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How the Earth Changed History

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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(Jun 29, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

The traditional interpretation of history has focused largely on human factors. Yet the natural environment has also shaped history since the dawn of time. This series reveals for the first time on television how geology, geography and climate have had a far more powerful influence on mankind than has previously been acknowledged. With passionate storytelling and extraordinary HD camerawork, this series combines bold ideas with a new science, geo-determinism, to form an original version of human history. Discover why societies have succeeded or failed, and how the environment has influenced every aspect of our history from art to industry, religion to war, world domination or collapse. This series overturns preconceptions about our nations and our cultures to offer a new perspective on who we are today.

Special Features

Filming in Extremes: An interview with Iain Stewart

Product Details

  • Actors: Iain Stewart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2010
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003DC8824
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,564 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 25, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
The Earth occupies a unique position in the evolution of humanity serving as both womb and grave. "How the Earth Changed History" tells us more about how the unique planet that we live on influenced our development by focusing on five geologic and geographic aspects of our planet that served to strengthen and move our evolutionary progress along. Narrated by Iain Stewart the narrator of "Earth: The Biography" another excellent documentary by the BBC, the show focuses on "Water", "Earth" and "Wind" on the first disc and "Fire" reserving the last section on humanity's impact on its own "The Human Planet". Each section looks into how water for example and the abundance or lack of it influenced the sprawling civilizations that appeared throughout history and how the changing topography of our world also brought down those civilizations just as readily.

"Deep Earth" focuses on how civilizations were drawn to areas where there were fault lines because of the abundance of minerals that could be found. "Wind" pushed us further on the oceans to new destinations that we might otherwise have never discovered and helped create agricultural diversity as well as influencing the dark behavior of humanity as seen with the creation and expansion of slavery.

"Fire" was the first step into allowing us to master our world by forging new, more advanced weapons among other things. "The Human Planet" looks at everything from the chemical destruction of our environment to corporate agriculture and how it has impacted our world and, in turn, threatening us as the world reacts.

A very good, sharp looking Blu-ray shot in high definition video, "How The Earth Was Changed" looks remarkably clean, sharp and vivid with solid black levels throughout and strong, bold colors.
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Format: DVD
Very interesting series on how the earth's natural phenomena (like wind) have resulted in the rise and fall of human settlements and civilizations. Beautiful scenery, thought provoking linkages, and a different way to understand history. Well worth seeing again and again!
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Format: DVD
Every child should see this in school. Especially children in poor neighborhoods. Every parent should see it. Every person on the planet should be able to see and know about how the planet works. This presentation is well written, well thought out, and well said and illustrated. It's as good as "Planet Earth" series. It covers at least three subjects that should be taught in our schools at the elementary school level. And it does this in an enjoyable format.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Geologist and senior lecturer Iain Stewart does a phenomenal job in explaining clearly to a broad audience how much influence climate, geography, and geology have had on the destiny of humanity. Too often, human beings do not acknowledge how much they owe to Planet Earth.

Stewart successively reviews the impact of deep earth, fire, water, and wind on what humanity has accomplished. Stewart also looks at the comprehensive influence that men and women have had on shaping the environment around them. Teachers can use the two-DVD set under review to help make geography and history appealing to their secondary school students.

In summary, the BBC once more shines in combining a gifted educator, fascinating narrative, outstanding camerawork, and appropriate special effects with each other to explain complex phenomena to a broad audience.
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Format: DVD
"How the Earth Changed History" takes a thoughtful look at how people have exploited earth's natural forces (wind, water, fire) in the course of building human civilization. Topics include early farming, metallurgy, trade winds, steam power, and global warming.

Geologist Ian Stewart is an adventurous presenter, who walks through fire and climbs and dives into a lot of fascinating and little-known places (Mexico's Naica cave, an underwater forest in Oregon) in the course of the series. I thought the program could have gone into more depth about each topic, but on the positive side, I really enjoyed its combination of adventure, photography, earth science, and history.
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Format: DVD
Most natural history programs examine a particular organism or habitat and consider how the elements have shaped their evolution. Series such as Planet Earth or David Attenborough's Life exist to explore how the basic factors of land and weather determine the choreography with which flora and fauna dance endlessly amidst one another in a battle for survival. In Earth: The Biography, geologist Iain Stewart (who exhibits a pure childlike joy in these discussions) laid the groundwork of the elemental forces defining this complex planet - Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. How The Earth Changed History brings this series full circle by reconsidering how these have shaped human history, and how dissonant human tribes struggled with one another for local, and eventually global, supremacy. Ethnocentric accounts of history would have you believe that one's own culture and intelligence were the sole agents of change. It turns out that humans tended to gather in certain areas to maximize their use of natural resources, and luck often played a tremendous part as to which came out on top. The disparate disciplines of geology, geography, history, and anthropology are weaved effortlessly together in what is a dizzying spectacle that regards where we are headed. Documentaries of late tend to focus on our future with either conservative blinders or progressive gloom; this series comes to the conclusion that mankind itself has become a force of nature that has changed the Earth, and such enormous control is reason for optimism.

One is reminded of the approach of Jared Diamond as How The Earth Changed History considers resource management in the rise and fall of civilizations and explains why certain nations are at the top of the game in this uncertain world.
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