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River of Ink: [An Illustrated History of Literacy]

by Thomas Christensen Counterpoint (October 20, 2014)

Thomas Christensen’s previous title 1616: The World in Motion looked at a single year in the age of early maritime globalism--PW gave it a starred review, calling it “a stunning overview of the nascent modern...


An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention

by Matthew Kneale Counterpoint (January 14, 2014)

What first prompted prehistoric man, sheltering in the shadows of deep caves, to call upon the realm of the spirits? And why has belief thrived since, shaping thousands of generations of shamans, pharaohs, Aztec...


Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty, and the Mad-Doctors in England

by Sarah Wise Counterpoint (June 01, 2013)

The phenomenon of false allegations of mental illness is as old as our first interactions as human beings. Every one of us has described some other person as crazy or insane, and most all of us have had periods,...


What It Means to Be Human: Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present

by Joanna Bourke Counterpoint (December 01, 2011)

In 1872, a woman known only as “An Earnest Englishwoman” published a letter titled “Are Women Animals?” in which she protested against the fact that women were not treated as fully human. In fact, their...


Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire

by Eric Berkowitz Counterpoint (April 12, 2012)

The “raging frenzy” of the sex drive, to use Plato’s phrase, has always defied control. However, that’s not to say that the Sumerians, Victorians, and every civilization in between and beyond have not...


Babel's Dawn: A Natural History of the Origins of Speech

by Edmund Blair Bolles Counterpoint (September 01, 2011)

Babel’s Dawn is a saga covering six million years. Like a walk through a natural history museum, Bolles demonstrates how members of the human lineage came to speak. Beginning with a scene of the last common...


The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Good Sex, Bad Laws, and Changing Identities

by Eric Berkowitz Counterpoint (August 01, 2015)

The act of reproduction, and all of its variants, have been practiced in roughly the same ways since the beginning, but our ideas about the meaning and consequences ¬of sex are in constant flux. At any given...