The World

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781780225616

Price: £16.99

ON SALE: 1st August 2023

Genre: Humanities / History

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THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST‘S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

From the master storyteller and internationally bestselling author – the story of humanity from prehistory to the present day, told through the one thing all humans have in common: family.

We begin with the footsteps of a family walking along a beach 950,000 years ago. From here, Montefiore takes us on an exhilarating epic journey through the families that have shaped our world: 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.

A rich cast of complex characters form the beating heart of the story. Some are well-known leaders, from Alexander the Great, Attila, Ivan the Terrible and Genghis Khan to Hitler, Thatcher, Obama, Putin and Zelensky. Some are creative, from Socrates, Michelangelo and Shakespeare to Newton, Mozart, Balzac, Freud, Bowie and Tim Berners-Lee.

Others are lesser-known: Hongwu, who began life as a beggar and founded the Ming dynasty; Kamehameha, conqueror of Hawaii; Zenobia, Arab empress who defied Rome; King Henry of Haiti; Lady Murasaki, first female novelist; Sayyida al-Hurra, Moroccan pirate-queen. Here are not just conquerors and queens but prophets, charlatans, actors, gangsters, artists, scientists, doctors, tycoons, lovers, wives, husbands and children.
This is world history on the most grand and intimate scale – spanning centuries, continents and cultures, and linking grand themes of war, migration, plague, religion, medicine and technology to the people at the centre of the human drama. As spellbinding as fiction, The World captures the story of humankind in all its joy, sorrow, romance, ingenuity and cruelty in a ground-breaking, single narrative that will forever shift the boundaries of what history can achieve.

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Reviews

Don't be put off by the doorstopper length: this is a riveting page-turner. The author brings his cast of dynastic titans, rogues and psychopaths to life with pithy, witty pen portraits, ladling on the sex and violence. An epic that both entertains and informs
THE ECONOMIST, Best Books of 2022
In this work of astonishing scope and erudition, Montefiore interweaves the stories of the servants, courtiers and kings, pioneers, preachers and philosophers who have made history. A brilliant synthesis that will impart fresh insight to even the most learned readers
HENRY KISSINGER
A delightful world history, told through influential families. A moreish chronicle. The device of weaving together the past using the most enduring and essential unit of human relations is inspired . . . [it] allows the author to cover every continent and era, and to give women and even children a voice and presence that they tend to be denied in more conventional histories. Despite the book's formidable length, there is never a dull moment . . . this book is a triumph and a delight, an epic that entertains, informs and appals in enjoyably equal measure
THE ECONOMIST
Montefiore's most ambitious work yet. It is erudite but never boring . . . There is also a great deal of humour . . . If more politicians and policymakers spent time studying history, they might avoid making the sort of lamentable mistakes that Bush and Blair made in Afghanistan and Iraq. The World would be a good place to start
David Soskin, REACTION
A tour de force - hugely ambitious, erudite and filled with surprises - that puts the family and families back into the heart of history
PETER FRANKOPAN
Compelling, moving, epic and diverse, Montefiore's wonderful storytelling prowess and the wide research pulls off this unparalleled world history in a single narrative with unforgettable style. All the drama of humankind is here from cavemen to Putin and Zelensky
OLIVETTE OTELE
Masterful and truly staggering
BBC HISTORY REVEALED
An incredible piece of work . . . it's incredibly easy to read, written so eloquently. Delightful
Sangita Myska, LBC
Terrific. Monumental . . . full of fun . . . a rollicking read. Montefiore is very good at finding the little incidental details which bring things to life
Robbie Millen, TIMES RADIO
The World is almost narcotic to read
Tanya Gold, JEWISH CHRONICLE
There is a certain satisfaction in holding, and reading a bulky tome. Simon Sebag Montefiore's The World: A Family History requires strong wrists, but is well worth the physical effort. It is a most readable and fascinating history of humanity from the perspective of that most enduring of institutions: the family. There is pleasure and learning on every one
Alexander McCall Smith, NEW STATESMAN
One extraordinary story follows another, all of them extraordinarily well told. It is hard to stop turning the pages . . . One of the commonest criticisms of world histories such as Jared Diamond's Guns Germs & Steel or Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens is that they are all about the vast impersonal forces . . . Montefiore's family-centred alternative is the perfect antidote, revelling in the peculiarities and downright perversities of its all-too-human cast . . . Montefiore's vignettes are fascinating . . . There's no doubting that family is the central institution of human history and Montefiore's overview of its most recent five millennia is entertaining and consistently interesting
Ian Morris, FINANCIAL TIMES
A history of pretty much everything everywhere from the evolution of Homo sapiens to Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Dip into any page and you'll find history rushing by in prose that combines clarity, liveliness and even deadpan humour with intriguing asides a speciality . . . a staggering achievement
James Walton, DAILY TELEGRAPH
An incredible undertaking. Montefiore finds enduring resonances and offers new perspectives . . . Because these are family stories, he adeptly eschews traditionally male histories to find greater texture and diversity. A remarkable achievement
Ben East, OBSERVER
Do not be daunted by its length. The narrative is pacy and there is not a page wasted. The author has produced a masterclass in style and structure
Richard Foreman, ASPECTS OF HISTORY, Books of the Year
A history of the world from the Neanderthals to Trump. It's a rollicking tale, a kaleidoscope of savagery, sex, cruelty and chaos. By focusing on family, Montefiore provides an intimacy usually lacking in global histories. [It] has personality and a soul. It's also outrageously funny . . . an enormously entertaining book
Gerard DeGroot, THE TIMES
Succeeds in scintillating fashion . . . an epic rich in detail . . . on each page, you'll find an interesting idea, a witty observation or a footnote containing an anecdote emblematic of a wider point. Montefiore pays attention to the lives of women and children and to places slighted by Western historians. This is an extraordinary work of wisdom and vivid storytelling
Victor Sebestyen, LITERARY REVIEW
Highly recommended . . . Only a historian of Montefiore's calibre could pull off such an outstanding and wide-ranging work as this multi-layered and riveting study combining world history, geography and the evolution of humankind while exploring the world's greatest dynasties . . . So many interesting facts alongside captivating biographical stories. Montefiore is a master storyteller
Elizabeth Fitzherbert, THE LADY
It contains a vast breadth of knowledge about the world, acquired from a lifetime of reading, and all told through the stories of some of the most influential families in history
GEOGRAPHICAL
One word for Montefiore's book: magisterial
BEN OKRI
Important and mesmerizing
Michael Beschloss, author of PRESIDENTS OF WAR
A monumental survey of dynastic rule: how to get it, how to keep it, how to squander it . . . Montefiore energetically fulfills his promise to write a 'genuine world history, not unbalanced by excessive focus on Britain and Europe.' In zesty sentences and lively vignettes, he captures the widening global circuits of people, commerce, and culture
NEW YORKER
This is not just an undoubted book of the year but of many years . . . a treasure trove of marvellous stories, brilliantly researched and absorbingly told, fascinating characters who leap off the pages
Tony Rennell, DAILY MAIL, Books of the Year
Succession meets Game of Thrones
Sarah Vine, MAIL PLUS
Excellent . . . I was captivated from the first page . . . The most cinematic achievement is one of global connectiveness
Hamilton Wende, SUNDAY TIMES (South Africa)
Magnificent
Antonia Fraser, THE TIMES
An epic global history that is cleverly and thrillingly told
Saul David, ASPECTS OF HISTORY, Books of the Year
Written with lashings of elan, I raced through it . . . This special book should please any lover of history
Oliver Webb-Carter, ASPECTS OF HISTORY, Books of the Year
A brilliant book, and its examination of our species' experiences through the prism of the family is truly inspired
General David Petraeus
You're in for quite a ride: The World pulsates with hundreds of human stories that Montefiore brings to life in vivid convincing fashion. Combining literary flair with keen insight into human psychology, he can evoke a person with a few choice words.Among the many strengths of The World is its truly global perspective. This is an unabashedly multicultural history that refuses to privilege any particular perspective, be it geographic, cultural or ethnic
Douglas Smith, WALL STREET JOURNAL
For any reader with the stomach for bloodshed and megalomaniac ambition, for anyone with a taste for Ptolemaic depravities or who would simply like to spend some quality time with China's imperial eunuchs, Montefiore's 'World' . . . will deliver it and more in spades. The author's major achievement is to make us see the world through a different lens - to make the unfamiliar familiar and, more important, the familiar unfamiliar. There is hardly a dull paragraph
David Crane, THE SPECTATOR
[A] rollicking, globetrotting truly global history spanning almost every continent . . . [A] thrilling tapestry. Only a highly skilled storyteller could so deftly grip attention across more than six millennia . . . packed with lavish and pullulating detail. The World is wildly entertaining . . . certainly enriching . . . [and] bracingly profane
David Armitage, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
Magnificent . . . magisterial . . . [a] real-life Game of Thrones. Dip into this book anywhere and the minutiae of history leap off the page . . . Dip too into the author's copious footnotes and there are gems to be mined. Often sassy, always entertaining . . . To my mind what it gives above all is perspective from which comes understanding and not a little wisdom
Tony Rennell, DAILY MAIL, Book of the Week
A staggering achievement. Montefiore has given us a tremendous gift: a pulsingly readable world history through the millennia and from one end of the globe to the other
SIMON SCHAMA