Vol. VIII No. 20 - Tuesday
May 19 - May 25, 2009

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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

1000 Events That Shaped the World

A blockbuster of a book this week. 1000 Events That Shaped the World (ISBN 978-1-4262-0314-5, National Geographic) practically weighed down the shelves at my local Bookazine. The back cover promised “From the distant past to the 21st century, here is a fresh look at the events that have brought us to the present day.”
On his foreword, noted academic Jared Diamond begins by writing, “You have just opened an unusual history book… It covers the history of the whole world on all continents… 175,000 words of text carry the story from 3,300 B.C.E. up to the present.” And to think I was forced to endure several years study of history as a child, when it all could have been done with this one book.
At the beginning of the different eras covered, there is a time line with the major events in that era shown graphically. Even this in itself is fascinating. In 10,000 B.C.E. southern Chile was settled, the first surgery was performed in 5,000 B.C.E. and 1,000 years later we domesticated the horse. It was also sobering to know that 3.8 billion years ago, the world was hot, estimated to be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and so much for global warming!
With the tools now available to us, such as carbon dating and DNA typing many of the previously unanswered questions can now be found. Why do the Siberians look like northern Amerindians? Because they share the same DNA, so it is easy to then postulate the migration of the Asians across the Bering land bridge of 25,000 years ago.
Even if you think history is not important, you will find items that will make you sit up. It was in 200 B.C.E. that the Romans invented concrete, and you thought it was Siam Cement. And it was concrete that allowed construction of the world’s first bath houses, the forerunners of those in Ratchadapisek Road.
Some historical events seem to repeat themselves. In 184 C.E. the peasants rose up against the government and identified themselves by wearing yellow turbans. However it was in China, not Bangkok. That came much later.
In 1792 in the UK, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote a book “Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, the start of female emancipation. In 1848 in the US, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote her book advocating women’s rights, but it was New Zealand that was the first to allow women to vote in 1893. Unfortunately, there are still societies that keep women enslaved and denied education.
Event number 573 notes Chile, Bolivia and Peru were at odds. No, not 2008, it was 1789.
There are many fascinating snippets such as the Eiffel tower which was to be pulled down after 10 years, but reprieved for military purposes!
At B. 1,350 for this hard cover reference book, buy it. History never goes out of fashion. A beautifully presented book with its 1,000 events well thought out. Of course there will be those whose knowledge of history has come from the silver screen, but this book is much better and more accurate. Get it for your children if nobody else.


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