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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Readable Survey
I've been trying to read a survey of World History for years, but found most of the commonly available titles too dry and slow to get trough. McNeill did an admirable job of combining the history of eastern and western civilizations chronologically, and I can say that it's a great place to start if you're looking for an overview. Of course, it's light on many subjects...
Published on July 21, 2008 by Emile Lemoine

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2 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Waste of Money
Jumps all over the place. Author is condescending to readers. What a waste!
Published on December 10, 2005 by Suzie B.


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Readable Survey, July 21, 2008
By 
Emile Lemoine (Portland, Oregon, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
I've been trying to read a survey of World History for years, but found most of the commonly available titles too dry and slow to get trough. McNeill did an admirable job of combining the history of eastern and western civilizations chronologically, and I can say that it's a great place to start if you're looking for an overview. Of course, it's light on many subjects as is necessary due to its size, and yes it's somewhat dated. However, I don't think you'll find a more readable survey.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, well-written single volume world history., February 11, 2010
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This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
McNeil is an old-fashioned narrative historian whose most famous book is Rise of the West. This book adopts a similar broad approach to world history. It makes an excellent gift for college students and young adult who want to lay a base for historical understanding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PROFESSOR OF HISTORY SUMMARIZES WORLD HISTORY, February 13, 2013
This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
William Hardy McNeill (born 1917) is an American historian who has written other books such as The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community; with a Retrospective Essay, Plagues and Peoples, etc. He wrote in the Preface to the 1979 edition of this book, "The success of my book 'The Rise of the West' made it plausible to believe that a shorter work would make my personal vision of the whole history of mankind more accessible to students and to general readers---a vision which... has the virtue of being cohesive and intelligible, something that can be grasped and remembered and reflected upon afterwards." (Pg. vi)

He states, "it is clear that mankind's achievements by 1700 B.C. were impressive... the pace of social change had assumed a dizzying rapidity... In short, civilized history, in all its complexity, was well launched." (Pg. 46-47) He notes, "The intellectual and religious evolution of ancient Middle Eastern society tended toward ethical and transcendental monotheism. But only the Jews were able consistently to carry the trend to a logical, unambiguous conclusion. Other peoples... could not throw away traditional polytheisms altogether." (Pg. 67)

He argues, "Such analysis of the antecedents of Christianity should not disguise the fact that the events so simply narrated in the Gospels and in Acts generated something new and enormously appealing... Around this tiny kernel of excited missionaries the vast fabric of historical Christianity gradually formed---a process as surprising and world-shaking as the similarly pervasive changes of behavior provoked by Buddha, Confucius, or any of the other great teachers of mankind." (Pg. 163)

He suggests, "Insofar as Asia has any community of cultural tradition uniting the Indian with the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Burmese, Cambodian, and Ceylonese peoples, it is due to the contagion of ancient Indian civilization, especially in its religious manifestation. The achievement of Hellenism was no greater." (Pg. 193) He contends, "The self-transformation and expansion of Islam was the most dramatic and conspicuous shift in world history that took place between A.D. 1000 and 1500." (Pg. 256) Later, he adds, "Islam was in a flourishing condition between 1500 and 1700. Not decay... but vigorous growth is the right phrase with which to describe Islamic society in this period... precisely during those years of success Islam failed to grapple with or even notice vital challenges which Europeans were beginning to present both on the economic and on the intellectual level." (Pg. 347)

Of the scientific outlook in the 17-th-18th centuries, he observes, "It requires... an act of the imagination to understand how extraordinary and exciting such discoveries were... Men who had been brought up to conceive the universe as ruled by a very active, personal God, who might intervene in any situation at any moment to work a miracle... found the Newtonian vision of the universe both frightening and liberating. God, it appeared, was a mathematician and had chosen to create the universe accordingly. In such a universe it seemed almost beneath God's dignity to work a miracle." (Pg. 371)

He concludes, "it is worth pondering that the civilized societies that have flourished and grown great in times past all accepted ethical systems that emphasized kindliness and love. All the major world religions taught such doctrines, and persons who ... tried to live in accordance with the precepts of their faith were probably more likely to leave descendants than those who rejected kindliness as a principle of conduct." (Pg. 540-541)

This is an excellent one-volume world history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful analysis of history, June 3, 2013
This review is from: A World History (Hardcover)
His approach to view history is very unique and deserving of readers' attention.
His writing was a page-turner and his perspective is an an eye-opener for a amateur historian like me who have been thirsty over the right way to interpret history.
Although each reader may have a different view of this book, it would still challenge us with his masterful overview.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book and delivery services., December 27, 2012
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This review is from: A World History (Hardcover)
A lot of corrections have been made to the previous edition. Appreciate such endless effort as we are living in the ever-changing world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thousand of Years in one Book, December 13, 2012
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This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
This book has been in print a long time because it is a gem. For the person that wants to get "The Big Picture" of human history. It touches all the major civilizations, and many that you thought were minor.

I will be honest that I had to trudge through the opening chapter on man's prehistory (the prehuman to hunter gather to agricultural stuff), but that is probably because of my faith in the Bible version of creation. But do not be scared off, this book is a wonderful read for getting a base of human history.

I understand so much better, the how's and why's of current world events and politics because I read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, June 30, 2014
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This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
I received the book well, thank you!
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's a history book..., December 15, 2013
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This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
Good enough info for reference as a history book- BUT I wanted pictures! The used condition look almost new, no highlight markers or brown pgs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap. Good Ref book. follows human orgin- civilations, November 9, 2013
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This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
pretty good book a little "abstract" but was able to use it for world civ 1 & 2. PRICE GOOD. Has few pictures and easy to follow.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad as a starter., September 25, 2006
This review is from: A World History (Paperback)
Organization of the book is good especially on the flow of history. However, many things are not clearly explained and kind of skip over it. For important events too shallow, not much detailed, but did cover lots of stuff so people can later google or wikipedia on the info or read others books. In short a good starter book.
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A World History
A World History by William H. McNeill (Paperback - October 29, 1998)
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