What We Are Reading Today: A Continent Erupts

What We Are Reading Today: A Continent Erupts
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Updated 26 September 2022

What We Are Reading Today: A Continent Erupts

What We Are Reading Today: A Continent Erupts

Author: Ronald H. Spector 

With A Continent Erupts, acclaimed military historian Ronald H. Spector provides a comprehensive military history and analysis of the decisive conflicts that changed the shape of Asia.

The war against Japan officially ended on Sept. 2, 1945, but in Asia the fighting never really stopped. Civil war, communal violence, and insurgency engulfed almost all of Asia within weeks of the famous surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.

By early 1947, full-scale wars were raging in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, with growing guerrilla conflicts in Korea and Malaya. 

A decade after the Japanese surrender, almost all of the countries that formerly had been colonies had become independent — after clashes that resulted in the deaths of at least 2.5 million combatants and millions of civilians.


What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation:  Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness
Updated 04 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation:  Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

Author: Lee Alan Dugatkin

In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This problem plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection.

Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory.

Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy, and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.


What We Are Reading Today: The Future Is Asian

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Updated 03 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Future Is Asian

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Author: Parag Khanna

In the 19th century, the world was Europeanized. In the 20th century, it was Americanized. Now, in the 21st century, the world is being Asianized.
In this book, the writer tries to claim that the “Asian Century” is even bigger than you think. Far greater than just China, the new Asian system taking shape is a multi-civilizational order spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan, Russia to Australia, Turkey to Indonesia — linking 5 billion people through trade, finance, infrastructure, and diplomatic networks that together represent 40 percent of global GDP.

China has taken a lead in building the new Silk Roads across Asia, but it will not lead it alone. Rather, Asia is rapidly returning to the centuries-old patterns of commerce, conflict, and cultural exchange that thrived long before European colonialism and American dominance.

Asians will determine their own future — and as they collectively assert their interests around the world, they will determine ours as well, according to a review on goodreads.com.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Fit Nation

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Updated 03 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Fit Nation

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Author: Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

The author argues that the fight for a more equitable exercise culture will be won only by revolutionizing fitness culture at its core, making it truly inclusive for all bodies in a way it has never been.
In Fit Nation, historian and fitness instructor Natalia Mehlman Petrzela explains why places like US urban public pools are struggling. She traces how the US simultaneously became obsessed with working out and failed to provide necessary resources for it.
Petrzela’s book “continued to haunt me after I put it down,” said Yasmine AlSayyad in a review for The New York Times.
“I was embarrassed by the number of fitness brands that I recognized in it, and I winced at how much money I’ve forked out for them. But I wish I’d come out with a better understanding of how the US compares with other countries in this regard,” said the review.
Petrzela makes several observations about America that could have benefited from more context, AlSayyad added.

“I couldn’t stop wondering: Is workout culture in America more commercial than it is in other countries? And are we any fitter because of it?”

 


What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern
Updated 02 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

What We Are Reading Today: What the Thunder Said: How The Waste Land Made Poetry Modern

Author: Jed Rasula

When T. S. Eliot published The Waste Land in 1922, it put the 34-year-old author on a path to worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize. “But,” as Jed Rasula writes, “The Waste Land is not only a poem: It names an event, like a tornado or an earthquake. Its publication was a watershed, marking a before and after. It was a poem that unequivocally declared that the ancient art of poetry had become modern.”

In What the Thunder Said, Rasula tells the story of how The Waste Land changed poetry forever and how this cultural bombshell served as a harbinger of modernist revolution in all the arts, from abstraction in visual art to atonality in music.


What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern Number Theory

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern  Number Theory
Updated 01 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern Number Theory

What We Are Reading Today: An Invitation to Modern  Number Theory

Authors: Steven J. Miller & Ramin Takloo-Bighash

In a manner accessible to beginning undergraduates, An Invitation to Modern Number Theory introduces many of the central problems, conjectures, results, and techniques of the field, such as the Riemann Hypothesis, Roth’s Theorem, the Circle Method, and Random Matrix Theory.

Showing how experiments are used to test conjectures and prove theorems, the book allows students to do original work on such problems, often using little more than calculus (though there are numerous remarks for those with deeper backgrounds).

It shows students what number theory theorems are used for and what led to them and suggests problems for further research.