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Atlas of the Year 1000 Hardcover – December 15, 1999

5 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The title is disingenuously precise. Around the turn of the last millennium, time bore a different complexion; indeed, it was expressed through a variety of calendars. The notion of a millennium would occupy a book in itself (and has: see Stephen Jay Gould's terrific Questioning the Millennium), so rather than box himself in, anthropologist John Man wisely attempts a general appraisal of the late-10th-and-early-11th-century world, and how it hung together.

And it did hang together. Vikings were in Vinland (Canada's Newfoundland today), Basques were roaming the oceans, Polynesians roamed the South Seas, and the Jews were the blood coursing through the new-born community's veins, linking empires with their indomitable trading. Recognizable events included the murder of Malcolm, later to be immortalized in That Scottish Play, the writing of The Tale of Genji, possibly the world's first novel, the Battle of Maldon, and the carving of the Easter Island statues. John Man takes on this developing world methodically, moving across the continents, taking each people in turn and in a couple of pages outlining their status in historical and cultural contexts, past and present. Of course, some are easier to trace than others, with the world dividing into those with a written culture and those without; however, large expanses that were previously a mystery, such as sub-Saharan Africa, are only now starting to turn up illuminative archaeological remains and artifacts. As ever, the past is in the future, and will be for many years to come. There is a lot here to digest. The sweep of this book is refreshingly broad and cosmopolitan--for a more Anglocentric perspective, read Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger's The Year 1000. John Man's brief history of a time is more globally connective, broadsheet rather than tabloid, and while there is inevitably a hint of the textbook about it, liberal use of illustrative maps and photographs breaks up the text at apposite points. In a cluttered field, and at a cluttered time, it delivers an instructive and timely historical bookmark. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk

From Booklist

As we enter the new millennium, with the expected retrospectives, this book provides a fascinating look at the end of the previous millennium. Man, a historian and travel writer, renders an engaging account of the world in the year 1000. He notes the first millennial fears, when much unchartered territory still existed in the world, and cites archaeological and anthropological evidence of more developed societies in Africa and the Americas than had been previously acknowledged: highly developed cities before the introduction of European influences. He explores how factors such as different types of crops and animals caused different speeds of development in the civilization of Europe versus the Americas. Man examines Europe's threat to the more developed societies of Islamic nations and simmering conflicts throughout Europe that despite the religious veneer were more about power. The book is beautifully illustrated with maps and photographs of artifacts and includes arresting sidebars on politics, religion, literature, and economics that influenced events of the last millennium. Vanessa Bush

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (December 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674541871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674541870
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,546,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


I usually write non-fiction, mainly exploring interests in Asia and the history of written communication. So 'The Lion's Share', available only on Kindle, is something different - a new edition of a thriller written some 25 years ago when I wasn't sure what I wanted to focus on. It's about the 'real' - in quotes, i.e. fictional - fate of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia.

Most of the time, I like to mix history, narrative and personal experience, exploring the places I write about. It brings things to life, and it's a reaction against an enclosed, secure, rural childhood in Kent. I did German and French at Oxford, and two postgraduate courses, History and Philosophy of Science at Oxford and Mongolian at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (to join an expedition that never happened).

After working in journalism and publishing, I turned to writing, with occasional forays into film, TV and radio. A planned trilogy on three major revolutions in writing has resulted in two books, 'Alpha Beta' (on the alphabet) and 'The Gutenberg Revolution', both republished in 2009. The third, on the origin of writing, is on hold, because it depends on researching in Iraq. (On the fourth revolution, the Internet, many others can write far better than me).

My interest in Mongolia revived in 1996 when I spent a couple of months in the Gobi. 'Gobi: Tracking the Desert' was the first book on the region since the 1920's (those by the American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews). In Mongolia, everything leads back to Genghis. I followed. The result was 'Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection', now appearing in 20 languages. Luckily, there's more to Mongol studies than Genghis. 'Attila the Hun' and 'Kublai Khan' came next.

Another main theme in Asian history is the ancient and modern relationship between Mongolia and China. 'The Terracotta Army', published to in 2007, was followed by 'The Great Wall', which took me from Xinjiang to the Pacific. 'The Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan' (combining history, character analysis and modern leadership theory) and 'Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe's Discovery of the East' pretty much exhausted Inner Asian themes for me.

So recently I have become interested in Japan. For 'Samurai: The Last Warrior', I followed in the footsteps of Saigo Takamori, the real 'Last Samurai', published in February 2011. After that, more fiction, perhaps.

I live in north London, inspired by a strong and beautiful family - wife, children and grand-children.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No book I've seen so perfectly portrays what a thousand years of human history means. It's an intriguing idea to scan, but then the sheer quality of the material John Man has found forces you to examine the work in detail after amazing detail---Chinese junks with 6 masts that could carry 500 people!
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Format: Hardcover
John Man's Atlas Of The Year 1000 provides a fine choice for the Year 2000 reader: a survey of the inventions which took place around the world at the turn of the last century. Chapters pair sidebars of information and color maps with illustrations and lively descriptions of explorations and events which affected and changed the world of the times.
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By Clarence on November 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Really shows what a difference 1,000 years can make. The most remarkable fact this atlas brings out is the border of Eastern Germany and the Slavs is almost exactly as today's border with Poland. Can this be a coincidence or were the allied powers after WWII knowingly trying to repeat history by forcibly removing 13 million Germans from lands east of the Oder and Niesse rivers ?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very enjoyable book - I bought it as background for a trip to Norway, and found the text and graphics fascinating and very well produced. I was, however, disappointed to find a missing sentence on the subject I was most interested in (the Vikings). When I spoke to the editorial department at Harvard University Press, they told me that if I wanted to find out how the section ended I would have to write to England, because they didn't know what was in the book they published! Fortunately, the customer service department rescued me from the trolls in "editorial," but I wasn't very impressed - what do they think they're selling - soap?
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