Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Whirlwind Tour of Human History, 4 Sep 2008
This review is from: In Search Of The First Civilizations (Paperback)
When I first brought this book I assumed it would describe the Early Civilisations of Sumer, Egypt, India, and the Americas, perhaps in the same vein as Glyn Daniel's 'The First Civilisations: The Archaeology of their origins'. I was therefore surprised and slightly disappointed to see that this was actually a quick trip through 5,000 years of Human history, from Ancient Sumeria to Saddam Hussein. But whatever disappointment I first had with the book began to disappear as I continued to be drawn in by the author's stirring prose. Michael Wood explains the origins of these early civilisations, and how they developed and grew into the modern societies that exist today. He analyses the history of Iraq, India, China, Egypt, Central America and the 'Barbarian' West in order to capture something of the essence and spirit of these cultures, and how they defined Civilisation. He also shows how the pendulum of history swings, by explaining how the powerful ancient civilisations of Iraq, Egypt, and China were overtaken and surpassed by Western Europe, a process that didn't get fully into swing until the 16th century AD. In order to give you an idea on the breadth of this book, in the last chapter, the Barbarian West, which is around 25 pages long, it explains the history of the West from the Greeks and Romans to the Dark Ages and Medieval period, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Founding of the USA, the Industrial Revolution, right up to the 21st century. As you can imagine, you cannot do justice to 2,500 years worth of continental history in only 25 pages, but Wood does not give you chronological guide to the period, but instead shows how Western Culture, be it arts, music, or science, came to dominate the world. This is not the best book Wood has written, but it's still better than most other History textbooks. Wood is an erudite writer, and he does a brilliant job of explaining and putting these historical periods in perspective. If you want a relatively quick guide through human history and the meaning and essence of Civilisation, then this book is a definite must have. Note: This book has been printed under another title, 'Legacy: Search for the Origins of Civilisation', based on the Michael Wood BBC Television Series of the same name.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Nov 2009 11:53:03 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 11 Nov 2009 11:55:37 GMT]

Posted on 11 Nov 2009 11:54:17 GMT
Thank you for your review, which I enjoyed. I haven't read this book, but have a double video pirate copy of the TV series you mention, which closely follows the format described in your review. I really wish Michael Wood would republish some of his older works like 'In Search of the Dark Ages' and 'Legacy' on DVD; he would earn from the sales and we would be able to enjoy them again.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2010 23:03:49 GMT
He wouldn't earn a great deal from 'pirated' copies would he?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Apr 2013 14:24:37 BDT
If the BBC produced a decent quality DVD series, I'd be more than happy to dump my pirate copy. Unfortunately, I'm actually lucky to have bought to pirate version when I did, as some twenty plus years later the BBC version is still unavailable.
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