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October 22, 2016
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Now They Tell Us

Now They Tell Us

By Orville Schell, Michael Massing

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Tag: Civilization

The Story of Egypt

A new book on ancient Egypt is full of fascinating material, including a re-examination of Cleopatra’s death, a look at the fluidity of sexual identity, and a tale about being carried off by a hippopotamus.

Posted on Oct 8, 2016 READ MORE


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The ‘Long Peace’ Is Not Upon Us

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker’s 2011 book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” has convinced many people that humanity has steadily become less violent in the recent past. English philosopher John Gray argues that Pinker merely sees what he wants in trends and statistics.

Posted on Mar 14, 2015 READ MORE

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

This novel, nominated for the Man Booker Prize, examines a group of Australian POWs during WWII as individuals, and their efforts to cling to the trappings of civilization no matter how slight or futile.

Posted on Sep 5, 2014 READ MORE

roberthuffstutter (CC BY 2.0)

Chris Hedges and Herman Melville Assault the Fruits of ‘Enlightenment’

A description of the lives of Polynesian islanders in Melville’s book “Typee” shows that the inhumanities of capitalism visible today and constantly attacked by Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges were plainly recognized in American literature of the mid-19th century.

Posted on Jul 20, 2013 READ MORE

Kim Alaniz (CC BY 2.0)

The Life and Death of Words, People and Even Nature

After Roman legions invaded Egypt, during one of the battles waged by Julius Caesar against the brother of Cleopatra, fire devoured most of the thousands upon thousands of papyrus scrolls in the Library of Alexandria. A pair of millennia later, during George W. Bush’s crusade against an imaginary enemy in Iraq, most of the books in the Library of Baghdad were reduced to ashes.

Posted on May 1, 2013 READ MORE

Illustration by Mr. Fish

The Myth of Human Progress

The mounting distortions of climate change and the rapid depletion of natural resources have done little to blunt the self-destructive notion of ceaseless expansion. The road we are on points toward human extinction.

Posted on Jan 13, 2013 READ MORE

Flickr / Tambako the Jaguar

Primordial Brew: Did Alcohol Inspire the Cultivation of Civilization?

Sure, it behooved our Neolithic ancestors to band together and form proto-civilizations for many reasons, but one main motivation, according to archaeologist Patrick McGovern—who works, and we kid you not, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health—was the time-honored pursuit of alcoholic intoxication.

Posted on Jan 21, 2010 READ MORE

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