Special Collections

Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Description: Here we present Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's collection known as "A Year of Books". He created this list throughout 2015, choosing books that emphasize learning about new cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.


Showing 1 through 25 of 26 results

The Varieties of Religious Experience

by William James

Harvard philosopher William James's compiled lectures on religion, considered to be among the most brilliant studies of mankind's relation to the divine

William James's Varieties of Religious Experience brings together twenty lectures on the nature of religion, delivered at the University of Edinburgh between 1901 and 1902. Renowned at the time for their practical and even-handed approach to the human experience of religion, the lectures form a sympathetic and analytical portrait not of the church, but of the personalized experiences of religious life. James examines the words of writers and philosophers from Immanuel Kant to Plato to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Marcus Aurelius in his investigations of faith, the soul, and systems of belief. Praised by philosopher Charles Pierce for its "penetration into the hearts of people" and by the New York Times for its ability to stir the sympathies of readers, The Varieties of Religious Experience is a lucid and thought-provoking examination of man's encounters with God.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Varieties of Religious Experience

by William James

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

The Varieties of Religious Experience is certainly the most notable of all books in the field of the psychology of religion and probably destined to be the most influential [one] written on religion in the twentieth century' said Walter Houston Clark in Psychology Today. The book was an immediate bestseller upon its publication in June 1902. Reflecting the pluralistic views of psychologist-turned-philosopher William James, it posits that individual religious experiences, rather than the tenets of organized religions, form the backbone of religious life. James's discussion of conversion, repentance, mysticism, and hopes of reward and fears of punishment in the hereafter--as well as his observations on the religious experiences of such diverse thinkers as Voltaire, Whitman, Emerson, Luther, Tolstoy, and others--all support his thesis.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day

by Orlanda Ruthven and Stuart Rutherford and Daryl Collins and Jonathan Morduch

Nearly forty percent of humanity lives on an average of two dollars a day or less. If you've never had to survive on an income so small, it is hard to imagine. How would you put food on the table, afford a home, and educate your children? How would you handle emergencies and old age? Every day, more than a billion people around the world must answer these questions. Portfolios of the Poor is the first book to systematically explain how the poor find solutions to their everyday financial problems.

The authors conducted year-long interviews with impoverished villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa--records that track penny by penny how specific households manage their money. The stories of these families are often surprising and inspiring. Most poor households do not live hand to mouth, spending what they earn in a desperate bid to keep afloat. Instead, they employ financial tools, many linked to informal networks and family ties. They push money into savings for reserves, squeeze money out of creditors whenever possible, run sophisticated savings clubs, and use microfinancing wherever available. Their experiences reveal new methods to fight poverty and ways to envision the next generation of banks for the "bottom billion."

Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, Portfolios of the Poor will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge

by Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Why do Internet, financial service, and beer commercials dominate Super Bowl advertising? How do political ceremonies establish authority? Why does repetition characterize anthems and ritual speech? Why were circular forms favored for public festivals during the French Revolution? This book answers these questions using a single concept: common knowledge.

Game theory shows that in order to coordinate its actions, a group of people must form "common knowledge." Each person wants to participate only if others also participate. Members must have knowledge of each other, knowledge of that knowledge, knowledge of the knowledge of that knowledge, and so on. Michael Chwe applies this insight, with striking erudition, to analyze a range of rituals across history and cultures. He shows that public ceremonies are powerful not simply because they transmit meaning from a central source to each audience member but because they let audience members know what other members know. For instance, people watching the Super Bowl know that many others are seeing precisely what they see and that those people know in turn that many others are also watching. This creates common knowledge, and advertisers selling products that depend on consensus are willing to pay large sums to gain access to it. Remarkably, a great variety of rituals and ceremonies, such as formal inaugurations, work in much the same way.

By using a rational-choice argument to explain diverse cultural practices, Chwe argues for a close reciprocal relationship between the perspectives of rationality and culture. He illustrates how game theory can be applied to an unexpectedly broad spectrum of problems, while showing in an admirably clear way what game theory might hold for scholars in the social sciences and humanities who are not yet acquainted with it.

In a new afterword, Chwe delves into new applications of common knowledge, both in the real world and in experiments, and considers how generating common knowledge has become easier in the digital age.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

by Thomas S. Kuhn

A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach.

With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

by Amy Wallace and Ed Catmull

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and WALL-E, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.

As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:

* Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.

* If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.

* It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.

* The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.

* A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Varieties of Religious Experience

by William James and Martin E. Marty

This collection defining documents from one of America's most influential thinkers presents Pragmatism in its entirety, James's seminal set of lectures in which he argues in his witty and limpid style for the "reasonableness of ordinary experience." Also gathered here are selections from James's other formative works, including The Meaning of Truth, Psychology, The Will to Believe, and Talks to Teachers on Psychology.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Beginning of Infinity

by David Deutsch

Old ways of thought permitted no process such as science for correcting errors and misconceptions. So ideas were static for long periods.  Being bad explanations, even the best of them typically had little reach and were therefore brittle and unreliable beyond, and often within, their traditional applications. When ideas did change, it was seldom for the better, and when it did happen to be for the better, that seldom increased their reach. The emergence of science, and more broadly what I am calling the Enlightenment, was the beginning of the end of such static, parochial systems of ideas. It initiated the present era in human history, unique for its sustained, rapid creation of knowledge with ever-increasing reach. Many have wondered how long this can continue. Is it inherently bounded? Or is this the beginning of infinity - that is to say, do these methods have unlimited potential to create further knowledge?'Science has never had an advocate quite like David Deutsch. He is a computational physicist on a par with his touchstones Alan Turing and Richard Feynman, and also a philosopher in the line of his greatest hero, Karl Popper. His arguments are so clear that to read him is to experience the thrill of the highest level of discourse available on this planet and to understand it . . . This is the great Life, the Universe and Everything book for our time and the answer is not 42: it is infinity. To understand precisely what Deutsch means by this, you will have to read him. Do so and lose your parochial blinkers forever. ' Independent 

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Idea Factory

by Jon Gertner

Bell Laboratories, which thrived from the 1920s to the 1980s, was the most innovative and productive institution of the twentieth century. Long before America's brightest scientific minds began migrating west to Silicon Valley, they flocked to this sylvan campus in the New Jersey suburbs built and funded by AT&T. At its peak, Bell Labs employed nearly fifteen thousand people, twelve hundred of whom had PhDs. Thirteen would go on to win Nobel prizes. It was a citadel of science and scholarship as well as a hotbed of creative thinking. It was, in effect, a factory of ideas whose workings have remained largely hidden until now. New York Times Magazine writer Jon Gertner unveils the unique magic of Bell Labs through the eyes and actions of its scientists. These ingenious, often eccentric men would become revolutionaries, and sometimes legends, whether for inventing radio astronomy in their spare time (and on the company's dime), riding unicycles through the corridors, or pioneering the principles that propel today's technology. In these pages, we learn how radar came to be, and lasers, transistors, satellites, mobile phones, and much more. Even more important, Gertner reveals the forces that set off this explosion of creativity. Bell Labs combined the best aspects of the academic and corporate worlds, hiring the brightest and usually the youngest minds, creating a culture and even an architecture that forced employees in different fields to work together, in virtually complete intellectual freedom, with little pressure to create moneymaking innovations. In Gertner's portrait, we come to understand why both researchers and business leaders look to Bell Labs as a model and long to incorporate its magic into their own work. Written with a novelist's gift for pacing and an ability to convey the thrill of innovation, The Idea Factory yields a revelatory take on the business of invention. What are the principles of innovation? How do new technology and new ideas begin? Are some environments more favorable than others? How should they be structured, and how should they be governed? Can strokes of genius be accelerated, replicated, standardized? The history of Bell Labs provides crucial answers that can and should be applied today by anyone who wants to understand where good ideas come from.  

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Gang Leader for a Day

by Sudhir Venkatesh

A New York Times BestsellerForeword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of FreakonomicsWhen first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago's most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT's protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang's complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT--two young and ambitious men a universe apart."Riveting." --The New York Times"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand." --Newsweek"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city." --Chicago Tribune"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart." --The Boston Globe"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined." --The Economist"A sensative, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype." --Finanical TimesSudhir Venkatesh's latest book Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York's Underground Economy--a memoir of sociological investigation revealing the true face of America's most diverse city--was published in September 2013 by The Penguin Press

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be

by Moises Naim

We know that power is shifting: From West to East and North to South, from presidential palaces to public squares, from once formidable corporate behemoths to nimble startups and, slowly but surely, from men to women. But power is not merely shifting and dispersing. It is also decaying. Those in power today are more constrained in what they can do with it and more at risk of losing it than ever before.

In The End of Power, award-winning columnist and former Foreign Policy editor Moisés Naím illuminates the struggle between once-dominant megaplayers and the new micropowers challenging them in every field of human endeavor. Drawing on provocative, original research, Naím shows how the antiestablishment drive of micropowers can topple tyrants, dislodge monopolies, and open remarkable new opportunities, but it can also lead to chaos and paralysis. Naím deftly covers the seismic changes underway in business, religion, education, within families, and in all matters of war and peace. Examples abound in all walks of life: In 1977, eighty-nine countries were ruled by autocrats while today more than half the world’s population lives in democracies. CEO’s are more constrained and have shorter tenures than their predecessors. Modern tools of war, cheaper and more accessible, make it possible for groups like Hezbollah to afford their own drones. In the second half of 2010, the top ten hedge funds earned more than the world’s largest six banks combined.

Those in power retain it by erecting powerful barriers to keep challengers at bay. Today, insurgent forces dismantle those barriers more quickly and easily than ever, only to find that they themselves become vulnerable in the process. Accessible and captivating, Naím offers a revolutionary look at the inevitable end of power—and how it will change your world.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Better Angels of Our Nature

by Steven Pinker

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species's existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives- the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away-and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Energy: A Beginner's Guide

by Vaclav Smil

In this user-friendly and informative book, prolific author and academic Vaclav Smil provides an introduction to this far-reaching term and gives the reader a greater understanding of energy's place in both past and present society. Starting with an explanation of the concept, he goes on to cover such exciting topics as the inner workings of the human body, and the race for more efficient and environmentally friendly fuels. Whether you're after insight or dinner table conversation, Energy: A Beginner's Guide will amaze and inform, uncovering the science behind one of the most important concepts in our universe.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


On Immunity: An Inoculation

by Eula Biss

One of New York Times Best 10 Books of 2014.

Why do we fear vaccines? A provocative examination by Eula Biss, the author of Notes from No Man's Land, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear--fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.

In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected--our bodies and our fates.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Sapiens

by Yuval Noah Harari

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Genome

by Matt Ridley

The genome's been mapped.

But what does it mean?

Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life.

Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine. From Huntington's disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Matt Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Orwell's Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest

by Peter Huber

George Orwell’s bleak visions of the future, one in which citizens are monitored through telescreens by an insidious Big Brother, has haunted our imagination long after the publication of 1984. Orwell’s dystopian image of the telescreen as a repressive instrument of state power has profoundly affected our view of technology, posing a stark confrontational question: Who will be master, human or machine? Experience has shown, however, that Orwell’s vision of the future was profoundly and significantly wrong: The conjunction of the new communications technologies has not produced a master-slave relation between person and computer, but rather exciting possibilities for partnership.

In an extraordinary demonstration of the emerging supermedium's potential to engender new forms of creativity, Huber’s book boldly reimagines 1984 from the computer's point of view. After first scanning all of Orwell’s writings into his personal computer, Huber used the machine to rewrite the book completely, for the most part using Orwell’s own language. Alternating fiction and non-fiction chapters, Huber advances Orwell’s plot to a surprising new conclusion while seamlessly interpolating his own explanations and arguments. The result is a fascinating utopian work which envisions a world at our fingertips of ever-increasing information, equal opportunity, and freedom of choice.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Three-Body Problem (The Three-Body Trilogy, Book 1)

by Cixin Liu

[from inside flaps] "This first book in the trilogy, The Three-Body Problem, begins against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, when a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and begins planning their introduction to Earth. Over the next few decades, they establish first contact via very unlikely means: an unusual online video game steeped in philosophy and history. As the aliens begin to win earthbound players of the game over to their side, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision."

Translated by Ken Liu.

2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The New Jim Crow

by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book.

Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it."

By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control--relegating millions to a permanent second-class status--even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action.

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Varieties of Religious Experience

by William James

Harvard philosopher William James’s compiled lectures on religion, considered to be among the most brilliant studies of mankind’s relation to the divine

William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience brings together twenty lectures on the nature of religion, delivered at the University of Edinburgh between 1901 and 1902. Renowned at the time for their practical and even-handed approach to the human experience of religion, the lectures form a sympathetic and analytical portrait not of the church, but of the personalized experiences of religious life. James examines the words of writers and philosophers from Immanuel Kant to Plato to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Marcus Aurelius in his investigations of faith, the soul, and systems of belief. Praised by philosopher Charles Pierce for its “penetration into the hearts of people” and by the New York Times for its ability to stir the sympathies of readers, The Varieties of Religious Experience is a lucid and thought-provoking examination of man’s encounters with God.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Dealing With China: An Insider Unmasks The New Economic Superpower

by Henry M. Paulson

DEALING WITH CHINA takes the reader behind closed doors to witness the creation and evolution and future of China's state-controlled capitalism.

Hank Paulson has dealt with China unlike any other foreigner. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson had a pivotal role in opening up China to private enterprise. Then, as Treasury secretary, he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world's second-largest economy. He negotiated with China on needed economic reforms, while safeguarding the teetering U.S. financial system. Over his career, Paulson has worked with scores of top Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping, China's most powerful man in decades.

In DEALING WITH CHINA, Paulson draws on his unprecedented access to modern China's political and business elite, including its three most recent heads of state, to answer several key questions:

* How did China become an economic superpower so quickly?

* How does business really get done there?

* What are the best ways for Western business and political leaders to work with, compete with, and benefit from China?

* How can the U.S. negotiate with and influence China given its authoritarian rule, its massive environmental concerns, and its huge population's unrelenting demands for economic growth and security?

Written in the same anecdote-rich, page-turning style as Paulson's bestselling memoir, On the Brink, DEALING WITH CHINA is certain to become the classic and definitive examination of how to engage China's leaders as they build their economic superpower.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


World Order

by Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger offers in World Order a deep meditation on the roots of international harmony and global disorder. Drawing on his experience as one of the foremost statesmen of the modern era—advising presidents, traveling the world, observing and shaping the central foreign policy events of recent decades—Kissinger now reveals his analysis of the ultimate challenge for the twenty-first century: how to build a shared international order in a world of divergent historical perspectives, violent conflict, proliferating technology, and ideological extremism.

There has never been a true “world order,” Kissinger observes. For most of history, civilizations defined their own concepts of order. Each considered itself the center of the world and envisioned its distinct principles as universally relevant. China conceived of a global cultural hierarchy with the emperor at its pinnacle. In Europe, Rome imagined itself surrounded by barbarians; when Rome fragmented, European peoples refined a concept of an equilibrium of sovereign states and sought to export it across the world. Islam, in its early centuries, considered itself the world’s sole legitimate political unit, destined to expand indefinitely until the world was brought into harmony by religious principles. The United States was born of a conviction about the universal applicability of democracy—a conviction that has guided its policies ever since.

Now international affairs take place on a global basis, and these historical concepts of world order are meeting. Every region participates in questions of high policy in every other, often instantaneously. Yet there is no consensus among the major actors about the rules and limits guiding this process or its ultimate destination. The result is mounting tension.

Grounded in Kissinger’s deep study of history and his experience as national security advisor and secretary of state, World Order guides readers through crucial episodes in recent world history. Kissinger offers a unique glimpse into the inner deliberations of the Nixon administration’s negotiations with Hanoi over the end of the Vietnam War, as well as Ronald Reagan’s tense debates with Soviet Premier Gorbachev in Reykjavík. He offers compelling insights into the future of U.S.–China relations and the evolution of the European Union, and he examines lessons of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking readers from his analysis of nuclear negotiations with Iran through the West’s response to the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia over Ukraine, World Order anchors Kissinger’s historical analysis in the decisive events of our time.

Provocative and articulate, blending historical insight with geopolitical prognostication, World Order is a unique work that could come only from a lifelong policy maker and diplomat.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History

by Ibn Khaldun and Franz Rosenthal and N. J. Dawood and Bruce Lawrence

The Muqaddimah, often translated as "Introduction" or "Prolegomenon," is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldûn (d. 1406), this monumental work established the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including the philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The first complete English translation, by the eminent Islamicist and interpreter of Arabic literature Franz Rosenthal, was published in three volumes in 1958 as part of the Bollingen Series and received immediate acclaim in the United States and abroad. A one-volume abridged version of Rosenthal's masterful translation first appeared in 1969.

This Princeton Classics edition of the abridged version includes Rosenthal's original introduction as well as a contemporary introduction by Bruce B. Lawrence. This volume makes available a seminal work of Islam and medieval and ancient history to twenty-first century audiences.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Rational Optimist

by Matt Ridley

Life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down — all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years.

Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.

This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017


The Player of Games (Culture Novel #2)

by Iain M. Banks

The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game...a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"

Date Added: 05/25/2017



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