A 15 Minute Trip Around the World via the Internet

A Peruvian Ceremonial Knife believed to date from somewhere between the 9th - 11th centuries. Image from Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/pin/513762269965346663/

A Peruvian Ceremonial Knife believed to date from somewhere between the 9th – 11th centuries. Image from Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/pin/513762269965346663/

Weekly Web Links:

Historical Book Review for the Week:

Titans of History by Simon Sebag Montefiore

 

Titans of History

This collection of biographies covers the essential facts in the lives of over 180 major historical players featuring everyone from royalty and political leaders, to religious figures, to poets, writers, musicians, and revolutionaries.  And, while it is obviously impossible for any one book to cover every significant figure throughout the whole of human history, the author does make what appears to be a conscious effort to cover every continent, every religion, and every political event with as much equality as possible and with a style as open and non-objective as possible.

One of the most interesting parts of reading this comes down to the chronological layout of the book as it is not going through each short life blurb but rather seeing these remarkable people as a collective.  There were a number of overlaps which, while logically they should be expected, were often surprising and really highlighted the varying rates of progress which have occurred throughout human history across the vast expanse of the globe.   In my head when I think about standout figures in history, I often picture them as occurring in a sequential order, one after another and this neat compartmentalization is obviously not how things actually work.  One other aspect of history which was really emphasized while reading through it in this format was just how up and down life must have been for the regular folks.  One ruler enforces a certain law, policy or belief; then their successor reverses it; then the next one reinstates it; then, if you’re lucky, you might have two or three leaders that stick to the concepts established by their predecessors but then the next one following them might come up with something completely new.  It would be very difficult as a common person to keep in favor of the trends.

When I was considering this book I checked it out on amazon and one of the major criticisms I read of it was that, since each entry is only around 4-8 pages, there was no detail, depth, or analysis accompanying the entries and I do have to agree with that.  With some of the better known individuals covered here there might not be much new information provided, however, with this many people discussed I would be very surprised if anyone could read through the whole book and not come across something they didn’t previously know.

 

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