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Humanities

. . . he could walk upright. Explain to him what a hamburger was and he'd beat you to the nearest McDonald's nine times out of ten. . . .

 

This collection of interesting books are what I classify loosely as Humanities. These books discuss political and economic and social trends, and cover nature, anthropology, and psychology.

Links to the side of each book take you directly to Amazon.com; Other links with the book descriptions take you to interesting web sites related to the author.

The Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz

Global Business Network Global Business Network

In The Art of the Long View Peter Schwartz describes methods he uses for thinking about the future. Schwartz offers scenarios from the oil industry that can be applied to all aspects of life.

 

Peter Schwartz is the founder and chair of the Global Business Network, co-author of The Long Boom, and author of Inevitable Surprises.

The Long Boom The Long Boom  
Inevitable Surprises Inevitable Surprises  

The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

 

Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man is a fascinating account of the development of Homo Sapiens.

Bronowski writes about the development of science and how that development relates to the parallel development of man and society.

The Borderless World by Kenichi Ohmae

 

Kenichi Ohmae was the director of the Tokyo branch of the internationally renowned management consulting company of McKinsey and Company.

In these two books, Kenichi Ohmae describes how the world is moving away from the traditional viewpoint of nations with borders with inward-looking political and economic systems, and moving towards regional trading blocs and networks that make national governmental structures essentially irrelevant to the modern business world.

Fragments

Fragments by Paolo Soleri

 

Paolo Soleri has been described as an architect-philosopher. Soleri coined the notion of the arcology—huge self-contained ecologically correct communities of tens or hundreds of thousands of people under one roof. He's chiefly known for his development of Arcosanti in Arizona. This book is an interesting collection of his thinking.

Visit Arcosanti.

Free Flight

Free Flight: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel by James Fallows

 

James Fallows wrote a regular column for Atlantic Monthly. In Free Flight, Fallows discusses how modern air travel has become progressively worse, reducing most journeys to the same speed as autombile travel. Fallows discusses the three groups who are doing something about the problem, bringing about a revolution in cheap, fast, and convenient air travel.

James Fallows also wrote an excellent book entitled Looking At the Sun.

The Immense Journey by Loren Eisley

 

Loren Eisley was an American naturalist and philosopher, writing on a wide variety of issues. One of Eisley's most profound essays was titled How Flowers Changed the World.

This essay argues that the emergence of angiosperms led to dramatic changes to the planet Earth and was largely responsible for making possible the emergence of mammals.

The Knowledge-Value Revolution by Taichi Sakaiya

 

Taichi Sakaiya is a Japanese journalist and philosopher. In The Knowledge-Value Revolution, Sakaiya expounds the theory that a society is fundamentally shaped by the things on which that society places high value.

Sakaiya argues that we are well into an era that will, to quote “value those commodities that are in greatest abundance—namely, knowledge and time”.

Given that he published this book in 1985, years prior to the emergence of the InterNet and the World Wide Web into the public consciousness, Sakaiya can only be described as prescient.

The Long Boom by Peter Schwartz, Peter Leyden, and Joel Hyatt

Global Business Network Global Business Network

The Long Boom appeared originally as an article in the July 1997 edition of Wired Magazine. Authors Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden (and Joel Hyatt in the book) argue that the economic boom of the late 1990s has at least another twenty years to run (albeit with minor corrections along the way).

The Art of the Long View The Art of the Long View

Peter Schwartz is the founder and chair of the Global Business Network, and the author of The Art of the Long View—a. book on the art of Scenario Planning.

Inevitable Surprises by Peter Schwartz

Global Business Network Global Business Network

The Long Boom appeared originally as an article in the July 1997 edition of Wired Magazine. Authors Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden (and Joel Hyatt in the book) argue that the economic boom of the late 1990s has at least another twenty years to run (albeit with minor corrections along the way).

The Art of the Long View The Art of the Long View

Peter Schwartz is the founder and chair of the Global Business Network, and the author of The Art of the Long View—a. book on the art of Scenario Planning.

Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela

 

Long Walk to Freedom is the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Read how Mandela guided the African National Congress through many difficult years, including his own 27 years in prison, under the apartheid regimes of the white government. Mandela finally achieved non-violent victory when president de Klerk ended the apartheid state and Mandela was elected President of South Africa.

Looking At the Sun by James Fallows

 

James Fallows wrote a regular column for Atlantic Monthly. In Looking at the Sun, Fallows explains the Asian cultures to the Western world and explains that Western cultures need to adjust their views of the way that the Asian cultures function.

Lucy by Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey

 

From the back cover—Lucy is a tiny lady three feet tall, 60 pounds light, and 3.5 million years old. The author Donald Johanson discovered Lucy in Ethiopia in 1974.

Read his story of the discovery and the subsequent storm of controversy. The book is a fascinating narrative of the field of anthropology. Equally important, it's an insight into the politics of academia.

The Prize by Daniel Yergin

 

The Prize is subtitled The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power. Author Daniel Yergin won a Pulitzer prize for his history of oil, from its earliest discoveries through the rise of Standard Oil and the Rockefeller family.

Yergin recounts how oil was of vital strategic importance in two world wars, and remains of vital strategic importance in the context of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent Gulf War.

The Republic of Tea by Mel Ziegler

 

Subtitled Advice to a Young Zentrepreneur, The Republic of Tea is a great story of how to start and run a successful business.

The principals of the Republic of Tea call themselves the Minister of Leaves and the Minister of Enchantment (graphics arts, design, and packaging) and so on.

Mel Ziegler founded Banana Republic, the popular clothing store for travellers.

Defect Now! Visit the Republic of Tea and join the Tea Revolution!

And speaking of tea, visit the home page—and of course visit the shop—of my favourite tea room, namely, Tea Time a tea lover's shop on Ramona Street in Palo Alto, California.

The Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

 

Subtitled Time and Respnsibility: The Ideas Behind the World's Slowest Computer, The Clock of the Long Now is Stewart Brand's recipe for getting us to think about permanence in this age of increasing impermanence.

Brand's proposal is “ . . . a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium . . .”

Stewart Brand founded The Whole Earth Catalog.

The Third Millennium: A History of the World: AD 2000–3000 by Brian Stableford and John Langford

 

The Third Millennium is an incredible fantastical view of where the human race might go in the next thousand years. Whereas The Long Boom by Peter Schwartz is based on sound scenario planning methods, and looks out only about thirty years, The Third Millennium is written by a couple of science fiction writers, albeit writers with pretty sound scientific education. The authors have let their imaginations roam free, considering various political, economic, biological, and technological futures, and their timespan is a thousand years.

 

The Third Millennium is not wholly a utopian vision—the authors consider scenarios such as nuclear war in the Middle East and Brazil, the boiling of the Caribbean Sea, and “The Lost Billion”, basically, the homeless on a world scale. One interesting coincidence appears between The Long Boom and The Third Millennium: The Long Boom envisages a scenario called A Civilization of Civilizations, where The Third Millennium sees a final coming together of the world's peoples into a community that the Greeks called the Oikoumenê—a global community of mankind.

The Universe of Cordwainer Smith

But if you want to look out a really long way, the writings of Cordwainer Smith's “Instrumentality Of Mankind” describes life (such as it is) in the 160 th Century—the year 16,000 AD! The link takes you to the web site of futuristic artist Corby Waste, The 160th Century Worlds Tour, the Universe of Cordwainer Smith.

The Remarkable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

This second link takes you to The Remarkable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, the “official” Cordwainer Smith web site maintained by his daughter.

Station X by Michael Smith

 

The Code Book by Simon Singh

 

Battle of Wits by Stephen Budiansky

 

Augustine's Laws by Norman Augustine

 

Augustine's Travels by Norman Augustine

 

Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew, and Annette Lawrence Drew

 

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