Ancient Worlds by Michael Scott

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Ancient Worlds by Michael Scott

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Category: History
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Andy Heath
Reviewed by Andy Heath
Summary: Ancient Worlds is thought provoking history for the general reader. Exploring the interactions across three differing cultures, it provides a new perspective on our modern civilisation.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: June 2016
Publisher: Hutchinson
ISBN: 978-0091958817

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History can be perceived as a dusty academic backwater. Often viewed as an irrelevance in our modern world, as we race through the daily events of our lives. It is a subject that has suffered greatly in our education system, where there has always been a tendency to teach the subject in isolation, only focussing on the events that have shaped our own national identity. Michael Scott's new book offers a refreshing change. Ancient Worlds is thought provoking history for the general reader. Well researched and with a persuasive argument, he explores the interactions across three differing cultures. Interactions that provide a new perspective on our modern world.

The book takes three central themes as its point of departure, Politics, War and Religion. It then looks at these three aspects as they shaped the destiny of the Greek culture, the Roman Empire, and the Confucian dynasty in China. Focussing on the interactions between these civilisations it shows how ideas developed, were utilised, and then migrated across the known world. Exploring the cross fertilisation of ideas is new for historians. Many adopt a form of tunnel vision, and stay rooted within the field of their specialisation. As a result, events are placed in nice, neat compartments. The influences that have shaped the way things are become lost. This book takes a bigger picture view, and is refreshing for its change of perspective.

Scott's research is impeccable. He provides a lot of information, much of it new. His view of the ancient world is academically sound and the theories that he develops are intelligently framed. As an experienced broadcaster, he is also blessed with the extra gift of being a tremendous storyteller. It transfers onto the pages, and illuminates the text. The narrative flows freely. Footnotes, often the plague of solely academic works, are all contained at the end of the text. As a result, the general reader can read unhindered, and understand the arguments put forward, without constant distraction. Moreover, there is a lot to read. Ancient Worlds is rich with the little cameo s that truly bring history to life. Anecdotes from the characters that populated Greece, Rome and China are wonderfully interwoven through the entire fabric of the book. However, none of them interrupts the flow. They act more as little lay-bys, parking areas, where you can stop for a moment, contemplate the ideas that have been developed before embarking on your journey once again.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best history books that I have read. Written by an author at the top of his game, his knowledge and enthusiasm simply pours off the page. I would widely recommend Ancient Worlds to anyone who wants to understand how history is truly made.

If you enjoy Ancient Worlds, you may also enjoy:

Books that Changed the World: The 50 Most Influential Books in Human History by Andrew Taylor
Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs by Bob Brier
The Making of Modern Britain: From Queen Victoria to V.E. Day by Andrew Marr

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