A Brief History of the Human Race

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W. W. Norton & Company, Feb 1, 2005 - History - 385 pages
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Why has human history been crowded into the last few thousand years? Why has it happened at all? Could it have happened in a radically different way? What should we make of the disproportionate role of the West in shaping the world we currently live in? This witty, intelligent hopscotch through human history addresses these questions and more. Michael Cook sifts the human career on earth for the most telling nuggets and then uses them to elucidate the whole. From the calendars of Mesoamerica and the temple courtesans of medieval India to the intricacies of marriage among an aboriginal Australian tribe, Cook explains the sometimes eccentric variety in human cultural expression. He guides us from the prehistoric origins of human history across the globe through the increasing unification of the world, first by Muslims and then by European Christians in the modern period, illuminating the contingencies that have governed broad historical change. 11 maps, 28 illustrations. "A smart, literate survey of human life from paleolithic times until 9/11."--Edward Rothstein, The New York Times
 

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A brief history of the human race

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Cook (Near Eastern studies, Princeton Univ.; Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought) here attempts a daunting task: to survey the human race, with an emphasis on the rise of ... Read full review

Contents

THE PALAEOLITHIC BACKGROUND
3
II GENETICS AND THE ORIGINS OF THE HUMAN RACE
9
III STONE TOOLS
14
THE NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION
19
II THE GENETICS OF DOMESTICATED PLANTS AND ANIMALS
30
III POTTERY
34
THE EMERGENCE OF CIVILIZATION
38
II WRITING
44
III OF GODS AND COURTESANS
171
CHINA
175
II KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THE ANCESTORS
194
WHATS IN A NAME?
200
THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN WORLD
205
II THE BACKGROUND TO ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY
222
III ATTIC BLACK AND REDFIGURE
227
WESTERN EUROPE
234

III KINGSHIP
47
THE SMALLER CONTINENTS
53
AUSTRALIA
55
II GETTING MARRIED AMONG THE ARANDA
63
III FLAKED POINTS AND OTHER NOVELTIES
69
THE AMERICAS
75
II MESOAMERICAN CALENDARS
88
III THE QUIPU
94
AFRICA
99
II THE AGEGROUP SYSTEMS OF EAST AFRICA
112
III SHABTIS AND THE EGYPTIAN WAY OF DEATH
118
THE EURASIAN LANDMASS
123
THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
125
II DOWNSIZING THE PANTHEON
136
III ARCHAISM
142
INDIA
147
II THE NAMBUDIRI BRAHMINS OF KERALA
164
II THE MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN
251
III JUPITERS PARAMOURS
258
TOWARD ONE WORLD?
265
ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION
267
II MUSLIM ETHNOGRAPHY
287
III THE MUSLIM CALENDAR
290
THE EUROPEAN EXPANSION
295
II How SOME NONEUROPEANS RESPONDED
308
III THE SNIFFING HABIT
320
THE MODERN WORLD
325
II THE LOFTY TOWERS
342
III JUPITERS PARAMOURS AGAIN
348
CONCLUSION
354
FURTHER READING
360
CREDITS
368
INDEX
373
Copyright

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Larry Arnhart
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About the author (2005)

Michael Cook, a specialist in Islamic history, is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.

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