Take a look at
I have been asked a number of times by friends and colleagues to
post the reference of my favorite books. Here is a list of some
books that changed my perspective on our world.
Evolution and societies
Two illuminating accounts of Darwin’s evolution theory:
Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene. Oxford
1990. (A French translation exists).
Richard Dawkins: The Blind Watchmaker. Why the Evidence of
Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. W. W. Norton &
A man whose insight and generosity make sense of the evolution
of human societies:
Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The
Fates of Human Societies. W. W. Norton & Company 1999
(Gallimard botched the French translation).
Jared Diamond: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or
Succeed. Viking Adult 2004. (French translation)
Be original, read before you disagree. This magnitude 9
earthquake still reverberates around the world:
Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray:
The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American
Life, Free Press 1996. (a US blockbuster not translated into
French, I wonder why)
A witty execution of the most enduring social and political
clichés of the 20th century:
Steven Pinker: The Blank Slate : The Denial of
Human Nature and Modern Intellectual Life, Viking Adult and
Pinguin 2002 (a French translation exists if you can afford
A page-turner that will give you a time-travel perspective:
Tom Holland: Persian Fire: The First World
Empire, Battle for the West , Abacus 2006.
Understand modern Europeans (a long-time favorite):
Barbara Tuchman. Distant Mirror: The
Calamitous 14th Century. Ballantine Books 1987.
(French translation out of print)
The Renaissance and Reformation wake-up call
William Manchester: A World Lit Only by Fire:
The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance - Portrait of an Age. Back
Why the year 1000 now gives me the creeps
James Reston: The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000
A.D. Doubleday 1998.
(no French translation ).
How language fits into the evolutionary perspective:
Steven Pinker: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates
Language. Harper Perennial Modern Classics 2000.
An enthralling history of globalization:
William J Bernstein: A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped
the World, Grove Press 2009.
(no French translation ).
A sobering history of money and finance:
Niall Ferguson: The Ascent of Money: A Financial History
of the World, Penguin Books 2009.
If you think an atheist can tell the history of Christianity:
Charles Freeman: A New History of Early
Christianity, Yale University Press 2011.
How the French differ from North Europeans and Americans:
Raymonde Carroll: Cultural Misunderstandings :
The French-American Experience. University Of Chicago Press 1990.
(translated from French)
Very, very special
Philip Sandblom: Creativity and Disease: How Illness
Affects Literature, Art, and Music. Marion Boyars 1997.
Science for nearly all of us:
Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything. Broadway 2004.
Swordfish will never taste the same after:
Sebastian Junger: The Perfect Storm : A True
Story of Men Against the Sea, Harper 1999 (French translation)
Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of
the Mt. Everest Disaster, Anchor 1999 (French translation).
Being the mother of a Columbine child:
Lionel Shriever: We need to talk about Kevin,
Harper 2004 (French translation).