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The World: A Family History

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Montefiore’s] major achievement is to make us seetheworldthrough a different lens – to maketheunfamiliar familiar and, more important,thefamiliar unfamiliar. . . . [B]rings [history] most vividly, almost feverishly, to life.There is hardly a dull paragraph.” ― TheSpectator Gripping and cleverly plotted. Doomed love at the heart of a violent society is the heart of Montefiore's One Night in Winter... depicting the Kafkaesque labyrinth into which the victims stumble." The Sunday Times TL;DR - The World, A Family History is a trule global perspective with great writing style. However, the book is a bit too ambitious which risks flooding the reader with so much info it becomes overwhelming. The Romanovs' is his latest history book. He has now completed his Moscow Trilogy of novels featuring Benya Golden and Comrade Satinov, Sashenka, Dashka and Fabiana.... and Stalin himself. This is more than schoolboy fun in a way – it puts our contemporary obsessions, both with talking about sex, and also with condemning such things: in a new light. We've always been at it.

The World: A Family History of Humanity is the latest book written by Montefiore, a historian who has written books on Stalin and the Romanovs. His expertise is on the personal and political, writing about people in power in both their personal and professional lives. This book is a look through the entirety of human history from the first family who walked on the shores of Britain to Putins invasion of Ukraine. In this book you meet hundreds of characters through a series of dynasties across the world. The story is told through their interconnected world and often changes viewpoints from across the world in a broadly chronological format. I am not sure what the purpose is of trying to consolidate history of all earth in a single book. Is it a bit like climbing mountains – or buildings – to show he can do it? I felt at many times during the expedition that this was essentially a vanity project. We are experiencing delays with deliveries to many countries, but in most cases local services have now resumed. For more details, please consult the latest information provided by Royal Mail's International Incident Bulletin.To tell a history oftheworldthrough its most influential families is a clever way to marshal thousands of years of humanity . . . . [A]n incredible undertaking.Montefiorefinds enduring resonances and offers new perspectives . . . . Becausethese are family stories, he adeptly eschews traditionally male histories to find greater texture and diversity. A remarkable achievement.” ― Observer

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Romanovs—a magisterial world history unlike any other that tells the story of humanity through the one thing we all have in common: families

This is world history on the most grand and intimate scale - spanning centuries, continents and cultures, and linking grand themes of war, migration, plague, religion, medicine and technology to the people at the centre of the human drama. It’s written quite readably, it’s not hard to read, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed it as I might enjoy a good novel. I rather generously award three stars in recognition of the author’s achievement in covering the vast span of world history, and covering people and events on every continent. I rather doubt that I’ll ever reread the whole thing, but I may sometimes use it for reference and dip into it.

Around 950,000 years ago, a family of five walked along the beach and left behind the oldest family footprints ever discovered. For award-winning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore, these poignant, familiar fossils serve as an inspiration for a new kind of world history, one that is genuinely global, spans all eras and all continents, and focuses on the family ties that connect every one of us. Others are lesser-known: Hongwu, who began life as a beggar and founded the Ming dynasty; Kamehameha, conqueror of Hawaii; Zenobia, Arab empress who defied Rome; King Henry of Haiti; Lady Murasaki, first female novelist; Sayyida al-Hurra, Moroccan pirate-queen. Here are not just conquerors and queens but prophets, charlatans, actors, gangsters, artists, scientists, doctors, tycoons, lovers, wives, husbands and children. Reading this book without any prior knowledge of Irish History one would come away with the conclusion that the most significant thing that happened in Ireland in the 1840s (or any other time between the late 17th and late 20th centuries) was that an aristocratic lady called Eliza Lynch changed her name to Lola Montez and seduced the mad King of Bavaria. Interestingly, he describes an earlier visitor to a Central European Court, Edward Kelly as being an "Earless Irish Necromancer" though he was born in Gloucester and little is known of his ancestry.

Nevertheless, there is some very good stuff in Montefiore’s concluding thoughts, making me wish again that he had limited his scope and written three or four more finely targeted studies. The biggest strength is the authors passion and writing style. Montefiore does not shy away from details. Gruesome executions, sexual passion, and affairs of state are all laid out here. This book is not for the faint of heart, most of human history is violent, and its on display here.

Montefiore’s novel approach is based on the argument that the family is the essential unit of human existence – even in the age of the iPhone, artificial intelligence, robotics and space travel. He uses the stories of multiple families over dozens of generations, living on every continent and in every era, to tell the human story. In all honestly, nothing I say can possibly do justice to the immeasurable hard work of the author and every single person involved in bringing this book to life. I feel nothing but profound respect and admiration for this unbelievably relevant and crucial book, even more so because, despite its intimidating length and density, it is full of good humour. I have mixed feelings about this type of History as it pays so little attention to the great majority of people who have ever lived, though the figures at the top who make the important decisions are often fascinating figures in their own right and a lot of social/economic history can be deathly dull and of little interest to the regular reader.The cookie is set by CloudFlare service to store a unique ID to identify a returning users device which then is used for targeted advertising. We don't appear again until the late 20th century when non-contextualised "Irish" terrorists threaten the UK, a country he never explains the origins of, though to be fair, there were other things going on in 1800-01. Even though he explains the origins of two of the last three US Presidents in some detail but neglects to say how Joe Biden's ancestors ended up in the US. He does say something about the Kennedys though not where they came from originally. Ongoing Covid restrictions, reduced air and freight capacity, high volumes and winter weather conditions are all impacting transportation and local delivery across the globe. The book is written in a curious mixture of styles. There is the tabloid argot (“Philadelphos supposedly kept nine paramours, of whom the star was a badass chariot-racing Greek beauty Belistiche.”). And there is a prolific use of genital vocabulary which would never have seen light of day in tabloid publications. But there is also a slightly exhibitionist use of rare words. “Bertie, the twenty-five-year-old pinguid Prince of Wales”, for example. And the Arab world is “fissiparous”. At times, this becomes intrusive and obfuscatory. One chapter contains “frizelate” or various forms of it, in several instances. Neither my collection of dictionaries, nor ChatGPT, recognise this word, although it would seem, from the context, to have some sort of sexual connotation.

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