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A History of the World Audio Download – Unabridged

4.5 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 26 hours and 34 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 1 Oct. 2012
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009T9UOY0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Magnificent!

Andrew Marr A History of the World

It is, as Andrew Marr is the first to insist, a ludicrous undertaking. Professional and amateur historians will carp endlessly over this detail, that generalisation, this conclusion and the whole tenor and methodology of the book. And they will be right. But Marr's achievement remains impressive. Forget the National Curriculum, were every teenager in Britain to read A History of the World, we'd all be living in a more enlightened place. There would certainly be a surge in the numbers opting to read History at university. And standards of written English would markedly improve.

How strong is your grasp of the history of the last twenty thousand years? If it is shaky, you could do much worse than spend a month, or several, reading and re-reading this brave attempt to bring some clarity and coherence to everything that's happened to the human race. Of course Marr has his ideological blinkers: he's a human being. His fiercest critic will have his own set of prejudices and blindspots. Any attempt to sketch the larger picture will sacrifice accuracy and balance for a sharp outline, a direction of travel.

Marr believes, all things considered, that liberal capitalism is a triumph over the dark forces, that the world is moving towards the light. He does not paint an uncritical picture of the process but, especially when it comes to the last century, the territory is so complex that in order to say anything, he is forced to simplify at the cost of plausibility and, frankly, intellectual honesty.
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By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a very readable, enjoyable and informative single volume history of the World. Inevitably in a single volume history there is much that is passed over quickly, but there is plenty here to stimulate further reading and intellectual curiosity.

I bought this having thoroughly enjoyed the TV series by the same author, and found that this book adds depth to the excellent series, and acts a really useful reminder about what was happening around the world at various times and ages, before concluding with a generally optimistic and upbeat assessment of the future for humanity.

History for the general reader at its best - and very enjoyable to read too
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As Marr himself admits, no book, no matter whether it's titled A History of the World or not, can ever succeed in comprehensively covering the entirety of history. So, as he explains in his introduction, he has chosen to focus on "big man" history: well-known individuals who are often, though not always, rulers. This seems on the face of it a rather traditionalist approach to history, a throwback to decades past where historians only seemed to talk about kings and queens. That kind of history has fallen out of favour in the past 30 years, replaced by an interest in social history, gender history, world theory, and phenomenology; the heretofore "untold" stories. So why is Marr writing about powerful individuals? Marr explains that, like it or not, a small number of people throughout history had greater agency than others, the ability to act to change the circumstances around them. He sees these individuals as important because they drove the great changes of history, and although much of the human past is marked by consistency and continuation, it is the changes that have made the biggest difference in our social evolution.

Marr divides human history into defined eras and then selectively talks about a handful of key "change-makers" in each era. Naturally this type of history leaves out a lot, but the examples Marr chooses are, he feels, demonstrative of the most important changes of their era. By picking out key figures and identifying patterns that emerge in history, Marr is able to bring together the whole and explain the significance of the patterns he draws out. It's left to the reader to decide whether the conclusions Marr draws are insightful or nonsensical.

In my opinion, some of what Marr presents to us in this book is a little dubious.
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Format: Hardcover
Two years ago, I read 'a history of the world in 100 objects'. I felt a huge leap in my concept of human history. At school, I learnt English history, with a little bit of Scottish history thrown in (I am Scottish). That book helped me to understand how much more there is, and whetted my appetite to learn more. Andrew Marr's book I found expanded my horizons equally, especially its attention to what for me were "new" historic civilizations, and the concept of comparative developments around the world. The book is necessarily brief on all of the specific civilizations it touches on, but is both complete in itself and provides an excellent starting point for those who want to learn more about areas covered in the book. My primary school age children loved the BBC series.
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Format: Paperback
This is the book of an eight one hour BBC series written and presented by a senior political journalist. He is a not a historian and, quite frankly, it shows. Mr Marr has presented other mini-series dealing with more recent British history which I have enjoyed but I believe that in this work he has over-reached himself.
In covering such a vast subject I would hope the presenter would cover the important topics e.g. the birth of agriculture, the Industrial Revolution, the main religions, the advances in science and technology, exploration, political thought, etc. rather than the story of this or that king or queen. At the same time a geographical and civilizational balance should be struck.
Mr Marr manages to achieve some of this but he could have done a lot better. A lot of his narrative is taken up with the stories of good and bad men and (a few) women whereas I prefer a history with more technical detail.
The writing style is clear and easy to read if occasional marred by an error that a fact-checker could have eliminated (e.g. on pg.135 we're told that after Cannae Hannibal was urged to march south - that should read north. On page 199 we're told that Chaucer celebrated the astrolabe in print. It's a wonder he didn't celebrate the time machine he must have had to bring him forward to the invention of the printing press!).
As this book has received a lot of two-sentence, five-star reviews, I'll concentrate on two major negative criticisms.

In its coverage of the history of Islam I have come to expect the BBC to use kid gloves while accentuating the positive and this book and the series are no exceptions.
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