The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History by John Robert
& William Hardy McNeill (Norton) An original vision of world history that
reveals the larger patterns of human cooperation and conflict from the earliest
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 and the steam engine and the Internet just once?
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.
In a spirited
contribution to the quickening discussion of world-historical questions such as
these, J. R. and William H. McNeill explore the webs that have drawn humans
together in patterns of interaction and exchange, cooperation and competition,
since the beginning. 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.
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