 1733). He was not alone in this opinion. The philosophers of the... Read More
Azar Gat, “War in Human Civilization” (Oxford UP, 2006)
Historians don’t generally like the idea of “human nature.” We tend to believe that people are intrinsically malleable, that they have no innate “drives,” “instincts,” or “motivations.” The reason we hew to the “blank slate” notion perhaps has to do with the fact–and it is a fact–that we see remarkable... Read More
P. Bingham and J. Souza, “Death From a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe” (BookSurge, 2009)
Long ago, historians more or less gave up on “theories of history.” They determined that human nature was too unpredictable, cultures too various, and developmental patterns too evanescent for any really scientific theory of history to be possible. Human history, they said, was chaos. The problem is that human history... Read More
Gregory Cochran, “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution” (Basic, 2009)
First, the conventional wisdom. Because Homo sapiens are a young species and haven’t had time to genetically differentiate, we modern humans are all basically genetically identical. Because Homo sapiens figured out ways to use culture to overcome natural selection, human genetic evolution ceased ages ago. Because Homo sapiens are genetically... Read More