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Signs of the times

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

[ by Charles Cameron ]

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Best Book of 2010 ( that I read)

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Saw a number of interesting posts on this “best book”  theme, starting with Cameron Schaefer and Lexington Green and Cameron challenged me to make a comment in this regard.

I am reading two excellent books right now, The Human Face of War by Col. Jim Storr and The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire by Edward Luttwak, but as these are unfinished, they are out of the running. So are any books that are fiction, as I am poorly qualified to evaluate books purely upon their literary merit alone. I leave that to the English majors.

As my criteria for “best” will be the book with ”most profound idea” then….the winner is…..The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter. As I wrote recently:

A superb academic book, previously featured and reviewed in the blogosphere by John Robb and Joseph Fouche, The Collapse of Complex Societies embarks upon a critical examination and partial de-bunking of theories that purport to explain the “sudden” fall of great empires, such as Rome or the vanishing of the Mayans. With caveats, Tainter settles on declining marginal returns from increasing societal investment in complexity as a rough proximate cause capable of subsuming a ” significant range of human behavior, and a number of social theories” under it’s rubric. Highly recommended.

What was your favorite book?

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