World, Writing, Wealth discussion

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Book and Film Discussions > To understand world history, which introductory book would you recommend?

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message 1: by Alex (last edited Feb 03, 2017 11:03PM) (new)

Alex (asato) This is the one I've been reading for over a year now. It's just that other things get in the way, but I think it's one of the best ones out there.

The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History

What are your recommendations?

EDIT: changed title from "comprehensive" to "introductory"; that is, the broad sweep of history.


message 2: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I have studied and read about history extensively, often to research a new novel, and my opinion is that there is no single book that can possibly cover world history other than in a rather shallow manner. If someone really wants to study and understand history, then he/she is better off getting a book for each specific era/area of the World. For example, World War 2 by itself needs a big, hefty book if you want to learn about it in any significant detail. Also, the history of Asia would warrant its own book, separate from a history of Europe, as the two cultures are so different. There is no such thing as a perfect and complete 'History for Dummies' book, unless you want to sound like Donald Trump.


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Michel wrote: "I have studied and read about history extensively, often to research a new novel, and my opinion is that there is no single book that can possibly cover world history other than in a rather shallow..."

ah right, i should've said introductory not comprehensive. i agree that to really understand history, you need to drill down; however, you need that introductory, broad sweep in order to know what to drill down into; that is, what is significant in relation to our current contemporary world.


message 5: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 2811 comments Try Andrew Marr's A History of the World which also has a BBC TV series.

Most western history books ignore much of Asia especially the Indian sub-continent, i.e. like maps they are Europe and now US focused.

Modern history coverage is very focused on visual record therefore anything pre-photo age is almost ignored. This is like weather reports which state hottest day ever when they mean hottest since regular scientific records were started in that particular location e.g 200-300 years out of several billion Earth hottest days.

History also is written by the winners, if written at all. Our knowledge of Alexander The Great or Genghis Khan are both limited by the records that survived. Even the Bible is not contemporaneous and even if believed (alongside other religious texts) has suffered from political inspired translations from whatever original texts or hearsay was transcribed.

Egyptian hieroglyphics were set down by the owner of the pyramid before they died

In other words any history should be reviewed and treated with the same degree of scepticism as a current news story. Alternate Facts are not a new phenomenon


message 6: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Krazykiwi wrote: "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies"

thanks! moved it up from my long-list to TBR

Philip wrote: "Try Andrew Marr's A History of the World which also has a BBC TV series.

Most western history books ignore much of Asia especially the Indian sub-continent, i.e. like maps they ar..."


thx! added to my long-list.


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