The Great Paleolithic War

How Science Forged an Understanding of America's Ice Age Past

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Author: David J. Meltzer

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022629322X

Category: History

Page: 670

View: 6643

Only a few years after the discovery in Europe in the late 1850s that humanity had roots predating history and the Biblical chronicles, and reaching deep into the Pleistocene, came the suggestion that North American prehistory might be just as old. And why not? There seemed to be an exact synchronism [of geological strata] between Europe and America,” and so by extension there ought to be a parallelism as to the antiquity of man.” That triggered an eager search for traces of the people who may have occupied North America in the recesses of the Ice Age. The Great Paleolithic War is the history of the longstanding and bitter dispute in North America over whether people had arrived here in Ice Age times.

Selective Remembrances

Archaeology in the Construction, Commemoration, and Consecration of National Pasts

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Author: Philip L. Kohl,Mara Kozelsky,Nachman Ben-Yehuda

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226450643

Category: Social Science

Page: 384

View: 4428

When political geography changes, how do reorganized or newly formed states justify their rule and create a sense of shared history for their people? Often, the essays in Selective Remembrances reveal, they turn to archaeology, employing the field and its findings to develop nationalistic feelings and forge legitimate distinctive national identities. Examining such relatively new or reconfigured nation-states as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, India, and Thailand, Selective Remembrances shows how states invoke the remote past to extol the glories of specific peoples or prove claims to ancestral homelands. Religion has long played a key role in such efforts, and the contributors take care to demonstrate the tendency of many people, including archaeologists themselves, to view the world through a religious lens—which can be exploited by new regimes to suppress objective study of the past and justify contemporary political actions. The wide geographic and intellectual range of the essays in Selective Remembrances will make it a seminal text for archaeologists and historians.

The Age of Everything

How Science Explores the Past

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Author: Matthew Hedman

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226322947

Category: Science

Page: 264

View: 9258

Taking advantage of recent advances throughout the sciences, Matthew Hedman brings the distant past closer to us than it has ever been. Here, he shows how scientists have determined the age of everything from the colonization of the New World over 13,000 years ago to the origin of the universe nearly fourteen billion years ago. Hedman details, for example, how interdisciplinary studies of the Great Pyramids of Egypt can determine exactly when and how these incredible structures were built. He shows how the remains of humble trees can illuminate how the surface of the sun has changed over the past ten millennia. And he also explores how the origins of the earth, solar system, and universe are being discerned with help from rocks that fall from the sky, the light from distant stars, and even the static seen on television sets. Covering a wide range of time scales, from the Big Bang to human history, The Age of Everything is a provocative and far-ranging look at how science has determined the age of everything from modern mammals to the oldest stars, and will be indispensable for all armchair time travelers. “We are used to being told confidently of an enormous, measurable past: that some collection of dusty bones is tens of thousands of years old, or that astronomical bodies have an age of some billions. But how exactly do scientists come to know these things? That is the subject of this quite fascinating book. . . . As told by Hedman, an astronomer, each story is a marvel of compressed exegesis that takes into account some of the most modern and intriguing hypotheses.”—Steven Poole, Guardian “Hedman is worth reading because he is careful to present both the power and peril of trying to extract precise chronological data. These are all very active areas of study, and as you read Hedman you begin to see how researchers have to be both very careful and incredibly audacious, and how much of our understanding of ourselves—through history, through paleontology, through astronomy—depends on determining the age of everything.”—Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe

By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean

The Birth of Eurasia

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Author: Barry Cunliffe

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199689172

Category: Civilization

Page: 530

View: 8339

By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean is nothing less than the story of how humans first started building the globalized world we know today. Set on a huge continental stage, from Europe to China, it is a tale covering over 10,000 years, from the origins of farming around 9000 BC to the expansion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century AD. An unashamedly 'big history', it charts the development of European, Near Eastern, and Chinesecivilizations and the growing links between them by way of the Indian Ocean, the silk Roads, and the great steppe corridor (which crucially allowed horse riders to travel from Mongolia to the Great Hungarian Plainwithin a year). Along the way, it is also the story of the rise and fall of empires, the development of maritime trade, and the shattering impact of predatory nomads on their urban neighbours. Above all, as this immense historical panorama unfolds, we begin to see in clearer focus those basic underlying factors - the acquisitive nature of humanity, the differing environments in which people live, and the dislocating effect of even slight climatic variation - which havedriven change throughout the ages, and which help us better understand our world today.

In the Eastern Fluted Point Tradition

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Author: Joseph A. M. Gingerich

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9781607815785

Category: Social Science

Page: 528

View: 6587

Detailed studies of artifacts and sites help us better understand the first inhabitants of eastern North America

The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes

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Author: Conevery Bolton Valencius

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022605392X

Category: Science

Page: 480

View: 4847

From December 1811 to February 1812, massive earthquakes shook the middle Mississippi Valley, collapsing homes, snapping large trees midtrunk, and briefly but dramatically reversing the flow of the continent’s mightiest river. For decades, people puzzled over the causes of the quakes, but by the time the nation began to recover from the Civil War, the New Madrid earthquakes had been essentially forgotten. In The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes, Conevery Bolton Valencius remembers this major environmental disaster, demonstrating how events that have been long forgotten, even denied and ridiculed as tall tales, were in fact enormously important at the time of their occurrence, and continue to affect us today. Valencius weaves together scientific and historical evidence to demonstrate the vast role the New Madrid earthquakes played in the United States in the early nineteenth century, shaping the settlement patterns of early western Cherokees and other Indians, heightening the credibility of Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa for their Indian League in the War of 1812, giving force to frontier religious revival, and spreading scientific inquiry. Moving into the present, Valencius explores the intertwined reasons—environmental, scientific, social, and economic—why something as consequential as major earthquakes can be lost from public knowledge, offering a cautionary tale in a world struggling to respond to global climate change amid widespread willful denial. Engagingly written and ambitiously researched—both in the scientific literature and the writings of the time—The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes will be an important resource in environmental history, geology, and seismology, as well as history of science and medicine and early American and Native American history.

The Discovery of Global Warming

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Author: Spencer R. Weart

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 9780674044975

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 6890

In 2001 a panel representing virtually all the world's governments and climate scientists announced that they had reached a consensus: the world was warming at a rate without precedent during at least the last ten millennia, and that warming was caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases from human activity. The consensus itself was at least a century in the making. The story of how scientists reached their conclusion--by way of unexpected twists and turns and in the face of formidable intellectual, financial, and political obstacles--is told for the first time in The Discovery of Global Warming. Spencer R. Weart lucidly explains the emerging science, introduces us to the major players, and shows us how the Earth's irreducibly complicated climate system was mirrored by the global scientific community that studied it. Unlike familiar tales of Science Triumphant, this book portrays scientists working on bits and pieces of a topic so complex that they could never achieve full certainty--yet so important to human survival that provisional answers were essential. Weart unsparingly depicts the conflicts and mistakes, and how they sometimes led to fruitful results. His book reminds us that scientists do not work in isolation, but interact in crucial ways with the political system and with the general public. The book not only reveals the history of global warming, but also analyzes the nature of modern scientific work as it confronts the most difficult questions about the Earth's future. Table of Contents: Preface 1. How Could Climate Change? 2. Discovering a Possibility 3. A Delicate System 4. A Visible Threat 5. Public Warnings 6. The Erratic Beast 7. Breaking into Politics 8. The Discovery Confirmed Reflections Milestones Notes Further Reading Index Reviews of this book: A soberly written synthesis of science and politics. --Gilbert Taylor, Booklist Reviews of this book: Charting the evolution and confirmation of the theory [of global warming], Spencer R. Weart, director of the Center for the History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics, dissects the interwoven threads of research and reveals the political and societal subtexts that colored scientists' views and the public reception their work received. --Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times Book Review Reviews of this book: It took a century for scientists to agree that gases produced by human activity were causing the world to warm up. Now, in an engaging book that reads like a detective story, physicist Weart reports the history of global warming theory, including the internal conflicts plaguing the research community and the role government has had in promoting climate studies. --Publishers Weekly Reviews of this book: It is almost two centuries since the French mathematician Jean Baptiste Fourier discovered that the Earth was far warmer than it had any right to be, given its distance from the Sun...Spencer Weart's book about how Fourier's initially inconsequential discovery finally triggered urgent debate about the future habitability of the Earth is lucid, painstaking and commendably brief, packing everything into 200 pages. --Fred Pearce, The Independent Reviews of this book: [The Discovery of Global Warming] is a well-written, well-researched and well-balanced account of the issues involved...This is not a sermon for the faithful, or verses from Revelation for the evangelicals, but a serious summary for those who like reasoned argument. Read it--and be converted. --John Emsley, Times Literary Supplement Reviews of this book: This is a terrific book...Perhaps the finest compliment I could give this book is to report that I intend to use it instead of my own book...for my climate class. The Discovery of Global Warming is more up-to-date, better balanced historically, beautifully written and, not least important, short and to the point. I think the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] needs to enlist a few good historians like Weart for its next assessment. --Stephen H. Schneider, Nature Reviews of this book: This short, well-written book by a science historian at the American Institute of Physics adds a serious voice to the overheated debate about global warming and would serve as a great starting point for anyone who wants to better understand the issue. --Maureen Christie, American Scientist Reviews of this book: I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Spencer Weart's account provides much valuable and interesting material about how the discipline developed--not just from the perspective of climate science but also within the context of the field's relation to other scientific disciplines, the media, political trends, and even 20th-century history (particularly the Cold War). In addition, Weart has done a valuable service by recording for posterity background information on some of the key discoveries and historical figures who contributed to our present understanding of the global warming problem. --Thomas J. Crowley, Science Reviews of this book: Weart has done us all a service by bringing the discovery of global warming into a short, compendious and persuasive book for a general readership. He is especially strong on the early days and the scientific background. --Crispin Tickell, Times Higher Education Supplement A Capricious Beast Ever since the days when he had trudged around fossil lake basins in Nevada for his doctoral thesis, Wally Broecker had been interested in sudden climate shifts. The reported sudden jumps of CO2 in Greenland ice cores stimulated him to put this interest into conjunction with his oceanographic interests. The result was a surprising and important calculation. The key was what Broecker later described as a "great conveyor belt'"of seawater carrying heat northward. . . . The energy carried to the neighborhood of Iceland was "staggering," Broecker realized, nearly a third as much as the Sun sheds upon the entire North Atlantic. If something were to shut down the conveyor, climate would change across much of the Northern Hemisphere' There was reason to believe a shutdown could happen swiftly. In many regions the consequences for climate would be spectacular. Broecker was foremost in taking this disagreeable news to the public. In 1987 he wrote that we had been treating the greenhouse effect as a 'cocktail hour curiosity,' but now 'we must view it as a threat to human beings and wildlife.' The climate system was a capricious beast, he said, and we were poking it with a sharp stick. I found the book enjoyable, thoughtful, and an excellent introduction to the history of what may be one of the most important subjects of the next one hundred years. --Clark Miller, University of Wisconsin The Discovery of Global Warming raises important scientific issues and topics and includes essential detail. Readers should be able to follow the discussion and emerge at the end with a good understanding of how scientists have developed a consensus on global warming, what it is, and what issues now face human society. --Thomas R. Dunlap, Texas A&M University

Sapiens

A Brief History of Humankind

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Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Publisher: Signal

ISBN: 9780771038518

Category:

Page: 464

View: 7521

Destined to become a modern classic in the vein of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Sapiens is a lively, groundbreaking history of humankind told from a unique perspective. 100,000 years ago, at least six species of human inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo Sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? In Sapiens, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical -- and sometimes devastating -- breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural, and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology, and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power...and our future.

Who We Are and How We Got Here

Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

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Author: David Reich

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198821255

Category: DNA

Page: 368

View: 721

David Reich describes how the revolution in the ability to sequence ancient DNA has changed our understanding of the deep human past. This book tells the emerging story of our often surprising ancestry - the extraordinary ancient migrations and mixtures of populations that have made us who we are.

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization

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Author: Tamar Hodos

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

ISBN: 1315448998

Category: Social Science

Page: 994

View: 1144

This unique collection applies globalization concepts to the discipline of archaeology, using a wide range of global case studies from a group of international specialists. The volume spans from as early as 10,000 cal. BP to the modern era, analysing the relationship between material culture, complex connectivities between communities and groups, and cultural change. Each contributor considers globalization ideas explicitly to explore the socio-cultural connectivities of the past. In considering social practices shared between different historic groups, and also the expression of their respective identities, the papers in this volume illustrate the potential of globalization thinking to bridge the local and global in material culture analysis. The Routledge Handbook of Archaeology and Globalization is the first such volume to take a world archaeology approach, on a multi-period basis, in order to bring together the scope of evidence for the significance of material culture in the processes of globalization. This work thus also provides a means to understand how material culture can be used to assess the impact of global engagement in our contemporary world. As such, it will appeal to archaeologists and historians as well as social science researchers interested in the origins of globalization.

Germany's Ancient Pasts

Archaeology and Historical Interpretation since 1700

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Author: Brent Maner

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226592916

Category: History

Page: 364

View: 2066

In Germany, Nazi ideology casts a long shadow over the history of archaeological interpretation. Propaganda, school curricula, and academic publications under the regime drew spurious conclusions from archaeological evidence to glorify the Germanic past and proclaim chauvinistic notions of cultural and racial superiority. But was this powerful and violent version of the distant past a nationalist invention or a direct outcome of earlier archaeological practices? By exploring the myriad pathways along which people became familiar with archaeology and the ancient past—from exhibits at local and regional museums to the plotlines of popular historical novels—this broad cultural history shows that the use of archaeology for nationalistic pursuits was far from preordained. In Germany’s Ancient Pasts, Brent Maner offers a vivid portrait of the development of antiquarianism and archaeology, the interaction between regional and national history, and scholarly debates about the use of ancient objects to answer questions of race, ethnicity, and national belonging. While excavations in central Europe throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries fed curiosity about the local landscape and inspired musings about the connection between contemporary Germans and their “ancestors,” antiquarians and archaeologists were quite cautious about using archaeological evidence to make ethnic claims. Even during the period of German unification, many archaeologists emphasized the local and regional character of their finds and treated prehistory as a general science of humankind. As Maner shows, these alternative perspectives endured alongside nationalist and racist abuses of prehistory, surviving to offer positive traditions for the field in the aftermath of World War II. A fascinating investigation of the quest to turn pre- and early history into history, Germany’s Ancient Pasts sheds new light on the joint sway of science and politics over archaeological interpretation.

The Analysis of Animal Bones from Archeological Sites

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Author: Richard G. Klein,Kathryn Cruz-Uribe

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226439587

Category: Social Science

Page: 266

View: 339

In growing numbers, archeologists are specializing in the analysis of excavated animal bones as clues to the environment and behavior of ancient peoples. This pathbreaking work provides a detailed discussion of the outstanding issues and methods of bone studies that will interest zooarcheologists as well as paleontologists who focus on reconstructing ecologies from bones. Because large samples of bones from archeological sites require tedious and time-consuming analysis, the authors also offer a set of computer programs that will greatly simplify the bone specialist's job. After setting forth the interpretive framework that governs their use of numbers in faunal analysis, Richard G. Klein and Kathryn Cruz-Uribe survey various measures of taxonomic abundance, review methods for estimating the sex and age composition of a fossil species sample, and then give examples to show how these measures and sex/age profiles can provide useful information about the past. In the second part of their book, the authors present the computer programs used to calculate and analyze each numerical measure or count discussed in the earlier chapters. These elegant and original programs, written in BASIC, can easily be used by anyone with a microcomputer or with access to large mainframe computers.

First Peoples in a New World

Colonizing Ice Age America

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Author: David J. Meltzer

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 9780520943155

Category: Social Science

Page: 464

View: 306

More than 12,000 years ago, in one of the greatest triumphs of prehistory, humans colonized North America, a continent that was then truly a new world. Just when and how they did so has been one of the most perplexing and controversial questions in archaeology. This dazzling, cutting-edge synthesis, written for a wide audience by an archaeologist who has long been at the center of these debates, tells the scientific story of the first Americans: where they came from, when they arrived, and how they met the challenges of moving across the vast, unknown landscapes of Ice Age North America. David J. Meltzer pulls together the latest ideas from archaeology, geology, linguistics, skeletal biology, genetics, and other fields to trace the breakthroughs that have revolutionized our understanding in recent years. Among many other topics, he explores disputes over the hemisphere's oldest and most controversial sites and considers how the first Americans coped with changing global climates. He also confronts some radical claims: that the Americas were colonized from Europe or that a crashing comet obliterated the Pleistocene megafauna. Full of entertaining descriptions of on-site encounters, personalities, and controversies, this is a compelling behind-the-scenes account of how science is illuminating our past.

Modern Nature

The Rise of the Biological Perspective in Germany

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Author: Lynn K. Nyhart

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226610926

Category: Science

Page: 440

View: 9789

In Modern Nature,Lynn K. Nyhart traces the emergence of a “biological perspective” in late nineteenth-century Germany that emphasized the dynamic relationships among organisms, and between organisms and their environment. Examining this approach to nature in light of Germany’s fraught urbanization and industrialization, as well the opportunities presented by new and reforming institutions, she argues that rapid social change drew attention to the role of social relationships and physical environments in rendering a society—and nature—whole, functional, and healthy. This quintessentially modern view of nature, Nyhart shows, stood in stark contrast to the standard naturalist’s orientation toward classification. While this new biological perspective would eventually grow into the academic discipline of ecology, Modern Nature locates its roots outside the universities, in a vibrant realm of populist natural history inhabited by taxidermists and zookeepers, schoolteachers and museum reformers, amateur enthusiasts and nature protectionists. Probing the populist beginnings of animal ecology in Germany, Nyhart unites the history of popular natural history with that of elite science in a new way. In doing so, she brings to light a major orientation in late nineteenth-century biology that has long been eclipsed by Darwinism.

Rereading the Fossil Record

The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline

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Author: David Sepkoski

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226748553

Category: Science

Page: 432

View: 2054

Although fossils have provided some of the most important evidence for evolution, the discipline of paleontology has not always had a central place in evolutionary biology. Beginning in Darwin's day, and for much of the twentieth century, paleontologists were often regarded as mere fossil collectors by many evolutionary biologists, their attempts to contribute to evolutionary theory ignored or regarded with scorn. In the 1950s, however, paleontologists began mounting a counter-movement that insisted on the valid, important, and original contribution of paleontology to evolutionary theory. This movement, called “paleobiology” by its proponents, advocated for an approach to the fossil record that was theoretical, quantitative, and oriented towards explaining the broad patterns of evolution and extinction in the history of life. Rereading the Fossil Record provides, as never before, a historical account of the origin, rise, and importance of paleobiology, from the mid-nineteenth century to the late 1980s. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, David Sepkoski shows how the movement was conceived and promoted by a small but influential group of paleontologists—including Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, among others—and examines the intellectual, disciplinary, and political dynamics involved in the ascendency of paleobiology. By emphasizing the close relationship between paleobiology and other evolutionary disciplines, this book writes a new chapter in the history of evolutionary biology, while also offering insights into the dynamics of disciplinary change in modern science.

The Company of Strangers

A Natural History of Economic Life

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Author: Paul Seabright

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9781400834785

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 400

View: 8568

The Company of Strangers shows us the remarkable strangeness, and fragility, of our everyday lives. This completely revised and updated edition includes a new chapter analyzing how the rise and fall of social trust explain the unsustainable boom in the global economy over the past decade and the financial crisis that succeeded it. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, history, psychology, and literature, Paul Seabright explores how our evolved ability of abstract reasoning has allowed institutions like money, markets, cities, and the banking system to provide the foundations of social trust that we need in our everyday lives. Even the simple acts of buying food and clothing depend on an astonishing web of interaction that spans the globe. How did humans develop the ability to trust total strangers with providing our most basic needs?

A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, Vol. I (in Two Volumes)

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Author: Andrew D. White

Publisher: Cosimo, Inc.

ISBN: 1616402733

Category: Religion

Page: 446

View: 1808

The battle between science and religion in American popular life is as old as America itself. By the late 19th century, it had reached a fever pitch, culminating in the two-volume 1896 work A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. The result of thirty years of research by historian and educator ANDREW DICKSON WHITE (1832-1918), a founder of Cornell University, this is White's attack on intellectually stifling religious dogma and his explication of the "conflict thesis" of outright warfare between science and religion. While scholars today generally see the situation as more nuanced, the conflict thesis remains a popular metaphor in the mind of the general public, and White's work continues to speak to us today. H.L. Mencken called this "one of the noblest monuments of American scholarship," and it will fascinate anyone who is troubled by the ongoing influence by religious authorities into secular science. In Volume I, White looks at the transformation of our understanding of the world from a primarily religious one of divine creation to a primarily scientific one informed by evolution, astronomy, and biology.

The Biotech Century

Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World

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Author: Jeremy Rifkin

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780575066588

Category: Biotechnology

Page: 271

View: 3990

Arguing that the world is on the threshold of a revolution of unparalleled impact, this book makes an impassioned plea for awareness of the environmental, commercial and moral implications of the new biotechnology.

The culture of calamity

disaster and the making of modern America

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Author: Kevin Rozario

Publisher: University Of Chicago Press

ISBN: N.A

Category: History

Page: 313

View: 1614

Turn on the news and it looks as if we live in a time and place unusually consumed by the specter of disaster. The events of 9/11 and the promise of future attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans, and the inevitable consequences of environmental devastation all contribute to an atmosphere of imminent doom. But reading an account of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, with its vivid evocation of buildings “crumbling as one might crush a biscuit,” we see that calamities—whether natural or man-made—have long had an impact on the American consciousness. Uncovering the history of Americans’ responses to disaster from their colonial past up to the present, Kevin Rozario reveals the vital role that calamity—and our abiding fascination with it—has played in the development of this nation. Beginning with the Puritan view of disaster as God’s instrument of correction, Rozario explores how catastrophic events frequently inspired positive reactions. He argues that they have shaped American life by providing an opportunity to take stock of our values and social institutions. Destruction leads naturally to rebuilding, and here we learn that disasters have been a boon to capitalism, and, paradoxically, indispensable to the construction of dominant American ideas of progress. As Rozario turns to the present, he finds that the impulse to respond creatively to disasters is mitigated by a mania for security. Terror alerts and duct tape represent the cynical politician’s attitude about 9/11, but Rozario focuses on how the attacks registered in the popular imagination—how responses to genuine calamity were mediated by the hyperreal thrills of movies; how apocalyptic literature, like the best-selling Left Behind series, recycles Puritan religious outlooks while adopting Hollywood’s style; and how the convergence of these two ways of imagining disaster points to a new postmodern culture of calamity. The Culture of Calamity will stand as the definitive diagnosis of the peculiarly American addiction to the spectacle of destruction.