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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A geogreaphic history of mankind., 9 July 1998
By A Customer
This is a showpiece blending of geography and history. The author takes the reader to different places on earth at various periods in time and shows how the intermingling of cultures influences the future of mankind. We are shown the tribal conditions existing in Britain during the time of the Romans. Once on the isle we see that the geographic proximity of coal and ore will make Britain a leading economic force.
Traveling to Russia, the importance of the location of natural resources is reinforced. Russia's resources are great distances apart and in difficult to reach areas. This requires additional shipping for final refining. Further, in-spite of its size, Russia lacks adequate access to international shipping areas. This shipping disadvantage exists for a country so massive that 25 percent of it accounts for more than half of Europe.
One of the most absorbing chapters deals with the continent of Africa. Here the reader is taken to the height of the central part of the continent which is about 5,000 feet above sea level, and follows the untapped majesty of the Zaire River. We find that the Zaire has a volume of water second only to the Amazon, however its rapids and waterfalls are unique. The river is 2,900 miles long and drops 1,000 feet in its last 250 miles, while the Amazon falls only 20 feet in its last 500 miles.
One question not brought forward by the author is the potential energy which the people of Africa could receive from tapping into the power of the Zaire. Possibly the current ethnic conditions on the continent prohibit using the power of the river for the benefit of the African people. Regardless of its majestic beauty, Africa was a financial drain on the people of Europe. This is one reason why it was colonized after North America and why it remained under European rule for such a short period of time. Also, the inability of Europeans to contend with African diseases hastened their abandonment of the continent. In a similar manner, the Europeans brought ! diseases to the New World which threatened the existence of the native American Indians.
As we set foot with the first Europeans on the eastern shore of North America, we see that the natives have no pack animals and, therefore, are unable to communicate beyond neighboring settlements. They actually have no knowledge of the other inhabitants of this continent. Also, unlike Eurasia, with its continuous east/west settlements of people, the American continents are arranged in a north/south pattern. This means that herding and cultivation innovations are limited in their movement by the climate zones. By taking items from the New World back to Europe and exchanging them with other Eurasian countries, trade will move faster through China and across the Pacific than it will across the length of this rugged continent.
One wonders what the thought were of the American Indians when word spread about the "new people" coming from the water. If one were alive as an Indian at that time, one could only believe that the "world" was being invaded.
The book is filled with extensive factual pieces of information and does detailed analyses of how these facts affect mankind. However, we will leave the rest of the traveling and exciting details for the reader to discover.
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Conquests and Cultures: An International History
Conquests and Cultures: An International History by Thomas Sowell (Paperback - 9 April 1999)
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