Marc L's Reviews > The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History

The Human Web by John Robert McNeill
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Aug 12, 13

bookshelves: history
Read in January, 2012

A World History in over 350 pages, some have done it, but not the way father and son McNeill have. They managed to put a new gridding over the complex evolution of mankind, namely that of evermore enlarging en more complicated webs, first locally (agrarian towns), than metropolitan (cities), followed by civilizations and finally the cosmopolitan worldwide web, starting from 1500 AD.
To look at history in this way is especially refreshing for the period between 3.000 BC and 1500 AD because it illustrates that civilizations and/or empires interact intensely. This said, I've got a bit of a problem in the use the McNeill's make of the term 'the old Worldwide web', suggesting that there already was an intense interaction between the Roman Empire, the Parths and China; this seems to me exaggerated.
Also, it's very odd to see that the Roman Empire only gets about 10 lines of attention, whilst the Chinese civilization gets ample attention in almost every chapter; perhaps a question of overcompensation?
In short: this is a very thorough and brilliant book that gives new insight in the cohesion of human evolution, but sometimes is a bit unbalanced and forced.
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