Sapiens (2015) traces the evolution of our species – from the rise of our most ancient ancestors to our current place in the modern, technological age. How have we, a species of hairless, tailless ape, managed to completely dominate the entire planet? These blinks show you the developments and trends that have allowed Homo sapiens to rise to the top.
The Code Book (1999) lays out the long and intriguing history of secret communication. These blinks will take you on a journey from Ancient Greece to the modern-day NSA, detailing innumerable stories of cunning, determination and deceit along the way.
Holy Sh*t (2013) is a journey through the history of swearing. Starting in ancient Rome and coming up to the present day, these blinks delve into the cultures of different periods to highlight the rich evolution of swear words and obscenities throughout history.
The Silk Roads (2015) is a comprehensive history of the world, written with an eye to the networks of trade that shaped it. The networks of trade first established in ancient Persia and later linked with Chinese trade routes created a great network between the East and the West. But these Silk Roads are not relics of the past. They have morphed and changed, and their impact can be felt today, right down to America’s fateful engagement in the region where it all began.
Palestine (2015) chronicles the long history of the land straddling the eastern Mediterranean between modern-day Lebanon and Egypt. By compiling an impressive set of sources both ancient and modern, Nur Masalha presents a nuanced history of the region, from its roots in ancient Philistine civilization to the advent of modern Palestinian nationalism in the nineteenth century, and Israel’s founding in 1948.
In Mythology (1942), Edith Hamilton takes the reader on a swift journey through the classical annals, surveying the fascinating stories of Greek and Roman mythology. The power of these stories impacted art and literature for centuries. Here, you can learn their essence. From the creation of the world to the epic siege of Troy, Hamilton gives you the grounding you need.
Maps of Meaning (1999) argues that myths provide the key to understanding the human psyche and our shared culture. Combining classic psychoanalysis with psychology, social and historical analysis, Jordan B. Peterson reveals how myths convey morality and create meaning in our lives – and what we can learn from them to reach our individual potential.
Zero (2000) is the fascinating story of a number banned by the ancient Greeks and worshipped by ancient Indians. Zero – as well as its twin, infinity – is a number that’s been at the heart of both mathematics and philosophy over the centuries.
Read to you by Marston York.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (2004) tells the fascinating story of Genghis Khan, the man who founded the great Mongol Empire. Today, he’s remembered as a ruthless, violent conqueror who thrived on bloodshed and destruction. What has largely been forgotten, though, is how he united disparate peoples, fostered trade and modernization, and advanced democracy – and in so doing, ushered in the modern world.
Ancient Egypt (2021) is a succinct introduction to the history and culture of one of humanity’s oldest civilizations. It touches on different aspects of Ancient Egyptian society and covers topics such as religion and mythology, the hieroglyphic writing system, and Egyptian ideas about death and mummification.
Powers and Thrones (2021) is a comprehensive history of the Middle Ages. Tracing time from the fall of the western Roman Empire to the Protestant Reformation, these blinks reveal how forces such as global networks, climate change, mass migration, pandemics, and technological innovation, as well as political leaders, the clergy, and knights, shaped the medieval world.
The Iliad (c. eighth century BC) is one of the oldest and most important works of Western literature. Attributed to ancient Greek poet Homer, the epic poem recounts the final days of the Greek siege of Troy. At the center of the story is Greek war hero Achilles, who has to beat back the Trojan enemy, struggle against meddling gods, and vie for recognition among his fellow Greeks.
The Anglo-Saxons (2021) is a history of the Germanic warriors and settlers whose arrival in Britain in the sixth century changed the course of the island’s history. Beginning with the collapse of Roman rule, it charts the rise of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, their conversion to Christianity, and the gradual unification of the country that became known as England. Along the way, it sheds light on the development of England’s language, culture, cities, and political and religious institutions.
The Immortality Key (2020) investigates the mysterious religious rituals of the Ancient Greeks and the early Christians. Muraresku spent 12 years researching a controversial hypothesis about the role of psychedelic drugs in spiritual experiences.
The Song of Achilles (2011) is a creative retelling of Homer’s Iliad. The epic tale of the Trojan War is transformed into a moving love story, told from the perspective of Patroclus, the beloved companion of the Greek hero Achilles.
Mythos (2017) is a fabulous retelling of the Greek myths. It provides a great introduction to anyone interested in knowing more about the Greek gods and goddesses without any preknowledge or a classical education.
Antigone (c. 441 BC) is a tragedy by Sophocles, one of ancient Greece’s greatest playwrights. After a civil war, two brothers – the leaders of rival factions – are dead. One is remembered as a patriotic hero; the other, as a treacherous usurper. The king of Thebes, Creon, has forbidden anyone to bury the traitor – an order the man’s sister, Antigone, can’t square with her conscience. The stage is set for a conflict pitting the individual against the state, justice against law, idealism against realism, and a defiant woman against a male-dominated world.
The Things We Make (2023) dispels the myth around some of the greatest and most ordinary inventions. It retells their making as a creative application of the engineering method, a principle that explains how people in ancient times built some of the marvels that still capture our imagination today.
The Odyssey (c. eighth century BC) is one of the foundational works of Western literature. The ancient Greek epic chronicles the arduous 10-year journey of hero Odysseus as he strives to return home from the Trojan War. Battling vengeful gods, mythical monsters, and the siren call of temptation, Odysseus's quest is not just for Ithaca, but for identity and meaning in a turbulent world.