As in his previous work, this is also a book of extraordinary ambition, clarity, and style that follows the central notion that human history is the story of change, a deliberate shaping of experience and environment. Among the elements that have made the book uniquely appealing are its powerful vision and voice.
Roberts's book is exceptional in its genuinely global and comprehensive nature, showing the development of different civilizations through the ages, from our origins on the African savannah to A.D. 2002. Like no other book, it succeeds in conveying the staggering diversity of the human experience across a vast range of circumstances and habitats.
If there is one book anyone truly interested in history should hear, this is it.
©2002 J.M. Roberts; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Davidson's reading of this behemoth is actually a nice match of text and reader. His voice is clear and easily understood." (AudioFile)
As far as I could tell, the book is an excellent work. While my American ear finds most British accents quite pleasing, Davidson's accent is so thick that I found it distracting and ended up missing quite a bit. In the end, I couldn't finish the listen. One of these days I will pick up the book at the library and am certain it will be a good read.
I spread this audiobook out over many months listening to it in small pieces. It was much better than any comparable history textbooks you will find and if you want a great overview of the major historical characters and events this is a great source. I'd like to get a hardcopy just for reference and to see what charts, lists and maps I missed out on.
This is a valuable, albeit basically Eurocentric, history, that goes into sufficient detail to allow you feel familar with each epoch. So far, it has avoided any overtly political agendas and over speculation.
Had I know the reader was David Case, however, I would never have purchased it. For this book he uses a pseudonym, but his flaws remain.He is such a lazy, apparently undirected or produced - certainly uncorrected - reader that I swore never to listen to him again. Some may mistake his accent for a sign of literacy, but to call his pronunciations "non-standard" is generous, whether one looks for them in British or American usage. Further, he seems often unable to distinguish between a comma and a full stop, leaving a closely listening reader to repeat the sentence in the mind, adjusting the dependancy of clauses simply to make sense of what one has just heard.
While I recommend what Roberts has to say, I find myself irritatingly distracted by who is saying it. Buy the book, but be prepared to work far harder at listening than a competent reader would permit.
Even at the "best" file format the audio quality is mediocre. The narrator's voice is affected and annoying. The text is airy, too general and glib. But, this is the only (entire) world history I've been able to find on audio and that counts for a lot. This audiobook is probably worth the price and the listening time.
This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
Let me tell you what you should expect in this book: while the book states this will be a history of the world, what is actually in the book is nothing of the like. What the book does is to spend most of the time ruminating facts about religious movements without any attempt to fit this into a social analysis, providing insights about why certain features of religion come to be and how this fit into the broader history.
Really, should the history be about complete parts of the Bible? The obvious intent of the book is to hide some religious message in the guise of a history book which I find almost dishonest. I do not have any preconceptions about fitting the history of mankind within the scope of religion, but I think that, if this is the thesis, it needs to be worked out as a documented thesis scientific manner rather than assumed as a way to ignore everything else.
I read a few reviews about the book, and some complained about the still strong focus on western history. I don't find anything of the like to complain about in the book; this is not the problem: the problem is that this is not a history book at all.
Roberts's sentences can get long, but you hardly even notice because Davidson guide's the listener to the important words merely with the way he speaks. This is a special skill and augments the clarity of the writing significantly.
For an American listener, Davidson's accent is hilarious British but somehow eminently appropriate for the gravity of the subject and the erudition of the scholarship.
The main theme of the book is the "rhythms" of history. His main topic is civilization. His main lens for understanding civilization is the interplay between (political/economic/religious) power and culture, but occasionally throws in insightful tangents on topics such as scientific, artistic, or women's history. Roberts mentions important figures (and dwells on a few of his favorites) but many you would expect (e.g., Da Vinci, Madison) don't show up at all. He starts at the *beginning*, approximately 3 million years ago, and gives a very good impression of just how long man went before the first civilization, and how long civilization had been around before modern times. He holds out surprisingly long before passing judgement on anything at all (with some minor exceptions such as Aztec mass killings), making his tone reassuringly objective, which he breaks only for a moving passage on World War II.
An excellent overview, but had some drawbacks. In ancient and pre modern times, Mediterranean-centric, missing detail I would have liked on India, China, Africa, and Europe. In the modern era, often quite Eurocentric. This all balances out once the story gets to European imperialism, though I would have liked more on South America.
It is difficult to focus on the content, which appears to be thorough and relevant: I am missing parts of sentences because of the narrator's bizarre accent, which leaves me frustrated and disappointed
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