Conventional accounts of world history tend to focus on the rise of Western civilisation and concentrate on the story of ancient Greece, the Roman empire and the expansion of Europe. The histories of the great civilisations of China, India and Japan, and therefore the experience of the majority of the world's people, have been relegated to a minor place. World History adopts a radically different approach. Starting from the assumption that the human story has to be seen in the round, it examines the evolution of humans, their lives as hunters and gatherers and their eventual adoption of agriculture, before looking at the emergence of civilisation across the globe; in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, the Indus Valley, Mesoamerica and Peru. It goes on to tell the story of the earliest empires, emphasising not just their differences but also their similarities. It explains how contacts were established between them and how technologies, ideas and the world's great religions travelled from one to another. It describes the great empires of Islam, of China and of the Mongols.
Only towards the end of the story does Europe come slowly to dominate the world, against the background of technical innovations and social and economic change.
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(234mm x 156mm x 59mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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UK Kirkus Review »
The advent of the third millennium has produced more than a fair share of books which survey the previous, hundred, thousand or even ten thousand years. Many are merely reworkings of tired formulas, which add nothing to our knowledge or understanding. This, however, is far more interesting as a project in that the author invites us to refocus our perceptions of the human history of the world away from the conventional eurocentric approach. Any text that serves to undermine this smug eurocentrism and the underlying assumptions of (white) racial superiority implicit in so many world histories has to be welcomed. Ponting certainly argues coherently for a longer look at the continuities of history and a greater awareness of 'other' founts of political social, economic and cultural development, primarily in Asia. The basic thesis is succintly outlined in the introduction and the detailed structuring of the book and prioritizing of events and processes outside Europe and North America do give it a different feel. Ponting deals with the charge of making vast generalizations by arguing that all histories are a question of selection. True up to a point, but some of his generalizations and statements on the detailed debates of more recent history may cause a few raised eyebrows. Is the thesis convincing? Should we see the history of the world as having been driven by Asia with the European and Atlantic domination of the last few centuries merely a temporary phenomenon? To paraphrase Mao Zedong when asked, about the French Revolution, nearly two hundred years after the event, 'too early to tell'. Review by BOB MOORE. Editor's note: Bob Moore is the Editor of Resistance in Western Europe. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Clive Ponting
Clive Ponting is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Wales, Swansea. His Green History of the World was a bestseller in many countries.