Monday, November 1, 2021

Review of Improbable Voices: A History of the World Since 1450 Seen From Twenty-Six Unusual Perspectives by Derek Dwight Anderson

This book review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History

Short Description


“What was once happily celebrated with patriotism is often viewed today with skepticism, hostility or embarrassment.” – Derek Dwight Anderson, A: Alfonso de Albuquerque, Page 24

“He argued that persecution of the Anabaptist only made them more stubborn, but that patient conversation and leniency would help them understand their theological errors and would produce civic peace.” – Derek Dwight Anderson, C: Wolfgang Fabricius Capito, Page 84

“These exchanges illustrate how much Ethiopians and Europeans had to learn about one another in the sixteenth century: so connected in some ways, yet so disparate in many others.” – Derek Dwight Anderson, E: Eleni, Page 125
Quotes with permission from the Author 

Elaborate Description


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

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Who are the individuals used in the book?
•What are the different nations and cultures described in the book?
•Why not impose early 21st values on the people of the past?
•What was the outcome when different cultures interacted?
•How were the nations regulated internally? 
•Describe the culture’s social etiquette. 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9798640294163
Pages to read:   645
Publication:     2020
1st Edition:      2020
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5