In Search Of The First Civilizations Paperback – 7 Apr 2005
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About the Author
Michael Wood is a highly acclaimed, best-selling author and TV presenter, as well as a regular contributor to BBC History magazine. The BBC have published Michael's previous TV tie-in titles: In Search of the Dark Ages, In Search of the Trojan War, Domesday, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Conquistadors and In Search of Shakespeare. Michael Wood was born in Manchester and was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Oriel College, Oxford, where he went on to do post-graduate research in Anglo-Saxon history. He has worked as a journalist, broadcaster and film-maker with over fifty documentary films to his name, the most recent of which is the acclaimed BBC television series Conquistadors and In Search of Shakespeare. Other recent films by Michael include Legacy and Saddam's Killing Fields, an account of the destruction of the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq.
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Top Customer Reviews
Iraq: The Cradle Of Civilization, explores the fertile crescent of the Sumerians, Babylonians and others, up to modern times and including the golden age of Baghdad. The chapter India: Empire Of Spirit, includes the early cultures of the Indus and the Ganges, plus religions that originated there, like Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. It includes the periods of Islamic and British rule in the subcontinent.
There are illuminating passages on Confucius, Taoism and the contact with the West in the chapter China: Mandate Of Heaven, whilst Egypt: Habit Of Civilization, deals with the early dynastic period, the pyramid era, the spread of Christianity, the end of Paganism and the Islamic era. The achievements of the Aztecs, Maya and Olmecs are explored in Central America: Burden Of Time.
The last chapter is titled The Barbarian West. It contains information on, amongst other, the legacy of Greece, the rise of Rome, the Dark Ages, the Enlightenment and the roots of the Modern West. Plenty of maps throughout the text place the history in geographical context and are a great asset. In addition, there are 16 pages of colour plates with impressive photographs.
The book is for the lay reader as of course, no study of 6 civilizations can go into any great depth in one short book. It nevertheless provides enjoyable reading and much food for thought. The book concludes with a bibliographic essay discussing sources by theme, and an index.
Michael Wood examines the written and archaeological remains of ancient city civilisations in Iraq, India, China, Egypt and Central America to identify the beliefs and essence of these early cultures and looks at how they have changed and evolved over time.
At the heart of this book lies deep questions regarding civilisation and belief; belief in humanity, spirituality, religion, in ancestors, culture, past and future. This is a book to engage the senses, to make you consider the belief systems of today, whether that is religious, environmental or humanist. Using a broad historical perspective Wood gives an overview of immense power, comparing the identities of these past cultures and tracing the threads of the first cultural values through subsequent incarnations up to and including today. Most illuminating and enjoyable were his descriptions of traditions which have survived the passing of time, he is right that these are the things that really make history come to life.
More than anything it opened my eyes to the vast wealth of history and culture in the world. Until recently I admit to have been largely ignorant of the richness of the 5 first civilisations, and we westerners are poorer people for not knowing and recognising the achievements and power of the distant past.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love Michael Woods style - this is a really interesting accessible read. Buy it.Published 5 months ago by zen rockman
a very light weight coverage of some of the greatest civilisations in world history, the book doesn't really tell you anything about the history of how these places came to be, it... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jason
Michael Wood is one of the great communicators whether it in in his documentaries or in his writing. A story teller of the highest order who can make the past spring back to life. Read morePublished on 1 Nov. 2013 by MB
Easy reading with plenty of facts well presented; good bibliography list for further information and research. Read morePublished on 29 Oct. 2013 by Casa das Flores Apartments
As a general overview of ancient civilizations this is an excellent introduction. Easy to read without being too simplistic and certainly leads you onto a more in depth study of... Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2013 by KMcC
This is the book to the original series that Michael Wood did for ITV (not BBC) back in 1992. The series (and the original book) was called `Legacy'. Read morePublished on 31 Dec. 2012 by Nicholas Casley