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The Creators: a History of Heroes of the Imagination
by Daniel J. Boorstin

An incredible accomplishment.  Conceived as the companion to the book to the right, this book is a woven history of mankind's creative breakthroughs.  Mr. Boorstin manages to span all of recorded history, and some pre-history, and arrange it all in a lucid, readable, and compelling fashion.  While the early chapters are difficult reading for most, (they deal with cosmology and religion) if you just pick a period of interest, you'll find yourself reading the whole volume all the way through.  Boorstin is the rare beast, a decisively intellectual and precise author who is eminently readable.  I found it to be a very inspiring book.

About $15

 

Genius : The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
by James Gleick

A great biography of one of the most creative people to live this century.  I like to recommend this book to artists who aren't interested in math or science.  It's a great example of how creativity is a way of thinking that's independent of any profession...including the arts.  Feynman, at age 25, was placed in charge of the "computing" section of the Manhattan Project, and later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his "Feynman Diagrams".  A wacky, unceasingly original mind, I found this book to be both interesting and inspiring.   While the book is about a physics, and a physicist, Gleick manages to communicate the scientific ideas without losing the interest of a curious layman like myself.

About $13

 

The Discoverers : A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself
by Daniel J. Boorstin

Another incredible book.  This companion to the above book is a history of mankind's scientific thought.   Mr. Boorstin is remarkably insightful, and manages to place in context, the magnitude of a particular invention or concept at a given time in history.  He arrests your attention by proclaiming the importance of the wine-press to mankind...then explains how the large screw mechanism of the press, led to the lathe, large clock towers, increasingly miniaturized clocks and screws, and therefore the exploration of the world's oceans.   (They required accurate portable clocks for detailed navigation.)  One of many such eye-opening revelations.  A fascinating book. 

About $13

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The Americans, the Colonial Experience
by Daniel J. Boorstin

As well written, insightful, etc. as the other Boorstin books on this list, this book is a history of the American Colonies from approx. 1600-1770. Fascinating explanations of how and why America, and it's regions, developed into the country we're familiar with, it will simply change the way you understand the nation.  If you are American, it will make you want to learn more about early American history.

About $11

 

Americans : The National Experience
by Daniel Joseph Boorstin

The second book in "The Americans" series, (see the previous description) this book deals with the forming and early growth of the nation, roughly 1750-1900.  Contains really interesting information on the drive, creativity, and inventiveness of the early Americans.

About $13

 

The Americans : The Democratic Experience
by Daniel Joseph Boorstin

The third book in "The Americans" series, (see the previous descriptions) this book deals with 20th century America, 1900-1970.  Not quite as interesting as the other two, perhaps because the information is more widely known to us, it is still a solid, interesting read.  The best parts help reveal how America became the birthplace of mass consumption, mass production, and popular opinion.  Illuminating, but not as interesting to me personally.

About $15

 

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Chaos : Making a New Science
by James Gleick

The same author as the "Feynman" book above, Gleick is a gifted writer for popular scientific topics.  In this book, through the stories of the early participants, he recreates for the reader some of the drama and fascination involved in being a part of this new branch of scientific ideas.  At the same time, he understands how to communicate the character of the breakthroughs, without resorting to convoluted, overwrought technical jargon. You don't have to be a physicist to read this book. Very readable by the layman. 

About $15

 

The New Yorker Magazine

The most interesting, thoughtful, and funny magazine being published today.

$42 for a year subscription.

 

 



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