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Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction 
Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction

One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it.

Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius—a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions.

The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

Book Reviews

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Average rating
4.2 / 5
1 person found this helpful
A revelatory history of Materialism
June 26th, 2014
a well told story of Ancient Reductionistic Materialism, and its "Rise to Power" in the the age of Rennissance, Enlightment & Reason, and the humanist book hunters who saved a glimpse from the ancient civilization of Roman Republic & Empire
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
Great read!
April 2nd, 2014
Loved it. Thoughtful and thought provoking. Very well written and enjoyable, bringing non fiction and the ancient and medieval worlds to life.
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1 review
The Serve: How the World Became Mod
February 28th, 2014
Very scholarly work about how the renaissance began with the discovery of ancient classical texts throughout Europe. This is the story of one of these book detectives from Italy who journeyed far and wide looking for these ancient texts. Damned interesting read.
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1 review
Solving a Mystery
April 11th, 2013
Mr. Greenblatt spent the time to show us how we as humans realized our potential. It took a so called 'Pagan' but maybe when an individual actually sits down and really looks at the world around us, he or she can say: "What a wonderful world this is!" Now we are on the path destruction as a species. Oh well, at least we know why we are going extinct.
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1 review

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