This book review is written by Eugene Kernes
This book might use 26 biographies of diverse individuals from around the world, but it is less about the individual and more about the time and situations around the individual. Using the individual as a focus to look at a long history of events and ideas that have culminated to what the individual engages with. To uncover how people lived. To examine how people interacted with each other, and those of other cultures and regions. Expressing from different perspectives how the different cultures approached each other, and understood or misunderstood the other’s culture. The individuals through whose story history is experienced, come from various backgrounds. Some are political, military, and social leaders, others are traders, doctors, and artists. Rather than impose early 21st century values onto the decisions of people of the past, the author purposely sets decisions made against the values of their time. Describing how those values came about.
The book is well written and becomes more detailed with later individuals. Sometimes there are many details presented about events, but they are presented without much of an explanation on what they mean put together. Theme of the details is consistent, but not obvious how they impacted the times the individual lived in.
Each chapter tries to presents a different nation, and sometimes how they handled relations with other nations. There are many interesting accounts of interactions with other nations, and then showcasing the other nation. Seeing from different perspectives built a better understanding of the time, but those perspectives were rare. Most of the book is separate accounts from different times. Making it difficult to get a full picture of any particular culture throughout time. But, this way of organizing history does make the reader curious about the particular cultures. Further reading will be needed for any culture to be understood.
Questions to Consider while Reading the Book