Eric Chaline has written a fascinating trilogy exploring history from an unusual perspective.
"Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History" describes the contributions of selected animals to human history. Some animals, such as the sheep and horse, have been primarily beneficial to mankind. Others, such as the mosquito and rat, are responsible for the rapid spread of disease. Each entry lists both the common and Latin names and indicates the native range, class, and size of the animal.
In "Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History," Chaline selects minerals such as salt, lead, and coal that have changed the way humans live. Each entry lists the type of mineral (sedimentary rock, precious metal, or radioactive element), its origin, and chemical formula.
"Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History" describes machines manufactured in the 19th and 20th centuries. The entries are listed chronologically and include the Underwood typewriter, the Sony Walkman, and the Marconi radio.
Each book is extensively illustrated and includes a list for further reading, related websites and a detailed index. If that other trilogy with "fifty" in the title leaves you unsatisfied, check out these fun and surprising histories.
--Jennifer A., Headquarters