Was the twentieth century really the century that saw more change than any other? This is the question posed by Ian Mortimer in response to a newscast in late 1999 which claimed that it was.
This new book comes from the author of the bestselling Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England; a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and would count as one of my favourite books so I was looking forward to reviewing this one. Here Mortimer explores the opening question taking each century separately and using his house in Moretonhampstead, Devon as a point of reference. He explores the changes and major influencers across the centuries and their impact for good or for bad on the western world.
The discussion encompasses: the rise of Christianity and the church; health; wealth; law and order; literacy and science; liberty and emancipation of man and women as they arose through the millennia. Each chapter summarises and identifies the major factors of influence and the players of influence of the change in that particular century.
Not all of the changes and major influencers are obvious and many artistic, musical and literary players are not included or are only briefly mentioned. This may seem an oversight but as explained in the first chapter of the book whilst being important they did not necessarily have a far reaching effect.
I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in history; I find Ian Mortimer’s writing style engaging and thought provoking, and using where he lives as an example of the changes throughout the millennia helps to imagine the impacts on everyday life. On finishing the book I am left thinking whether I agree with his arguments for the century that he identifies as having the greatest change and I think I do. The book made me think about history and change, how it impacted on lives in the past and how looking to the future we can take these lessons and knowledge to adapt to the coming challenges of the next century and millennium.
Human Race, 10 Centuries of Change on Earth by Ian Mortimer
9780099593386|Vintage pbk Oct 2015
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