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Publisher's Summary

From celebrated Yale Professor Valerie Hansen, a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium.

People often believe that the years immediately prior to AD 1000 were, with just a few exceptions, lacking in any major cultural developments or geopolitical encounters, that the Europeans hadn’t yet reached North America, and that the farthest feat of sea travel was the Vikings’ invasion of Britain. But how, then, to explain the presence of blonde-haired people in Maya temple murals at Chichén Itzá, Mexico? Could it be possible that the Vikings had found their way to the Americas during the height of the Maya empire?

Valerie Hansen, an award-winning historian, argues that the year 1000 was the world’s first point of major cultural exchange and exploration. Drawing on nearly 30 years of research, she presents a compelling account of first encounters between disparate societies, which sparked conflict and collaboration eerily reminiscent of our contemporary moment.

For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, The Year 1000 is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.

©2020 Valerie Hansen (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Long on Speculation, Short on Evidence

Failure to prove a negative does not make a positive. The author took bits and pieces of disjointed “evidence” and speculated about what might have happened or could have happened. Choosing one of many possible explanations and incorporating it into a narrative does not ensure accuracy or truth.

7 people found this helpful

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Fun listen but not a deep dive into history

Loving stories about people, places, and things, I enjoyed listening to this book. The perspective it proposes and explores - that globalization is not a recent human trend, but a movement that began over a thousand years ago - is interesting. However, I am not sure what function the notion of the year 1000 being a hinge of history serves. Sure, it gives the book an arresting title. However, what was 1000 and whose 1000 was it? Then, as now, different civilizations and tribes have different calendars. Seriously, the events the author discusses happened over five or six centuries both before, during, and after what we think of as 1000, for no particular reason. The point is, humans ventured further afield, encountered each other, and trade and violence ensued. Interesting how that pattern repeats itself for over more than a thousand years. Nonetheless, this unscientific book told some travelers' tales I'd not encountered before, as well as repositioned the familiar ones. I enjoyed the float. Look elsewhere for a deep dive. The narrator has a smooth, engaging voice. However, pronunciation of place names stumped her several times. I really don't hold that against her. None of us can really know what the place names (even if those names were then used) sounded like a thousand years ago.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting Premise

The thing that sticks out most is how bad the narrator was. I thought it wss the author at first, because she sounded like a monotone professor. The idea that globalization start at year 1000 was interesting. I was skeptical at first, but her arguments are good.

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It's fine

Hansen does a good job summarizing world history in a way that will transmit a certain number of facts to the as of yet uninformed reader. She severely oversimplifies almost everything. She's slippery in her language, though. It starts with her abandonment of historic place names, which she does in the name of keeping things simple. This approach is very problematic because it necessarily snuggles in anachronisms and makes the past less comprehensible, not more. It means that we understand the past in our own terms, with our own biases. Hansen's handling of religion is a good case in point. We are very political and not very religious, in the modern West, and in her telling (always relying heavily on anachronism), Hansen assumes similar motivations in people of the past. Worse, she seems unaware of the fact that this is an assumption of hers when it should be a question. The crowning abuse of language in her work is with the term globalization itself. Hansen uses the term to mean everything from the formation of a truly global trade network like the Silk Roads to simply banding together with one's neighbors. In the end, you get a very whiggish history that has nothing to teach us and only serves to highlight some modern agenda or another. To her credit, she doesn't make her agenda into a sermon. Instead, one is left with a sense of pointlessness. "OK, supposing globalization really did start around the year 1000. So?" Lastly, the writing is repetitious enough to hearken back to undergraduate days of stating a thing, and then, rather than proving it, restating it in two or three ways, following all with a conclusion.

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Very Academic and Difficult to Listen to

I found the writing style to be very academic and hard to listen to. On top of that the narrator sounded rather stilted as well. The book was heavy in dates, locations, and measurements that in many cases didn't add value. The author's practice of giving measurements in both English and metric was tiresome and made it difficult to hear the actual numbers. All that said, the book included some interesting factoids and general information so I'm glad I slogged through it.

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Fascinating and Timely

Some serious research went into this project, but the presentation of it is accessible to the point of captivation. Lively and interesting, start to finish, with significant parallels to modern globalization. Well done.

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loved it, only better book kf this time period is

central asias golden enlightenment period. highly recommend this book. it really covers the asian side of history that is all too often left out

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Scholastic agenda

Any author that introduces book by degrading other author assumes that the reader doesn’t have the intelligence to sort out facts from fiction. My assumption is that other researchers are a threat to her conclusions.

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A Pivotal Year

The year 1000 was a year of note, not because of noteworthy events, but because of the world changing trends that were discernible then that would fundamentally alter our entire civilization. This book is easy to read and hard to put down.

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Awesome book!

Exactly what I was looking for after listening to Upheaval by Jared Diamond. Dealt with a whole other, more precise time period mostly, and tons more detail. Highly recommend