- Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time
A survey of a range of irrationalisms, with explanations of their empirical and logical flaws, this book describes the differences between science and pseudo-science, and goes on to describe and critique popular contemporary irrationalisms. Why do smart people believe weird things?Why do so many people believe in mind reading, past-life regression therapy, extra-terrestrial abduction and ghosts? What is behind the rise of 'scientific creationism' and Holocaust denial? In an age of supposed scientific enlightenment why do we appear more impressionable than ever?Scientific historian, and director of the Skeptics Society, Michael Shermer debunks these extraordinary claims in a no-holds-barred assault on the popular superstitions and confused prejudices of our time. Exploring the very human reasons behind otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories and cults Shermer explains why are they are so appealing to so many."Skepticism is the agent of reason against organized irrationalism -and is therefore one of the keys to human social and civic decency."Stephen Jay Gould, from his forewordShermer reveals the darker side of wishful thinking, through the recovered memory movement, satanic rituals and other modern witch hunts, and ideologies of racial superiority. Confronting those who take advantage of the gullibility of other people to advance their own, self-serving agendas Why People Believe Weird Things is compelling and often disturbing. It is a perceptive portrait of the human capacity for self-delusion and a celebration of the scientific spirit.
- Sneaking Out
From the endless battles of sibling rivalry to the endless worries about getting indifferent students intoNand then graduated fromNcollege, raising boys is the adventure of a lifetime for any mother. Prudence Mackintosh has not only survived the adventure but has also written about it with her signature wit and style. Her essays about life with sons Jack, Drew, and William have entertained the readers of Texas Monthly and other prominent magazines for nearly three decades, offering solace to similarly beleaguered parents and a knowing chuckle to everyone who enjoys watching the real-life sitcom of a fundamentally happy, intact family. Sneaking Out completes the story that Mackintosh began in her earlier books Thundering Sneakers and Retreads. In this collection of new and previously published essays, she recounts life with her adolescent sons as they race headlong to first jobs, first driverOs licenses, first girlfriends, and first flights away from the family nest. She also follows them into the college years, when both parents and sons have to find a new balance in holding on and letting go. Along the way, she offers wise and witty reflections on being a woman at midlife, supporting her sons through the beginning of their adult lives and her parents through the end of theirs.
- Art of the Northwest Coast
Art of the Northwest Coast is a comprehensive survey of the Native arts of the Pacific Northwest Coast, from Puget Sound to Alaska and from prehistoric times to the present. Incorporating the region's social history with the observations of anthropologists, historians of art, and Native peoples, this groundbreaking volume examines how the upheavals of European contact affected the development of a powerful traditional art. By exploring the distinct origins of each of the area's linguistic groups and their histories, mythologies, and art forms, art historian Aldona Jonaitis reveals how a complex web of factors informed these groups' varied responses to the changes and challenges brought about by contact with Europeans.
The post-contact period has often been considered a time of decline for Native artistic traditions and techniques, but Jonaitis convincingly argues against this assumption. The traditions were not lost, she asserts, but rather were expressed in different ways. Forms such as tourist art - made expressly for sale rather than for community use - were for some the only outlets available in the trying, repressive years when Natives were deprived of their land, rights, and essential cultural expressions. While art made for community use was often judged "inferior" in quality to nineteenth-century creations, it still expressed the strong aesthetics of a surviving Native culture.
Since the 1960s, Native artistic activity has flourished and is increasingly recognized as fine art rather than anthropological artifact. Repatriation of Native works of art from museums, a strong market for collectors and dealers, and a reaffirmation of traditional culture and heritage among Native communities all contribute to a vibrant field in which Native artists reflect their enduring cultures in works that explore many contemporary directions.
Compellingly written and beautifully illustrated, Art of the Northwest Coast is a cornerstone addition to any library and essential reading for anyone interested in the art of Native cultures.
- The Cuban Cigar Handbook
The aficionado s guide to the best Cuban cigars in the world. Cuban cigars are as much an art form as a pleasure and this special collector s edition of the definitive guide to over 200 varieties of cigar will appeal to connoisseurs of the world s finest cigars. The Cuban Cigar Handbook is a detailed history of Cuban cigars, with short essays on celebrity cigar smokers (including Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway) and fascinating explorations of the roles of tobacco growers and cigar hand-rollers. This is an unrivalled guide to the brands of cigar that are available, along with tasting notes to help the reader fully experience the pleasures of a good cigar: From the Cohiba, Fidel Castro s personal favourite, to the Montecristo, a cigar inspired by Alexandre Dumas classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo; including H. Upmann s range, one of the oldest cigar brands in the world, and La Gloria Cubana s cigarillos; the Punch, the most popular cigar of Victorian Britain and Ramon Allones hand-rolled cigars. The Cuban Cigar Handbook explains every element of cigar production, from the types of tobacco used and how they are rolled to advice on choosing your first humidor.
- East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500
Although the Middle Ages saw brilliant achievements in the diverse nations of East Central Europe, this period has been almost totally neglected in Western historical scholarship. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages provides a much-needed overview of the history of the region from the time when the present nationalities established their state structures and adopted Christianity up to the Ottoman conquest. Jean Sedlar's excellent synthesis clarifies what was going on in Europe between the Elbe and the Ukraine during the Middle Ages, making available for the first time in a single volume information necessary to a fuller understanding of the early history of present-day Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia.
Sedlar writes clearly and fluently, drawing upon publications in numerous languages to craft a masterful study that is accessible and valuable to the general reader and the expert alike. The book is organized thematically; within this framework Sedlar has sought to integrate nationalities and to draw comparisons. Topics covered include early migrations, state formation, monarchies, classes (nobles, landholders, peasants, herders, serfs, and slaves), towns, religion, war, governments, laws and justice, commerce and money, foreign affairs, ethnicity and nationalism, languages and literature, and education and literacy.
After the Middle Ages these nations were subsumed by the Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian, and Prussian-German empires. This loss of independence means that their history prior to foreign conquest has acquired exceptional importance in today's national consciousness, and the medieval period remains a major point of reference and a source of national pride and ethnic identity. This book is a substantial and timely contribution to our knowledge of the history of East Central Europe.