Experience what life was like when pharaohs erected the majestic pyramids; when Hannibal commanded Carthage's 40,000 troops; when Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor; and when the drive to conquer defined the destiny of leaders and the lives of ordinary people. Much of human history is destined to be forgotten--but thousands of years have not erased the epic stories of the great empires of the world. Great Empires sweeps through the ages, uncovering the secrets of dynasties from the dawn of human civilization to the 20th century and tracing the path of power around the globe and across the centuries. Each chapter delves into the times, places, and historical forces that gave rise to legendary warriors, charismatic kings, and lasting dynasties. Throughout these epic tales of the great empires we see extraordinary ambition, shrewd calculation, heroic bravery, and surprising foresight--all captured in one complete volume. Organized in chronological order from 2600 B.C. to the 20th century, this comprehensive history weaves together a compelling portrait of more than 30 epic empires using dramatic images, intriguing sidebars, and easy-to-follow time lines. New, meticulously drawn National Geographic maps show the extent of territory held by each empire, major trade routes, paths of military campaigns, locations of principal traded commodities, significant roads, walls and buildings, and sites of pivotal battles. Selected maps also show the changes in physical geography between ancient and modern coastlines. Sidebars, images, and text showcase the historic leaders such as Hammurabi, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Genghis Khan, who had grandiose visions for their world.