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A History of Civilizations

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  633 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
"Refreshingly broad-brush in its approach...this history provides the big picture."—The Christian Science Monitor. Written from a consciously anti-enthnocentric approach, this fascinating work is a survey of the civilizations of the modern world in terms of the broad sweep and continuities of history, rather than the "event-based" technique of most other texts.


Paperback, 640 pages
Published May 25th 1995 by Penguin (first published 1963)
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Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The conqured always submit to the stronger; but their submission is merely provisional when civilisations clash.

Jaw dropping analysis and synthesis. Braudel took the heavy lifting of his notable trilogy and applied it to a primer, a survey of world history for young students. Starting with Islam and ending with Russia, Braudel uses the long view to explore the definitions of civilization and the migrations, faiths and systems which have cultivated such. I was staggered by the beauty of Braudel o
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ένα βιβλίο ιστοριογραφίας που δημοσιεύτηκε για πρώτη φορά το 1963 στη Γαλλία, με στόχο να ενταχθεί στο σχολικό πρόγραμμα της δευτεροβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης.

Ο Braudel διακατεχόταν από την ισχυρή πεποίθηση πως ο πρωταρχικός ρόλος της Ιστοριογραφίας ήταν να μπορέσει να μας δώσει τη δυνατότητα, μέσω του παρελθόντος, να κατανοήσουμε την εποχή μας, και ως ένα σημείο, να προεικονίσουμε το μέλλον. Το βιβλίο αυτό αποτελεί χαρακτηριστικό παράδειγμα της επίτευξης αυτού του στόχου, μιας και ξεφεύγει από το μοτί
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Braudel is considered one of the great 20th c. historians. He fought the French educational establishment to broaden the scope of history to include material from sociology, anthropology, geography, etc., and above all economics. This was in opposition to the traditional kings and battles approach, and this book was intended as a textbook (not accepted by the authorities). Arguably the movement’s been quite fruitful, but this book is a very mixed bag – occasionally excellent, sometimes quite bad ...more
Leo Walsh
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I first stumbled across Braudel, it was through his complex multi-volume Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries which I attacked as side-reading during my Western Civ class at Ohio State. And his insights, like the impact of Watt's and Newcomen's steam engine on the field of mining (and thus energy potential, spurring the British Industrial Revolution). In fact, his insights -- along with Ronan and Needham's The Shorter Science and Civilization in China made up my entire expos ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Braudel’s book, unlike many histories, does not offer us a chronology of sociopolitical events from the Fertile Crescent up to now, the way many textbooks are arranged. Instead, he takes what he deems to be the major civilizations as of 1962 – Islam, Africa, Asia, and the West – and looks at them in a more well-rounded manner, incorporating demographic, sociological, economic and cultural information into the description of the various societies. This gives what feels like a more well-rounded ex ...more
Robert Morris
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Centralized curriculums are a generally bad idea, but when you've got one written by Fernand Braudel, it is hard not to be jealous of France. I have been saving Braudel for years, on the mistaken assumption that my French would improve enough to take him on in his original language. This is not one of his major works. In the 60s he undertook the design of a curriculum for the French school system. This lovely book came out of it.

The book is what it says, a history of all the world civilizations
Jun 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have read it in Russian translation. But it is the best history book for the upper classses. It both gives a wide picture of the worlв civilizations and at the same time builds clear links between past, present and future. The approach to the history announced by Braudel on my mind is the most productive and humanitarian one.
The book is amazing bot only for its brilliant fact showing bu talso for method used, for example it gives clear and deep explanation of "civilization" as a notion in use
Nikolay Mollov
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Вж. ревюто тук (за предпочитане): http://nilolay-pulp-fictions.blogspot...

Като цяло основните трудове на Бродел акцентират върху периода 15-18 век, с притегателен център Западна Европа. За да не се заблуди човек по заглавието е необходимо да се уточни, че цивилизациите, които се разглеждат в книгата, са онези, които се развиват след разпадането на Римската империя през 5 век. Единствено за цивилизациите на Далечния Изток е отделено внимание на периода пр. Хр. Книгата е замислена като учебник за
Ryan Murdock
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
“Find the key to a civilization: Greece, a civilization of the Aegean, from Thrace to Crete—and not a Balkan peninsula. Egypt, a civilization that tamed the Nile.” This, Braudel writes, is the key to understanding the currents of history. And his advice holds just as true for a travel writer who wants to grasp the Spirit of Place.

Separate sections of the book explore the Muslim world, Black Africa, the Far East, Western and Eastern Europe, the New World, and the “English speaking universe” of th
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-nonfic
Quite dated now, of course, but an enjoyable overview nonetheless.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it

The bits of this book that dealt with ancient civilisations I really enjoyed, but the main problem with the book was just how much was written about the 20th century from the perspective of 1962. This is a much more recent edition and seems to have more pages so perhaps that has been corrected, but as it stands this is not a book I would readily recommend to someone.

Another major failing of the book is the very strict definition of 'civilisation' that Braudel is operating with: he counts assyri
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This was quite a revolutionary book being written in 1987. I was referred to Braudel through a number of history books and was drawn to him because he changed the way history is viewed and taught - changing the focus on epochs and drawing in influences of geography, sociology and diplomacy.

The book was quite an undertaking to write and at 570 pages was somewhat tough to get through. But it helped track most civilizations of the modern world starting with the Islamic and African worlds, working
Shashwat Singh
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is an overview of the history of the currently existing civilizations(in 1962 when it was written)

I.e it is a broad view that looks at large strokes of history. If you're looking for detail you won't find it here. He looks at the macro patterns of these civilizations, and this is where the interesting insights come in that make the book worth a read. If you keep in mind this was written in 1962 you would enjoy this book. He does make some predictions that in retrospect seem silly, but
Christopher Leary
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Basically an excellent overview of civilisations through history. The long view which makes a good counterpoint to the more typical short-term histories. Also useful in that the book makes an effort to cover all the world's civilisations not just the European ones. That said, Braudel, who was writing in the early sixties, does come over all condescending sometimes in discussing 'primitive' peoples. The Aborigines of Australia are described as "a living museum of archaic primeval ways" with their ...more
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
I decided that my history is really weak and I need to learn more about it. This book was a nice overview of civilizations starting with Muhammed and Islam and going all the way through the forming of the United States. Well-written but a little over my head in that a fair bit of historical knowledge was assumed. I could follow it fine, but there were a lot of references I missed. Thus my need to bone up on history : ) Have to admit, it was a little dry and hard to read at say, lunchtime when I ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Obviously a broad minded genius, but it is interesting to read this in view of the times, and the prophesies he makes, some fulfilled and some not.
May 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Great opening chapter, but then descends into a slightly suspect, rather dated history of the world.

The central initial thesis, promising to shed light on what civilization actually is, is swiftly abandoned in favour of a simple linear historical narrative of various regions and countries. Some of this is interesting, but not interesting enough to bother with the rest. And much is decidedly suspect, especially the Africa chapters.

A shame, as I've liked much of his other stuff.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it
It seems a pretty interesting and ambitious idea to write a history of "civilizations" that exist up to the present, viewing them from all different angles and even attempting to make some predictions. Written as a secondary school textbook in the 60s, this obviously made some wrong stabs in the dark, especially with regards to the Marxist model. But it's definitely a nice introduction that at least makes the attempt to be well-rounded. I was maybe a little disappointed to see that Braudel treat ...more
J. Bishop
Aug 02, 2007 rated it liked it
The scope of this book is vast, covering the history of civilizations in the world almost from the dawn of history itself. Braudel first wrote the book in the 1960's in the hopes it would provide the basic history curricullum in French Universities. It was rejected as too radical. He updated the book in the early 1980's. He would have done best, however, to wait until the 1990's for Braudel's view of history would have required significant revision after the events of the next decade.

Braudel's b
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Braudel was a French historian who wanted to talk about history from several points of view rather than from the vantage of Big Men and their times. He was interested in 'civilization': economics, art, music, religion, political philosophy, geography. This book was written in 1963 and intended as a high school text, but it was never widely adopted. It is very Eurocentric, and that is both a strength and a weakness. It was refreshing for me to read a book about world history and civilization writ ...more
Мартин Касабов
Някои от вас може би са запознати вече с творчеството на Бродел, с книги като: "Средиземно море и средиземноморският свят по времето на Филип II"; "Материална цивилизация - Том 1 и 2"; и "Световното време", но за хора като мен, които са пропуснали тези забележителни трудове, остава да се надяваме на преиздаване (цените им на старо са астрономически) или издаване на нещо ново. За моя радост, от "Изток-Запад" са се постарали да ни зарадват с "Граматика на цивилизациите" - книга, която се превежда ...more
Ollie Vargas
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Annales school at its best. Though there are some parts that are tough going and dry, and some that are just badly done. Some parts were absolute gems, especially the bit on China and the Soviet Union (topics which western scholars mostly write really really badly on), on those bits alone this is worth reading.
Ada Holloway
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
This French historian originally wrote this book for French middle school students, but it was eventually deemed too hard for them. It raises issues I have never thought about, looking at major developments, thought, and themes through the ages in different civilizations around the world.
Stuart Cooke
Jun 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Energetic and entertaining for the most part but [ironically] the sections on Western Europe are disappointingly piecemeal. & the brief outline of pre- and early-colonial Australia is so criminally inaccurate that it leads one to question the quality of the rest of the material.
yeah, this book was ridiculously hard to read. but I'm not a history geek, so that could be why. it took me over 1/2 a year to finish because I could only read a small bit at a time, then step away from it for days. :)
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The great Fernand Braudel's overview of human civilizations, their histories, and links to each other, still delights and resonants. The USSR is gone, for example, but the Russian people remain and their deep fascinating history.
Apr 17, 2010 rated it liked it
This is better than the Robert's book, I started the two at roughly the same time. However, I can't get through it any more effectively. I really like his style and his (thick and deep) explanations of civilization and movements are really well done.
Barış Özgür
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
avrupa'dan bahsederken hala dikkate değer ama dünyanın geri kalanından bahsinde basma kalıp bile değil, düz döküm.
Feb 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Braudel is the master of unusual observations (like 'Europe is a peninsula of Asia,') but I can't quite get into his writing style. More the pity for me, no doubt.

Alex Green
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it
A useful book around method in history and perhaps a better approach to teaching history to a more global audience.
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Fernand Braudel was a French historian and a leader of the Annales School. His scholarship focused on three main projects: The Mediterranean (1923–49, then 1949–66), Civilization and Capitalism (1955–79), and the unfinished Identity of France (1970–85). His reputation stems in part from his writings, but even more from his success in making the Annales School the most important engine of historica ...more
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“When the [colonial] contact was violent, in fact, failure was more frequent than success. 'Colonialism' may have triumphed in the past: but today it is an obvious fiasco. And colonialism, typically, is the submergence of one civilisation by another. The conqured always submit to the stronger; but their submission is merely provisional when civilisations clash.
Long periods of enforced coexistence may include concessions or agreements and important, often fruitful, cultural exchange. But the process always has its limits.”
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