The Best Microhistory eBooks




The Book on the Bookshelf
by Henry Petroski
The Book on the Bookshelf
Format: PDF
Size: 5.4 MB
Pages: 306

"A fascinating history of two related common objects, impeccably documented and beautifully illustrated."-Civilization

Henry Petroski, "the poet laureate of technology" and author of the highly acclaimed The Pencil and The Evolution of Useful Things now sets his sights on perhaps the greatest technological advances of the last two thousand years: the making and storing of books-from papyrus scrolls to precious medieval codices to the book as we know it, from the great library at Alexandria to monastic cells to the Library of Congress.

As writing advanced, and with it broader literacy, the development of the book was seemingly inevitable. And as books became more common, the question of where and how to store them became more pertinent. But how did we come from continuous sheets rolled on spools to the ubiquitous portable item you are holding in your hand? And how did books come to be restored and displayed vertically and spine out on shelves? Henry Petroski answers these and virtually every other question we might have about books as he contemplates the history of the book on bookshelf with his inimitable subtle analysis and intriguing detail.

"After reading this book, you will not look at a book or a bookshelf in the same way."-The Seattle Times

 



The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are.
by Henry Petroski
The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are.
Format: PDF
Size: 5.4 MB
Pages: 304

   How did the table fork acquire a fourth tine? What advantage does the Phillips-head screw have over its single-grooved predecessor? Why does the paper clip look the way it does? What makes Scotch tape Scotch?

   In this delightful book Henry, Petroski takes a microscopic look at artifacts that most of us count on but rarely contemplate, including such icons of the everyday as pins, Post-its, and fast-food "clamshell" containers. At the same time, he offers a convincing new theory of technological innovation as a response to the perceived failures of existing products — suggesting that irritation, and not necessity, is the mother of invention.

 



Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank
by Randi Hutter Epstein
Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank
Format: PDF
Size: 5.7 MB
Pages: 320

Making and having babies — what it takes to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and deliver — has mystified women and men for the whole of human history. The birth gurus of ancient times told newlyweds that simultaneous orgasms were necessary for conception and that during pregnancy a woman should drink red wine but not too much and have sex but not too frequently. Over the last one hundred years, depending on the latest prevailing advice, women have taken morphine, practiced Lamaze, relied on ultrasound images, sampled fertility drugs, and shopped at sperm banks.

In Get Me Out, the insatiably curious Randi Hutter Epstein journeys through history, fads, and fables, and to the fringe of science, where audacious researchers have gone to extreme measures to get healthy babies out of mothers. Here is an entertaining must-read — and an enlightening celebration of human life.

 



Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
by Cynthia Barnett
Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Format: PDF
Size: 6.6 MB
Pages: 368

Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.

Cynthia Barnett's  Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science — the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains — with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2, 203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River.  It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster, " Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge.  Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.

 



Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
by Tom Mueller
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
Format: PDF
Size: 4.2 MB
Pages: 238

The sacred history and profane present of a substance long seen as the essence of health and civilization.

For millennia, fresh olive oil has been one of life's necessities-not just as food but also as medicine, a beauty aid, and a vital element of religious ritual. Today's researchers are continuing to confirm the remarkable, life-giving properties of true extra-virgin, and "extra-virgin Italian" has become the highest standard of quality.

But what if this symbol of purity has become deeply corrupt? Starting with an explosive article in The New Yorker, Tom Mueller has become the world's expert on olive oil and olive oil fraud-a story of globalization, deception, and crime in the food industry from ancient times to the present, and a powerful indictment of today's lax protections against fake and even toxic food products in the United States. A rich and deliciously readable narrative, Extra Virginity is also an inspiring account of the artisanal producers, chemical analysts, chefs, and food activists who are defending the extraordinary oils that truly deserve the name "extra-virgin."

 






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