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'Large, ambitious and often enthralling, it is a successful attempt to look at the unfolding of world history from an entirely new perspective.' Literary Review

Conventional accounts of world history tend to focus on the rise of Western civilisation and concentrate on the story of ancient Greece, the Roman empire and the expansion of Europe. The histories of the great civilisations of China, India and Japan, and therefore the experience of the majority of the world's people, have been relegated to a minor place.
World History adopts a radically different approach. Starting from the assumption that the human story has to be seen in the round, it examines
the evolution of humans, their lives as hunters and gatherers and their eventual adoption of agriculture, before looking at the emergence of civilisation across the globe; in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, the Indus Valley, Mesoamerica and Peru. It goes on to tell the story of the earliest empires, emphasising not just their differences but also their similarities. It explains how contacts were established between them and how technologies, ideas and the world's great religions travelled from one to another. It describes the great empires of Islam, of China and of the Mongols. Only towards the end of the story does Europe come slowly to dominate the world, against the background of technical innovations and social and economic change. Now, in the twenty-first century, this European dominance is passing away.
World History provides a truly global sweep and produces a new and startlingly different account of human history. It is a history of the world for the new century.


Large, ambitious and often enthralling, it is a successful attempt to look at the unfolding of worlds history from an entirely new perspective...The joy and originality of this book is that Ponting offers us very little that is unfamiliar.

Literary Review

Few single-volume efforts have covered so much ground in terms of sheer time-scale and territory, and the general reader will find plenty of useful reference material...Ponting is at his best on technology and the economy, and his description of Europe's waning influence since the 1940s makes perfect sense.


This is a history book with a difference. It is imaginative in its approach, courageous in its execution and expansive in its sweep of interest...His approach is radical and interesting...It is a fine example of how a radically new point of departure can cast light on a range of areas over which the specialists will continue to do battle long into the future.

Sunday Business Post

Pioneering...an impressive feat of scholarship. Clive Ponting has embraced a daunting task with commendable success.

Times Literary Supplement

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Formats & editions

  • World History
    Clive Ponting

    Trade Paperback


    November 2, 2001


    944 pages

    RRP $55.00

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  • EBook


    September 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    944 pages

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