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

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2003 - History - 350 pages
10 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 am required to buy and read this book for a module in my History Degree.
I have to say that I find the book, personally, very dry and quite boring. There have been chapters that I have, not
enjoyed, but found interesting. There are also parts of the book that I have found useful for revision and essays.
Overall though, I think the book is written in a poor style; Bits of information are thrown into different chapters which can be a little confusion - I haven't used the book for revision that much and have resorted to other books and the internet. The chapters become boring and take a while to get to the main point, resulting in a loss of interets by the time I actually find the information I'm looking for.
For my weekly required reading though, with the lecturer showing which chapters we have to actually read, it's good for my class.
 

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I love to learn about world history but NOT in this manner. The book is extremely boring, and advanced, and dry. The most tedious and boring book i have ever read!

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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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