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

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2003 - History - 350 pages
8 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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I decided to take AP World History this year. This book is required summer reading. On multiple occasions, I have tried to will myself to read it. I am 12 pages in and cannot seem to get any farther. It is not easy to understand and is very dry and bland. No matter how many times I read over a section, the information does not stick. I would rather read an entire textbook than this book. I am debating dropping AP World History because I don't know if I have the ability to read this awful book. If you want to learn the history of the world in an interesting way, stay away from this crappy read. To any teacher reading this, DO NOT assign this book to high school students (or even college students for that matter). Waste of $21.00  

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A bit unappealing for a high-school demographic

Contents

THE HUMAN APPRENTICESHIP
9
SHIFTING TO FOOD PRODUCTION 110003000 YEARS AGO
25
WEBS AND CIVILIZATIONS IN THE OLD WORLD 3500 BCE200 CE
41
The First Civilizations
43
Rise of Bureaucratic Empire
55
Portable Congregational Religions
60
Indian Civilization
62
Chinese Civilization
65
The World the Web Made 15OO18OO
178
Conclusion
211
BREAKING OLD CHAINS TIGHTENING THE NEW WEB 17501914
213
The Progress of the Web
214
Igniting the Population Explosion
221
New Foundations for Politics
223
The Industrial Revolution
230
Impacts of the Industrial Revolution
236

Greek and Roman Civilization
68
Population Environment and Disease
79
Conclusion
81
THE GROWTH OF WEBS IN THE OLD WORLD AND AMERICA 2001OOO CE
82
Expanding and Thickening the Old World Web
94
New Roles for Religion
103
Emergence of an American Web
108
Common Patterns
114
THICKENING WEBS 10001500
116
How China Became the First Market Society
121
The Transformation of Islam 1OOO15OO
127
Christendoms Thickening Web
137
The Old World Webs Pacific Flank
147
Southern and Northern Frontiers of the Old World Web
150
The American Webs
153
SPINNING THE WORLDWIDE WEB 14501800
155
The Worlds Webs as of 145O
156
Fusing and Extending the Worlds Webs 145O18OO
162
Abolition of Slavery and Serfdom
252
Globalization in the Age of Imperialism
258
Ecological Change
264
LockIn
266
STRAINS ON THE WEB THE WORLD SINCE 1890
268
Communications and Ideas
269
The Marriage of Science and Technology
277
Population and Urbanization
279
Energy and Environment
284
War and Depression 191441
288
War and the Long Doom Since 1941
296
Conclusion
317
BIG PICTURES AND LONG PROSPECTS by JR McNeill
319
by William H McNeill
323
FURTHER READINGS
329
INDEX
339
Copyright

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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 the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of History and the College at the University of Chicago. In 2009 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for his work as a teacher, scholar, and author. His many books include "The Pursuit of Power, The Rise of the West, " and "Mythistory and Other Essays", all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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