Big Questions in History
Vintage, 2006 - Civilization - 280 pages
What wins wars? Why do empires rise and fall? What makes a great leader? What causes nationalism?How do spiritual movements spread? These are questions in the forefront of our minds today but they meant just as much to people in the past. How did earlier generations tackle them? And how far can historians use the lessons of the past to help to find some answers? Drawing on examples ranging from ancient Greece to Tony Blair's Britain, leading historical thinkers address 20 of the really big questions that have been asked over the centuries about the course of human events. While Richard Evans asks what history is, Ian Kershaw considers how personality affects politics, Lisa Jardine looks at the impact of technology on social change, Felipe Fern ndez-Armesto measures the influence of geography, David A Bell assesses what causes nationalism and Colin Renfrew considers how civilisations develop. Others examine why revolutions happen, how spiritual movements spread, why economies collapse, how intellectual movements start, and what impact our physical bodies and our private lives have on changing history. Each essay is accompanied by commentary by a journalist, discussing the differing views of other leading thinkers, today and in the past. The result is a stimulating ride over continents and across centuries in search of answers that are sometimes surprising, often controversial, and all of great relevance to how we live today.
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American ancient annales school argued Blair body Britain British challenge Christian civilisations classical Colin Renfrew collapse Commentary conflict creative cultural boom decline dominated early economic Edward Gibbon eighteenth century Eliot Cohen elites emphasis end of history Eric Hobsbawm Europe European example forces France Francis Fukuyama French Fukuyama Further reading geography German Gibbon global globalisation Greek Hegel Higher Education Supplement historians Hitler human Ian Kershaw ical ideas impact imperial important individual influence interest Iraq Islam Karl Marx leaders leadership Lisa Jardine lives Marxist ment military modern moral nationalism nationalist nature nomic organisation particular past peace period philosopher political Professor question recent religion religious Renaissance revolution revolutionary role Roman Empire social society spirituality successful Sun Tzu theory thinkers Thucydides tion tory tradition twentieth century University Press warfare wars Western writing