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A Short History of the World

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Table of Contents

Part 1 List of Maps vii Part 2 Preface ix Part 3 PART ONE Chapter 4 From Africa 3 Chapter 5 When the seas were rising 16 Chapter 6 The first green revolution 31 Chapter 7 The dome of night 45 Chapter 8 Cities of the valleys 53 Chapter 9 Amazing sea 68 Chapter 10 Lord of the Yellow, King of the Ganges 85 Chapter 11 The rise of Rome 101 Chapter 12 Israel and the anointed one 114 Chapter 13 After Christ 124 Chapter 14 The sign of the crescent 140 Chapter 15 The wild geese cross the mountains 150 Chapter 16 Towards Polynesia 159 Part 17 PART TWO Chapter 18 Signpost 173 Chapter 19 The Mongols 175 Chapter 20 The perils of climate and disease 186 Chapter 21 New messengers 196 Chapter 22 Birdcage 205 Chapter 23 The Inca and the Andes 219 Chapter 24 Reformation 231 Chapter 25 Voyage to India 248 Chapter 26 The New World bears gifts 257 Chapter 27 The glass eye of science 269 Chapter 28 Dethroning the harvest 281 Part 29 PART THREE Chapter 30 The fall of a pack of cards 299 Chapter 31 Beyond the Sahara 314 Chapter 32 Noble steam 323 Chapter 33 Will all be equal? 340 Chapter 34 A globe unwrapped 356 Chapter 35 The world wars 370 Chapter 36 The bomb and the moon 384 Chapter 37 No fruits, no birds 402 Part 38 Epilogue 415 Part 39 Selected Sources 419 Part 40 Index 439

About the Author

Geoffrey Blainey, one of AustraliaOs most prominent historians, held a chair at Harvard in the early 1980s and taught for many years at the University of Melbourne. He is the recipient of AustraliaOs highest honor, Companion in the Order of Australia. He lives near Melbourne.


Blainey, who published A Shorter History of Australia in 1994, now extends his efforts to the world. Another work about Australia, The Tyranny of Distance (1966), betrays his intellectual approach, namely, organizing his explanations around a single factor in this case, the effect of distance and technology upon society. Blainey discusses the various journeys humans have taken over the last four million years, the cultural contact that has resulted, and the factors that might have delayed or speeded up contact. For example, he explores the role of the Sahara Desert in the interplay among the various cultures surrounding that enormous barrier and shows that groups like the Mongols crossed huge spaces and barriers to influence peoples far from their homeland. Blainey also discusses the distances traveled by Islam, Christianity, and secular capitalism and the manner in which cultures located on different continents were and are influenced by such forces. Readers may complain that Blainey treats Africa only in light of its contact with the West, and that is true, but he does this for all cultures. He does pay more attention to Southeast Asia and Oceania than many historians, doubtless because of his Australian roots. Recommended. Clay Williams, Hunter Coll., CUNY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Informative and interesting, and is accessible to readers at all levels. CHOICE Written for intelligent readers who enjoy a good read. Catholic Library World A master story teller...[the book] grips and entertains...educates and informs...to be savored and possessed, not merely read. -- Roger Kimball A delightful read, gracefully written, and full of odd and interesting pieces of information as well as thoughtful comparisons. -- William L. O'Neill, Professor of History, Rutgers University; author of Coming Apart A unique achievement. Jacques Barzun

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