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The World by Simon Sebag Montefiore is a fresh and original history of humanity, unlike any previous world history: it uses family, the one thing all humans have in common, to tell the story. It is genuinely global, spanning all eras and all continents, from the perspective of places as diverse as Haiti, Congo and Cambodia as well as Europe, China and America.
Starting with the first footsteps of a family walking along a beach 950,000 years ago, Montefiore steers us through an interconnected world via palace intrigues, love affairs and family lives, linking grand themes of war, migration, plague, religion, medicine and technology to the people at the heart of the human drama. It features a cast of extraordinary span and diversity: as well as rulers and conquerors there are priests, charlatans, artists, scientists, doctors, tycoons, gangsters, lovers, husbands, wives and children. From Alexander the Great, Attila, Genghis Khan to Ivan the Terrible and Hitler, from Socrates, Michelangelo, Shakespeare to Mozart, Balzac, Newton and Tim Berners-Lee. There is Hongwu who started as a beggar and founded the Ming dynasty; Ewuare the Leopard-King of Benin; King Henry of Haiti; Kamehameha conqueror of Hawaii; Zenobia, Arab empress who defied Rome, Lady Murasaki first female novelist, Sayyida al-Hurra, Moroccan pirate-queen; Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher and Barack Obama. Here are the Caesars, Medicis and Incas, Ottomans and Mughals, Bonapartes, Habsburgs and Zulus, Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Krupps, Churchills, Kennedys, Castros, Nehrus, Pahlavis and Kenyattas, Saudis, Kims and Assads. All the way up to Putin and Zelensky, all human life is here.
A dazzling achievement as spellbinding as fiction, The World is both a celebration and an indictment that takes the human story, from caves to drones, in a single narrative by a master storyteller.
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