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The Los Angeles TimesIn their wide-ranging, knowledgeable book, The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History, the McNeills invite us to look at human history from the first tentative steps of our "apelike ancestors" onto the African savanna some 4 million years ago to the complex global web of communication, commerce and conflict that we inhabit today. Agriculture, religion, trade and conquest are just a few of the many web-building forces that the McNeills examine.
The senior member of this authorial team, William H. McNeill, is emeritus professor of history at the University of Chicago and author of such works as The Rise of the West and Plagues and Peoples. His son, J.R. McNeill, author of Something New Under the Sun, is an environmental historian at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Their joint venture gamely attempts to provide an overview of the whole of human history in a mere 350 pages. Environmental history, social history, military history, economic history, the histories of technology, religion, disease, transportation and communication all come into the mix. — Merle Rubin