Synopses & Reviews
A sweeping global human history that describes the separate beginnings of the world's major cultural movements — Confucianism, Islam, Judeo-Christianity and Nomadism — and the dramatic, sometimes ruinous, sometimes transformative effects of their ever closer intertwinement that is the defining feature of our world today.
Forty thousand years ago, the human species existed as thousands of small, virtually autonomous bands, roaming a world almost entirely untouched by humans, each band in contact with a few neighbors but unaware of the thousands of others spread across the planet. Today, no life can unfold in isolation from the general flux and flow of human activity. Every habitable inch of the planet is inhabited by humans, there is no place left untouched by our presence, and events anywhere on this planet can have consequences felt by people anywhere else on this planet. The center of the world no longer seems to be this place or that place but the system as a whole.
This journey — from vulnerable small groups to a planet-encompassing hive — is the subject of Tamim Ansary's elegant and gripping history. His object is not just to describe the journey, but to illuminate the many essential human qualities that it preserves — our various gods and laws, our rulers and bankers, our philosophers and outcasts, each of which is a continuous presence in the various global cultures. They are the survivors in the human drama, whereas nation states, corporations, policies and political ideas are all susceptible to violent upheaval and dramatic erasure.
Our current moment, Ansary shows, is one of revolutionary reinvention, as old habits are cast aside and reconfigured by the ever more intertwined world we have created. The whole of human history, after all, has been leading up to it.
"Weaving together multiple complex strands of the human experience into a single compelling storyline, Ansary delivers-in his usual down-to-earth yet erudite style-an engaging global 'narrative of narratives' informed by decades of critical study, reflection, and personal transcultural experience. A deeply enriching, highly relevant read from an important, unique voice of our day." R. Charles Weller, Central Eurasian and Islamic world history, Washington State and Kazakh National University
"Chatty, breezy, and capacious, this global history of humanity by journalist Ansary (Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes) focuses on the power of narrative to shape human behavior and on the interconnectedness of people across the globe." Publishers Weekly
"A masterly effort with an intriguing thesis put forward to explain key factors contributing to human history." Library Journal
About the Author
Tamim Ansary is the author of Destiny Disrupted and Games without Rules, among other books. For ten years he wrote a monthly column for Encarta.com, and has published essays and commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Alternet, TomPaine.com, Edutopia, Parade, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Bill Moyers, PBS The News Hour, Al Jazeera, and NPR. Born in Afghanistan in 1948, he moved to the U.S. in 1964. He lives in San Francisco.