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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

From celebrated Yale Professor Valerie Hansen, a “vivid” and “astonishingly comprehensive account [that] casts world history in a brilliant new light” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and shows how bold explorations and daring trade missions first connected all of the world’s societies 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 blond-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 fans of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, The Year 1000 is an a “fascinating...highly impressive, deeply researched, lively and imaginative work” (The New York Times Book Review) that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be.

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

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What listeners say about The Year 1000

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

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.

14 people found this helpful

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Not an historian, not history

This poppycock would not pass muster for a first draft dissertation. The author vainly attempts to discuss the development of globalization 1000 years ago. Yes, there are some incredible examples of cross-culture travel and trade, all of which are well documented by real historians. In the first section the author discusses the Nordic travel to to what is now Newfoundland without adding anything new. In the next section she examines civilizations in modern day Mexico. There she finds art that might depict men with blonde hair and concludes that Nordic explorers made it all the way west and south from Canada to Mexico without a. chronicling the epic journey or b. leaving any evidence of their epic journey. As I say, poppycock. First year college students should be able to punch holes in this thin, sad attempt to contribute to the historical record.

4 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.

3 people found this helpful

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Fun listen

The narration could have been better but the contents of the book are fascinating even when the author admits she is speculating.

2 people found this helpful

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Eye Opening

After reading this, I felt like I had never taken a history class and that we have belittled all that our ancestors have accomplished. I am not a history buff, I like books that open up the mind and this book does so by giving a very different perspective. This book shows all that was happening in the year 1000. It shows how vibrant the world was, how active trade was. Beyond mind blowing when talking about slavery. Between trade/travel and slavery... I didn't realize how limited my views were. I though Christopher Columbus was this brave adventure but not so much. I had no idea Eastern Europeans were one of the biggest regions for slavery and that is where the word comes from since they traded their people. I had associated slavery with primarily African origins.

My only downside is in the description of the book, it mentions the first time for all these events. I wish it didn't. The book does not portray how all these events were happening for the first time. Rather, there is evidence to support in the book these were not the first happenings during the year 1000. I found that misleading because I was anticipating build up as to how we got there and why the year 1000 was so pivotal to the development of civilization as we know it. I feel it would be more true if the books mission was to show us perspective and that it may be for some, our first time realizing that trade and travel was massive at that time. The year 1000 was not a sleepy little town, rather, a booming time of development and exploration.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

informative, descriptive, transportive

I often felt I was on the deck of an ancient ship, strolling through colorful markets, or rummaging through records in a lavish palace while I listened to this book. information rich, occasionally dense. A good audio book for a crash course in ancient culture and a nice trip out of the current era.

1 person found this helpful

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couldn't get into it, not my favorite narrator.

i don't know where it lost me, but i just powered thru it because i didn't want to leave it unfinished.

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Zoom in and out of time

This feels like a sequel to Sapiens - in that it explains of much of humanity today through the cultural evolutions of the past. It's long, but you'll come out with a new mental model of the world today.

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Interesting book

This is a very interesting book and provided me a loto of new knowledge. The only reason to rate it 5 stars is that the book attained itself to small details for too long and miss to provide a more big picture scenario. Anyhow, a highly recommended book about a relevant, but mainly unknown period of history.