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December 28, 2012

Most Influential Books of All Time

Listen to this podcast about Books That Changed the World and the new book series on this topic which covers many of the most influential books of all time:

NPR Series: Books That Changed the World Podcast

This podcast is certain to get you interested in some of the books that have had the most impact in global history. Grove/Atlantic published a series of books by prominent writers focusing on the most significant works of literature that introduced groundbreaking ideas and altered the course of human history. This NPR series features 30-minute interviews that were conducted over time with the authors of all these books on NPR's Talk of the Nation program hosted by Neal Conan and featuring live callers from across the United States. In this series you'll hear:

-Francis Wheen talks about her book Marx's Das Kapital and separates the ideas of Marx from the many applications of Marxism throughout history.

-Karen Armstrong discusses her book The Bible: A Biography and how the Bible has been used historically in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity.

-Christopher Hitchens speaks about his book on Thomas Paine's Rights of Man and about Paine's views on rights, religion, and the revolutions of his time.

-Military historian Hew Strachan discusses his book Clausewitz's On War about Napoleonic military theorist Carl von Clausewitz and how his book On War influenced much of the military strategy going into World War I & II.

-Philosopher Simon Blackburn talks about his book on Plato's Republic including Plato's controversial arguments against art and democracy.

-Darwin scholar Janet Browne talks about her book on Darwin's Origin of Species and the significance of Darwin's theory of evolution in science history.

-Islamic studies professor Bruce Lawrence talks about his book The Qur'an: A Biography and he tries to explain the Qur'an;s many interpretations throughout history.

-Conservative author and satirist P.J. O'Rourke talks about his book On the Wealth of Nations and about some of the brilliant ideas Adam Smith came up with regarding free markets while living in a largely agrarian society.

Listen to these podcasts on Books That Changed the World!

NPR Series: Books That Changed the World Podcast


December 19, 2012

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speeches on Video

The Nobel Prize Awards were given out earlier this month, including the Nobel Peace Prize which instead of going to an individual went to the entire European Union "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

Nobelprize.org now offers video lectures from the past 10 years by the recipients of all of their prizes along with some videos from the 20th century. We'll start off pointing out some of the lectures of the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. You can check them all out right here:

Nobel Peace Prize Lectures

Here are some of the highlights:

2009: Nobel Lecture by Barack H. Obama which he received "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples".

2007: Nobel Lecture by Al Gore which he received along with the non-profit he founded, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".

2006: Nobel Lecture by microfinance economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below".

2005: Nobel Lecture by Mohamed ElBaradei, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way".

1993: Nobel Lecture by Nelson Mandela (who won along with Frederik Willem de Klerk) "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa".

1989: Nobel Lecture by the 14th Dalai Lama for his struggle for the liberation of Tibet that has consistently opposed the use of violence.

1979: Nobel Lecture by Mother Teresa "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace."

1964: Nobel Lecture by Martin Luther King, Jr. for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the United States.

Watch some of these historic speeches on the topic of peace. Most of them run about 20 minutes long:

Nobel Peace Prize Lectures

Beyond the Nobel Peace Prize Lectures you can watch video lectures on Nobelprize.org of Nobel Prize recipients in Literature, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology or Medicine. Most of these go back about 10 years.

The Nobel Prize in Literature Lectures - Lectures by Doris Lessing, Orhan Pamuk, Harold Pinter, V.S. Naipaul, and more.

The Nobel Prize in Economics Lectures - Lectures by Paul Krugman, Daniel Kahneman, Joseph E. Stiglitz, and more.

The Nobel Prize in Physics Lectures

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry Lectures

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Lectures

Enjoy these lectures from Nobelprize.org!


December 12, 2012

Learn About J.R.R. Tolkien's Life & Works with 5 Free Audio & Video Resources

The film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens just about everywhere in the World this week. It is the first part in a three-part film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit which preceded his epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. Today we are featuring five free audio & video resources covering the life and work of author J.R.R. Tolkien. Learn about what fueled his amazing works of fanatasy.

1. J.R.R. Tolkien Wikipedia Entry on Audio Download

We'll start off with J.R.R. Tolkien's Wikipedia article that we recorded on audio many years ago. Download this 25-minute article on MP3. You'll learn about Tolkien's eventful early life and many the life experiences that were later incorporated into his fantasy novels. You'll also get learn about his education and his work as a University of Oxford professor which helped him with creating the language of his books.

2. Lewis & Tolkien: Scholars and Friends

In this streaming video released by UCTV, we are given a glimpse of the friendship between renowned authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Using diary entries, letters among friends and other direct sources as a basis, speaker Christopher Mitchell illustrates how a mutual religious faith between the two men formed the crux of their creatively fruitful relationship. A study first and foremost in how friendship can change lives, this is a must for anyone that wishes to learn more about two authors that have remained enduringly popular.

3. J.R.R. Tolkien: Father of Modern Fantasy Literature

Along with Lord of the Rings being one of the most popular books in the English language, J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy can also be read as a narrative example of faith in action. In this video lecture presented by the Veritas Forum, Dr. Christopher Mitchell makes claims for Tolkien's legacy as not only a giant in popular literature, but also as a disguised evangelist. Here you will be made privy to Tolkien's thoughts on the reception he anticipated for the books, and how the religious subtext may be worth further exploration on the part of the Christian community.

4. The True King: Tolkien and the Medieval

This lecture released by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute serves as a wonderful way you can learn more about Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien. Lecturer Bradley J. Birzer discusses the major themes in Tolkien's work including the onslaught of modernity, the true value of good in the world and the gift of loyalty. Birzer ends with a beautiful description of the character Samwise Gamgee, and how his role in the book serves as a symbol of Tolkien's belief system in action. Note: You'll need to log in on the Intercollegiate Studies Institute website to access this lecture.

5. Escape to the Middle Ages: The Resurgence of Tolkien

Medieval Studies Professor Kathryn Lynch examines the current popularity of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien especially among her students. She gives a brief bio of Tolkien and his works and how they connect to the Middle Ages and mythology. She attempts to connect the popularity of Tolkien with our particular place in history. And she takes a look at the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and the response that these movies have had.

And if you want to learn even more about Tolkien we've got a few audio books about him (not free):

The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth by Ralph C. Wood

Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues by Mark Eddy Smith

And if you want to get audio books by J.R.R. Tolkien check out our J.R.R. Tolkien author page:

J.R.R. Tolkien's Works on Audio

And you can get the BBC Dramatization of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien for only $13.75 on audio download!

The Hobbit (BBC Dramatization) on Audio Download


December 11, 2012

Best Science Videos on YouTube

We've been browsing YouTube lately for some of the best videos we don't yet have on our site. Today we're featuring some of the great science videos we've found and have now added onto our site. We'll start out with this great video from theoretical physicist Richard Feynman:

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

In this 50-minute video Richard Feynman looks back on his life and discusses his approach towards science. He reflects on times with his father that instilled his curiousity in the scientific world. Feynman also talks about his work on the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb towards the end of World War II. He then examines some of the contributions he made to physics in the second half of the 20th century (which earned him the Noble Prize), and he describes his chaotic method of teaching science which proved to be very popular.

And here are some of the other amazing science videos we added:

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage the thirteen-part television series written and hosted by Carl Sagan

God, The Universe, and Everything Else discussion featuring Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, & Arthur C. Clarke

An Even Shorter History of Nearly Everything talk on the history of science with author Bill Bryson

The Genius Of Charles Darwin three-part television documentary written and presented by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins

The Origin of the Universe talk by Stephen Hawking

Isaac Asimov in Conversation interview with the popular science author

And check out these three debates from the American Museum of Natural History moderated by Neil deGrasse Tyson and featuring panels of leading scientists:

2010 Rose Center Anniversary Isaac Asimov Debate: Is Earth Unique?

2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Theory of Everything

2012 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Faster Than the Speed of Light

We hope you enjoy these great videos we discovered on YouTube! Many more to come.

For more free science videos and audio books check out our Free Science Audio & Video section:

Free Science Audio & Video