Jul 20, 2021 • 1HR 15M

Patrick Wyman: Luther, Columbus and Gutenberg

We talk about the new book, The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World

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Razib Khan
Conversations about science, culture, and current affairs
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Today on this bonus episode of Unsupervised Learning I’m excited to talk to Patrick Wyman about his new book, The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World.

Full disclosure, I enjoyed The Verge, and a review will be posted from me on National Review Online within the next week.

Wyman is the host of Tides of History, a podcast about history and assorted topics which I recommend to everyone (I’ve been a guest). If you’ve listened to him speak at length, you won’t be very surprised by the topics and style of writing in The Verge. The narrative does a great job balancing the academic with the engaging.

After reading his book I was curious to ask Wyman about how he wove social and economic history into a persona-driven narrative. We talk at length about the particular details of the significance of the 40-year-period he covers, and whether Martin Luther was a necessary man (as opposed to just being sufficient).

Patrick and I also tackle meta-historical questions such as the importance of “great men” versus forces-of-history, and whether the Protestant Reformation was inevitable due to technological changes. It’s a wide-ranging conversation, so if you are interested in the nitty-gritty of historical processes I think you’ll enjoy it.

Cross-promotion: The six-part series on Finland is done, check it out:

  • Part one: Duke Tales: shades of Finnish cultural weirdness in my own backyard

  • Part two: Weirdness as a national pastime: culture

  • Part three: Go West Young Siberian: genetics findings

  • Part four: From deepest Siberia to Europe’s edge: more genetics

  • Part five: Frontier Finns: cabins, rakes & Indians

  • Part sixFinnish brains, baiting and bottlenecks: education and medical genetics