Peter Watson - The Age of Nothing - Orion Publishing Group

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    • ISBN:9780753828106
    • Publication date:11 Feb 2016
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    • ISBN:9780297859857
    • Publication date:13 Feb 2014

The Age of Nothing

How We Have Sought To Live Since The Death of God

By Peter Watson

  • Hardback
  • £30.00

The stirring story of one of the modern world's most important intellectual achievements: atheism.

The stirring story of one of the modern world's most important intellectual achievements: atheism.

Since Friedrich Nietzsche roundly declared that 'God is dead' in 1882, a raft of reflective and courageous individuals have devoted their creative energies to devising ways to live without Him, turning instead to invention, enthusiasm, hope, wit and above all various forms of self-reliance. Their brave, innovative story has gone untold - until now.

In THE AGE OF NOTHING, acclaimed historian Peter Watson offers a weeping narrative of the secular philosophers and poets, psychologists and other scientists, painters and playwrights, novelists and even choreographers who have forged a thrilling, bold path in the absence of religious belief.

From Paul Valéry and George Santayana to Richard Rorty and Ronald Dworkin, from Georges Seurat and Constantin Brancusi to Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg, from Henrik Ibsen to Samuel Beckett, from Wallace Stevens and Rainer Maria Rilke to Elizabeth Bishop and Czeslaw Milosz, from Sigmund Freud and Benjamin Spock to E.O. Wilson and Sam Harris, THE AGE OF NOTHING brilliantly explores how atheism has evolved, and gained unprecedented popularity as it has sought to replace an unknowable God in the Afterlife.

Atheism has had its share of ideologues, tyrants and charlatans but it is primarily a history of brave accomplishment and one that is far from finished. Watson's stimulating intellectual narrative explores the revolutionary ideas and big questions provoked by great minds and movements.

A sparkling and ultimately triumphant history, THE AGE OF NOTHING is the first full story of our efforts to live without God.

Biographical Notes

Peter Watson was born in 1943 and educated at the universities of Durham, London and Rome. He was deputy editor of New Society and spent four years as part of the 'Insight' team of The Sunday Times. He was New York correspondent of The Times and has written for the Observer, The New York Times, Punch and The Spectator. He is the author of thirteen books and has presented several television programmes about the arts. Since 1998 he has been a Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, at the University of Cambridge.

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  • ISBN: 9780297859840
  • Publication date: 13 Feb 2014
  • Page count: 624
  • Imprint: W&N
I would not wish to have missed The Age of Nothing by Peter Watson, a brisk 565 pages on the displacement of God from Western Culture. — TOM STOPPARD, TLS - BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014
his erudition is formidable — THEODORE DALRYMPLE, THE TIMES
In a vividly engaging conspectus of the formative ideas of the past century, The Age of Nothing shows how Nietzsche's diagnosis evoked responses in may areas of cultural life, including some surprising parts of the political spectrum. — John Gray, NEW STATESMAN
I recommend this book to anyone who needs to know what the loss of religious faith has meant to the high culture of our civilsation and what, if anything, we might do about it.... (it) covers a whole century of intellectual endeavour as lightly as it can. — ROGER SCRUTON, THE INDEPENDENT
The beauty of this book is Watson's ability to impose order on a riot of ideas. — PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
This book will appeal to anyone with intellectual curiosity about the human condition and the development of ideas. It will especially appeal to the non-religious reader. This isn't a book about, or even particularly in defence of atheism as a worldview, but it sets out objectively a history of non-religious thought that covers everything from science to poetry, incorporating philosophy, the rise of new age 'spiritualism' and therapy. — GREG JAMESON, ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS
There is much in this book that I did not know, and I am grateful to have learnt it. — Theodore Dalrymple, THE TIMES
his erudition is formidable — Theodore Dalymple, THE TIMES
The beauty of this book is Watson's ability to impose order on a riot of ideas. — Publisher's Weekly
This book will appeal to anyone with intellectual curiosity about the human condition and the development of ideas. It will especially appeal to the non-religious reader. This isn't a book about, or even particularly in defence of atheism as a worldview, but it sets out objectively a history of non-religious thought that covers everything from science to poetry, incorporating philosophy, the rise of new age 'spiritualism' and therapy. — Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus
I recommend this book to anyone who needs to know what the loss of religious faith has meant to the high culture of our civilsation and what, if anything, we might do about it.... (it) covers a whole century of intellectual endeavour as lightly as it can. — Roger Scruton, THE INDEPENDENT
In a vividly engaging conspectus of the formative ideas of the past century, The Age of Nothing shows how Nietzsche's diagnosis evoked responses in may areas of cultural life, including some surprising parts of the political spectrum. — John Gray, NEW STATESMAN
W&N

Gainsborough

James Hamilton
Authors:
James Hamilton

** Selected as a Book of the Year in The Times, Sunday Times and Observer **'Compulsively readable - the pages seem to turn themselves' John Carey, Sunday Times 'Brings one of the very greatest [artists] vividly to life' Literary Review Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) lived as if electricity shot through his sinews and crackled at his finger ends. He was a gentle and empathetic family man, but had a shockingly loose, libidinous manner and a volatility that could lead him to slash his paintings. James Hamilton reveals the artist in his many contexts: the talented Suffolk lad, transported to the heights of fashion; the rake-on-the-make in London, learning his craft in the shadow of Hogarth; the society-portrait painter in Bath and London who earned huge sums by charming the right people into his studio. With fresh insights into original sources, Gainsborough: A Portrait transforms our understanding of this fascinating man, and enlightens the century that bore him.

W&N

Terrible Beauty: A Cultural History of the Twentieth Century

Peter Watson
Authors:
Peter Watson

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W&N

Ideas

Peter Watson
Authors:
Peter Watson

A highly ambitious and lucid history of ideas from the very earliest times to the present day.In this hugely ambitious and exciting book Peter Watson tells the history of ideas from prehistory to the present day, leading to a new way of telling the history of the world. The book begins over a million years ago with a discussion of how the earliest ideas might have originated. Looking at animal behaviour that appears to require some thought: tool-making, territoriality, counting, language (or at least sounds), pairbonding. Peter Watson moves on to the apeman and the development of simple ideas such as cooking, the earliest language, the emergence of family life. All the obvious areas are tackled: the Ancient Greeks, Christian theology, the ideas of Jesus, astrological thought, the soul, the self, beliefs about the heavens, the ideas of Islam, the Crusades, humanism, the Renaissance, Gutenberg and the book, the scientific revolution, the age of discovery, Shakespeare, the idea of Revolution, the Romantic imagination, Darwin, imperialism, modernism, Freud right up to the present day and the internet.

W&N

Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513

George Goodwin
Authors:
George Goodwin
W&N

Dr Johnson's London

Liza Picard
Authors:
Liza Picard

'A Baedeker of the past, absorbing and revealing in equal measure' Peter Ackroyd'Brings the age's tortuous splendours and profound murkiness vividly to life' ObserverWhen Dr Johnson published his great Dictionary in 1755, London was the biggest city in Europe. The opulence of the rich and the comfort of the 'middling' sort contrasted sharply with the back-breaking labour and pitiful wages of the poor. Executions were rated one of the best amusements, but there was bullock-hunting and cock-fighting too. Crime, from pickpockets to highwaymen, was rife, prisons were poisonous and law-enforcement rudimentary.Dr Johnson's London is the result of the author's passionate interest in the practical details of the everyday life of our ancestors: the streets, houses and gardens; cooking, housework, laundry and shopping; clothes and cosmetics; medicine, sex, hobbies, education and etiquette. The book spans the years 1740 to 1770, starting when the gin craze was gaining ground and ending when the east coast of America was still British. While brilliantly recording the strangeness and individuality of the past, Dr Johnson's London continually reminds us of parallels with the present day.

W&N

The Reformation

Patrick Collinson
Authors:
Patrick Collinson

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Orion

72 Hours

Frank Pope
Authors:
Frank Pope

5 August 2005. On a secret mission to an underwater military installation 30 miles off the coast of Kamchatka, Russian Navy submersible AS-28 ran into a web of cables and stuck fast. With 600 feet of freezing water above them, there was no escape for the seven crew. Trapped in a titanium tomb, all they could do was wait as their air supply slowly dwindled.For more than 24 hours the Russian Navy tried to reach them. Finally - still haunted by the loss of the nuclear submarine Kursk five years before - they requested international assistance. On the other side of the world Commander Ian Riches, leader of the Royal Navy's Submarine Rescue Service, got the call: there was a sub down.With the expertise and specialist equipment available to him Riches knew his team had a chance to save the men, but Kamchatka was at the very limit of their range and time was running out.As the Royal Navy prepared to deploy to Russia's Pacific coast aboard a giant Royal Air Force C-17 airlifter, rescue teams from the United States and Japan also scrambled to reach the area.On board AS-28 the Russian crew shut down all non-essential systems, climbed into thick thermal suits to keep the bone-chilling damp at bay and waited, desperate to eke out the stale, thin air inside the pressure hull of their craft. But as the first of them began to drift in and out of consciousness, they knew the end was close. They started writing their farewells.72 HOURS tells the extraordinary, edge-of-the-seat and real-life story of one of the most dramatic rescue missions of recent years.Read by Sean Barrett(p) 2012 Isis Publishing Ltd

W&N

Wicked Company

Philipp Blom
Authors:
Philipp Blom

Dazzling recreation of the world of radical free-thinkers in 18th-century FranceFrom the 1750s to the 1770s, the Paris salon of Baron d'Holbach was an epicenter of debate, intellectual daring and revolutionary ideas, uniting around one table vivid personalities from Denis Diderot, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, the radical ex-priest Guillaume Raynal, the Italian Count Beccaria and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who later turned against his friends.It was a moment of astonishing racicalism in European thought, so uncompromising and bold that it was viciously opposed by rival philosophers such as Voltaire and the turncoat Rousseau, and finally suppressed by Robespierre and his Revolutionary henchmen. In Wicked Company, acclaimed historian Philipp Blom retraces the fortunes and characters of this exceptional group of friends and brings to life their startling ideas, largely forgotten by historians. Brilliant minds full of wit, courage and humanity, their thinking created a different and radical French Enlightenment based on atheism, passion, empathy and a compellingly insightful perspective on society. Their ideas force us to confront the debates about our own society and its future with new eyes.

W&N

The Great Divide

Peter Watson
Authors:
Peter Watson
W&N

The Brain is Wider Than the Sky

Bryan Appleyard
Authors:
Bryan Appleyard

A brand-new book from the award-winning SUNDAY TIMES journalist Brian Appleyard.Simplicity has become a brand and a cult. People want simple lives and simple solutions. And now our technology wants us to be simpler, to be 'machine readable'. From telephone call trees that simplify us into a series of 'options' to social networks that reduce us to our purchases and preferences, we are deluged with propaganda urging us to abandon our irreducibly complex selves. At the same time, scientists tell us we are 'simply' the products of evolution, nothing more than our genes. Brain scanners have inspired neuroscientists to claim they are close to cracking the problem of the human mind. 'Human equivalent' computers are being designed that, we are told, will do our thinking for us. Humans are being simplified out of existence. It is time, says Bryan Appleyard, to resist, and to reclaim the full depth of human experience. We are, he argues, naturally complex creatures, we are only ever at home in complexity. Through art and literature we see ourselves in ways that machines never can. He makes an impassioned plea for the voices of art to be heard before those of the technocrats. Part memoir, part reportage, part cultural analysis, THE BRAIN IS WIDER THAN THE SKY is a dire warning about what we may become and a lyrical evocation of what humans can be. For the brain is indeed wider than the sky.

W&N

In Search Of Zarathustra

Paul Kriwaczek
Authors:
Paul Kriwaczek

A quest to find the most influential religious teacher in the ancient world: Zarathustra.IN SEARCH OF ZARATHUSTRA is a quest to trace the influence of the prophet the Greeks called Zoroaster and considered the greatest religious legislator of the ancient world. Long before the first Hebrew temple, the birth of Christ or the mission of Muhammad, Zarathustra had taught of a single universal god, of the battle between Good and Evil, of the Devil, Heaven and Hell, and of an eventual end to the world. Over several decades, Paul Kriwaczek, an award-winning television producer, has cast his eye across Europe and Central Asia, from Hadrian's Wall to the Oxus river, from the Pyrenees to the Hindu Kush. Passing via Nietzsche's interpretation of Zarathustra for a post-religious age, the Cathars of 13th-century France, the Bulgars of 9th-century Balkans, and the prophet Mani's revision of Zarathustra's message in the later Persian empire, Paul Kriwaczek then explores the religion of Mithras - before going back past Alexander the Great's destruction of the Persian Empire, and the era of the great Persian kings Cyrus and Darius in the 6th century BC, to the beginning of the first pre-Christian millennium.

W&N

Yiddish Civilisation

Paul Kriwaczek
Authors:
Paul Kriwaczek

A portrait of a civilisation which flourished within living memory and left an indelible mark on historyIn the 13th century Yiddish language and culture began to spread from the Rhineland and Bavaria slowly east into Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, then to Poland and Lithuania and finally to western Russia and the Ukraine, becoming steadily less German and more Slav in the process. In its late-medieval heyday the culturally vibrant, economically successful, intellectually adventurous and largely self-ruling Yiddish society stretched from Riga on the Baltic down to Odessa on the Black Sea.In the 1650s the Chmielnicki Massacres in the Ukraine by the Cossacks killed 100,000 Jews, forcing those that were left to spread out into the small towns (shtetls) and villages. The break-up of Poland-Lithuania - a safe haven for Jews in previous centuries - in the late 18th century further disrupted Yiddish society, as did the Russian anti-Jewish pogroms from the 1880s onwards, at the very time when Yiddish was producing a rich stream of plays, poems and novels.Paul Kriwaczek describes the development, over the centuries, of Yiddish language, religion, occupations and social life, art, music and literature. The book ends by describing how the Yiddish way of life became one of the foundation stones of modern American, and therefore of world, culture.

W&N

A Devil's Chaplain

Richard Dawkins
Authors:
Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is one of the finest minds in science, and in this superb collection of essays and letters, he demonstrates the depth of his knowledge and the rich variety of his interests. Whether he is examining postmodernism or the Human Genome Project, penning a letter to his daughter, or writing a moving eulogy to Douglas Adams and e-mailing Stephen Jay Gould, Dawkins writes with an intellectual vigour and grace that is second to none. This is a very human collection that shows not only the acuity of Dawkins' scientific mind, but also his sense of humour and the warmth of his relationships with friends and family.

W&N

Twelve Days

Victor Sebestyen
Authors:
Victor Sebestyen

The defining moment of the Cold War: 'The beginning of the end of the Soviet empire.' (Richard Nixon)The Hungarian Revolution in 1956 is a story of extraordinary bravery in a fight for freedom, and of ruthless cruelty in suppressing a popular dream. A small nation, its people armed with a few rifles and petrol bombs, had the will and courage to rise up against one of the world's superpowers. The determination of the Hungarians to resist the Russians astonished the West. People of all kinds, throughout the free world, became involved in the cause. For 12 days it looked, miraculously, as though the Soviets might be humbled. Then reality hit back. The Hungarians were brutally crushed. Their capital was devastated, thousands of people were killed and their country was occupied for a further three decades.The uprising was the defining moment of the Cold War: the USSR showed that it was determined to hold on to its European empire, but it would never do so without resistance. From the Prague Spring to Lech Walesa's Solidarity and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the tighter the grip of the communist bloc, the more irresistible the popular demand for freedom.

W&N

Love and Louis XIV

Antonia Fraser
Authors:
Antonia Fraser

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Orion

Mary Queen Of Scots

Antonia Fraser
Authors:
Antonia Fraser
Orion

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Dan Burstein
Authors:
Dan Burstein

Readers of Dan Brown's extraordinary bestseller THE DA VINCI CODE are fascinated by the questions raised in the novel. Was Jesus actually married to Mary Magdalene? Was she one of his disciples and did she write her own gospel? Did they have a child together? Did some geniuses of art and science, people like Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton, belong to secret societies that had the most compelling insider information in history, and did Leonardo convey some of these ideas in The Last Supper and other paintings? SECRETS OF THE CODE is the definitive guide to the novel and provides the curious reader with authoritative explorations into the major themes within THE DA VINCI CODE.Read by Sian Thomas and Jeff Harding(p) 2005 Orion Publishing Group

Katie Scarfe

Katie Scarfe trained at LAMDA and has appeared on stage at the National Theatre. She is an experienced audiobook narrator.

Kumiko Kakehashi

Kumiko Kakehashi was born in 1961. After graduating from Hokkaido University, she worked as a freelance writer and editor. She is a regular contributor to AERA magazine. This is her first book.

Lisa Hilton

Lisa Hilton is the acclaimed author of The Real Queen of France: Athénais and Louis XIV, Mistress Peachum's Pleasure, Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens and The Horror of Love. She is the author of two novels, the bestselling Wolves in Winter and The House with Blue Shutters, which was shortlisted in the UK for the Commonwealth Fiction prize. She was educated at Oxford University, and lives in central London.http://lisa-hilton.com/