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Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History [Paperback]

David Christian , William H. McNeill

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Book Description

Oct. 3 2011 0520271440 978-0520271449 First Edition, With a New Preface
An introduction to a new way of looking at history, from a perspective that stretches from the beginning of time to the present day, Maps of Time is world history on an unprecedented scale. Beginning with the Big Bang, David Christian views the interaction of the natural world with the more recent arrivals in flora and fauna, including human beings.

Cosmology, geology, archeology, and population and environmental studies—all figure in David Christian's account, which is an ambitious overview of the emerging field of "Big History." Maps of Time opens with the origins of the universe, the stars and the galaxies, the sun and the solar system, including the earth, and conducts readers through the evolution of the planet before human habitation. It surveys the development of human society from the Paleolithic era through the transition to agriculture, the emergence of cities and states, and the birth of the modern, industrial period right up to intimations of possible futures. Sweeping in scope, finely focused in its minute detail, this riveting account of the known world, from the inception of space-time to the prospects of global warming, lays the groundwork for world history—and Big History—true as never before to its name.

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From the Inside Flap

"You've all seen the poster of the milky way galaxy with an arrow to a point about halfway out from the center and the caption, ‘You are here.’ This book is like that only more so. It locates the human experience in the entirety of space-time."—Alfred Crosby, author of Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900

About the Author

David Christian is Professor in the Department of History at San Diego State University. He is the author of Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation (1990), Imperial and Soviet Russia: Power, Privilege and the Challenge of Modernity (1997), and A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Volume 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire (1998).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Re: the 2011 edition, a mild Caveat Emptor April 23 2012
By Working Woman - Published on
I bought the prior 2004 edition some time ago, and finally got around to reading it, only to recognize that since the book was initially published, while many of the basic outlines of "big history events" such as theories regarding the origins of the Universe haven't changed, some of the details have. This is due to research conducted in the interim, as for example, in relation to findings from the Hubble telescope. I therefore considered buying the 2011 version, instead of trolling through the 2004. But careful scrutiny of the 2011 edition revealed that the 2011 version is in essence a re-issue, rather than the kind of thorough-going revision that I was hoping for. The author essentially admits this in the Preface when he notes that just 3 areas were revised, one of which has to do with the development of the academic field of Big History. I'm sure the latter will be of interest to some readers, but probably not to the run-of-the-mill lay reader. A look through the reference list at the end of the book confirms that this is essentially a re-issue--many of the references date from the mid-1990s into the early 2000's, but not beyond. I'm therefore recommending that if interested, readers should buy the initial edition, which I'm sure is now probably a little less expensive than this one. And with regard to the 2004 edition, I have started reading it, but will be reading other books besides to address some of the points where it is a bit out-dated or where more details would be helpful.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something to think about on every page May 2 2012
By West End Al - Published on
Prof. Christian points out that making predictions is tricky, especially if they're about the future; but even some "postdictions" (explanations about the past) can be overtaken by events, and shown to be wrong. Short of a book being in perpetual revision, that's unavoidable. Nonetheless, this is an amazingly stimulating read, which will compel any reader to re-examine and revise his or her view of how the universe works. This stab at a Unified Field Theory of History may land somewhat wide of the bull's eye, but it's mostly right on target.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book on Big History July 13 2013
By Edwin Relf - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the most important books I've read in 65 years of life. It covers history from the Big Bang and goes on to when the universe will fade away as the physicists predict. Of course the most complex part of the book is the genesis of life with particular focus on the brief span we homo sapiens sapiens have been around and interpreted the goings on from beginning to end. It leaves us with a question on the role we are playing in altering the biosphere.

I found this book a delight to read and have alongside one a laptop so that salient points of history, anthropology, science could be explored further. Christian is an historian though he has pulled enormous amounts of information from academic disciplines to elaborate and illustrate his text. The footnoting is extensive.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read for history geeks Oct. 7 2012
By darthhiggy23 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was very informative from a historical and sociological point of view. Though I found it repetitive at times it kept me reading and very interested in its topics. As the author states in the introduction, many of the most interesting points in history are necessarily skimmed over for the point of big history. A definite read for history geeks.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book Feb. 4 2013
By PK - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is pretty dense - has a lot to grasp, but it's been a great go-to resource.

I had to read this for a world history class of mine and it was my favorite for the course. Really makes you think.

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