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

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2003 - History - 350 pages
6 Reviews
Why did the first civilizations emerge when and where they did? How did Islam become a unifying force in the world of its birth? What enabled the West to project its goods and power around the world from the fifteenth century on? Why was agriculture invented seven times and the steam engine just once?World-historical questions such as these, the subjects of major works by Jared Diamond, David Landes, and others, are now of great moment as global frictions increase. In a spirited and original contribution to this quickening discussion, two renowned historians, father and son, explore the webs that have drawn humans together in patterns of interaction and exchange, cooperation and competition, since earliest times. Whether small or large, loose or dense, these webs have provided the medium for the movement of ideas, goods, power, and money within and across cultures, societies, and nations. From the thin, localized webs that characterized agricultural communities twelve thousand years ago, through the denser, more interactive metropolitan webs that surrounded ancient Sumer, Athens, and Timbuktu, to the electrified global web that today envelops virtually the entire world in a maelstrom of cooperation and competition, J. R. McNeill and William H. McNeill show human webs to be a key component of world history and a revealing framework of analysis. Avoiding any determinism, environmental or cultural, the McNeills give us a synthesizing picture of the big patterns of world history in a rich, open-ended, concise account.
  

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A bit unappealing for a high-school demographic

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Needs more jokes

Contents

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VII
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Page 3 - And yet, looked at in a certain way, their lonely courses formed no detached design at all, but were part of the pattern in the great web of human doings then weaving in both hemispheres, from the White Sea to Cape Horn.
Page 334 - ... slave soldiery."15 14. For the origins of the Ottoman Janissaries and their relation to slavery and servility in Middle Eastern and Muslim thought, see Cemal Kafadar, Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State (Berkeley...
Page 3 - Hardly anything could be more isolated or more selfcontained than the lives of these two walking here in the lonely hour before day, when grey shades, material and mental, are so very grey. And yet...

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About the author (2003)

J. R. McNeill is professor of history at Georgetown University. He is the author of "The Mountains of the Mediterranean World" & other works.

William H. McNeill is Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Chicago and author of, among other books, "The Rise of the West", which won the National Book Award in 1964, and Plagues and Peoples".

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