cover image Timelines of World History

Timelines of World History

John B. Teeple. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $40 (666pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-8926-5

Depth is ruthlessly sacrificed to breadth in this atlas of world history. The material is arranged in separate timelines-for Asia, Africa, Europe and ""Americas and Australasia""-running vertically down facing pages, with supplementary maps and short sidebar essays. The format is meant to give these regions equal representation and facilitate comparative history by correlating at a glance contemporaneous events across the globe. Unfortunately, while some developments-such as the early spread of agriculture, technology and cities-are occasionally illuminated by this approach, it is almost always historically incoherent. The division of timelines by continent is particularly thoughtless. Events in the Roman Empire are confusingly split up between Asian, African and European timelines, while the Asia timeline jumbles together the journeys of St. Paul with news from Han China. The ""Americas and Australasia"" timeline stays blank for pages on end as empires rise and fall elsewhere, taking up space better used to flesh out other too-terse entries; its spurious continuity implies that the United States is more an outgrowth of Olmec history than European history. While possibly of value for quick reference, the graphical juxtaposition of factoids presented here is no substitute for skillful narrative synthesis. Photos and illustrations throughout.