Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature

Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature

by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
     
 

Erudite, wide-ranging, a work of dazzling scholarship written with extraordinary flair, Civilizations redefines the subject that has fascinated historians from Thucydides to Gibbon to Spengler to Fernand Braudel: the nature of civilization.
To the author, Oxford historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a society's relationship to climate, geography,

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Overview

Erudite, wide-ranging, a work of dazzling scholarship written with extraordinary flair, Civilizations redefines the subject that has fascinated historians from Thucydides to Gibbon to Spengler to Fernand Braudel: the nature of civilization.
To the author, Oxford historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a society's relationship to climate, geography, and ecology are paramount in determining its degree of success. "Unlike previous attempts to write the comparative history of civilizations," he writes, "it is arranged environment by environment, rather than period by period or society by society." Thus, for example, tundra civilizations of Ice Age Europe are linked with those of the Inuit of the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi Mound Builders with the deforesters of eleventh-century Europe.
Civilizations brilliantly connects the world of ecologist, geologist, and geographer with the panorama of cultural history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743202497
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
06/04/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
746,742
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.60(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface

Introduction: THE ITCH TO CIVILIZE

Civilizations and Civilization
The Civilizing Ingredient

The Glutinous Environment

The Mask and Apollo: Recent Definitions and Approaches

Reaching Between Civilizations — and Reaching for the Unity of Civilization

Process and Progress

The Checklist of Civilization

Back to Nature: Array by Environment

Two Cheers for Civilization

PART ONE: THE WASTE LAND

Desert, Tundra, Ice

Chapter One: THE HELM OF ICE

ICE WORLDS AND TUNDRA AS HUMAN HABITATS

The Ice Age in Europe — Northern Scandinavia — Asiatic Tundra — Arctic America — Greenland
Beyond the Gates of Gog: The Savage North

Followers of the Ice

The Tamers of Reindeer

Companions of the Seal Bladders: Deference to Nature in Arctic America

Better Than Civilization: The Inuit in Competition with Europeans

Chapter Two: THE DEATH OF EARTH

ADAPTATION AND COUNTERADAPTATION IN DESERTS OF SAND

The North American Southwest — Northern Peru — the Sahara — the Gobi —
the Kalahari

Learning from Hohokam: How to Build Civilization in the Desert

The Lakes of Worms: The Limits of Civilization in the Sahara

Lands of Unrest: Desert Highways Between Civilizations

Spirits of the Slippery Hills: Bushmen and Civilization

PART TWO: LEAVES OF GRASS

Barely Cultivable Grasslands

Chapter Three: THE SWEEPINGS OF THE WIND

PRAIRIE AND GRASSY SAVANNA

The Great Plains — the African Savanna — the Sahel
The Intractable Grasslands

The Architects of the Savanna

Imperialists of the Sahel

Chapter Four: THE HIGHWAY OF CIVILIZATIONS

THE EURASIAN STEPPE
The Wastes of Gog

A Confucian Contemplates the Wild

The Making of Mongol Imperialism

The Mongol Roads: Causeways of Civilization

PART THREE: UNDER THE RAIN

Civilization in Tropical Lowlands and Postglacial Forests

Chapter Five: THE WILD WOODS

POSTGLACIAL AND TEMPERATE WOODLAND

Cases of Deforestation — the American Bottom — North American Temperate Forests — Europe
The Fear of Trees: Learning to Clear the Forests

The Great Wet: Early Civilizations of the North American Woodlands

The Longhouse of Elm: Civilization by the Evergreen Frontier

Riding the Lumber Raft: Europe After the Forest

The Retreat of the Trees: From Forests to Cities in Twelfth-Century Europe

f0 Chapter Six: HEARTS OF DARKNESS

TROPICAL LOWLANDS

Frederik Hendrik Island — the Olmec Heartland — Low Amazonia — the Lowland Maya Lands — the Valleys of the Khmer — Benin City
The Habitable Hell: Cultivating the Swamp

Amazon Lands: The Challenge of the Rain Forest

The Tongue in the Stones: The Lowland Maya

The Beloved of the Snake: Khmer Civilization on the Mekong

The City of Death: Benin

PART FOUR: THE SHINING FIELDS OF MUD

Alluvial Soils in Drying Climates

Chapter Seven: THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS

MISLEADING CASES IN THE NEAR EAST

The Çarsamba floodplain — the Jordan Valley — Sumer and Egypt
The Yielding Soil: Early Intensifiers of Agriculture

The Garden of the Lord: Alluvial Archetypes

Back from Diffusion: The Great River Valleys

From Sumer to Babylon

Out of the Underworld: The "Gift of the Nile"

Chapter Eight: OF SHOES AND RICE

TRANSCENDING ENVIRONMENTS OF ORIGIN IN CHINA AND INDIA

The Indus, Yellow, and Yangtze Rivers
Seals in the Sand: Lost Cities of the Indus and the Origins of India

Millet and Rice, River and River: The Making of China

The Checklist of Shang Civilization

The Phoenix of the East: The Survival of China

Expansion Without Mutation: The Chinese Grossraum

PART FIVE: THE MIRRORS OF SKY

Civilizing Highlands

Chapter Nine: THE GARDENS OF THE CLOUDS

The Highland Civilizations of the New World

Mesoamerica and the Andes
Altitude and Isolation: Classifying Highland Civilizations

Ascent to Tiahuanaco: Predecessors of the Inca

Places for the Gods: The Context of the Aztecs

Contrasting Worlds: The Aztecs and Inca Juxtaposed

The Vengeance of the Tribute-Bearers: Environment and Empire

Chapter Ten: THE CLIMB TO PARADISE

THE HIGHLAND CIVILIZATIONS OF THE OLD WORLD

New Guinea — Zimbabwe — Ethiopia — Iran — Tibet
The Last El Dorado

The African Predicament

The Mountains of Rasselas: Civilization in Ethiopia

High Roads of Civilization: Overlooking Asian Trade Routes

Looking Down from Tibet

PART SIX: THE WATER MARGINS

Civilizations Shaped by the Sea

Chapter Eleven: THE ALLOTMENTS OF THE GODS

SMALL-ISLAND CIVILIZATIONS

The "South Seas" — Hawaii and Easter Island — the Aleutians — the Maldives — Malta — Minoan Crete — Venice
The Tangle of Isles: Polynesian Navigation

Surviving Isolation: Hawaii and Easter Island

The Wind's Nest: The Islands of the Aleut

Ports of Call: From the Maldives to Malta

The Wreck of Paradise: Minoan Crete

The Creature of the Lagoon: Venice as a Small-Island Civilization

Chapter Twelve: THE VIEW FROM THE SHORE

THE NATURE OF SEABOARD CIVILIZATIONS

The Oran laut — Phoenicia and Scandinavia — the Maritime Netherlands
The Sea People: Adapting to the Waves

The Narrow Shores: Phoenicia and Scandinavia

The Atlantic Edge

The Frustrations of Rimland: The Early Phase

"An Equilibrium of Mud and Water": Coaxing Civilization from the Shoals

Beyond the Beach: Identifying Seaboard Civilizations

Chapter Thirteen: CHASING THE MONSOON

SEABOARD CIVILIZATIONS OF MARITIME ASIA

Japan — Maritime Arabia — Southeast Asia — Coromandel and Gujarat — Fukien
Riders of the Typhoon: Maritime Japan

Caravans of the Monsoon: The Arabs and Their Seas

The Ring of the Snake: The Seas of Southeast Asia

The Seas of Milk and Butter: Maritime India

China's Frontier to the Sea: Fukien

Chapter Fourteen: THE TRADITION OF ULYSSES

THE GREEK AND ROMAN SEABOARDS

Boeotia — the Greeks Overseas — Athens — the Aegean and Ionian Seas — Rome — the Roman Empire — the Renaissances and Their Settings
The Plow and the Prow: A Conversation with Hesiod

The Pursuit of Galatea: Greece Takes to the Sea

The Claim of Poseidon: Athens and the Sea

A Hellenic Cruise: Five Wonders of Antiquity

Around the Middle Sea: Ancient Rome as a Seaboard Civilization

The Reach of the Classics: The Global Spread of the Greek and Roman Legacies

PART SEVEN: BREAKING THE WAVES

The Domestication of the Oceans

Chapter Fifteen: ALMOST THE LAST ENVIRONMENT

THE RISE OF OCEANIC CIVILIZATIONS

From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic — from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean
The Muslim Lake

The Precocity of the Indian Ocean

From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic: The Shadow of Vasco da Gama

The Round Trip of Vasco da Gama

Chapter Sixteen: REFLOATING ATLANTIS

THE MAKING OF ATLANTIC CIVILIZATION

Cultural Transmission from Europe to America and Back
The Origins of the European Atlantic

The Technological Strand

The Power of Culture

The Tyranny of the Timing

Atlantic Civilization in Black and White: The Imperial Phase

The World the Slaves Made

Chapter Seventeen: THE ATLANTIC AND AFTER

ATLANTIC SUPREMACY AND THE GLOBAL OUTLOOK

From the Atlantic to the Pacific — from the Pacific to the World
Crises and Renewals of Atlantic Civilization

The Limits and Limitations of Western Civilization

Next Stop after the Atlantic

The Revenge of Nature

The Self-Threatened Menace

The Last Ocean

Epilogue: In Derek Jarman's Garden

Notes

Index

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