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The past, Peter Watson argues in this magnificent history of sixteen and a half millenia, is a whole series of foreign countries - and explaining the differences between them helps accounts for just about everything we take for granted in the here and now...Impossible, of course, to summarise this massive book in a small review. Sufficient, perhaps, to say that the year's first necessary read is here. -- Christopher Bray WORD MAGAZINE In drawing together evidence from complex strands of archaeology, climatology, genetics and religious symbolism, Watson is compulsively speculative. -- Peter Forbes THE INDEPENDENT Synthesizers like Watson play a valuable role in disseminating and linking up specialist research findings -- Peter Coates TLS 20120608 An ingenious work about the course of human history...The author seems to know everything about his subject and to hold an opinion on every issue, which he enthusiastically passes on...fascinating KIRKUS REVIEWS --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Exploring the development of humankindbetween the Old World and the New—from15,000 BC to AD 1500—the acclaimed authorof Ideas and The German Genius offers agroundbreaking new understandingof human history.
Why did Asia and Europe develop far earlierthan the Americas? What were thefactors that accelerated—or impeded—development? How did the experiences of OldWorld inhabitants differ from their New Worldcounterparts—and what factors influenced thosedifferences?
In this fascinating and erudite history, PeterWatson ponders these questions central to thehuman story. By 15,000 BC, humans had migratedfrom northeastern Asia across the frozen Beringland bridge to the Americas. When the worldwarmed up and the last Ice Age came to an end,the Bering Strait refilled with water, dividingAmerica from Eurasia. This division—with twogreat populations on Earth, each unaware of theother—continued until Christopher Columbusvoyaged to the New World in the fifteenth century.
The Great Divide compares the developmentof humankind in the Old World and the Newbetween 15,000 BC and AD 1500. Watson identifiesthree major differences between the twoworlds—climate, domesticable mammals, andhallucinogenic plants—that combined to producevery different trajectories of civilization in thetwo hemispheres. Combining the most up-to-dateknowledge in archaeology, anthropology, geology,meteorology, cosmology, and mythology, thisunprecedented, masterful study offers uniquelyrevealing insight into what it means to be human.See all Editorial Reviews
I enjoy non-fiction and after reading the back of the cover I thought, "Hmm, this could be interesting. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Miss Goosey
Peter Watson has attempted a grand scale explanation of the differences in Old and New World culture, but presents too much unproven or speculative "evidence" for my... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Carol Koller
He doesn't even cite Jared Diamond, or "Guns Germs and Steel" which almost insane since many of these ideas we more clearly expressed in that work.Published 18 months ago by Dixon Berry
Peter Watson has done an astonishing amount of research for this book, and paints impressively broad canvases, presenting findings that are fascinating, stimulating, and important. Read morePublished 19 months ago by David Hancocks
I don't rate it as a five-star book because of its slow, highly technical readability. It is very well, but tediously written. It is not a quick read by any means. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Mark Fritch
At its best, this is a fascinating book that summarizes much recent scholarship about the divisions between the Old World and the New. Read morePublished on August 23, 2013 by Marty McFly