Context with Brad Harris

Context with Brad Harris

bradharris.com
What led to the rise of the modern world? How have we made so much progress, and what are its consequences? What are humanity’s best ideas? Join award-winning historian Brad Harris as he engages these fundamental questions and interprets the biggest historical forces that shape their answers, from the rise of civilization and the development of modern science to the spread of disease and the growth of globalization.
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph Ellis
Apr 4 • 38 min
In this episode, we witness the birth of the most powerful idea in history and how it came to define the meaning of America. This is the idea that argument represents the best path to progress and to justice for all, and that to institutionalize this via…
Applied Perspective: A Conversation with Niall Ferguson
Mar 7 • 45 min
Niall Ferguson is one of the most influential historians of our generation. His professional effort extends well beyond academia to ensure that policy makers and the public better understand how to apply historical lessons to current issues. Niall and I…
The Square and the Tower, by Niall Ferguson
Feb 7 • 39 min
Niall Ferguson, perhaps the most famous historian of our generation, offers yet another breakthrough in his latest work, The Square and the Tower. Through groundbreaking research, Ferguson reveals how social networks, from the Freemasons of the middle…
Why the West Rules - For Now, by Ian Morris
Jan 9 • 91 min
Is there a logic to history? Many scholars insist that each culture may only be understood on its own terms, but In Why the West Rules - For Now, Ian Morris counters that if we study how human biology, sociology, and geography interact, it’s possible to…
The Fall of Rome, and the End of Civilization
Dec 12, 2018 • 53 min
A conversation with Bryan Ward-Perkins, author of The Fall of Rome, & the End of Civilization. It’s become fashionable to argue that Roman civilization never collapsed but was merely transformed. This counter-narrative may illuminate intellectual…
The Two Cultures, by C. P. Snow
Nov 21, 2018 • 28 min
The Two Cultures was one of the most influential lectures of the 20th century, triggering an intense debate regarding the status of science that has persisted to this day. The main theme of Snow’s lecture was to raise alarm about the growing knowledge gap…
Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway
Oct 30, 2018 • 41 min
Merchants of Doubt is not just a book about how illusions of scientific controversy have been constructed, it’s also about the people who constructed them, and its most shocking revelation is that the very same people used the very same strategy to…
Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, by Peter Atkins
Oct 8, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 28 min
In this episode, I’ll read an article I published in American Scientist called “Evolution’s Other Narrative.” (https://www.americanscientist.org/article/evolutions-other-narrative) Given our conversation last time about disease in the history of…
Plagues and Peoples, by William McNeill
Sep 5, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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…