- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780674060197
- ISBN-13: 978-0674060197
- ASIN: 0674060199
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Natural Experiments of History Paperback – March 7, 2011
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A superb collection of eminently teachable essays bound together by a common methodological framework that connects it directly to cutting-edge theoretical and empirical research across the disciplines of anthropology, archeology, history, political science, and sociology. (John Coatsworth, Columbia University)
Natural Experiments of History reaches across a wide variety of disciplines, in ways that should be accessible to just about every educated reader. It is tied together not by topic or region but by the idea that we can make useful and insightful comparisons in ways that are not casual or sloppy, but actually contribute to our understanding of human life. (Jeffry Frieden, Harvard University)
Natural Experiments of History is a short book packed with huge ideas. Its collected essays advocate how controlled experiments can be applied to the messy realities of human history, politics, culture, economics and the environment. It demonstrates productive interdisciplinary collaborations but also reveals gulfs between different cultures of academia...All of the essays in Natural Experiments of History will trigger debate. (Jon Christensen Nature 2010-03-25)
This ambitious, at times challenging, book aspires to contribute new ways of historical thinking and historical research by drawing attention, on the one hand, to the similarities between science (including social sciences) and history, and on the other, by using social sciences methods, especially statistical analysis, to study history. The editors argue that though the difference between studies of nature and human history is obvious, there are clear overlaps. They can be viewed through studying comparative history or by conducting "natural experiments of history" and analyzing the "perturbations" and their causes (exogenous or endogenous) in the involved cases. The book offers a broad array of case studies to illustrate and explain the argument, ranging from nonliterate to contemporary societies and from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to Brazil, India, and tropical Africa. The comparative methods showcased are quite versatile, from two-way to multiple-way comparisons. All the case studies are interesting and help demonstrate how, via comparative study, one society's, region's, or country's situation is better displayed and explained by juxtaposing it with other, similar ones. A useful read in macro, global history. (Q. E. Wang Choice 2010-11-01)
Natural Experiments of History is a thought-provoking collection of essays that covers an impressive array of topics and would make an excellent text for a course on comparative studies of human history." (Thomas E. Currie Cliodynamics)
About the Author
Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles. His books include Guns, Germs, and Steel.
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Some of the essays are more interesting than others: notable is the one which quantitatively correlates the extent of the slave trade in various African countries with the state of their modern-day economic development (or rather, the lack thereof.)
It's a bit of a dry read -- in some essays more than in others. But if this methodology for understanding our past interests you, it's worth the read.