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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Discoverers and The Creators demonstrates the truth behind the aphorism that if Cleopatra's nose had been shorter, the face of the world would have changed. For in this provocative book, Boorstin uncovers the elements of accident, improvisation, and contradiction at the core of American institutions and beliefs ranging from an analysis of the U.S. capital to an examination of our eternal faith in progress. Among the issues he raises:
Have the ground-breaking discoveries of the last century left us paradoxically knowing less than our ancestors did?
Is America the world's most complacent society or its most conscience-ridden?
How has the "fourth kingdom," the kingdom of machines, ended up overthrowing Darwinian expectations, creating a need for the unnecessary and placing science at odds with the politics of common sense?
In Cleopatra's Nose, Boorstin answers these questions with the same wide-ranging curiosity and stylistic brio that have made him one of our most popular and widely respected historians.