Context with Brad Harris

Context with Brad Harris
What led to the rise of the modern world? How have we made so much progress, and what are its consequences? There are countless great books exploring these critical questions… we know we should read them, but most of us don’t have time. Join historian Brad Harris as he distills their insights in a captivating, accessible way. Unless we understand our historical context, our discourse will be bloated with bad assumptions and progress will stall. We each owe it to our future to be a better historian, and Brad Harris helps us think like one.
Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, by Peter Atkins
Oct 8 • 55 min
If civilization collapsed, and our descendants could rediscover one work to get back on track, Peter Atkins’ Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, would be a contender. If there are miracles, Atkins would argue they are not found in the…
Evolution’s Other Narrative
Sep 17 • 28 min
In this episode, I’ll read an article I published in American Scientist called “Evolution’s Other Narrative.” ( Given our conversation last time about disease in the history of…
Plagues and Peoples, by William McNeill
Sep 5 • 42 min
The history of disease demonstrates the accidental nature of history and the triumph of human reason to enable some control over our fate; most of us no longer suffer the death of half our children. William McNeill, in Plagues and Peoples, was the first…
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles Mann
Aug 20 • 40 min
In 1493, Charles Mann shows us how Europeans emerged at the center of a modern, globalized world by establishing the Columbian Exchange; a system they created but could not control, and with consequences none of them could imagine. You can access all…
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford
Aug 6 • 38 min
Genghis Khan was so influential that, to understand how Europe shook off its medieval provincialism, how the Islamic world lost much of its momentum, & how China’s unparalleled technology reshaped the fortunes of the West, it’s worth studying the legacy…
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn
Jul 24 • 24 min
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited books of all time. Thomas Kuhn insightfully challenged our assumptions about science, but also ignited a cultural movement energized around the misinterpretation that scientific progress was…
Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West, by Margaret Jacob
Jul 10 • 32 min
Margaret Jacob’s book helps us understand how science was integrated into Europe through the 1600s and 1700s, and how the social and political conditions of different countries influenced it’s application. Jacob enhances our understanding of the role of…
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes
Jun 26 • 36 min
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations was published by David Landes in 1998, and it has occupied a preeminent place on the bookshelves of scholars ever since. Landes boldly argued that historically unique cultural values of curiosity, novelty, and private…
Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond
Jun 6 • 26 min
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies was published by Jared Diamond in 1997. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998, along with several other awards. The fundamental question that Diamond seeks to answer through this book is, why did history…