Andrew Marr, author of two best-selling histories of Great Britain now turns his attention to the world as a whole. A Short History of the World takes readers from the Mayans to Mongolia, from the kingdom of Benin to the court of the Jagiellonian kings of Poland. Traditional histories of this kind have tended to be Euro-centric, telling mankind's story through tales of Greece and Rome and the crowned heads of Europe's oldest monarchies. Here, Marr widens the lens, concentrating as much, if not more on the Americas, Africa and Asia. Instead of focusing on one episode of history taking place in one place, he draws surprising parallels and makes fascinating connections, focusing on a key incident or episode to tell a larger story: for instance, the liberation of the serfs in Russia, which took place at the same time as the American Civil War, which resulted in the abolition of slavery in the US. But he begins the account with an episode in the life of Tolstoy, who racked up huge gambling debts and had to sell land and slaves as a result. Fresh and exciting, this is popular history at its very best.
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