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This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity Paperback – June 21, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1933782041 ISBN-10: 1933782048 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Berkshire Publishing Group; 1st edition (June 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933782048
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933782041
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Zimagain on March 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an elder student who has returned to learning for the pure fun of it, I recently enjoyed a lecture on "Big History" and wanted more. This is a guide on the subject for teachers of smart high-school kids; I enjoyed it because of the lucid presentation of big ideas and stimulating questions that came through to me from almost every page. High-school kids or old guys - many of us still wonder about our place in a moving world. I can't wait to talk it over with my brainy grand children.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lewis on April 10, 2009
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This is the shortest World Civ book I've ever read. That's both a good and bad thing! In trying to keep it short, Christianson leaves out a bit too much (the Vietnam War - entirely - for instance). However, if you're looking for a quick history of the world from the era of the dinosaurs to the present - this is it. The narrative is light so it doesn't take long to read. There are some time lines, pictures, and charts to help understand material & ideas. I would definitely recommend this book for World Civ teachers. This isn't a "must read" but it comes in handy.

LewisHenry
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dowd on January 6, 2011
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I simply cannot recommend this book too highly. The lack of an evidentially informed "big picture" that helps students see who they are, where they are (in space and time), and where all scientific disciplines (and religions) fit, is one of the greatest needs of our time. This little volume is exactly what's needed! IMHO, it should be required reading for all high school students in America and beyond. If it were, within a generation we'd see amazing results.

Bill Gates apparently agrees. Put "Big History Bill Gates" in google to see what I mean. To hear the author, David Christian, talk about how he's begun working with Gates along even more exciting lines than this, put "David Christian Inspiring Naturalism" in google and listen to my wife's and my interview of him.

~ Michael Dowd
Author of "Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World"
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Hundreds of thousands of years can be summed up quite compactly. "This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity" is a book of history attempting to cover the broad scope of history ranging from the evolution of the homo sapiens, to what has become of mankind in today's modern world. Author David Christian makes history fun, making "This Fleeting World" a good read from beginning to end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MMD on June 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
I needed this book. Perhaps you may need it as well. It describes the history of the universe and planet earth in < 100 pages. Obviously the level of abstraction is very high, but I found the periodization scheme sensible and useful. The section on the big bang and the early history of the universe I had to read three times. Fascinating overview of not just human history and earth history but universal history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katie mulberry on September 17, 2013
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It was a very well written book that covered the history of the world in only a little over a hundred pages. I enjoyed reading this book
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well thought out. A novel way of interpreting the History of Humans. Recommended to all those who wonder " How did we get to where we are ? "
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By JimT on May 7, 2014
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Finally a complete overview to humanity history. All my other books cover only short segments, making it hard to understand the whole.
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