In this freewheeling, selective, iconoclastic history of the world from the 10th century to the present, Fernandez-Armesto concludes that the West's domination of global affairs was far from inevitable and is likely to abate as economic power and initiatives in technology and ideas shift decisively to Pacific rim nations. Editor of The Times Guide to the Peoples of Europe, the author first chronicles the slow, fitful consolidation of Islamic civilization, imperial China, medieval Europe and the Byzantine empire. The great age of European expansion unfolds here in a world full of aggressive competitors. In place of the traditional picture of a largely passive non-European world in arrested development, Fernandez-Armesto portrays the Turkish, Russian and Mongol empires, the Aztec and Inca civilizations, the empires of Morocco, Mali and Ethiopia as having their places on the world stage. Among his more provocative gestures are his portrayals of Washington and Jefferson as provincial English gentlemen, his downplaying of the Renaissance's intellectual impact and his vision of California's future as ``an Asiatic land, bound to the orient by transpacific links.'' Even so, this vivid tapestry, generously illustrated, is continually engaging and challenging. History Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995 Release date: 10/01/1995 Genre: Nonfiction
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