*Review based on TV screening* To present an overview of world history in an accessible, engaging yet original format is quite a tall order, though in this bold endeavour Marr has succeeded admirably where others may have shrunk from the challenge.
However, this is no mere retelling of history as a series of milestones with which we are all familiar, but a fresh, original and very eye-opening perspective on some of the major events and personalities, including those lesser known, that have shaped our world. The series also reaches quite a climax in the last episode, where, looking back on a history filled with greed and lack of foresight, Marr rightly questions the presumed wisdom of our species, while also looking to the future with some hope.
Marr's inimitable presenting style - personable and relaxed yet authoritative - is almost perfect for these programmes, and as one would perhaps expect, there does seem to be a bias towards the political (definitely with a small 'p') in the telling of this epic story. In this, he is ably assisted by a plethora of very realistic and well-produced historical re-enactments, which make for a fascinating, dramatic and at times quite gripping portrayal.
For me, the only downside is that this series does not always make for comfortable viewing. Although Marr does focus on saints as well as sinners - The Buddha as well as Genghis Khan, Gandhi as well as Hitler - there is no getting away from the fact that the history of humanity is full to overflowing with egotism, arrogance, intolerance, greed, plunder, exploitation, brutality, murder, war and genocide, and in this respect it made me feel quite ashamed to be a member of the human race, especially a white European. (And this is quite apart from the deplorable atrocities that we humans have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate, against the natural world.)
In short, this is a wonderful and very well-produced series, which I would highly recommend.
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