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Jared Diamond meets Stephen Hawking in a book that fits human history into the history of the universe, by an American Book Award winner.
An epic for our time, Big History begins when the universe is no more than a single point the size of an atom, squeezed together in unimaginable density, and ends with a twenty-first-century planet inhabited by 6.1 billion people. It's a story that takes in prehistoric geology, human evolution, the agrarian age, the Black Death, the voyages of Columbus, the industrial revolution, and global warming. Historian Cynthia Brown visits the Vikings, the Mayas and Aztecs, the Incas, the Mongol empire, and the Islamic heartlands. Along the way she considers topics as varied as cell formation, population growth, global disparities, and illiteracy, creating a stunning synthesis of historical and scientific knowledge of humanity and the earth we inhabit.
Big History represents a new kind of history, one that skillfully interweaves historical knowledge and cutting-edge science. In an age of global warming, when the fate of the earth hangs in the balance, scientific advances permit us to see the universe as never before, grasping the timescales that allow us to understand the history of mankind in the context of its ecological impact on the planet. Cynthia Brown's lucid, accessible narrative is the first popularization of this innovative new field of study, as thrilling as it is ambitious.
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Cynthia Stokes Brown is a retired professor of education at Dominican University of California. She has written history and biography, including the American Book Award-winning Ready from Within: Septima Clark and the Civil Rights Movement, Connecting with the Past, and Refusing Racism. She lives in Berkeley, California.From Publishers Weekly:
Beginning with the very origin of the universe, American Book Award–winning author Brown (Ready from Within: Septima Clark and the Civil Rights Movement) shows that history is more than the written records of the gadfly species Homo sapiens. In a multidisciplinary narrative subtly emphasizing the mutual impact of people and planet, Brown covers Earth's history from the big bang through the development of life and the growth of civilization. Nice concrete details give immediacy to the most remote events: The gold in the ring on your finder has to be more than 4.5 billion years old. Brown's story covers the globe, encompassing the Mongols and Vikings, Mayans and Aztecs, as well as the Islamic Empire and Europe. Brown looks at the gold rush that followed Columbus's American voyages and the impact of chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco and chili peppers on European habits. In a blink the Industrial Revolution and world wars lead to the new millennium. While much of the story is familiar, Brown's writing lucidly knits each topic into a vast historical mosaic. This exciting saga crosses space and time to illustrate how humans, born of stardust, were shaped—and how they in turn shaped the world we know today. 33 b&w illus. (Sept.)
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