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Paperback The New Penguin History of the World: Fifth Edition Book

ISBN: 0141030429

ISBN13: 9780141030425

The New Penguin History of the World: Fifth Edition

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Book Overview

An extremely accessible narrative of the world's history A book of extraordinary ambition, scholarship and accessibility, The New Penguin History of the World covers the history of our planet from our origins on the African savannah to the state of the world six years after September 11, 2001. Tracing the development of different civilizations through the ages, J. M. Roberts examines the periods of turbulence and change, the international shifts in...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A good read for western-orientated history buffs

I feel that two things need to be accepted if this book is going to be appreciated. First: Roberts one-way-or-another justifies the emphasis that he places on Europe (and especially Western Europe) and (later) on America in account of the fact that these areas are largely influential in the world today. In this sense, it is more a history of the modern world - and of events that brought this about - rather than of the world as it may have been at any selected time in history. Given this logic, areas like China, for example, tend to receive attention more proportional to Roberts' assumptions on their place in the world at the time of writing, rather than in respect to how powerful and influential they may once have been (or may soon become). Accordingly, this history starts off more-or-less in the traditional way, with much emphasis being placed on the early Middle Eastern / Mediterranean civilisations (the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, etc). It then progresses comfortably to the rise and fall of Rome (and the Greco-Roman Empire) and then to the tumultuous rise of (especially Western) Europe to world supremacy. As we know, this then passes on to America and (for a while) Russia. All the other main players, such as Japan, China, India, and the Ottoman Empire (to name only a handful) receive their due chapters (often with much emphasis on how they affected or otherwise failed to affect Europe). Then of course such civilisations as those once belonging to the Americas get their coverage partly because we've heard of them, partly because it's important to see how Western civilisations swept them away, and partly (I venture to say) because without the Americas the book would hardly seem geographically balanced. What I am getting at here is that this book might disappoint some people who want for a more balanced perspective on history, but it shouldn't significantly bother anyone who is happy to read the chain of events as outlined above. As I have already touched upon, some justification can be found in the fact that Roberts is really more interested in giving us a history as far as it has shaped today's world. Another thing to bear in mind is that it is merely a one volume book, and as such much of these limitations are quite unavoidable. This is the first thing that a reader must come to accept if he or she is going to enjoy this book (and readers who are looking for a more balanced and thorough account need to appreciate that they will ultimately have to read a great many related books). After all, there is much history to be understood from this book, even if it cannot hope to fit the whole history of the world so neatly into only one volume. Second: The other thing to accept or appreciate is more a matter of the book's register. For example, it may help if the reader already has some general historical knowledge; it is very much a book for people who are already fascinated by history. (There are much more entertaining reads for thos

Great knowledge vast scope -

There is a Jewish saying that ' a very small container ' cannot truly measure a much greater one. This is the way I feel when saying a few words about ' The New History of the World' by J.M.Roberts. It is work which developed from years of study, understanding of a tremendous number of different fields and periods. Much of what is written about here I simply do not have the ' container' to measure. I do know this is a valiant effort. I cannot affirm that it is the base one- volume history of the world as many claim. I do know that it contains a tremendous amount of historical judgment which can challenge the readers to developing understanding of their own on the matter.

Excellent primer

If you're like me and have a apalling lack of historical perspective, then this is the place to start. It's not a boring set of dates and events, Roberts' aim appears to be as much to show why things happened as what things happened. If you read this entire book, twice, then you will have a wonderful base upon which to build out a deep understanding of world history. If you're the type that tends to wait until things comes out on video, though, I recommend forgetting about this book - it's pretty darn hard work.

Great Read, Great Reference

I read this book cover to cover five years ago and have been using it ever since as a reference book. It's a great read if you like an urbane, erudite "Oxford (or is it Cambridge?) don" style, and Roberts is careful about stating grand theories as though they were incontrovertible fact. All in all, a wonderful comprehensive world history. I'm buying a second copy for my 19 year old nephew who is studying history.

hard to improve upon

I read this history of the world with great pleasure and with increasing admiration for mr.Roberts. Don't feel daunted by its size, a book like this makes for excellent piece-meal reading.
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