Thursday, December 6, 2012

"A History of the World in 100 Objects" by Neil MacGregor


Founded in 1753, the British Museum is the first national public museum in the world and it grants free admission to all visitors.  It is dedicated to preserving human history and culture and is home to over eight million objects from every corner of the earth, documenting the world from the very beginning.

In 2010, the BBC broadcasted a program for over 20 weeks in which Museum Director Neil MacGregor chose 100 objects from the collection that would document the history of the entire world.  This successful series was published as the book A History of the World in 100 Objects.

This is a fascinating book, not just for history lovers, but for everyone.  The history of each object and the place and time period it is from is described in a few pages, with visually stunning photographs.  The book starts right at the beginning with a Mummy from Egypt and a stone chopping tool from Tanzania and ends with a credit card from the United Arab Emirates and a Solar-powered lamp and charger made in China.  Along the way we see objects from every area of the world and watch as cultures and civilizations develop both in conjunction and independent of each other.

For me personally, the most fascinating objects were the Gold Cape from Wales c.1900 BC, the Rosetta Stone from Egypt c.196 BC and the David Vases from China c.1351.  Many of the objects are so amazing to see in photographs, I can only imagine what a trip to the British Museum is like!  And what an undertaking this project must have been, choosing only 100 objects to document all of human history.

This book is a chunkster coming in at 608 pages.  But it isn't meant to be read in one sitting.  It is a collection piece itself, to be read bits at a time, enjoyed time and time again.  I took this book out from the library but three weeks isn't enough time to appreciate the book fully so I will definitely be looking to add this to my personal collection.

What I really like about the book is the way you can see the different cultures around the world develop at the same time.  Indigenous American, Pacific, Middle Eastern, African and European civilizations were all flourishing in different ways and this book allows you to see this happen side by side.  The accompanying histories of the objects are thorough and include comments from well known scholars who are at the top of their fields making this a complete and must-have collection.

5 comments:

  1. Agreed--this really is a fascinating book and a great present for all sorts of readers. I gave it for the holidays last year to a few different people.

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    1. I was thinking about what a great gift it would make. It is something that would appeal to everyone I believe.

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  2. This sounds like a great book not only to read but to own :) I'm definitely going to find this one! I love history, I love informational tidbits and I'm pretty sure I'll love this book.

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    1. I think this is one that is much better to own! So much information, it takes a lot of time to read and enjoy.

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  3. Sounds fantastic, I love that kind of books that are a compilation of leyends, passages of the history, etc. And this about objectes developed in differents parts of the Earth sounds really great.
    I'll take a look in order to buy it in amazon or something!

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