A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum
Published by Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin

In 2010, the British Museum and the BBC teamed up to attempt to tell the entire history of the entire world in a mere 100 objects. Now, in addition to being available as an audiobook of the radio show, the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, has put it all in book form, so that the discussions of the artifact and its importance in world history is accompanied by a photograph of said artifact.

I haven’t had a chance to go through the entire book yet, because it is the sort of thing you dip in and out of, but what I have read is amazing. I just couldn’t wait to share this, in case it would be the perfect holiday present for someone (I was planning to ask for it, personally, before I happened to win it in a giveaway).

Not only are the breadth of objects and the depth of discussion impressive, but so is the organization. There are 20 parts, each with 5 items discussed. Each part has a theme like “Empire Builders” or “Rise of World Faiths” and a time period. The artifacts are grouped in order to impart increased context and meaning, and the discussions often refer back to one of the earlier objects in that part. This allows the artifacts to be discussed in relation to one another, without losing the reader by referencing something 20 objects ago that may have been forgotten or not even read about.

A History of the World in 100 Objects is a great conversation piece, but it is also an incredibly fascinating book for those fascinated in history and world civilizations.

Very highly recommended, a fantastic holiday gift for history nerds!

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Buy this audiobook from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher giveaway.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage – Audiobook Review

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage, narrated by Sean Runnette
Published in audio by Tantor Audio; published in print by Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

Thoughts on the story:

Tom Standage has a fascinating story to tell of how our history has shaped what we drink, which ends up shaping our history again. Both the book and the argument were well-laid out, progressing logically through each of the six drinks and through human civilization, as one drink gave rise to another. Different technological and cultural advances precipitated the rise of each of the six drinks, and each of them further shaped culture in its own way. It should be noted, though, that this is less a history of the world than a history of Western Civilization, beginning with the early farmers in the fertile crescent and moving ever westward. Of course the east does get a mention, particularly when tea is involved, and coffee came to Europe from the Arab world, but in both cases the use of the beverage in Western Europe is the main focus. This is not necessarily a bad thing if one is prepared for this, but at the same time it would have been nice to have a more worldwide lens based on the title.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Sean Runnette is a great narrator of nonfiction. His delivery is clear and his voice easy to listen to, with just the right amount of interest added in his inflection. There was occasionally an issue with the quality of the recording, some of the edits were noticeable, but overall they didn’t negatively affect the listening experience.

Overall:

A really fascinating way of looking at our shared history. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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