More good news for Ian Morris … and a quick world tour through time

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Not only is Why the West Rules — for Now the bedside reading of Niall Ferguson, but The Economist has just named Ian Morris‘s weighty tome  as one of the top books of 2010:  “An entertaining and plausible book by a British historian at Stanford University that shows how debates about the rise of China or the fall of the West are ultimately a sideshow, as nature will bite back savagely at human society.”  (We wrote about it here and here.)

The Economist reviewed the book last October:  “Ian Morris, a polymathic Stanford University professor of classics and history, has written a remarkable book that may come to be as widely read as Paul Kennedy’s 1987 work, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.”

Also receiving The Economist‘s best-of-the-year praise — in fact, right above the Why the West Rules, is Timothy Snyder‘s Bloodlands: “How Stalin and Hitler enabled each other’s crimes and killed 14m people between the Baltic and the Black Sea. A lifetime’s work by a Yale University historian who deserves to be read and reread.”  (Bloodlands was discussed on The Book Haven a few weeks ago, with Norman Naimark‘s Stalin’s Genocides, and again here.)

In the spirit of Morris’s book, if you’d like to watch ten centuries roll by in five minutes — click “play” below.  We think it’s kind of fun.


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4 Responses to “More good news for Ian Morris … and a quick world tour through time”

  1. Steve Says:

    Interesting video showing how Western Europe has changed over time.

    I was hoping to see something showing China, especially after seeing this quote “rise of China or the fall of the West are ultimately a sideshow, as nature will bite back savagely at human society”

    How will nature bite back?

    Steve
    http://www.TheChinaBusinessGuide.com

  2. Cynthia Haven Says:

    Sigh. I was afraid someone was going to point that out. I will look for one on youtube, just for you.

    How will nature bite back? I will have to defer to Barb Egbert, who has read all 750 pages of the book. Barb?

  3. Barbara Egbert Says:

    Well actually, I skipped the appendices, and the indexes are lengthy — call it 650 pages. Anyway, as I recall, nature bites back in two main ways: climate change and disease. Significant climate change (whether extremes of cold or heat) lead to changes in resource availability (think famine) which in turn lead to state failures and mass movements of people that interrupt and destroy other societies. Diseases (think bubonic plague, smallpox and other devastating illnesses) wipe out large numbers of people and permanently alter economies and balances of power. Read the book — it’s very well written.

  4. Cynthia Haven Says:

    Ah. The final word. I told you she knows everything.

    Now, Steve, all I have to do is find a moving map that shows China. (I’m still trying. Haven’t given up.)

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