logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: history-of-things
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-10-02 08:53
The Golden Ratio by Gary B. Meisner, Rafael Araujo
The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics - Gary Meisner,Rafael Araujo

TITLE:  The Golden Ratio:  The Divine Beauty of Mathematics

 

AUTHOR:  Gary B. Meisner, Rafael Araujo (illustrator)

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  23 October 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC PDF

 

ISBN-13:  9781631064869

__________________________________

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

________________________________________

DESCRIPTION:

The Golden Ratio examines the presence of this divine number in art and architecture throughout history, as well as its ubiquity among plants, animals, and even the cosmos. This gorgeous book features clear, entertaining, and enlightening commentary alongside stunning full-color illustrations by Venezuelan artist and architect Rafael Araujo.

 

From the pyramids of Giza, to quasicrystals, to the proportions of the human face, the golden ratio has an infinite capacity to generate shapes with exquisite properties. 

 

With its lush format and layflat dimensions that closely approximate the golden ratio, this is the ultimate coffee table book for math enthusiasts, architects, designers, and fans of sacred geometry."

__________________________________

The Golden Ration by Gary Meisner is an exquisitely illustration, beautifully and clearly written introductory book about the Golden Ratio and related subjects.  There are lovely full-colour illustrations and photographs on nearly every page.  The book begins with the unique properties of the golden ratio and then continues on to its appearance in art and design, architecture (pyramids, cathedrals, musical instruments), nature (leaf and petal arrangements, fractals, spirals, facial proportions, buckyballs, quantum physics, golden DNA, the nautilus controversy), and many other interesting mathematical goodies such as tessellations, platonic solids, the Fibonacci sequence, Pascal’s Triangles etc.  The book also includes appendices that deal with critical thinking, notes and further reading, and “Golden Constructions”.  There are a number of equations and geometrical illustrations, but nothing particularly complicated.  In the author’s own words:  “not everything is based on the golden ratio, but the number of places in which it seems to appear is truly amazing and we are sure to uncover it more and more as technology advances and out knowledge of the physical universe expands”. 

 

This is definately a book I will be adding to my library.

_________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 03:06
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

TITLE:  Get Well Soon:  History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

 

AUTHOR:  Jennifer Wright

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9781627797467

_____________________________

DESCRIPTION:

"A humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought them.

In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious dancing plague. In late-nineteenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary and led to historic medical breakthroughs.

Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the plagues they've suffered from. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues in human history, as well as stories of the heroic figures who fought to ease their suffering. With her signature mix of in-depth research and upbeat storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks.
"

________________________________________________________

 

*********************POSSIBLE SPOILERS**********************************

________________________________________________________

 

REVIEW:

 

This poorly written book is a collection of superficial, sensationalist, chatty chapters on a variety of epidemics (and two extras) that are supposed to be history’s worst plagues (some are, some aren’t) and the heroes (or more likely ignorant fools according to the author) who fought them.  There is no original content or any type of original insights in this book, but there are a vast quantity of quotes straight from other (better written) books.  This book is long on opinions and short on science, so if you are looking for science, try any of the recommended books below.  The topics covered include:  the Antonine Plague; Bubonic Plague; Dancing Plague; Smallpox; Syphilis; Tuberculosis; Cholera; Leprosy; Typhoid; Spanish Flu; Encephalitis Lethargica; Lobotomies; Polio; and as an afterthought, HIV/AIDS

 

Wright spends little time discussing the origins and emergence of most the epidemics covered in this book.  There is a very limited examination of what the disease actually does to a human body (other than the gory bits usually including pustules) or how widespread and devasting it was in terms of socio-economic factors (especially the later chapters).  Only a few chapters explain how that particular epidemic ended or even if it did end or what the status of that particular disease is currently.  Some of the chosen epidemics weren’t the “worst plagues” by any means or even an epidemic (depending on the definition), or even diseases for that matter (e.g. chapter on lobotomies and dancing plague).  The author does not provide a partial view of the topic, and can’t wait to assign villains or heroes to each disease, or to insult and mock anyone she feels like. 

 

Some of the information presented in this book is suspect, or at least outdated, especially in the chapters dealing with TB, cholera, polio, leprosy and Antonine plague.  Wikipedia is not a valid reference.  It is also apparent from the excessive insertions of the author’s own opinions that she didn’t bother to research the topics or the people involved too closely either.  The author also contradicts herself in the matter of informed consent – informed consent is necessary when she agrees with it, but unnecessary when she doesn’t agree with it.  In addition, if you are going to use a graphic (in a published book of all places!) to show the rate of medical progress over time, learn to draw a proper graph with defined, labelled axes (or get someone else to do it!), instead of a random floating line which means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

 

Wright has an especially aggravating writing style.  Altogether, the writing style was too juvenile and frivolous for the subject matter (squealing, ditzy Hollywood cheerleaders come to mind).  Each chapter comes across as a series of book reports covering a different epidemic per chapter – written by an immature teenager or a vapid blogger.  The specific chapters rely predominantly on one major source, usually a much better written book on the topic.  This book is an simplistic and biased glossing of historical epidemics (mostly) that the author has used as an opportunity to snicker, criticise, preach her opinions and sensationalise in terms of emphasizing the unpleasant side-effects of the disease (pustules, rotting noses, the more disgusting the better etc).  

 

The book is stuffed with flat jokes (the jokes weren't even vaguely funny), dated pop-culture reference, snide and snarky comments,  speculations, not to mention the author’s excessive and continuous interjections of her mean-spirited opinions, and political commentary, which were unwarranted, irrelevant, not to mention unprofessional.  Wright makes broad sweeping generalizations and seems to be uninterested in viewing these epidemics within their historical context.  The tone is dripping with sarcasm and contempt for the poor people that suffered from these terrible disease, and Heaven save you from the author’s vicious pen, if you were one of the unfortunate doctors who were trying to help with the limited knowledge and instrumentation of pre-21st century medical knowledge.

 

It is possible to write medical nonfiction in an interesting manner without sounding like a vapid teenager.  I learnt more about the author from all her snide opinions than any of the diseases from this book.  This book comes across as a poor imitation of a Mary Roach book, so if you like Mary Roach’s books, you might (possibly) like this one.  If you want a book that tells you something of the how, where and why of a variety of diseases; you need to look elsewhere.  I found Wright’s shallow, cruel and arrogantly opinionated writing style an insult to the reader and personally repellent.

 

 

POST SCRIPT:

 

For those people who think the Ancient Roman cities did not have sewer systems, please do some basic research:

 

SHORT VERSION

Roman sewers – ancient Roman toilets, poop, pipes

 

 MORE DETAILS

What toilets and sewers tell us about ancient Roman sanitation

Rome Is Still Technically Using One Of The First Sewer Systems In The World

Aqueducts and Wastewater Systems of Rome

 

 

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS

 

Compilation of Diseases:

~The Coming Plague:  Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett

~New Killer Diseases:  How the Alarming Evolution of Germs Threatens Us All by Elinor Levy

~The History of Disease in Ancient Times by Philip Norrie

~Viruses, Plagues, and History:  Past, Present and Future (Revised, Updated Edition) by Michael B.A. Oldstone

 

Plumbing and Personal Hygiene:

~Flushed:  How the Plumber Saved Civilization by W. Hodding Carter

~The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us about Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society by David Waltner-Toews

~The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg

 ~The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George

 

Diseases in General:

~Spillover:  Emerging Diseases, Animal Hosts, and the Future of Human Health by David Quammen

~Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David P. Clark

~An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections by Ron Barrett & George Armelagos

 

Specific Diseases:

~The Great Mortality:  An Intimate Hsitory of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly

~Dancing Plague:  The Strange True Story of an Extraordinary Illness by John Waller

~Superbug:  The Fatal Menace of MRSA by Maryn McKenna

~Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik & Monica Murphy

 

Other:

~Strange Medicine:  A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages by Nathan Belofsky

~Betrayal of Trust by Laurie Garrett [This book gives a great insight into how disease progressed in different countries and the social conditions and public health failings (and victories) that shaped how we understand infectious disease].

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-03 16:12
A History of Disease in Ancient Times: More Lethal Than War by Philip Norrie
A History of Disease in Ancient Times: More Lethal than War - Philip Norrie

TITLE:  A History of Disease in Ancient Times: More Lethal Than War

 

AUTHOR:  Philip Norrie

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2016

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9783319289366

__________________________

DESCRIPTION:


"This book shows how bubonic plague and smallpox helped end the Hittite Empire, the Bronze Age in the Near East and later the Carthaginian Empire. The book will examine all the possible infectious diseases present in ancient times and show that life was a daily struggle for survival either avoiding or fighting against these infectious disease epidemics. The book will argue that infectious disease epidemics are a critical link in the chain of causation for the demise of most civilizations in the ancient world and that ancient historians should no longer ignore them, as is currently the case."

___________________________

REVIEW:

 

Dr. Philip Norrie has produced a delectable book that explores the way in which infectious diseases affected the course of ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern history.  I get the impression this book is the result of the author’s doctoral thesis rewritten into a book.  A wealth of interesting and new (to me) information was provided, without personal asides or irrelevant commentary.  The author presents evidence for epidemic impacts from a variety of sources – historic, archaeologic, linguistic, medical, social, anthropological and economic.  Author makes use of the available evidence to prove his hypothesis.  Speculation is kept to a minimum and clearly explained when necessary. 

 

The general hypothesis is that most major changes in the Ancient world were precipitated by infectious disease epidemics.  Dr Norrie also succeeded in illustrating that disease can have a significant impact on major historic events.  The author makes use of several examples such as the end of the Hittite Empire, the end of the Near Eastern Bronze Age in c.1200 B.C., the end of Carthage; and interesting anomalies in Ancient Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III.   The type of infectious disease causing the epidemic is also examined.  Dr Norrie shows the reader that disease, in the form of several infectious disease epidemics, fits the medical model to explain three factors about the end of the Bronze Age:  (1) the short time frame of the Catastrophe; (2) the mass migrations of the general population but also the “Sea Peoples”; and (3) the abandonment of cities during the Catastrophe.  This book offers new perspectives, possibilities and insights into the role that epidemics played in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean history.  I find Dr Norrie’s arguments convincing and logical.

 

Dr Norrie is also at pains to emphasise the lack of attention that ancient historians have given to the effect of epidemics.  In the author’s own words, he hopes that,

in future, ancient historians consider the potential role of infectious disease in the histories they research and subsequently write.  If disease is not considered and is ignored, as is the current situation, then the resultant history may be incomplete and thus flawed; because you cannot administer or feed let alone defend your empire if your citizens are dying en-masse due to an infectious disease epidemic”.

 

This isn’t just a dry thesis on ancient epidemics, but a text full of interesting information, causes, effects, and the occassional personal history (where possible).  Who knew that Ramses V had smallpox, or there are Egyptian wall murals showing polio sufferers with leg braces?  Or that the Hittites used tularemia (rabbit fever) infected sheep as the first form of germ warfare 3200 years ago.  Or that the bubonic plague might have been carried to Egypt from India via a trade vessel? Or that Amenhotep III moved his capital from the plague infested river side to the middle of the desert?  Or that Carthage would have conquered the Mediterranean except for all the diseases that decimated the Carthagian army in Sicily. 

 

This book has a juicy selection of references and a variety of notes, as well as a section on the heart-rending Plague Prayers of the Hittite King Mursili II pleading with the gods to save his people from the pestilence afflicting them and ruining his kingdom. 

 

Dr. Norrie has published an interesting, clearly-written, perfectly understandable, concise piece of research.  I look forward to whatever he publishes on his current research topic - the role of disease in the demise of the Sumerian and Indus Valley Civilizations.

 

FYI (because I've never heard of it before):  Tularemia info

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-08-23 16:27
THE BOOK by Keith Houston
The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time - Keith Houston

TITLE:  The Book:  A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time

 

AUTHOR:  Keith Houston

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2016

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9780393244793

____________________________

From the blurb:

"We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages―of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity’s most important―and universal―information technology."

_____________________________

 

This is a book about books - including the history and development of writing, ink, writing surfaces (papyrus, parchment, paper), printing, illustrations, illuminations, binding and general book manufacture.  This book contains a great deal of information presented in digestible chunks, with amusing observations thrown in, though it does tend to be somewhat repetitious.  This is no doubt partly an effect of the structure of the book in four parts [The Page; The Text;  Illustrations; and Form], which lead to some jumping back and forth in time.  Houston relays many stories that include social history, cultural history, accidental discoveries, and biographical details of the people that had a hand in the eventual production of the printed book.  The writing style is fairly digestible with some attention given to printing and binding details.  The information is interesting and the colour illustrations beautiful, though a more chronological story would have appealed to me more.  This book would provide an agreeable summary and introductory text to the history of the book from ancient times to the current technological era.

 

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-08-10 05:15
The Golden Thread by Ewan Clayton
The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing - Ewan Clayton

TITLE:  The Golden Thread:  The Story of Writing

 

AUTHOR:  Ewan Clayton

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2015

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9781848873636

__________________________

 

Blurb:

"The Golden Thread is an enthralling and accessible history of the cultural miracle that is the written word.  It is an invention that has been used to share ideas in every field of human endeavour, and a motor of cultural, scientific and political progress.  From the simple representative shapes used to record transactions of goods and animals in ancient Egypt, tothe sophisticated typographical resources available to the twenty-first-century computer user, the story of writing is the story of human civilization itself."

__________________________

 

This book is a history of the evolution f western writing, everything from the development of the Roman alphabet from Ancient Mediterranean cultures, the development of different writing styles, the use of different writing implements from reeds to quilles to steel nibbed pens, and the use of different mediums to write on from marble blocks and papyrus to paper and computers.  The book includes many other interesting tidbits such as the increase in literacy, the development of the book, record keeping, increased use of writing in corporations, the development of the post-office, the printing press, the novel, graffiti and the computer.  While the book was interesting and informative, I found the writing style to be somewhat pedantic. 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?