In 1787, the American union was in disarray. The incompatible demands of the separate states threatened its existence; some states were even in danger of turning into the kind of tyranny they had so recently deposed. A truly national government was needed, one that could raise money, regulate commerce, and defend the states against foreign threats--without becoming as overbearing as England. So thirty-six-year-old James Madison believed. That summer, the Virginian was instrumental in organizing the Constitutional Convention, in which one of the world's greatest documents would be debated, created, and signed. Inspired by a sense of history in the making, he kept the most extensive notes of any attendee. Now two esteemed scholars have made these minutes accessible to everyone. Presented with modern punctuation and spelling, judicious cuts, and helpful notes--plus fascinating background information on every delegate and an overview of the tumultuous times--here is the great drama of how the Constitution came to be, from the opening statements to the final votes. This Modern Library Paperback Classic also includes an Introduction and appendices from the authors.
Published to coincide with the centenary of the first expeditions to reach the South Pole, An Empire of Ice presents a fascinating new take on Antarctic exploration. Retold with added information, it's the first book to place the famed voyages of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his British rivals Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and others in a larger scientific, social, and geopolitical context. Efficient, well prepared, and focused solely on the goal of getting to his destination and back, Amundsen has earned his place in history as the first to reach the South Pole. Scott, meanwhile, has been reduced in the public mind to a dashing incompetent who stands for little more than relentless perseverance in the face of inevitable defeat. An Empire of Ice offers a new perspective on the Antarctic expeditions of the early twentieth century by looking at the British efforts for what they actually were: massive scientific enterprises in which reaching the South Pole was but a spectacular sideshow. By focusing on the larger purpose, Edward Larson deepens our appreciation of the explorers' achievements, shares little-known stories, and shows what the Heroic Age of Antarctic discovery was really about.
La teoría de la evolución no nació solo de la imaginación de Charles Darwin. Desde sus orígenes, la humanidad ha buscado sin tregua respuestas religiosas, filosóficas y científicas a la pregunta clave: ¿de dónde venimos? Con la irrupción y el auge de la ciencia moderna, la controversia sobre la cuestión de la evolución de la especie se aceleró hasta alcanzar el grado de precisión científica actual. En esta brillante obra -que combina un maravilloso anecdotario con el rigor académico- el ganador del Pulitzer Edward J. Larson nos conduce a través de la idea de la evolución, desde sus antecedentes teóricos, pasando por los portentosos logros de Darwin y Wallace, hasta llegar al descubrimiento de la doble hélice del ADN llevada a cabo por los profesores Watson y Crick, la exitosa síntesis neodarwinista actual y la extensión de la sociobiología. Al tiempo que traza el camino de las ideas, Evolución describe una galería de personajes fascinantes, los científicos, exploradores y excéntricos cuyas colaboraciones y disputas impulsaron la teoría evolutiva. De Cuvier, Lamarck, Darwin y Wallace a Haeckel, Galton, Huxley y Mendel o Watson y Crick, Larson recorre este dramatis personae consiguiendo un libro que el reputado científico Ernst Mayr calificó de «delicia intelectual».
"I often said before starting, that I had no doubt I should frequently repent of the whole undertaking." So wrote Charles Darwin aboard The Beagle, bound for the Galapagos Islands and what would arguably become the greatest and most controversial discovery in scientific history. But the theory of evolution did not spring full-blown from the head of Darwin. Since the dawn of humanity, priests, philosophers, and scientists have debated the origin and development of life on earth, and with modern science, that debate shifted into high gear.In this lively, deeply erudite work, Pulitzer Prize-winning science historian Edward J. Larson takes us on a guided tour of Darwin's "dangerous idea," from its theoretical antecedents in the early nineteenth century to the brilliant breakthroughs of Darwin and Wallace, to Watson and Crick's stunning discovery of the DNA double helix, and to the triumphant neo-Darwinian synthesis and rising sociobiology today.Along the way, Larson expertly places the scientific upheaval of evolution in cultural perspective: the social and philosophical earthquake that was the French Revolution; the development, in England, of a laissez-faire capitalism in tune with a Darwinian ethos of "survival of the fittest"; the emergence of Social Darwinism and the dark science of eugenics against a backdrop of industrial revolution; the American Christian backlash against evolutionism that culminated in the famous Scopes trial; and on to today's world, where religious fundamentalists litigate for the right to teach "creation science" alongside evolution in U.S. public schools, even as the theory itself continues to evolve in new and surprising directions.Throughout, Larson trains his spotlight on the lives and careers of the scientists, explorers, and eccentrics whose collaborations and competitions have driven the theory of evolution forward. Here are portraits of Cuvier, Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, Haeckel, Galton, Huxley, Mendel, Morgan, Fisher, Dobzhansky, Watson and Crick, W. D. Hamilton, E. O. Wilson, and many others. Celebrated as one of mankind's crowning scientific achievements and reviled as a threat to our deepest values, the theory of evolution has utterly transformed our view of life, religion, origins, and the theory itself, and remains controversial, especially in the United States (where 90% of adults do not subscribe to the full Darwinian vision). Replete with fresh material and new insights, Evolution will educate and inform while taking readers on a fascinating journey of discovery.From the Hardcover edition.
George Washington was the unanimous choice of his fellow founders for president, and he is remembered to this day as an exceptional leader, but how exactly did this manifest itself during his lifetime? In George Washington, Nationalist, acclaimed author Edward J. Larson reveals the fascinating backstory of Washington's leadership in the political, legal, and economic consolidation of the new nation, spotlighting his crucial role in forming a more perfect union. The years following the American Revolution were a critical period in American history, when the newly independent states teetered toward disunion under the Articles of Confederation. Looking at a selection of Washington's most pivotal acts--including conferring with like-minded nationalists, establishing navigational rights on the Potomac, and quelling the near uprising of unpaid revolutionary troops against the Confederation Congress--Larson shows Washington's central role in the drive for reform leading up to the Constitutional Convention. His leadership at that historic convention, followed by his mostly behind-the-scenes efforts in the ratification process and the first federal election, and culminating in his inauguration as president, complete the picture of Washington as the nation's first citizen. This important and deeply researched book brings Washington's unique gift for leadership to life for modern readers, offering a timely addition to the growing body of literature on the Constitution, presidential leadership, executive power, and state-federal relations.Gay Hart Gaines Distinguished LecturesPreparation of this volume has been supported by The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon and by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Lewis E. Lehrman.
"They could write like angels and scheme like demons." So begins Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Larson's masterful account of the wild ride that was the 1800 presidential election -- an election so convulsive and so momentous to the future of American democracy that Thomas Jefferson would later dub it "America's second revolution." This was America's first true presidential campaign, giving birth to our two-party system and indelibly etching the lines of partisanship that have so profoundly shaped American politics ever since. The contest featured two of our most beloved Founding Fathers, once warm friends, facing off as the heads of their two still-forming parties -- the hot-tempered but sharp-minded John Adams, and the eloquent yet enigmatic Thomas Jefferson -- flanked by the brilliant tacticians Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, who later settled their own differences in a duel. The country was descending into turmoil, reeling from the terrors of the French Revolution, and on the brink of war with France. Blistering accusations flew as our young nation was torn apart along party lines: Adams and his elitist Federalists would squelch liberty and impose a British-style monarchy; Jefferson and his radically democratizing Republicans would throw the country into chaos and debase the role of religion in American life. The stakes could not have been higher. As the competition heated up, other founders joined the fray -- James Madison, John Jay, James Monroe, Gouverneur Morris, George Clinton, John Marshall, Horatio Gates, and even George Washington -- some of them emerging from retirement to respond to the political crisis gripping the nation and threatening its future. Drawing on unprecedented, meticulous research of the day-to-day unfolding drama, from diaries and letters of the principal players as well as accounts in the fast-evolving partisan press, Larson vividly re-creates the mounting tension as one state after another voted and the press had the lead passing back and forth. The outcome remained shrouded in doubt long after the voting ended, and as Inauguration Day approached, Congress met in closed session to resolve the crisis. In its first great electoral challenge, our fragile experiment in constitutional democracy hung in the balance. A Magnificent Catastrophe is history writing at its evocative best: the riveting story of the last great contest of the founding period.
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