What We Are Reading Today: War; How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan

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Updated 11 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: War; How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan

War: How Conflict Shaped Us is a historical study of the effects of war on many societal levels. 

The internationally renowned historian and bestselling author of Paris 1919, Margaret MacMillan, contemplates the existence of war: Why it occurs, and what it says about human nature.

“Drawing on lessons from classical history as well as analysis of modern warfare from all parts of the globe, MacMillan reveals the many faces of war — the way it shapes our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves,” said a review in goodreads.com.

It said that MacMillan “looks at the ways in which war has shaped human history and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight.” 

MacMillan is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford.

She is the former provost of Trinity College and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University. 

A leading expert on history and international relations, MacMillan is a commentator in the media.


What We Are Reading Today: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

Updated 28 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

This is a harrowing and intricate nonfiction account of an all-American family of 12 (10 boys and two girls) born between 1945 and 1965. 

Bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker presents an interesting story about this large Colorado family plagued by schizophrenia. 

He also explores some of the research that has been done on this fairly common but devastating mental illness that affects one in one hundred people.

With clarity and compassion, Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope. 

“Meticulous research combined with unbiased treatment of the facts leads to a very devastating true story like no other,” said a review in goodreads.com. “It is written clearly and gives a broad picture of ways to define and cure a disease which terrifies us.” 

“For a family, schizophrenia is, primarily, a felt experience, as if the foundation of the family is permanently tilted,” Kolker writes. 

His is a feat of narrative journalism but also a study in empathy; he unspools the stories with enormous compassion while tracing the scientific advances in treating the illness.