Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected

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Random House, 1994 - History - 210 pages
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This provocative new collection of essays by a Pulitzer Prize winner deals with the challenging themes of discovery and surprise in history. Cleopatra's Nose is not a miscellany but rather a selection of recent essays illustrating specific subjects that have preoccupied Boorstin for several decades. Tantalizing themes all: How sometimes discovery only increases our ignorance. What were the specific historical opportunities in the New World? How has the fourth kingdom - the kingdom of machines - contradicted Darwinian expectations, contributed to a confusion of statistics, created the need for the unnecessary, and highlighted the paradoxes of science and the politics of common sense? In a "personal postscript", Boorstin gives us a memorable and affectionate portrait of his father and optimistically celebrates the United States as the Land of the Unexpected.

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User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

Wasn't what I was expecting from the blurb (hm, maybe I should have expected that...), this is a grouping of various talks and essays. More ranting than history - there's a sustained attack on ... Read full review

CLEOPATRA'S NOSE: Essays on the Unexpected

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

From historian and former Librarian of Congress Boorstin (The Creators, 1992, etc.), 17 sparkling and erudite essays that ``explore some of the surprising novelties and unexpected continuities in our ... Read full review

Contents

Darwinian Expectations
125
Statistical Expectations
141
Artificial Selection
158
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

A prolific writer, Daniel Boorstin is the author of numerous scholarly and popular works in American Studies. Born in Georgia and raised in Oklahoma, Boorstin received degrees from Harvard and Yale universities and was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. A member of the Massachusetts Bar, he has been visiting professor of American History at the Universities of Rome, Puerto Rico, Kyoto, and Geneva. He was the first incumbent of the chair of American History at the Sorbonne and Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge. He taught at the University of Chicago for 25 years. In 1959 Columbia University awarded him its Bancroft Prize for The Americans: The Colonial Experience (1958), the first volume of his trilogy titled The Americans. In 1966 he received the Francis Parkman Award for the second volume, The Americans: The National Experience (1965), and in 1974 he received the Pulitzer Prize for the third volume, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (1973). Many of Boorstin's books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and various European languages. In 1969 Boorstin became director of the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1973 he became senior historian at the Smithsonian. Boorstin was appointed Librarian of Congress in 1975 and served in that position with distinction for 12 years, becoming Librarian Emeritus in 1987.

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