"I first became an avid student of David Christian by watching his course, Big History, on DVD, so I am very happy to see his enlightening presentation of the world's history captured in these essays. I hope it will introduce a wider audience to this gifted scientist and teacher." -- Bill Gates
"Julius Caesar famously summed up the surprises and confusion of ten years of war in Gaul with three Latin words: veni, vidi, vici: 'I came, I saw, I conquered.' Here, David Christian performs a similar feat by summing up the surprises and confusion of 250,000 years of human history in just 92 pages; and improves on Caesar's boast by showing how persistent collective learning expanded human skills, and enlarged our numbers, wealth, and power across the ages. What a quick, convenient, and persuasive way to begin to understand the confusing world in which we find ourselves!" -- William H. McNeill, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Chicago; author of The Rise of the West (National Book Award) and The Human Web
"No one except David Christian could do it. He has a unique talent for mastering data, processing it efficiently, and writing it up lucidly. He can simplify without dumbing down and can be provocative without sliding into outrage. Readers can rely on him for a sensitive, well-informed, well-judged, reflective, and miraculously concise overview." -- Felipe Fernández-Armesto, professor of modern history, University of Notre Dame --Bill Gates, William H. McNeill, Felipe Fernández-Armesto
"History teachers wrestling with the question, 'How do I teach all the stuff that makes up world history?' might find some answers here. Rather than focus on the minutiae of details, Christian suggests teaching from the big picture. He pares all of history down to three periods: the Era of Foragers, the Agrarian Era, and the Modern Era. Critics say he excludes key historical figures, but that seems to be his point. When flying above familiar terrain, he writes, 'From the plane you will not see many details, but you will get a clearer sense of the landscape. Individual objects may be blurred, but you will see the relationship between them more easily.' Indeed, although teachers face the problem of choosing what to cover, they must also help students understand the relationship between critical turning points in world history, something more easily achieved when studying national history. The book is specifically designed to aid teachers in lesson design with these two difficulties in mind. Each of the three chapters includes a time line, topics for further study, and sidebars called 'thought experiments.' Teachers will appreciate this feature, as it takes students past memorizing names and dates and into the realm of making connections. Equally interesting and informative is the preface, written by two professors who teach prospective history teachers, and an introduction by the author. The book can easily be read in one sitting and should prove to be a valuable classroom resource." -- Kim Zach --Voya
"... a good read from beginning to end." --Midwest Book Review: March 2009
About the Author
David Christian is a professor of history at Macquarie University in Sydney. He has taught world history, big history, environmental history, and Russian history. He is a research fellow at Ewha Women's University in Seoul and a Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
, which won the World History Association prize for the best book in world history published in 2004; and in 2008 he recorded forty-eight lectures on big history for the Teaching Company. David Christian has also written World History: The Big Eras: A Compact History of Humankind for Teachers and Students
(with Edmund Burke and Ross Dunn); A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Volume 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire
; Imperial and Soviet Russia: Power, Privilege and the Challenge of Modernity
; Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation
; and (with R.E.F. Smith) Bread and Salt: A Social and Economic History of Food and Drink in Russia.
Dr. Christian earned a D.Phil. in Russian History from Oxford University.