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How a Box Changes the Way We Think

We live in a world organized around the container. Standardized twenty- and forty-foot shipping containers carry material goods across oceans and over land; provide shelter, office space, and storage capacity; inspire films, novels, metaphors, and paradigms. Today, TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit, the official measurement for shipping containers) has become something like a global currency.

The mechanized assembly line was invented in 1913 and has been in continuous operation ever since. It is the most familiar form of mass production. Both praised as a boon to workers and condemned for exploiting them, it has been celebrated and satirized. (We can still picture Chaplin’s little tramp trying to keep up with a factory conveyor belt.) In America’s Assembly Line, David Nye examines the industrial innovation that made the United States productive and wealthy in the twentieth century.

Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa

The history of Tel Aviv, presented for a moment as an architectural history, can be seen as a part of a wider process in which the physical shaping of Tel Aviv and its political and cultural construction are intertwined, and plays a decisive role in the construction of the case, the alibi, and the apologetics of the Jewish settlement across the country.
White City, Black City

The Roots of World War I and the Risk of U.S.-China Conflict

A century ago, Europe’s diplomats mismanaged the crisis triggered by the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and the continent plunged into World War I, which killed millions, toppled dynasties, and destroyed empires. Today, as the hundredth anniversary of the Great War prompts renewed debate about the war’s causes, scholars and policy experts are also considering the parallels between the present international system and the world of 1914. Are China and the United States fated to follow in the footsteps of previous great power rivals?

A Long View

It is not so easy to take the long view of socioeconomic history when you are participating in a revolution. For that reason, Russian economist Yegor Gaidar put aside an early version of this work to take up a series of government positions--as Minister of Finance and as Boris Yeltsin’s acting Prime Minister--in the early 1990s. In government, Gaidar shepherded Russia through its transition to a market economy after years of socialism. Once out of government, Gaidar turned again to his consideration of Russia’s economic history and long-term economic and political challenges.

America’s post–Cold War strategic dominance and its pre-recession affluence inspired pundits to make celebratory comparisons to ancient Rome at its most powerful. Now, with America no longer perceived as invulnerable, engaged in protracted fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and suffering the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, comparisons are to the bloated, decadent, ineffectual later Empire. In Why America Is Not a New Rome, Vaclav Smil looks at these comparisons in detail, going deeper than the facile analogy-making of talk shows and glossy magazine articles.

A History of Modern Aurality

Hearing has traditionally been regarded as the second sense—as somehow less rational and less modern than the first sense, sight. Reason and Resonance explodes this myth by reconstructing the process through which the ear came to play a central role in modern culture and rationality.

Design and the Culture of Board Riding

Surfboards were once made of wood and shaped by hand, objects of both cultural and recreational significance. Today most surfboards are mass-produced with fiberglass and a stew of petrochemicals, moving (or floating) billboards for athletes and their brands, emphasizing the commercial rather than the cultural. Surf Craft maps this evolution, examining surfboard design and craft with 150 color images and an insightful text.

In this long-awaited book, Claudio Lomnitz tells a groundbreaking story about the experiences and ideology of American and Mexican revolutionary collaborators of the Mexican anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón.

The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program

In July 1969, ninety-four percent of American televisions were tuned to coverage of Apollo 11’s mission to the moon. How did space exploration, once the purview of rocket scientists, reach a larger audience than My Three Sons? Why did a government program whose standard operating procedure had been secrecy turn its greatest achievement into a communal experience? In Marketing the Moon, David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek tell the story of one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history: the selling of the Apollo program.

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