I read this book some years ago, at the end of a period of my life when all I'd read was history for three or four years. It's a stunning volume. Mr Ponting probably overdoes his stated thesis (that traditional historical scholarship was/is too Eurocentric), as he is clearly right and doesn't need to labour the point so much. But in terms of the overall sweep, this is a small matter, for this book sets out a narrative of human history that is detailed and compelling. It really is a next-generation history book, several leaps beyond the traditional kings/empires/politics scholarship it grew out of.
Where Mr Ponting is at his best is describing how technological developments drove all other political and social changes since the dawn of agriculture. This has been one of the most influential books of my entire life. Masterful. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Peter BakerThe Jolly Pilgrim