The World: A Family History of Humanity

Knopf. May 2023. 1,344p. ISBN 9780525659532. $45. HIST
Nearly one million years ago, a family walked along the shore in what is now a small English village. Their footprints, discovered in 2013, inspired this book, which traces the role of families from ancient to modern times. Award-winning historian Montefiore (The Romanovs) opens with Enheduanna, a Sumerian priestess whose account of a raid on her city makes her history’s first named author. The book depicts the major events of world history, covering both familiar and lesser known but equally consequential figures. Montefiore makes a conscious effort to intentionally include people and events from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Polynesia, and the Middle East. What this audacious project lacks in depth, it more than makes up for in breadth, and it even includes humorous asides and unusual facts. Coverage grows increasingly detailed as the book races towards the modern era; half of the book takes place after 1750. The author connects and illustrates how many contemporary global conflicts descend from disputes and struggles that have been centuries in the making.
VERDICT History buffs and novices will appreciate this extensive, accessible, highly recommended work; it may inspire them to dig into lesser-known areas of global history.
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