Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History / Edition 1

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Overview

Maps of Time opens with the origins of the universe - of the stars and the galaxies, of the sun and the solar system, including Earth - and conducts readers through the evolution of the planet before human habitation. It surveys the development of human society from the Paleolithic through the transition to agriculture, the emergence of cities and states, and the birth of the modern industrial period and hints at possible futures. Sweeping in scope, yet finely focused in detail, this highly readable account of the known world from the inception of space-time to the prospects of global warming lays the groundwork for world history - and big history - in a way that is true to its name as never before.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
San Diego State University historian Christian is one of the founding figures of the Big History movement. His basic premise is that to truly make sense of human history, history must be integrated with virtually all other disciplines and in order to do this correctly, historians must reach back to the beginning of time. It is becoming fairly well accepted for historians to draw on biology, economics, environmental studies and politics as well as a host of other fields of study, and Christian does a very nice job of explaining the factors that led to the rise of states, the industrial revolution and the information revolution, as well as looking at future possibilities for humankind. What is far less successful is his integration of cosmology, astrophysics and evolutionary biology with the basic fare usually associated with historical analysis. Rather than using the cosmological principles associated with the Big Bang, for example, to demonstrate underlying unity and coherence in all systems across time, Christian leaves the reader with a weak metaphor and limited insight. By attempting to cover all of the universe's 13 billion years in a single volume, even one approaching 600 pages, Christian is forced to use such a broad brush that readers will find much of this book to be fairly superficial. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
There is a tension in scholarly discourse between specialists, who study phenomena in exacting detail, and generalists, who seek to uncover broader patterns. Lately, especially in science, trends favor the specialists. Still, some recent books, such as Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Tim Flannery's The Eternal Frontier, have championed the generalist view. Here, historian Christian (San Diego State Univ.) invokes the biggest perspective yet-a scientific history of the universe, Earth, human existence, and the future. For a book in which whole epochs can be dispatched in a single paragraph, the content of the text is engaging and fairly substantive. The author's larger point, though, is that history, like mythology, can address only certain basic human questions when presented in a global, theoretical, and multidisciplinary context. In that sense, this is less about its subject-the history of the universe-than the methodology for doing and interpreting research. Therein lies a potential disconnect, for readers can sometimes wonder if the author is more invested in his subject or his methods. Regardless, Maps of Time makes an important statement and can be fully appreciated at both levels.-Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520244764
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Series: California World History Library Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 664
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.75 (d)

Meet the Author


David Christian is Professor in the Department of History at San Diego State University. He is the author of Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation (1990), Imperial and Soviet Russia: Power, Privilege and the Challenge of Modernity (1997), and A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia: Volume 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire (1998).
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Read an Excerpt

from the Foreword by William H. McNeill

"Maps of Time unites natural history and human history in a single, grand, and intelligible narrative. This is a great achievement, analogous to the way in which Isaac Newton in the seventeenth century united the heavens and the earth under uniform laws of motion; it is even more closely comparable to Darwin's nineteenth-century achievement of uniting the human species and other forms of life within a single evolutionary process. . . . [It] is a historical and intellectual masterpiece: clear, coherent, erudite, elegant, adventurous, and concise. . . . You, who are about to peruse this book, have a great experience before you. Read on, wonder, and admire."

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction: A Modern Creation Myth? 1
1 The First 300,000 Years: Origins of the Universe, Time, and Space 17
2 Origins of the Galaxies and Stars: The Beginnings of Complexity 39
3 Origins and History of the Earth 57
4 The Origins of Life and the Theory of Evolution 79
5 The Evolution of Life and the Biosphere 107
6 The Evolution of Humans 139
7 The Beginnings of Human History 171
8 Intensification and the Origins of Agriculture 207
9 From Power over Nature to Power over People: Cities, States, and "Civilizations" 245
10 Long Trends in the Era of Agrarian "Civilizations" 283
11 Approaching Modernity 335
12 Globalization, Commercialization, and Innovation 364
13 Birth of the Modern World 406
14 The Great Acceleration of the Twentieth Century 440
15 Futures 467
App. 1 Dating Techniques, Chronologies, and Timeliness 493
App. 2 Chaos and Order 505
Notes 513
Bibliography 563
Index 595
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