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This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity (This World of Ours) 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933782041
ISBN-10: 1933782048
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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

"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 world history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and co-founder, with Bill Gates, of the Big History Project. In 1989, Christian began teaching the first course on big history, an interdisciplinary field that examines history starting with the Big Bang, and his work came to the attention of Bill Gates through a video course produced by The Teaching Company. In 2014, Gates and Christian were the subjects of the cover story of the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, which won the World History Association book prize (2004), and is writing a history of Central Asia. He is also the author of 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. He has spoken about big history at the TED Conference, the World Economic Forum, and on the Comedy Central program The Colbert Report.
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Product Details

  • Series: This World of Ours
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Berkshire Publishing Group; 1st edition (June 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933782048
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933782041
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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I had to read this as a summer reading assignment for my AP World History Class. At first I expected it to be as dry and laborious as any other history textbook, but surprisingly it was not. The book was easy to read and presented information in an interesting way. In 100 pages, I definitely got a great basis in World history. Obviously the book doesn't really go in-depth into any one topic and is instead a broad overview. You won't learn about Caesar or Qin Shi Huang, but you will get an understanding of how humans developed both physically and socially to what we are today.
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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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By Rose on September 26, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A concise story about the history of humanity at your fingertips!

This is a well-written and easily read book that does not have a large footprint - it is very thin and lightweight. I bought this book used in great condition for only $4. I would advise people to look for good deals on this book too!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's the history of the world in a nutshell. Especially the first half doesn't go one about how "so and so did this and in 1894 bla bla bla." Books that do all that are just too detailed for my purposes. This book on the other hand does a great job in the first 2 parts of never getting too bogged down. It stay general and focuses on trends, which is great for me since I like writing creative stories set in world similar to our own, but with a few things that made the world develop just a little different along the way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good read for a snapshot of world history. Especially for a world history class. A little to narrow a view toward the end basing a lot on economic theory of history but serves as a good talking point.
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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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Wow.....was all I could say when I read the book and it wasn't in a good way. I usually love books and I love history and I especially love them when they are combined together. HOWEVER this book was incredibly dull for me and I struggled to finish it. I know it has had much positive criticism but I also noticed that this is a book used occasionally in high school. I find it hard to believe that high school students can get through this much dense text. I was completely disappointed and the only reason it got three stars is because while I found this a horrendous read, I can see how others might appreciate it for the sheer amount of facts they throw at you.
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