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Millennium: From Religion to Revolution: How Civilization Has Changed Over a Thousand Years

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In Millennium, bestselling historian Ian Mortimer takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the last ten centuries of Western history. It is a journey into a past vividly brought to life and bursting with ideas, that pits one century against another in his quest to measure which century saw the greatest change.

We journey from a time when there was a fair chance of your villa
Hardcover, 403 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by Pegasus Books
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Clif Hostetler
Apr 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book's narrative could pass for the transcription of Ian Mortimer's response in a conversational setting to the question, "Which century of the second millennium experienced the most change?" Most people would simply respond with a quick answer that it must surely be the twentieth century. His response is a more thoughtful appraisal of fundamental change experienced by people in each century, and he concludes that it depends on the type and definition of change.

Ian Mortimer has spent his l
John Kaufmann
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I don't know why I didn't like this book more - this is the kind of book (a broad view of major historical drivers) that I usually love. In this case, the author surveys the last ten centuries (the millennium) to try to get a handle on which ones had the biggest impact on the course of history. (As an add-on to each chapter, he adds a brief section on who he thought was the principal agent of the century.)

I learned a lot of specifics, and saw some new ways of linking events over centuries. Yet s
Mike Bushman
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting euro-centric perspective on the last 10 complete centuries highlighting how many well known and far lesser known events and people affected the development of civilization. Goes beyond just listing what happened to providing insights into many of the whys. History adds its most value when it provides context for the future, and this book achieves that without forcing its answers on its readers. Strong research and clear, concise writing.
Erin Bomboy
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Millennium starts with an interesting premise. Which century experienced the most change? Also, who was the principal architect of change? Historian Ian Mortimer focuses on western Europe with an English slant, so undoubtedly, he would reach different conclusions if he surveyed the whole wide world.

Still, it's an interesting idea to hang a book on, and Mortimer writes accessibly with clear prose and strong organization. He devotes a chapter to each century and details the handful of advancements
Timothy Martin
Dont take the 2 stars wrong, this book is a really good history lesson and does make you think about change throughout the centuries in a different manner than you're probably used to. The low rating is because the premise of the book is flawed. The title is how civilization has changed over the past 1000 years. However it focuses solely on the western world. The author does preface the book by saying that his specialty is the western world, so he is going to focus on that solely. A different pa ...more
Dave Schoettinger
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Have you ever found yourself involved in a discussion of the merits of Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady or which was the best movie franchise, Star Wars, Godfather, Despicable Me? Well, professor Mortimer has involved himself in a similar intellectual exercise by rating the last ten centuries with regard to which one witnessed the most change in Western Civilization. If you are one of the vast majority of the human population who thinks history is boring, you would probably label this tome as Exh ...more
Geoff Lanotte
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting and accessible book for the lay person. If there is one negative, it is that the amount of subjects I would like to dig further into has grown significantly. I particularly enjoyed the authors candor about his own biases throughout the book. But because of that, I suspect that this book might not be as interesting to anyone who is well-versed in the history of the last millennium. However the book made a very solid case for its conclusion and for that alone, it was worth ...more
read first half (11th-15th century). great and concise social history. self-professedly West-oriented. eschews famous names and dates with singular but individual achievements, for those who originated changes that reverberated down the social ladder and forked a decisively new road in the development of history. This book isn't a disengaged academic volume at all, rather its author takes great pains to recreate the environment and encase the reader into the circumstances of the century. He lead ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. It was readable and engaging. However, it wasn't a perfect book.

Mortimer is quick to point out that this isn't a global history of the past millennium, and the author is at least up front and honest about that. Mortimer's expertise is medieval history and the European medieval history described in this book is fairly enlightening. However, what was disappointing was as the world moved from the insular medieval world view, Mortimer's history continued to remain very Eurocent
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but I think the concept is fundamentally flawed, because the question simply covers too vast of territory for any book of reasonable length to do it justice. The chapters often wind up being a Spark Notes of history, so to speak. I suppose the real value here is the analysis (most adults won't be amazed to learn about, say, Christopher Columbus), and Mortimer pulls that off well. He clearly and methodologically explains how he goes about choosing the different aspects of his ...more
Kyle Johnson
"While historical study has many purposes, from understanding how our modern world has evolved to learning how we entertain ourselves, the most profound purpose of all is to reveal something of the nature of humanity, in all its extremes."

This was an absurdly creative and ambitious book, and is probably my favorite history book ever, entertainment-wise. Mortimer surveys a handful of major changes to Western society within each century from the last millennium, and identifies the most significan
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some readers took issue with the conclusion of the book (basically, it's all going downhill). The part I actually didn't like that much was his trying to turn history into an awards contest for best change, most change or whatever. This would have been compelling reading anyway, without the artificial classifications; and, as always, the most interesting bits are those on the 10th through the 16th century. With Elizabethan England, Locke and Louis XIV, it all starts to feel modern and familiar; ...more
Cheryl Campbell
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I felt as if I was chatting with an old friend, albeit one that is far better educated than I in the humanities. In fact, it felt like a conversation with my father, who was quite the history scholar after a career as a chemist. I particularly enjoyed the effort the author put into creating analogies for people or entities (or even abstractions) having broad "impact" across societies. For example, I found the analysis of the Church as a network (with numerous examples given of it as a transfer n ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall, it is a pretty brilliant survey of the last 1000 years of human history - albeit Western Civilization - in terms of the people, revolutions, inventions, and ideas which changed our history and direction as people. I enjoyed reading about landmarks which I hadn't even considered before - such as the invention of the mirror and how that contributed to an entirely different sense of self and individualism - and learning a great deal in the process about contributions to the daily world aro ...more
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to recency bias, we tend to think the present and very-near-past is filled with far more influential innovations, breakthroughs, sweeping change, and rapid accelerations than ever before in our history. What discovery could be more impactful than the Internet? Well, when you actually analyze the history, as Ian Mortimer has done, several other centuries could make strong arguments for bringing more widespread change and advancement than the 20th century.

Take the 1600s, which saw the prom
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Aimed at history buffs as there is a lot of detail (a 1000 years worth) but the book isvery interesting, well researched and thought out. It lost my interest a bit in the last couple of chapters as it was a summing up of what had gone before, however and importantly, also a reminder of why the study of history is vital, and why the events and people we view as the most important often have only short term impact, while often other ostensibly lesser events or persons create a butterfly effect.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful review of the past thousand years with an identification of the most fundamental changes in each century. I found most of the author's arguments persuasive, with only a few quibbles here and there. It ends with a totally depressing chapter predicting more inequality and hierarchy in the future, which also seems to be persuasive.
Ahh this author is a good writer. He thinks of fabulous things to tell us about and then proceeds to explain things so very well. This was a grand read - and some of the choices he made about what to include were surprising but thoughtful. Learnt alot, enjoyed the read.
Susan Walker
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting book about the past and future. it was a bit slow for me.
Jill Cordry
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting book, but I didn't care for the author's style of writing: too wordy and too much author intrusion.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Good overview. Easy Read. Interesting to see the social aspect of history and how it does follow Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ugh. Started out ok. Then zzzzzzzz
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Burke
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great read! You may agree or disagree with some of his conclusions, but it is well written and well documented.
niste eroi fara societate
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Much better than Yuval s books.
Ariel Randle-Ochoa
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting if you are a history nerd 🤓 like me
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Weird book... It started with Ian Mortimer questioning a statement, a BBC newsreader made during the news in december 1999, stating that the most innovative century of the last millennium was the 20th century and that century was going to end in 2000. Somehow Ian Mortimer did not exactly agree and made a competition between the centuries to find out which century was the most innovative and progressive century of them all... Really silly question if you think about it, little bit childlike. But ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an absolutely fantastic overview for modern Western historical trends and a book I’d recommend for both anyone with a passing interest in historical fiction and/or writing science fiction. One of the author’s other books is pretty much the definitive recommendation for writing Medieval historical fiction, and I might consider this the definitive recommendation for future historians. Even if you’re already pretty familiar with what happened (and if you aren't, this isn't really the book f ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
The last chapter of this book stands on its own merit. It is fantastic and I wish every politician would read it (do they read anymore)? The cliff notes version of Piketty's Capital in 21st Century is alone worth taking a peek.

The premise of the book is that major change is defined by impact on daily life. It is interesting to see the world evolve up through Maslow's hierarchy to the 19th century. I did find the structure of the book (sorting change my millenium) to be arbitrary. I think this i
D.L. Morrese
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The last thousand years of human history is story of advances and declines, challenges, failures, and successes. There is no consistent plot, no preordained or inevitable conclusion, but there is always change. In this book, Medieval scholar Ian Mortimer summarizes those changes, devoting a chapter to each of the last ten centuries, highlighting the major changes, and identifying the one person who was, in his opinion, the greatest agent of change. I can't say I necessarily agree with all of his ...more
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AKA James Forrester.

Dr Ian Mortimer is a historian and novelist, best known for his Time Traveller's Guides series. He has BA, MA, PhD and DLitt degrees from the University of Exeter and UCL. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was awarded the Alexander Prize by the Royal Historical Society in 2004. Home for him and his family is the small

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