Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human Historyby Matthew White, Steven Pinker
“An amusing (really) account of the murderous ways of despots, slave traders, blundering royals, gladiators and assorted hordes.”—New York TimesEvangelists of human progress meet their opposite in Matthew White’s epic examination of history’s one hundred most violent events, or, in White’s piquant phrasing,/p>/em>
“An amusing (really) account of the murderous ways of despots, slave traders, blundering royals, gladiators and assorted hordes.”—New York TimesEvangelists of human progress meet their opposite in Matthew White’s epic examination of history’s one hundred most violent events, or, in White’s piquant phrasing, “the numbers that people want to argue about.” Reaching back to the Second Persian War in 480 BCE and moving chronologically through history, White surrounds hard facts (time and place) and succinct takeaways (who usually gets the blame?) with lively military, social, and political histories.
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Meet the Author
Matthew White is the creator of the online Historical Atlas of the 20th Century. His data has been cited by forty-five published books and eighty scholarly articles. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.
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Borrowed this book from my local library believing that the premise has some sort of potential, however it proved quite disappointing. It is a voyeuristic history, one that is almost obscene...the numbers eventually become meaningless. The historical synopsis of each event (especially the ancient events) are inaccurate, vague and highly generalized. This is history in masturbatory form-a lazy work; ideally I assume for a reader that appreciates the historical merit of "Storage Wars," or some other insufferable thing from the History Channel. Those who are looking for a better read: I suggest "The Pessimist's Guide to History," which has a better narrative and a concise chronology of events.
This was the first history book I've ever read outside of school and I have to say that it was fantastic. I was not before, but am now a sort of history buff. This book discusses 100 terrible events in history in chronological order describing some truly unique event in history I had never heard of. For each event the author informs you of whom is most often blamed for the atrocity (note the author does not assign the blame himself, only tells you who historians typically blame). The book is written with a dose of humor and a touch of pessimism and is very entertaining. Another thing worth mentioning is this historian is not afraid to admit that historical records (especially the ancient ones) should have a degree error associated with their numbers. He points out often that the number of lives lost in some battles are disputed among historians and thus we must make assumptions as to what really happens. He also reminds you that history is written by man, and typically those who win wars, and what you read should be taken with a grain of salt. A great book for the coffee table because it provides very interesting short reads.