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The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The…
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The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of…

by Matthew White

Other authors: Steven Pinker (Foreword)

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134789,677 (4.1)1 / 8

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I expected to be utterly depressed throughout my reading of this fascinating trip down Atrocity Lane, but instead I found myself enthralled by the history being presented to me and the different way it was being presented. Though the sordid history of humanity is quite the cautionary tale in how we fail to treat each other in the ways in which we wish them to treat us, from slavery to warfare to acts of genocide to politically and racially induced famines, "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" is far from boring or dry. There is an energy and an excitement in the writing of Mr. White; he prevents the subject matter from being bogged down by just statistics. In short, he refutes to habit of historians in labeling the hundreds of millions of deaths discussed in this book as "mere" statistics. Enjoy, if it is possible to enjoy reading about the deaths of 460 million people, then "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" makes it possible. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 4, 2015 |
I expected to be utterly depressed throughout my reading of this fascinating trip down Atrocity Lane, but instead I found myself enthralled by the history being presented to me and the different way it was being presented. Though the sordid history of humanity is quite the cautionary tale in how we fail to treat each other in the ways in which we wish them to treat us, from slavery to warfare to acts of genocide to politically and racially induced famines, "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" is far from boring or dry. There is an energy and an excitement in the writing of Mr. White; he prevents the subject matter from being bogged down by just statistics. In short, he refutes to habit of historians in labeling the hundreds of millions of deaths discussed in this book as "mere" statistics. Enjoy, if it is possible to enjoy reading about the deaths of 460 million people, then "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" makes it possible. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
I expected to be utterly depressed throughout my reading of this fascinating trip down Atrocity Lane, but instead I found myself enthralled by the history being presented to me and the different way it was being presented. Though the sordid history of humanity is quite the cautionary tale in how we fail to treat each other in the ways in which we wish them to treat us, from slavery to warfare to acts of genocide to politically and racially induced famines, "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" is far from boring or dry. There is an energy and an excitement in the writing of Mr. White; he prevents the subject matter from being bogged down by just statistics. In short, he refutes to habit of historians in labeling the hundreds of millions of deaths discussed in this book as "mere" statistics. Enjoy, if it is possible to enjoy reading about the deaths of 460 million people, then "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" makes it possible. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
I expected to be utterly depressed throughout my reading of this fascinating trip down Atrocity Lane, but instead I found myself enthralled by the history being presented to me and the different way it was being presented. Though the sordid history of humanity is quite the cautionary tale in how we fail to treat each other in the ways in which we wish them to treat us, from slavery to warfare to acts of genocide to politically and racially induced famines, "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" is far from boring or dry. There is an energy and an excitement in the writing of Mr. White; he prevents the subject matter from being bogged down by just statistics. In short, he refutes to habit of historians in labeling the hundreds of millions of deaths discussed in this book as "mere" statistics. Enjoy, if it is possible to enjoy reading about the deaths of 460 million people, then "The Great Big Book of Horrible Things" makes it possible. ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
White had me when he described his methodology for determining how many people died. Tax records (and what government doesn't keep careful records of those?), expenditures for handling bodies, other things that are carefully noted, even while leaders gloss over realities. Written in a breezy, wry style, White includes observations on religious wars (maybe we should believe the ancients when they said what they were fighting for?), communism, and other motivators for mass slaughter. White includes an extensive bibliography, along with ample notes as to how he reached his conclusions. Definitely worth reading for anyone interested in how and why these things happen. ( )
  BruceCoulson | May 6, 2014 |
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Matthew Whiteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pinker, StevenForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393081923, Hardcover)

A compulsively readable and utterly original account of world history—from an atrocitologist’s point of view.

Evangelists 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 480 BCE's second Persian War, White moves chronologically through history to this century's war in the Congo and devotes chapters to each event, where he surrounds hard facts (time and place) and succinct takeaways (who usually gets the blame?) with lively military, social, and political histories. With the eye of a seasoned statistician, White assigns each entry a ranking based on body count, and in doing so he gives voice to the suffering of ordinary people that, inexorably, has defined every historical epoch. By turns droll, insightful, matter-of-fact, and ultimately sympathetic to those who died, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things gives readers a chance to reach their own conclusions while offering a stark reminder of the darkness of the human heart. 20 black-and-white illustrations and 4 maps

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Evangelists 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 480 BCE's second Persian War, White moves chronologically through history to this century's war in the Congo and devotes chapters to each event, where he surrounds hard facts (time and place) and succinct takeaways (who usually gets the blame?) with lively military, social, and political histories. With the eye of a seasoned statistician, White assigns each entry a ranking based on body count, and in doing so he gives voice to the suffering of ordinary people that, inexorably, has defined every historical epoch. By turns droll, insightful, matter-of-fact, and ultimately sympathetic to those who died,… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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