6 Items

Book - Penguin Press

The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook

| Jan. 16, 2018

Most history is hierarchical: it's about emperors, presidents, prime ministers and field marshals. It's about states, armies and corporations. It's about orders from on high. Even history "from below" is often about trade unions and workers' parties. But what if that's simply because hierarchical institutions create the archives that historians rely on? What if we are missing the informal, less well documented social networks that are the true sources of power and drivers of change?

The 21st century has been hailed as the Age of Networks. However, in The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson argues that networks have always been with us, from the structure of the brain to the food chain, from the family tree to freemasonry. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. For it is networks that tend to innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas can contagiously spread. Just because conspiracy theorists like to fantasize about such networks doesn't mean they are not real.

From the cults of ancient Rome to the dynasties of the Renaissance, from the founding fathers to Facebook, The Square and the Tower tells the story of the rise, fall and rise of networks, and shows how network theory--concepts such as clustering, degrees of separation, weak ties, contagions and phase transitions--can transform our understanding of both the past and the present.

Just as The Ascent of Money put Wall Street into historical perspective, so The Square and the Tower does the same for Silicon Valley. And it offers a bold prediction about which hierarchies will withstand this latest wave of network disruption--and which will be toppled.

Book - Simon & Schuster

Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times

| Oct. 03, 2017

This “engaging, unusually rewarding book…[which] will foster a new appreciation for effective leadership and prompt many readers to lament the lack of it in the world today” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), by celebrated Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn, examines five masters of crisis: explorer Ernest Shackleton; Abraham Lincoln; abolitionist Frederick Douglass; Nazi-resisting clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and environmental crusader Rachel Carson.

What do such disparate figures have in common? Why do their extraordinary stories continue to amaze and inspire? In her “enthralling…fascinating look at a varied group of heroes” (Publishers Weekly), Nancy Koehn offers a remarkable template by which to measure our aspirations and, also, to judge those in our time to whom we've given our trust.

Featuring “five stand-alone case studies that are well-written and interesting” (TheNew York Times), Koehn begins each section by showing her protagonist on the precipice of a great crisis: Shackleton marooned on an Antarctic ice floe; Lincoln on the verge of seeing the Union collapse; escaped slave Douglass facing possible capture; Bonhoeffer agonizing over how to counter absolute evil with faith; Carson racing against the cancer ravaging her in a bid to save the planet. Readers then learn about each person’s childhood and see the individual growing—step by step—into the person he or she will ultimately become. Significantly, as we follow each leader’s against-all-odds journey, we begin to glean an essential truth: leaders are not born but made. In a book dense with epiphanies, the most galvanizing one may be that the power and courage to lead resides in each of us.

Providing both great insight and exceptionally rendered human drama, Forged in Crisis is “a highly engaging (and well documented)…book that quietly surpasses many so-called leadership tomes” (Booklist, starred review).

Book - Basic Books

The Cold War: A World History

| Sep. 05, 2017

We tend to think of the Cold War as a bounded conflict: a clash of two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, born out of the ashes of World War II and coming to a dramatic end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. But in this major new work, Bancroft Prize-winning scholar Odd Arne Westad argues that the Cold War must be understood as a global ideological confrontation, with early roots in the Industrial Revolution and ongoing repercussions around the world.

Book - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

| May 30, 2017

In Destined for War, the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations in the twenty-first century. Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Yet, stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past — and what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today.

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Book - Belknap Press

Democracy: A Case Study

    Author:
  • David Moss
| Feb. 21, 2017

To all who declare that American democracy is broken—riven by partisanship, undermined by extremism, and corrupted by wealth—history offers hope. In nearly every generation since the nation’s founding, critics have made similar declarations, and yet the nation is still standing. When should we believe the doomsayers? In Democracy: A Case Study, historian David Moss adapts the case study method made famous by Harvard Business School to revitalize our conversations about governance and democracy and show how the United States has often thrived on political conflict.

Democracy’s nineteen case studies were honed in Moss’s Harvard course, which is among the institution’s most highly rated. Each one presents readers with a pivotal moment in U.S. history and raises questions facing key decision makers at the time: Should delegates to the Constitutional Convention support James Madison’s proposal for a congressional veto over state laws? Should President Lincoln resupply Fort Sumter? Should Florida lawmakers approve or reject the Equal Rights Amendment?

These vibrant cases ask readers to weigh choices and consequences, wrestle with momentous decisions, and come to their own conclusions. They provoke us to rethink which factors make the difference between constructive and destructive conflict, and they provide an opportunity to reengage the passionate debates that are crucial to a healthy society. Democracy: A Case Study invites us all to experience American history anew and come away with a deeper understanding of our democracy’s greatest strengths and vulnerabilities as well as its extraordinary resilience over time.