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A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  733 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Following in the wake of his groundbreaking War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Manuel De Landa presents a radical synthesis of historical development over the last one thousand years. More than a simple expository history, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History sketches the outlines of a renewed materialist philosophy of history in the tradition of Fernand Braudel, Gil ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 11th 2000 by Zone Books (first published December 1st 1997)
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Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
So here's a pretty neat idea. The title sums up the main theme simply - the author wants to rewrite the past 1,000 years of European history away from a linear trend with reference to feedback loops and exogenous effects, and he steals a lot of terminology from non-linear dynamics, biology, geology, and sociolinguistics.

The big problem here is that De Landa is attacking something which doesn't really exist. Does any historian really believe that history is a transition from one smooth state to a
Sense of  History
This was a tough read, as I treaded on (for me) unknown territory. I’m an historian by training, and this book, though focusing on history between 1000 and 2000 AD, is foremost a philosophy book, and even then, a special kind of a philosophy book . De Landa offers, as far as I have understood, a materialistic view on history. For those of you that react shocked (“I thought we had left materialism behind in the ruins of marxism?”), I have to nuance my bold statement: it is materialism, but correc ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was not a piece of cake. De Landa looks at the history of the last millennium in a highly philosophical, structuralistic kind of way, with the use of a very elaborate terminological toolkit. I appreciated his plea to look at history from a nonlinear point of view (Prigogine), without a manifest destiny, as the result of intensively interactive processes on multiple levels. And I particularly appreciated his stress on cities as laboratories where historical processes are accelerated (Braudel ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: every 10th grader
Typically the contemporary western world is specialized in a way that organizes various professions and institutions into vertical categories; think of them as silos. So, even though there is alot of similarity between say, the nutrition acquisition network of bees and the geographic routes taken by drug addicts when they need a fix -- the two disciplines of study never meet. This book, very provocatively written, connects many dots that typically remain dispersed. Highly recommended to thos tha ...more
I fawn over Gilles Deleuze the way a 12 year old girl fawns over the Jonas Brothers. And so does DeLanda. DeLanda engages a synthesis I've long been seeking, which is to say a sensible Deleuzean materialism informed by evolutionary theory. Which, as a double major in English literature and environmental science, makes a whole lot of sense to me. I wish, though, that DeLanda had employed more material evidence beyond highly conceptual genealogies.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, science
From what I understand, the term nonlinear derives from mathematics and physics, where equations and the phenomena they represent can be categorized either as linear or nonlinear. Linear phenomena refer to those whose systems will subsist in a steady state; those whose functioning unfolds in a consistent fashion. Nonlinear dynamics refers to systems which will change state, either through positive or negative feedback mechanisms, where a system will function via an accumulative or diminutive dyn ...more
James Curcio
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mescaline does something to your sense of scale. You can see your mental view expand from planets to solar systems to galaxies, and find it recapitulate itself in the order of the molecules stitching together the cells in your body. You can see the emergent relationships of cells from the perspective of cultural anthropology, or look for the behavior of cultures in the mathematical expression of a whirlpool. If you understand this, then it is easiest to simply say that this book is history on me ...more
Nick Black
Nov 05, 2008 marked it as to-read
Amazon 2008-11-05. That cover seems engineered to make one's eyes bleed; it's the ugliest thing since Turkmenistan's flag (it is not, incidently, as ugly as the flag of the Marshall Islands).
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory
I read this book for a reading group, and I do not intend to finish it. Though De Landa's premise is intriguing, and though there is definite value (and need!) for a view of the development of the world outside of the category "human," the holes in De Landa's work make this not a text that I want to continue engaging in. De Landa's work does the implicit job of naturalizing hierarchies without acknowledging the systems of power that flow through the very constructed hierarchies that structure th ...more
Helga Mohammed el-Salami
Jun 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History Buffs
My edition was published by Zone Books which seems to believe that games with layout and fonts are fun. They start their chapters with something like 18pt and then shrink it with each turning page until things get normal again. It’s cute on chapters 1 and 2. Less so by chapter 5. And by the time chapter 9 on Linguistic History is rolling around, downright annoying. I wanted to rip out all the 18pt pages and shove them so far up the large intestine of the layout designer that he or she would have ...more
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: greeners, Baker, pretty much anyone
In some ways this book is a gloss on Deleuze and Guattari's "A Thousand Plateaus." The author also relies heavily on Fernand Braudel, and Foucault (although "Discipline and Punish" is the only work he cites). (There was one mention of Wallerstein that was rather dismissive, although he did seem to use his concept of the refeudalization of Eastern Europe in the early modern period). So the book was a good read for me as I'm familiar with much of the above material.

That being said, you don't have
Jennifer Truman
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jennifer by: Sara Glee Queen
A Thousand Years of NonLinear History is a must read for anyone remotely interested in cylical or systems thinking. To approach the history of mankind with the same model as a scientists approaches a thermodynamics problem could be one of the most ingenious ideas I've read to date. De Landa walks you (through myriads of systems storytelling) into the philosophical world of Lavas and Magmas, Flesh and Genes, and Memes and Norms on a quest, not for optimum efficiency or evolutionary fitness, but f ...more
Jun 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
a look at history through theme and method rather than chronological cause-and-effect.
more interesting for the way it's organized than the histories it's documenting, though those are sometimes fascinating too.
delanda shows the links connecting biological, geological, economic, and linguistic histories, explaining immigration via pathology (i.e. the way microbes come in and out of the body to effect disease), social class dynamics/formation via rock stratification, and pidgin histories by way o
Richard Smyth
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this one too. Delanda is amazing, unifying so many disparate fields of study under one umbrella: "...reality is a single matter-energy undergoing phase transitions of various kinds... Rocks and winds, germs and words, are all different manifestations of this dynamic material reality, or, in other words, they all represent the different ways in which this single matter-energy expresses itself" (21). I read this and feel like I really know something!
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous tour through the processes of change that form our world (human, physical, geologic, social, linguistic). DeLanda's powers of synthesis are amazing, and he seems to have read everything. Better still, his prose is smooth and lively.

I'll be digesting this one for a while, but at first blush it seems to have rewired me in useful ways. (How's that for a massively mixed metaphor?)
Sara-Maria Sorentino
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: time-history
fun. maybe more then that. not sure.
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Are you looking for a new parallax? Have you had enough of the milestone, invention based narrative of history?
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Deleuze & Guattari for the common man.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Was never totally sure what was happening. Had a great time, though.

"In a very real sense, reality is a single matter-energy undergoing phase transitions of various kinds, with each new layer of accumulated "stuff" simply enriching the reservoir of nonlinear dynamics and nonlinear combinatorics available for the generation of novel structures and processes. Rocks and winds, germs and words, are all different manifestations of this dynamic material reality, or, in other words, they all represent
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I initially read this book some years ago. I recall it taking me a long time, and unevenly so, with some pages dragging on for months, and other pages coming by much faster; rapidities and slowness appropriate to this book of historical dynamics. Yet, at the end, certain ideas (from the poorly retained intermingling of the book and online lectures) maintained such a compelling originality, power, and clarity to lead to its designation as a favorite, a book that had amazed me and was very influen ...more
Michael Bagwell
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
'A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History' is a phenomenal application and expansion of Deleuze and Guattari's work on abstract machines and nonlinear dynamics to the diverse fields of urbanization, economics, genetic evolution, language and more. De Landa's metaphysics however is a regression from Delueuze/Guattari due to his elevation of their theories into a singular ontological model for reality, whereas the work of 'A Thousand Plateaus' is simply to add a few more strata to the existing assemb ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a good example of how an explication of a novel philosophical approach to history can also be a satisfying work of history in its own right. I found the approach itself fascinating. This book functions as both a commentary on Deleuze/Guattari and an application of their theories to a particular discipline, and I'm hoping that it will also help me to understand their writing if I ever get around to tackling it.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
***Turkish translation is not good.

I think the book does not end up in a fruitful way. I had more expectations and bold statements from conclusion part.

He makes so much effort on "analogies" bringing our perspective on a different space and time perception; different history evaluation; still it takes us nowhere...
It was fun though: looking at the world history with different glasses.
Simon Benarroch
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
After finishing it I felt exhilarated and started recommending it to everybody. But a nagging sense never quite left me, that it might ultimately be kind of stupid, a kind of zero-resistance articulation of how people generally think about things nowadays. In any case it's a good jumping off point for nonlinear dynamical systems-y shit.
John Roloff
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
It has been awhile since I read this book. I primarily recall the essays included as an extension of his essay, "Nonorganic Life" in "Incorporations," a Zone book from 1992, examining nonequilibrium and nonlinear history of human processes over the past 1000 years.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A different and good appraisal of how we've arrived at this moment in time
tom bomp
As a different perspective on history, it's fascinating and well worth reading. It doesn't always successfully avoid a teleological perspective and sometimes it feels like "description of history. this happened because nonlinear stuff" without a real connection but it does a pretty good job considering. It works pretty great as a history in itself, too. The conclusion doesn't really explain itself too great, which is the one real annoyance I have. I have a few problems with the theory from a Mar ...more
Mar 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: some people
It is not just a book for Philosophy 101. In paraphrasing the arguments of Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault and gang, it puts forth their difficult concepts in less difficult terms. I'm not saying that the book will be an easy read (it is not!) but it does away with the assumption that you have a working knowledge of classical and cartesian philosophy.

De Landa, in tracing the history of society, presents us with his interpretations of the Deluzian universe and provides us with a platform and basic un
Eric Phetteplace
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
a practical application of Deleuze & Guattari, think "The Geology of Morals" chapter of ATP except a whole book. My only complaint would be DeLanda's reliance on other authors and the numerous quotations (feels really weird reading ATP quotes...some of them I can tell he's going to use before they even come up) but in the end that's just because he's summarizing a massive amount of research that I wouldn't bother to read otherwise. The conclusion was excellent, and also owed the most to D&am ...more
Costas Papagiannis
Ένα παράξενο μείγμα αναλογιών ανάμεσα στην οικονομία, τη γεωλογία, τη βιολογία και την τεχνολογία με σκοπό να δείξει ότι ο κόσμος μας διέπεται από μια μη γραμμική δυναμική η οποία καθιστά αδύνατη τη λεπτομερή πρόβλεψη και τον έλεγχο. Άκρως ενδιαφέροντα τα μέρη του βιβλίου στα οποία ο Ντε Λάντα διερευνά το πώς γεωλογικές μετακινήσεις όπως οι προσχώσεις και οι ιζηματογενείς αποθέσεις μπορούν να χρησιμοποιηθούν για να «διαβαστεί» η δημιουργία των ανθρώπινων πόλεων και προβαίνει σε εκτενείς αναφορές ...more
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Manuel De Landa (b. in Mexico City, 1952), based in New York since 1975, is a philosopher, media artist, programmer and software designer. After studying art in the 1970s, he became known as an independent filmmaker making underground 8mm and 16mm films inspired by critical theory and philosophy. In the 1980s, Manuel De Landa focused on programing, writing computer software, and computer art. Afte ...more
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