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Customer Review

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1000 Pages of Civilisation, 23 May 2013
This review is from: The Penguin History of the World: 6th edition (Kindle Edition)
J M Roberts, now deceased, wrote the original version of this book on his own. It has gone through numerous editions. This sixth edition has been expanded and revised by Arne Westwad a Professor at the LSE, my alma mater.
The book is an old-fashioned narrative covering years of global civilisation, and is none the worse for that. Undergraduates, understandably, prefer this approach to the impenetrable jargon of post-modermism. it has a very old and distinguished pedigree that includes Peter Heylyn.
The book demonstrates in its learning the paucity of knowledge in other world history books like that of Andrew Marr. It also owes something to the brilliance of H G Wells little book of 1920.
Maps adorn the book and there is a superb index that will be welcomed by those using the book for research or reference.
The authors demonstrate how human beings have coped with the various challenges of the past-wars, famines, and so on.
In 1985 Roberts was responsible for a very successful television series entitled:'Triumph of the West'. Of its kind,it has never been bettered.
This is a book to cherish. It is worth every penny.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Feb 2014 12:57:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Feb 2014 12:59:16 GMT
Bearing in mind that there are plenty of acclaimed books that take a more modern approach, comparison between this book and others would be useful. I am reading some of them. (I can't picture what a post-modern history of the world would consist of. I can imagine a 'deconstruction' of J.M. Roberts, but that is just a fancy word for saying why someone was wrong/biased/too ideological, and it would be confined to a preface or introduction.)

I just ordered a cheaper earlier edition of this book. I decided it is probably worthwhile, even if it may contain more of the author's ideology than more modern books, and compared to the more specialist texts I am used to, I may not like the author's tone. (Roberts wrote these books for a popular audience.) But I don't read much history,variety is the spice of life. Still, it didn't encourage me that some of the people recommending J.M. Roberts seem slightly closed-minded or militant (''Undergraduates, understandably, prefer this approach to the impenetrable jargon of post-modermism''). what encourages me are the two 4 star reviews, and a couple 5 star reviews, on the customer reviews of the 1995 edition.

Whatever Marr's merits or faults, he was writing a shorter book + tv series for a popular audience (or 'an even more popular audience') and he is basing it on modern scholarship, so it was less centred on Europe, although he explains, he chose to favour what he calls an (old fashioned) 'great man and great woman approach'. I'm not sure where you imagine that he demonstrates a 'paucity of knowledge'. There are longer modern books available aimed at the common reader.
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