Thursday, 7 February 2008

Books I recommend

Here some books I like and I consider very insightful. I will later comment them.

Collapse: how societies choose to fail or survive

by Jared Diamond

Ideas, a history from Fire to Freudby Peter Watson

This is an amazing book and not just "another history book". It discusses not the wars and kings and treaties but rather the greatest ideas and inventions and how they shaped the world in the last 30000 years.

It does a good attempt to cover the ideas originating from many other places than the West and it offers a lot of insights about why the cultures we have today evolved the way they did.

The author is still a little bit too focused on Europe, but not as much as many others I have read.

The End of Lineby Charles Clover

I firstly saw this book and said: what an awful cover! Perhaps the cover was not that bad after all, as I decided to browse it to see what was behind a picture of fish and chips and then I read on it a comment about the impossibility of eating fish in the same way after reading this book. So I perused further and became hooked by the book. It is about overfishing, but it is about more than that: it is about sustainable development and how the different industries and governments act in such a pigeon-minded way.

The sea is much more important than what many people think. This book is absolutely fascinating and it is true: I love fish but I cannot eat it the same way as I used to do after having read this book. I also see in a more suspicious ways the EU declarations about fish quotas.

The Life of Mahatma Ghandiby Louis Fischer

Pi in the Sky
by Barrow
This is a beautiful book about mathematics, its importance, its relationship with nature and mankind.
Sure you are joking, Mr. Feynmanby Feynman
I would give this book as a present to lots of school children in Venezuela.
We really need blokes like that.
Commandante: Hugo Chávez's Venezuela
by Rory Carroll
Excellent introduction to the life of the caudillo who took Venezuela into autocracy


  1. Kepler, this is Kolya, el ruso que vivio en Venezuela y ahora vive en Vermont.

    Jared Diamond's Collapse is definitely in my very tall "must read" pile of books, even though I heard that it's not as solid as "Guns, Germs and Steel". I'll be on the lookout for Peter Watson's book next time I go to a bookstore.

    I have not read it yet (I will), but that I suspect that you will find interesting is "War and Peace and War" by Russian-born evolutionary biologist Peter Turchin (his father, besides being a scientist was a Soviet dissident). The URL of Turchin's web page is:

    (I never met him, but I'm looking forward to reading his book.)

  2. Hi, Kolya.
    Thanks for the recommendation.
    I have read 3 books by Diamond. The first one was Guns, Germs and Steel, then I read the Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee and finally Collapse. I am impatiently waiting for Jared to write a new book. I liked GG&S and Collapse the best.
    Collapse might be "lighter" in some areas, but it gives lots of compelling lessons from the past about things that are very present at this very moment.
    It kept me thinking about a lot of things for still does after over a year of having read it. I will come back later to it in some points I want to talk about i n the

    Watson's book is definitely not a book one can read on a weekend. I read it very slowly, but I enjoyed it enormously. It was a very pleasant travel through time...a different travel than many a history book (and history is one of my favourite topics)
    Cheers from Old Europe

  3. Thanks, Kepler. Yes, I like Diamond, but have not yet read "Collapse". I'll be on the lookout for Watson's book.

  4. Read this very closely, and carefully analyze the arguments here, and you will understand why Jared Diamond's work, Guns, Germs, and Steel, has MAJOR flaws and omissions that make it an inaccurate account:


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