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Microhistories: History on a Small Scale (Summer Reading Challenge 2019)

  • Details about Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World

    Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World

    Aja Raden

    As entertaining as it is incisive, Stoned is a raucous journey through the history of human desire for what is rare, and therefore precious. What makes a stone a jewel? What makes a jewel priceless? And why do we covet beautiful things? In this brilliant account of how eight jewels shaped the course of history, jeweler and scientist Aja Raden tells an original and often startling story about our unshakeable addiction to beauty and the darker side of human desire. What moves the world is what m……more

  • Details about The world in a grain: the story of sand and how it transformed civilization

    The world in a grain: the story of sand and how it transformed civilization

    Vince Beiser

    The gripping story of the most important overlooked commodity in the world--sand--and the crucial role it plays in our lives. After water and air, sand is the natural resource that we consume more than any other--even more than oil. Every concrete building and paved road on Earth, every computer screen and silicon chip, is made from sand. From Egypt's pyramids to the Hubble telescope, from the world's tallest skyscraper to the sidewalk below it, from Chartres' stained-glass windows to your iPhon……more

  • Details about Nine Pints

    Nine Pints

    Rose George

    An eye-opening exploration of blood, the lifegiving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds and the promise of breakthrough science Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don’t even know their own blood type. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million ……more

  • Details about The disappearing spoon : and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements

    The disappearing spoon : and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements

    Sam Kean.

    The Periodic Table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives ……more

  • Details about Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World

    Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World

    Joshua B. Freeman

    We live in a factory-made world: modern life is built on three centuries of advances in factory production, efficiency, and technology. But giant factories have also fueled our fears about the future since their beginnings, when William Blake called them "dark Satanic mills." Many factories that operated over the last two centuries--such as Homestead, River Rouge, and Foxconn--were known for the labor exploitation and class warfare they engendered, not to mention the environmental devastation ca……more

  • Details about Stiff : the curious lives of human cadavers

    Stiff : the curious lives of human cadavers

    Mary Roach.

    An oddly compelling, often hilarious forensic exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers — some willingly, some unwittingly — have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical proc……more

  • Details about The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea

    The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea

    Jack E. Davis

    When painter Winslow Homer first sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, he was struck by its "special kind of providence." Indeed, the Gulf presented itself as America's sea--bound by geography, culture, and tradition to the national experience--and yet, there has never been a comprehensive history of the Gulf until now. And so, in this rich and original work that explores the Gulf through our human connection with the sea, environmental historian Jack E. Davis finally places this exceptional region in……more

  • Details about Ticker: the quest to create an artificial heart

    Ticker: the quest to create an artificial heart

    Mimi Swartz

    "In Ticker, Texas Monthly executive editor and two-time National Magazine Award winner Mimi Swartz takes readers behind the scenes of perhaps the greatest medical and technological quest of our time, as she follows pioneering heart surgeon O.H. "Bud" Frazier and his partner, Dr. Billy Cohn, in Frazier's lifelong effort to develop, perfect, and successfully implant an artificial heart in patients whose hearts are failing. In Ticker, renowned journalist Mimi Swartz takes readers on an incredible b……more