I have been asked a number of times by friends and colleagues to post the reference of my favorite books. Here is a list:


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 & Company 1996.


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.


Why we have a big head and play music to our loved one:

Geoffrey Miller: The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature. Anchor 2001.


And, finally 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 it).





Understand modern Europeans:

© Barbara Tuchman. Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Ballantine Books 1987.


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 Bay Books1993.


Why the year 1000 now gives me the creeps

James Reston: The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D. Doubleday 1998.




In spite of errors, the proof that one can care about environment and still prefer using one’s brain to smoking a pipe:

Bjorn Lomborg: The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. Cambridge 2001. (A French translation exists).




The NGOs’ (ONG) tough situation

David Rieff: A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis. Simon and Schuster, 2002.




How language fits into the evolutionary perspective:

© Steven Pinker: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. Harper Perennial Modern Classics 2000.


French society


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)

© Jean-Benoit Nadeau, Julie Barlow: Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French. Sourcebooks 2003.




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).