on 26 July 2008
A superb work of historical synthesis and social scientific analysis. William McNeill is the founding father of Big History; his son John is his equal, a brilliant historian in his own right. The book provides a encompassing and coherent story of the history of the human species, strengthened by an elegant yet strong theoretical perspective: the dialetics of cooperation and competition constituting the overarching structure of human history, weaving ever greater webs among human beings. This book has only one serious contender: the equally brilliant Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, by David Christian. Read them both!
on 19 November 2006
William H. McNeill is an old-timer in academic history. Together with his next generation he presents a canvas on history as a geographically determined network of people, animals, plants and environment.
Exceptionally fine and very warmly recommended even to non-professionals
on 1 July 2004
Strange how such an interesting ambition - to write a short history of the human universe - can result in a book that is not at all concise. It has disappointingly little fact and a lot of fiction that all seems based on the assumption that current American values are the high point of civilisation.
Culturally and intellectually, Jared Diamond and Marvin Harris ('Our Kind') are on a very different level.