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An Intimate History of Humanity
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An Intimate History of Humanity

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,052 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
This extraordinarily wide-ranging study looks at the dilemmas of life today and shows how they need not have arisen. Portraits of living people and historical figures are placed alongside each other as Zeldin discusses how men and women have lost and regained hope; how they have learnt to have interesting conversations; how some have acquired an immunity to loneliness; how ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published September 25th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Wayne
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all human beings
Recommended to Wayne by: the titles of the chapters!!!
14 YEARS LATER:ie December 14th 2015
I AM SHOCKED...AMAZED !!!
I thought I may have read this book about 6 or 7 years ago...that is how much THIS BOOK is STILL with me.
..and it is August 2001 that I finished reading it..can't believe it is that long ago!!!
This is a book of which I so often think:"I MUST read that book again."

I am still searching out copies to give to friends.
I often glance in its direction where it sits with many other books in my bedroom.
MUST be time to read it AGAIN!!

REVIEW BEGI
...more
Lisa
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I could not figure out why reading this book made me feel enraged. I wondered if it had something to do with the way it says everything about nothing and nothing about Everything. Zeldin shares 1st person narratives from people who were weirdly philosophical about themselves and their lives. Is it because many of them are French. C'est l 'absurd. This book got rave reviews and the truth is that I was too annoyed to finish it. It was like eating food made of air.
Catherine
Nov 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natania, fp, 2008
Zeldin's work, despite the name, isn't really historical scholarship. Instead it's far closer to philosophy, and his use of history is kin to Foucault's - by picking and choosing key moments in the global past, what do we learn that might help us navigate our present?

It's a fascinating text, if so broad and expansive that sometimes it feels too much to take in. Zeldin tries to pinpoint the things that make us human, tries to find our commonalities instead of focusing on differences, and asks wha
...more
Nick Davies
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Bought cheaply from a clearance table in an Oxfam bookshop three or so years ago, on the strength of an unusual cover and a title which piqued my interest, this turned out to be very interesting indeed.

Zeldin writes of human nature - the book is part sociology, part philosophy, part cultural history in discussing a number of statements which are explored in the context of interviews with French women, and are then challenged with reference to cultural norms throughout the ancient and modern worl
...more
Lachlan
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's taken me some time (Goodreads informs me 3 months), but I have finally finished reading Theodore Zeldin's ambitious book, 'An Intimate History of Humanity.'

Zeldin's stated objective is to provide us with a history of humanity that surpasses stale cataloging of kingdoms epochs, and ages. Instead, he turns his attention to some of the most important and defining dynamics of human society. He takes our fixed assumptions about the nature of humanity, and, through an exposition of engaging histo
...more
M.D. Lachlan
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite books and a real eye opener. One of the few books I read again periodically. It's the history of love but touches on many other aspects of philosophy. A page turner, which isn't something you often say about a philosophical novel. Like Alain De Botton but without the descents into banality.
Dan
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever wanted to read the history of some of our most common dreams, desires, and fears this is a good place to start. Well-written, and occasionally poetic.
Ferda Nihat Koksoy
İNSANLIĞIN MAHREM TARİHİ
-SEFALETİN DORUĞU, BAŞKALARININ MÜLKÜ gibi olduğunun fark edilmesidir.

-KARMAŞA arttıkça, içinden geçilebilecek ÇATLAKLAR da artar.

-İNSANLAŞMAK, TÜM İNSANLIK HAFIZASINI KULLANABİLMEKTİR.

-BİLİMSEL KEŞİF, DAHA ÖNCE YAN YANA GELMEMİŞ FİKİRLERİN BİRLEŞTİRİLMESİDİR:

-İnsanların EŞİT olmaya başlaması, KARŞILIKLI KONUŞMA ve DİNLEMEYİ öğrenebilmeleri ile olabilir.

-Çağdaş insan, Çinli gibi doğayı anlayan, Moğol gibi gezen ve İranlı gibi romantik olma özlemindedir.

-KİŞİNİN YOLCULUĞU,
...more
Kevin
Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lost hungry souls (everyone!)
This is not a typical history book. It's perfect for someone hungry for knowledge but put off by history written as a succession of dates and wars by a detached, passionless author. Sometimes it almost reads like a self-help book-- but don't worry, cynics! It offers no quick solutions, only useful questions. Fluffy and condescending? Nay! Encouraging and inspiring? Yay!

Divided into chapters like "How humans have repeatedly lost hope, and how new encounters, and a new pair of spectacles, revive t
...more
Berk
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
İstediğin zaman herhangi bir yerinden açıp okumak için uygun bir başucu kitabı. Multidisipliner bakış açısı kazanmayı öğütlüyor. Bence de önemli bir konu.

"Düşüncenin doğrultusunu sezgiler belirlemiştir. Sezgi bazen hipotezler biçiminde, bazen de nedenlerini seçmemize fırsat bırakmayacak kadar hızlı ulaşılmış yargılar olarak ortaya çıkar. Kadınlara atfedilmiş olan sezgi ne sihir keramet işidir, ne de deha işareti, küçücük ayrıntılara dikkat etmenin ve söze dökülmemiş duygulara ilgi duymanın bir s
...more
Nevzat
i had really high expectations of this book and didn't like it as much as i expected in the end. the problem for me was that the personal stories of french women at the beginning of each section was really nice and enjoyable but in most chapters i found it hard to relate their stories to the historical events and customs author picked. and the lack of connection between them made most of the book seem like a common "fun historical facts" blog. the other problem is that i find history or traditio ...more
Ci
Oct 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was impressed by the first 40 pages, with the author's promise of delving into the psyche and emotional history of humanity. Evidently erudite, this author alluded to references to historic events but promised to interpret them "intimately" and classic theoretic ideas but would use them "relevantly" so we don't get drowned in the details. The idea of starting with a particular person's life story held attraction as well -- till a point (page 40 onward) which becomes a mediocre collection of sn ...more
Ed
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book that I just came across on my shelves having read it in 1994ish. Each chapter takes a contemporary French woman from many layers of society and uses it to weave the history of humanity. Really interesting different take on history. Intriguing.
Al Bità
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was first published in 1994, and I must admit I had never heard of it until alerted to it by my good friend Wayne, who gave me a copy, and for which I am extremely grateful. This is a truly wonderful work, and one which should grace the personal library of anyone interested in a history which differs from the usual run of history books. It uses a very readable technique which is immediately charming (the list of chapter titles in the Table of Contents will be enough to intrigue even th ...more
Tom Baxter
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that stays with you through the years - extraordinary.
Sertac
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible book! There have been similar books (e.g. popular Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind) written before / after this, however when you see the amount of footnotes, references and connected-dots you understand how Theodore Zeldin thinks, researches and elaborates the concepts which directly mean a lot for social, daily and business life today. Anyone who wants to find answers to 'why's and 'how's about human behaviour should read this masterpiece periodically.
Right before fini
...more
Freya
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zeldin's intention here was to write a book with a philosophical approach to looking at the history of civilisation whilst simultaneously linking every single person on earth, living or dead through human emotion and experience. Though imperfect, his ambition here is remarkable and work has been made to show just how futile yet important the differences between us are. The historical references included are vast, making it a wonderful introduction to history in its own right.
Women from several
...more
Lexie
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: relations, history
I've had this book for over a decade now; it's one of my perennials. It's the first book of history that I fell in love with. Still in love!

Theodore Zeldin does something so original here that the book is fresh every time I open it. He begins each chapter with a person's story -- often related as though a conversation is in process. The individual story is expanded to encompass all of humanity, across all (recorded) history, and across all cultures. History is all of us; we all impact the larger
...more
Angela
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An interesting and intellectually challenging read. Arranged in short chapters making it convenient to read randomly from anywhere in the book. Great for busy times or when on the move. Catchy and memorable chapter titles such as " Why compassion has flowered even in stony ground", " Why even the rich and successful are somewhat gloomy about life" " How men and women have learnt to have interesting conversations". However, not always entirely convinced by the prescriptions given (which are proba
...more
sidana
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kitabın amaç ve özeti Theodore Zeldin bu sözlerle açıklıyor;“Niyetim, günümüz insanının, kendi kişisel geçmişine olduğu kadar, acımasızlıktan, yanlış anlamalardan ve mutluluktan oluşan topyekün insanlık siciline de yepyeni bir gözle bakabilmesinin mümkün olduğunu göstermek. Yeni bir gelecek görüşü oluşturmanın yolu her zaman, geçmişe bakışımızı yenilemekten geçmiştir”. Değişik bir anlatım açısıyla tarihi anlatmaya çalışmış; savaşlar, kavgalar, antlaşmalar üzerinden değil de kişilerin özel hayatl ...more
Nicholas Whyte
http://nhw.livejournal.com/786755.html[return][return]I got this ages ago, as it promised to be an interesting investigation of the history of how humans relate to each other. Unfortunately it isn't; it is a series of conversations with French women, one by one, with an attempt by the author to draw universal conclusions from each one individually. I got through less than a tenth of it before I reached my "Tonstant Weader fwowed up" moment, when one of the interviewees confided that[return][retu ...more
Mi Camino Blanco
Otro título que me ha llevado al engaño, puesto que se trata de un ensayo más cercano a la Sociología que a la Historia. No obstante, el autor propone una interesante reflexión sobre algunas de las actitudes, comportamientos y emociones humanas más destacadas vinculando su ocurrencia universal en diferentes épocas.

Los capítulos que me han parecido más interesantes son los relativos a la conversación (desconocía que Finlandia es el país menos hablador del mundo), el miedo, la soledad y la ciencia
...more
Zerrin Akakça
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Çok begendim, kitapta birçok yerin altini çizerek okudum. Zaman içinde tekrar gözattigimda, kolaylikla yakalayabilecegim tespitler olacak böylece.
"Hayati nüanslariyla birlikte kucaklamak isteyenler zihinlerini otomatik fotograf makinesi gibi kullanarak bir yere varamazlar...Algilarin zihinde ne sekilde çözümlendigi onlari sarmalayan varsayimlara bagli olmustur ve bunlarin en önemlileri, zihinsel tikanmanin ikinci büyük nedeni olan hafizada sakli tutulanlardir. "
"Mahkum etme, daha iyisini önerem
...more
Tim
Apr 30, 2011 rated it liked it
A book by turns illuminating and frustrating, insightful, banal, and tedious. Zeldin drives at the important details of life and has wonderful insights into human existence through history, but the book's format is tiresome. The details from individual women's lives at the beginning of each chapter wore me down over time and took away from his cleverness and wit. In the end I fear I am not generous enough to this book, which is ambitious and attempts to be so all encompassing, but his dismissal ...more
Mark Nelson
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each chapter in this book is split into two distinct parts. First there's one or more pen portraits of people, all of whom are French women. Second there's an attempt by Zeldin to link parts of the portraits to history. For me the portraits were the most consistent part of each chapter. This is a book that will make you think more deeply about your life and the life of others?
Hock Tjoa
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant and fascinating even though one can legitimately wonder what connects all the stories told other than the author's (powerful) imagination. It ranges through much of recent (post 1700) Western history.
Taloot S.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary and marvellous history of how men and women lost and gaine hope through building trust and making life more liveable through human experience.
Kelly
Nov 18, 2009 marked it as to-read
Despite the sexysexy nipple-tastic cover, this is supposed to be a legit fascinating book.
Samantha
The critical-minded humanities major in me cringed at a lot of the sweeping generalizations and unsupported conclusions in this book. Still, there were some original, inspiring ideas.
Jeremy Yuille
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there were a book that lives in both 'read' & 'to read' states, this is it.
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Theodore Zeldin CBE, President of the Oxford Muse Foundation, is a Palestinean philosopher, sociologist, historian, writer and public speaker. Zeldin was first known as a historian of France but is today probably most famous internationally as the author of An Intimate History of Humanity (1994), a book which probes the personal preoccupations of people in many different civilisations, both in the ...more
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“life could have been different if the meetings which have decided its course had been less silent, superficial or routine, if more thoughts had been exchanged, if humanity had been more able to show itself in them” 12 likes
“...literature must always be about gloom of one sort or another, on the principal that there is nothing interesting to be said about happy people.” 9 likes
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