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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I loved the Radio programme when it was first aired, although I didn't hear every episode. I am sure like a lot of people I would delay leaving the car, just to listen to the daily edition.
The podcasts are still available, together with images of the objects themselves on the BBC website. Hopefully they will remain accessible for a very long time.
So why do I need this book? Firstly, I certainly find it easier to take in detail by reading, rather than just hearing. The original Radio shows painted a general impression of the objects, the book gives you a chance to read about them or study them in a far more leisured way, and gives small pictures of each object by each written exploration. I often listened to the radio shows and wished I could see a picture.
This leads on to the second reason for the book, despite having easy access to the internet (even on my phone). It is not always there, maybe I'm out of coverage or on holiday. So it is not always easy to see the images from the internet. Neither do I always have access to podcasts or the radio.
Thirdly it is so much easier to share, which leads on to my last reason, serendipity. Today my teenage daughter just picked up the book, dipped in and found something of interest, she probably wouldn't have bothered to go to the website, but books are so easy just to dip into.
I would highly recommend this as a book to dip into, and find out something new. To leave lying around for others to encounter; and most crucially for us all to learn about the richness of human history from all around the world, recorded in our objects.
The only thing to do next is maybe visit the British Museum to see the objects themselves.
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VINE VOICEon 26 September 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Neil McGregor's original radio series (from which this book derives) must have been a tough pitch: a 100-part documentary series about *objects* that the audience won't be able to see. Doesn't sound that promising! And yet it was a fantastic achievement. But it was crying out for a book. Of course, hardback was the obvious medium for such a treasure trove - but having it in paperback now makes it much more useful for any wanting to make good use of the British Museum itself (for the initial parameter of the concept was that everything had to be in the archives or on display).

Inevitably, the quality of the b/w images for each item is not going to be as high as in the hardback version - but there are still a number of colour plates which do their job well. For better quality images, it is worth checking out the BBC/BritishMuseum website for images and the original programmes (with their great music by Steven Faux).

But the greatest value in having this book is Neil McGregor's prose. It is informative, witty and full of insight. It is a perfect book to dip into in idle moments, or to work systematically through. But however it is read, it is nothing less than a pure joy and delight.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 24 October 2010
If I had to choose only one medium in which to explore these 100 objects then I'd choose the radio series over this book - all 100 podcasts are still available for free at the time of writing - this may not last. They are superb! Of course we are now in the fortunate position of having access to those and this beautifully produced book as well and it certainly compliments the series. Some criticisms have been raised that the book has pictures of the 100 objects, on the basis that radio listeners preferred to imagine what they look like, but as they have always been available on the BBC website if you cared to look, I think this is a positive addition and they definitely add to the overall experience of this book.

There is no doubt that this is going to be a succesful book and any popularity granted to such an erudite work is to be welcomed but I have to say that some of the writing appears a bit dry and, well the only word I can think of is, worthy. Without the narration of the various experts on the radio series I think the life goes out of some of these stories.

That is a minor quibble though and will prove a matter of taste but otherwise this is still a fine book and destined to become a "classic", especially if the BBC have their way. If you only had one history book to choose this Christmas, I'd go for Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey but why not splash out and get this one as well, especially at the bargain Amazon price.
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Let me shout it as loudly as I can "I LOVE RADIO 4". Apologies for this show of blatant and raw emotion but it is the one Radio channel which makes life more bearable, it challenges, it provokes and gets as near to that much sought after but rarely achieved quality "the heart of the matter" as is humanly possible (the probing questions of presenters on the Today programme makes me think that democracy still has a fighting chance). The channel also carries brilliant series of which "A History of the World in 100 Objects" by Neil MacGregor is a prime example, even the trailers leading up to its broadcast in January this year were great. What a pleasure therefore to have copy in the written word of this weighty book (738 pages) to accompany the series and to revisit the passion and authority of Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum and cultivator of fabulous facts.

The whole premise underpinning this epic journey was predicated on a wicked idea conceived by Mark Damazer, then head of Radio 4 to challenge our hugely knowledgeable bods at the British Museum to undertake a somewhat mischievous and loaded exercise. Indeed on the surface any attempt to tell a rather large tale like the history of the world over a modest 2 million years in this manner seems like a piece of First Class honours inspired lunacy. "Baby and bathwater" is the phrase that comes to mind and even if the radio series and the following book were outright bilge you would at least have to give Neil MacGregor three stars for accepting the challenge and embracing with gusto the humongous concept. Yet he succeeds triumphantly and as the BBC blurb states he sets out in copious detail the sheer importance of "A chipped stone that was one of the first things ever made by human hands; a clay tablet telling the story of the great flood centuries before the Bible; a broken hunter's spear dropped by one of the earliest settlers in America; a hoard of gold abandoned in the Wars of the Roses ... every object tells a story" The use of this quote shows just how bloody difficult it is to summarize the sheer diversity of the subject matter and scale of the challenge that the author faced. I frankly remain in awe of his herculean task not least of all for his chapter on the English pepper pot dating from 350 BC which should be required reading for every child of school age. Most of all he understands the true value of encyclopaedic knowledge, in short the ability to illuminate through a fine selection of the facts while at the same time employing the skills of the story teller and then re-connecting his narratives with the present.

Certainly it is true that the hugely hyped and momentous unveiling of THE one object that defines the modern age was somewhat of a disappointment (I will not spoil it - read the book). That said you suspect that MacGregor probably faced the same horrific challenge as Douglas Adams encountered in "The Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy" coming up with something simple but clever enough to answer the Ultimate Question. Anyway give him a break since he was probably in need of a rest by this time.

To his eternal credit it is understood that as a result of the radio series and now this book, citizens of our curious nation have been flocking to Bloomsbury to seek out the hereto unknown treasures/pleasures of the British Museum and examine for themselves the Mexican ceremonial ballgame belt (AD100-500) and yes the good old pepperpot. Satisfying the other key factor of the whole exercise is that some of more obvious choices that he could have gone for are ignored at the expense of the more quirky but equally illustrative. This then is a wonderful book, full of lavish illustrations and crystal clear maps. And yes I know that times are hard and deep cuts stalk the land but "A History of the World in 100 Objects" by Neil MacGregor is a fairly priced volume full of unparalleled treasure and should be included on all lists heading up the chimney to Santa in the next few months.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 October 2011
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A history of the world in 100 objects was originally a long running series on radio 4. Each week looked at a section of historical objects from a simialr era and juxtaposed their importance at the time with their relavance today. Each object has a 15 minute slot on its given day. All th objects were chosen by Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, and we get an expert to help us understand the importance of the object in both its historical and continuing context.

Part of the joy of this is that as it was broadcast on radio you cannot see the object, so you have to imagine it(you do get a small booklet with tiny photographs, and a CDRom with larger copies to view on your computer). The voices are all very easy to listen to and although it is fairly intelectual, it is never patronising to the listener. It starts off 1.8 million years ago with the first tools made by man and follows history yp until the modern day. As all the objects are from the British Museum there is a fine array of artifacts, some familiar and some obscure.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, I have knocked a start off though as when istening to more than one episode the incidental music does grate somewhat.
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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2011
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
You may very well have listened to some of the fascinating programmes in Radio 4's recent series 'A History of the World in 100 objects'. It is amazing how objects are used to reveal weird and wonderful things about the history of humankind, without the listener ever actually seeing them at all.

The Director the the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates all the episodes, and gets some well know figures from all walks of life to share this illuminating journey with him.

I think that the great thing about having the episodes in audio book form, comprising of a mighty 25 separate discs, is that most people will just have dipped in and out of the radio broadcasts as there were just so many of them. This way the discs are organised into themes, which follow a distinct pattern and which are just brilliant. It is great listening for long car journeys. And amazing how so many interesting facts about our heritage and history across the world can be put across in such a fresh way, by using a lot of dusty objects from the British Museum.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'A History of the World in a 100 Objects' was one of the best radio series of the last few years and this book is a worthy reminder of its delights. The presence of pictures of the objects is, of course, a bonus, though not all of these are particularly helpful in fully appreciating them. The text is similar, though not identical to the programmes: we don't get the voices and the full text of the experts who contribute to MacGregor's words, nor do we get his voice, full of the enthusiastic affirmation of the significance and cultural resonances of the items chosen. In fact, there are moments of dullness in the text which are completely absent when listened to. This, for me, is the great disadvantage of the book as compared to the broadcasts: as the latter are, thankfully, permanently available on BBC iplayer, while it's great to have the book, I would have no second thoughts about choosing them above the printed word.
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on 30 June 2011
Format: Audio CDVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The majority of the reviews here are for the hardback book that accompanied the series so it is worth commenting on what you get with the CD product.

The hundred objects were presented, one a day, over a twenty week period on BBC Radio 4 during 2010. This CD set is an exact collection of those radio programmes, with each CD being a little over an hour. The twenty CDs and the booklet follow that format to enable easy selection and access. Each CD covers five objects and also has a high quality picture of the object in PDF format so that a full screen image of the object can be viewed while listening to the audio tracks on a PC. If listening on a standard CD player, there are thumbnail size images of each object in the booklet, which also has a few short paragraphs on each page to briefly describe the period covered.

If I had a quibble, it would be that PDF seems an unusual image format as the user will need Adobe Reader, or similar, to view the images on the CDs. I had hoped to view the images on a TV but the DVD player, while able to play the audio files, expected images to be in JPG format, which is a reasonable requirement. Also, for some unfathomable reason, each CD has fifteen tracks rather than five, with each object split into three separate tracks.

However, the package does exactly what it says on the tin and is a convenient collection of the 100 objects. The booklet is nicely set out and the images are of high quality. I therefore don't have any hesitation in giving five stars.
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on 3 March 2014
An intelligent, interesting book. The kindle edition includes great colour photos (better than the paperback version),

Unfortunately, although links from the Table of Contents and within the book work well, the kindle edition does not include an index (unlike the paper back). I'd have though this is essential for a document like this. Would give it 5 stars otherwise.
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2011
I listened to the programmes and was desperate to see the objects talked about, and I learned so very much about world history from this truly global history of human kind in 100 objects stretching right back to the very first human use of stone tools right up to the present day. I enjoyed its non euro centric focus and I liked the pictures, they are of lovely quality and if you wanted to see more you could make the pilgrimage to the British Museum. Although by definition idiosyncratic MacGregor's selections opened my eyes.
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