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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
This "social history" introduction has been given steroids in its most recent iteration: The Western Experience, with Primary Source Investigator and PowerWeb by Mortimer Chambers (McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2006). I have the 1983 Third Edition. The authors lay the foundation for Jared Diamond's GUNS GERMS & STEEL explanation of European dominance as a result of geophysical factors. The TOC fails to mention the cartographic essay by Michael Conzen which begins the book, and which highlights the geographical diffusions in a series of maps. The quality, however, is extremely "iffy". For example, in presenting the paleolithic roots of the Mesopotamian "People took shelter, if possible, in caves." First, there are few caves in the riparian Tigris-Euphrates-Nile regions, and virtually no evidence that people "lived" in them. The authors present many ideas which are speculative; they only partially redeem themselves by admitting "We do not know" -- [25a] In speaking of the leadership of Moses, why did Israel accept one god, "in contrast to everyone else in the ancient world"]. The work is filled with many curiously naive gems. For example, "The discovery of agriculture did not herald the evolution of some 'higher' human species, since hunting often requires greater skill, cunning, and knowledge than growing grain."  "The oldest known communities are Jericho and Jarmo, while the largest known food-producing village of early times is Catal Huyuk" in Turkey. The authors fail to note that the inhabitants of Huyuk were pig-farmers subsisting largely on pork, not just barley. Many of the recitations of fact are simply wrong. For example,  "...the Romans established a distinction that had no parallel in any Greek state. The patricians...the plebeians." Actually, the Greek villages had pronounced class structures, and anthropologists have not yet found a human society without this concept of an aristocracy -- compare, J.Johnson's work among the Chumash, or the materials on ISHI. For some reason, the authors fail to present the significance of Roman Law, passing lightly over it as if it was as obscure as its origins -- the "lost" tablets -- or as simple as a struggle between the two classes .
Review: Western Experience (Vol. 1)User Review - Goodreads
Long, but good test prep for Western Civ I.
The Forming of Greek
Classical and Hellenistic
The Roman Republic
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