Non-Fiction Books:

History, Big History, & Metahistory



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History, Big History, & Metahistory
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What is history anyway? Most people would say it's what happened in the past, but how far back does the past extend? To the first written sources? To what other forms of evidence reveal about pre-literate civilizations? What does that term mean--an empire, a nation, a city, a village, a family, a lonely hermit somewhere? Why stop with people: shouldn't history also comprise the environment in which they exist, and if so on what scale and how far back? And as long as we're headed in that direction, why stop with the earth and the solar system? Why not go all the way back to the Big Bang itself? There's obviously no consensus on how to answer these questions, but even asking them raises another set of questions about history: who should be doing it? Traditionally trained historians, for whom archives are the only significant source? Historians willing to go beyond archives, who must therefore rely on, and to some extent themselves become, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, archeologists? But if they're also going to take environments into account, don't they also have to know something about climatology, biology, paleontology, geology, and even astronomy? And how can they do that without knowing some basic physics, chemistry, and mathematics? This inaugural volume of the SFI Press (the new publishing arm of the Santa Fe Institute) attempts to address these questions via thoughtful essays on history written by distinguished scholars--including Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann--from across a wide range of fields.

Author Biography

David C. Krakauer is the President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at the Santa Fe Institute. An evolutionary biologist by training, he served as the founding director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and currently co-directs the Collective Computation Group. John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. He is the author of "The Cold War: A New History," "The Landscape of History," and "George F. Kennan: An American Life," which won the Pulitzer Prize. Kenneth Pomeranz is the University Professor of History at the University of Chicago and the author of "The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy." He is a former fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and former president of the American Historical Association.
Release date NZ
May 10th, 2018
Edited by David C. Krakauer Edited by John Lewis Gaddis Edited by Kenneth Pomeranz
19 Illustrations; Illustrations, black and white
Santa Fe Institute Press
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