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Publisher's Summary

In the History of the World, Updated, J. M. Roberts has revised his monumental previous work, History of the World, taking into account the great range of discoveries that have altered our views on everything from early civilizations to post-Cold War globalism. Large portions of text have been rewritten, addressing events as recent as the relationship between the Arab and Western worlds in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

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

Critic Reviews

"Davidson's reading of this behemoth is actually a nice match of text and reader. His voice is clear and easily understood." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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    144
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Performance

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Story

His story

a Good starting point to understand history and have a world view of history yes

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Excellent

I never took a world history course in high school or college. This book corrected that deficiency. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Overall
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  • Story

Long but worthwhile. Main theme:rhythms of history

Reader:

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.

Writing:

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.

  • Overall
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  • Story

A Good Introduction to World History

Any additional comments?

This was a fine introduction to World history. It was, by necessity, very long. Also, as someone with a strong background in history already, I felt that I learned little that I did not already know from high school and college history courses. If you are looking for a detailed history or a highly engaging overview (if there is such a thing for World history!), you should probably look elsewhere, otherwise it is a good book to listen to.

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Disappointing

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Just inform on history, probably would have decreased length by 50%.

Any additional comments?

Too much author opinion

  • Overall
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  • Story
  • Jeremy
  • NEW YORK, NY, United States
  • 11-22-12

This is not a history book

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.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Narrator speaks sloooowly. Listen at 2x speed.

Any additional comments?

I tried to listen to this book in normal speed and repeatedly gave up. Fortunately Audible's app provides the option to listen at different speeds. 2x works well for the narrator's cadence.

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  • Nelson
  • Pembroke Pines, FL, United States
  • 07-23-12

Bored to hell

What would have made History of the World, Updated better?

A different narrator. Period. The story, layout and overall structure is good. The narrator is boring. I could not finish listing.

Has History of the World, Updated turned you off from other books in this genre?

No.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

okey dokey

What did you love best about History of the World, Updated?

The narrator's pronunciation of English words.

What was one of the most memorable moments of History of the World, Updated?

That the rest of Europe felt bad for England when they executed King Charles but then later tried to oblitherate their Kings' entire families.

What does Frederick Davidson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The English language.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The Monroe Doctrine made me laugh.

Any additional comments?

Worth It.

  • Overall
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Takes a lot of time to finish but well worth it

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.