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A History of the World [Kindle Edition]

Andrew Marr
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Our understanding of world history is changing, as new discoveries are made on all the continents and old prejudices are being challenged. In this truly global journey Andrew Marr revisits some of the traditional epic stories, from classical Greece and Rome to the rise of Napoleon, but surrounds them with less familiar material, from Peru to the Ukraine, China to the Caribbean. He looks at cultures that have failed and vanished, as well as the origins of today’s superpowers, and finds surprising echoes and parallels across vast distances and epochs.

This is a book about the great change-makers of history and their times, people such as Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, Galileo and Mao, but it is also a book about us. For ‘the better we understand how rulers lose touch with reality, or why revolutions produce dictators more often than they produce happiness, or why some parts of the world are richer than others, the easier it is to understand our own times.’

Fresh, exciting and vividly readable, this is popular history at its very best.

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"As the book of the BBC films, it is televisual, yet done with journalistic panache." --The Times

"It is a wonderful book. The series is nothing special. But the book is and is startlingly different; here Marr's writing and his control of the material are remarkable. It should be required reading for all students of history, even more so for those who teach it in universities." --Spectator

Book Description

Andrew Marr, author of two best-selling histories of Great Britain now turns his attention to the world as a whole. A New History of the World takes readers from the Mayans to Mongolia, from the kingdom of Benin to the court of the Jagiellonian kings of Poland. Traditional histories of this kind have tended to be Euro-centric, telling mankind's story through tales of Greece and Rome and the crowned heads of Europe's oldest monarchies. Here, Marr widens the lens, concentrating as much, if not more on the Americas, Africa and Asia. Instead of focusing on one episode of history taking place in one place, he draws surprising parallels and makes fascinating connections, focusing on a key incident or episode to tell a larger story: for instance, the liberation of the serfs in Russia, which took place at the same time as the American Civil War, which resulted in the abolition of slavery in the US. But he begins the account with an episode in the life of Tolstoy, who racked up huge gambling debts and had to sell land and slaves as a result. Fresh and exciting, this is popular history at its very best.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7265 KB
  • Print Length: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Unabridged edition (27 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023075595X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230755956
  • ASIN: B00967X88E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,428 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Andrew Marr was born in Glasgow in 1959. He studied English at the University of Cambridge and has since enjoyed a long career in political journalism, working for the Scotsman, the Independent, the Daily Express and the Observer. From 2000 to 2005 he was the BBC's Political Editor. He has written and presented TV documentaries on history, science and politics, and presents the weekly Andrew Marr Show on Sunday mornings on BBC1 and Start the Week on Radio 4. Andrew lives in London with his family.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Five Stars Prove Insufficient 17 Oct. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase

Andrew Marr A History of the World

It is, as Andrew Marr is the first to insist, a ludicrous undertaking. Professional and amateur historians will carp endlessly over this detail, that generalisation, this conclusion and the whole tenor and methodology of the book. And they will be right. But Marr's achievement remains impressive. Forget the National Curriculum, were every teenager in Britain to read A History of the World, we'd all be living in a more enlightened place. There would certainly be a surge in the numbers opting to read History at university. And standards of written English would markedly improve.

How strong is your grasp of the history of the last twenty thousand years? If it is shaky, you could do much worse than spend a month, or several, reading and re-reading this brave attempt to bring some clarity and coherence to everything that's happened to the human race. Of course Marr has his ideological blinkers: he's a human being. His fiercest critic will have his own set of prejudices and blindspots. Any attempt to sketch the larger picture will sacrifice accuracy and balance for a sharp outline, a direction of travel.

Marr believes, all things considered, that liberal capitalism is a triumph over the dark forces, that the world is moving towards the light. He does not paint an uncritical picture of the process but, especially when it comes to the last century, the territory is so complex that in order to say anything, he is forced to simplify at the cost of plausibility and, frankly, intellectual honesty.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable and informative 2 Oct. 2013
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is a very readable, enjoyable and informative single volume history of the World. Inevitably in a single volume history there is much that is passed over quickly, but there is plenty here to stimulate further reading and intellectual curiosity.

I bought this having thoroughly enjoyed the TV series by the same author, and found that this book adds depth to the excellent series, and acts a really useful reminder about what was happening around the world at various times and ages, before concluding with a generally optimistic and upbeat assessment of the future for humanity.

History for the general reader at its best - and very enjoyable to read too
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Idiosyncratic but useful 28 Mar. 2015
This is a rather idiosyncratic but very useful history. If you want something much more comprehensive, try Roberts' Penguin History of the World. Marr's world history does some odd things and you will find some famous brutes like Stalin and Tamerlane only appearing where they have relevance to something else the author is interested in. Alexander, Jesus and Lenin get succinct little snapshots, likewise Caesar, Hitler and Gorbachev. However, it is this selectivity that is the making of this book: Marr is interested in explaining why things happened, cause and effect. So long as you don't mind much coverage of your own particular preoccupation (I note a lot of other critics arguing about Islam), you will be well served by this book. For a particularly remarkable chapter, I would suggest the third, 'The Sword and the Word', particularly the influence of the Jews and the realities of Caesarism.

Throughout the book, Marr keeps an eye on our troubled present. He tries hard to ensure that we do learn some historical lessons which may serve us. While not covering much of the lives of ordinary people, he does at times acknowledge their timeless efforts, especially when considering prehistorical development. While he promotes a 'great man' style of history, he is careful to place them in their context, realising that in another set of circumstances, this and that great person would be unlikely to have emerged. He does not ignore the ebb and flow of determining factors.

Some applause and brickbats. The photographs are excellent and not the usual fare. During his coverage of the Stone Age, he does get rather boring when he discusses artefacts as symbols of the level of civilisation; I got heartily sick of the litany of vases and jewellery. At times, dates and dynasties get confused, especially dealing with Chinese dynasties. At times, the proofreader seems to have fallen asleep. Interesting coverage of Deng Xiaoping.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Change-makers" of history 6 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As Marr himself admits, no book, no matter whether it's titled A History of the World or not, can ever succeed in comprehensively covering the entirety of history. So, as he explains in his introduction, he has chosen to focus on "big man" history: well-known individuals who are often, though not always, rulers. This seems on the face of it a rather traditionalist approach to history, a throwback to decades past where historians only seemed to talk about kings and queens. That kind of history has fallen out of favour in the past 30 years, replaced by an interest in social history, gender history, world theory, and phenomenology; the heretofore "untold" stories. So why is Marr writing about powerful individuals? Marr explains that, like it or not, a small number of people throughout history had greater agency than others, the ability to act to change the circumstances around them. He sees these individuals as important because they drove the great changes of history, and although much of the human past is marked by consistency and continuation, it is the changes that have made the biggest difference in our social evolution.

Marr divides human history into defined eras and then selectively talks about a handful of key "change-makers" in each era. Naturally this type of history leaves out a lot, but the examples Marr chooses are, he feels, demonstrative of the most important changes of their era. By picking out key figures and identifying patterns that emerge in history, Marr is able to bring together the whole and explain the significance of the patterns he draws out. It's left to the reader to decide whether the conclusions Marr draws are insightful or nonsensical.

In my opinion, some of what Marr presents to us in this book is a little dubious.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, well written and easily read
An excellent book, well written and easily read. I like the style of writing, the easily understood information and the amount of work Mr.Marr has put into this book. Superb
Published 14 days ago by Terry Brophy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent product, good quality!
Published 24 days ago by Sarah Tshikuna Mbuyi
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book. Very well written
A fantastic book. Very well written. Not a dull history tome. Revealing insights. Comprehensive. A book that was hard to put down but I had to put it down because it runs to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bob Emmerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book
Published 2 months ago by lil barker
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ
Excellent book. Learnt more in one book than a thousand history lessons. Obvious that men can't stay in their own country but have to conquer everything around them.
Published 2 months ago by MRS H A KERR
4.0 out of 5 stars This book gave me a much greater understanding of the ...
This book gave me a much greater understanding of the social and political influences which, from the beginnings of the human race, have shaped the world we know now. Read more
Published 3 months ago by G. D. H. DAVIES
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious in it's scope, comprehensive in it's coverage. Remarkable...
A remarkable undertaking, ambitious in it's scope and comprehensive in its coverage. From the dawn of man, through the rise of civilisation, Ancient Babylon and Ur through the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jason Hanrahan
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a dusty world history book
I wish I had this available in history class instead of a dusty world history book! Education tools available today is fab!
Published 3 months ago by Rick L
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Everything fine.
Published 4 months ago by Steve Conway
3.0 out of 5 stars Love the author
Love the author, finding the book a little hard going, not as easy to read as thought, hope it will improve.
Published 4 months ago by molly wakeford
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