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Reader recommendation: Civilizations

Monitor readers share their favorite book picks.

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Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature, by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, brims with creativity and bracing understandings. Tapping diverse sources and various disciplines, he weaves provocative narratives featuring clashes that have occurred over millennia between civilizations and nature, measuring civilizations' successes by how well they tamed nature. Some slips of fact and questionable assertions fail to mar this robust work.