Atascocita High School - Humble ISD World History Advanced Placement
1st Semester Book, Documentary, & Movie Review List Unit 1, 2, & 3 Until 1500.
For more information, see this link for Extra Credit Details
Suggested Movie List:
155 min - Action | Adventure | Drama - 5 May 2000 (USA)
Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.
177 min - Action | Biography | Drama - 24 May 1995 (USA)
William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks, who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace's father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland. Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all, along with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.
Wo hu cang long (original title)
120 min - Action | Adventure | Drama - 22 December 2000 (USA)
The disappearance of a magical jade sword spurs a breathtaking quest for the missing treasure. Li is embittered by the loss of his jade sword, and his unrequited pursuit of Yu is further complicated by the mysterious intrusion of an assassin. The identity of the assassin is gradually unveiled as another poignant tale of love begins to ravel with that of Li and Yu against the backdrop of Western China's magnificent landscape.
Mongol (original title)
126 min - Biography | Drama | History - 20 September 2007 (Russia)
The movie is an epic story of a young Genghis Khan and how events in his early life lead him to become a legendary conqueror. The 9-year-old Temüjin is taken on a trip by his father to select a girl as his future wife. He meets Börte, who says she would like to be chosen, which he does. He promises to return after five years to marry her. Temüjin's father is poisoned on the trip, and dies. As a boy Temüjin passes through starvation, humiliations and even slavery, but later with the help of Börte he overcomes all of his childhood hardships to become one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known.
R | 117 min | Action, Fantasy, War | 9 March 2007 (USA)
In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes lead a Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, and several hundred Arcadians. Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw left with no options he moved. The battle lasted for about 3 days and after which all 300 Spartans were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes of a separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks.
300 - Rise of Empire (2014)
R | 102 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy | 7 March 2014 (USA)
After its victory over Leonidas' 300, the Persian Army under the command of Xerxes marches towards the major Greek city-states. The Democratic city of Athens, first on the path of Xerxes' army, bases its strength on its fleet, led by admiral Themistocles. Themistocles is forced to an unwilling alliance with the traditional rival of Athens, oligarchic Sparta whose might lies with its superior infantry troops. But Xerxes still reigns supreme in numbers over sea and land.
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
154 min - Adventure | Biography | Drama - 9 October 1992 (USA)
Big budget account of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas. Released in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery. Shows the disastrous effects the Europeans had on the original inhabitants, and Columbus' struggle to civilize the New World.
139 min - Action | Adventure | Drama - 8 December 2006 (USA)
In the Maya civilization, a peaceful tribe is brutally attacked by warriors seeking slaves and human beings for sacrifice for their gods. Jaguar Paw hides his pregnant wife and his son in a deep hole nearby their tribe and is captured while fighting with his people. An eclipse spares his life from the sacrifice and later he has to fight to survive and save his beloved family.
10,000 BC (2008)
109 min - Adventure | Fantasy - 7 March 2008 (USA)
A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter named D'Leh's journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe. When a band of mysterious horse-riding warlords raid the Yaghal camp and kidnaps his heart's desire - the beautiful Evolet along with many others, D'Leh is forced to lead a small group of hunters south to pursue the warlords to the end of the world to save her. Driven by destiny, the unlikely band of warriors must battle saber-toothed cats and terror birds in the Levant.
The Ten Commandments (1956)
220 min - Adventure | Drama | History - 5 October 1956 (USA)
To escape the edict of Egypt's Pharoah, Rameses I, condemning all newborn Hebrew males, the infant Moses is set adrift on the Nile in a reed basket. Saved by the pharaoh's daughter Bithiah, he is adopted by her and brought up in the court of her brother, Pharaoh Seti. Moses gains Seti's favor and the love of the throne princess Nefertiri, as well as the hatred of Seti's son, Rameses. When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where he marries, has a son and is commanded by God to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery. In Egypt Moses's fiercest enemy proves to be not Rameses, but someone near to him who can 'harden his heart'.
212 min - Action | Adventure | Drama - 10 December 1959 (Argentina)
Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Together with the new governor his old friend Messala arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. At first they are happy to meet after a long time but their different politic views separate them. During the welcome parade a roof tile falls down from Judah's house and injures the governor. Although Messala knows they are not guilty, he sends Judah to the galleys and throws his mother and sister into prison. But Judah swears to come back and take revenge.
115 min - Animation | Action | Adventure - 16 November 2007 (USA)
Set against the coming of Christianity, this is the story of the last hero: in 507, a monstrous troll wreaks havoc in the mead hall of the Danish king, Hrothgar. He offers rewards for the death of Grendel, so Beowulf, a great and boastful Geat warrior, arrives with his thanes. Beowulf sets aside his armor and awaits the monster; a fierce battle ensues that leads to Beowolf's entering the watery lair of Grendel's mother, where a devil's bargain awaits. Beowulf returns to Herot, the castle, and becomes king. Jump ahead many years, and the sins of the father are visited upon Beowulf and his kingdom. The hero must face his weakness and be heroic once again. Is the age of demons over?
175 min - Action | Adventure | Biography - 24 November 2004 (USA)
Alexander, the King of Macedonia, leads his legions against the giant Persian Empire. After defeating the Persians he leads his Army across the then known world venturing further than any Westerner had ever gone all the way to India.
117 min - Action | Fantasy | History - 9 March 2007 (USA)
In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes lead a Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and other Slave soldiers. Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw left with no options he moved. The battle lasted for about 3 days and after which all 300 Spartans were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes of a separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks.
163 min - Action | Drama | History - 14 May 2004 (USA)
It is the year 1250 B.C. during the late Bronze age. Two emerging nations begin to clash after Paris, the Trojan prince, convinces Helen, Queen of Sparta, to leave her husband Menelaus, and sail with him back to Troy. After Menelaus finds out that his wife was taken by the Trojans, he asks his brother Agamemnom to help him get her back. Agamemnon sees this as an opportunity for power. So they set off with 1,000 ships holding 50,000 Greeks to Troy. With the help of Achilles, the Greeks are able to fight the never before defeated Trojans. But they come to a stop by Hector, Prince of Troy. The whole movie shows their battle struggles, and the foreshadowing of fate in this remake by Wolfgang Petersen of Homer's "The Iliad."
Clash of the Titans (2010)
106 min - Action | Adventure | Fantasy - 2 April 2010 (USA)
The mortal son of the god Zeus embarks on a perilous journey to stop the underworld and its minions from spreading their evil to Earth as well as the heavens.
192 min - Biography | Drama | History - 31 July 1963 (UK)
In 48 B.C., Caesar pursues Pompey from Pharsalia to Egypt. Ptolemy, now supreme ruler after deposing his older sister, Cleopatra, attempts to gain favor with Caesar by presenting the conqueror with the head of Pompey, borne by his governors, Pothinos and Achillas. To win Caesar's support from her brother, Cleopatra hides herself in a rug, which Apollodorus, her servant, presents to Caesar. The Roman is immediately infatuated; banishing Ptolemy, he declares Cleopatra Egypt's sole ruler and takes her as his mistress. A son, Caesarion, is born of their union. Caesar, however, must return to Italy. Although he is briefly reunited with Cleopatra during a magnificent reception for the queen in Rome, Caesar is assassinated shortly thereafter, and Cleopatra returns to Egypt. When Mark Antony, Caesar's protégé, beholds Cleopatra aboard her elaborate barge at Tarsus some years later...
184 min - Action | Adventure | Biography - 7 October 1960 (USA)
In 73 BCE, a Thracian slave leads a revolt at a gladiatorial school run by Lentulus Batiatus. The uprising soon spreads across Italy involving thousand of slaves. The plan is to acquire sufficient funds to hire ships from Silesian pirates who could the transport them to other lands from Brandisium in the south of Italy. The Roman Senator Gracchus schemes to have Marcus Publius Glabrus, Commander of the garrison of Rome, lead an army against the slaves who are living on Vesuvius. When Glabrus is defeated his mentor, Senator and General Marcus Licinius Crassus is greatly embarrassed and leads his own army against the slaves. Spartacus and the thousands of freed slaves successfully make their way to Brandisium only to find that the Silesians have abandoned them. They then turn north and must face the might of Rome.
Julius Caesar (1953)
120 min - Drama | History - 4 June 1953 (USA)
Brutus, Cassius, and other high-ranking Romans murder Caesar, because they believe his ambition will lead to tyranny. The people of Rome are on their side until Antony, Caesar's right-hand man, makes a moving speech. The conspirators are driven from Rome, and two armies are formed: one side following the conspirators; the other, Antony. Antony has the superior force, and surrounds Brutus and Cassius, but they kill themselves to avoid capture.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
127 min - Drama | History - 25 February 2004 (USA)
A depiction of the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. The story opens in the Garden of Olives where Jesus has gone to pray after the Last Supper. Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, the controversial Jesus--who has performed 'miracles' and has publicly announced that he is 'the Son of God'--is arrested and taken back within the city walls of Jerusalem. There, the leaders of the Pharisees confront him with accusations of blasphemy; subsequently, his trial results with the leaders condemning him to his death. Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Palestine, for his sentencing. Pilate listens to the accusations leveled at Jesus by the Pharisees. Realizing that his own decision will cause him to become embroiled in a political conflict, Pilate defers to King Herod in deciding the matter of how to persecute Jesus...
Suggested Documentary List:
Engineering an Empire (TV Series 2006– )
Watch now on TopDocumentaryfilms.com
Engineering an Empire is a program on The History Channel that explores the engineering and/or architectural feats that were characteristic of some of the greatest societies on this planet. Engineering an Empire has received critical acclaim. The premiere Rome received an Emmy for outstanding documentary. Egypt also received positive reviews. This program includes the following episodes: Rome, Egypt, Greece, Greece: Age of Alexander, The Aztecs, Carthage, The Maya: Death Empire, The Persians, China, The Byzantines and Da Vinci’s World.
Secrets of the Dead (TV series documentary 2000– ) Sinking Atlantis (#8.2)
Watch the full episode at this link: PBS Documentary Site
What was the basis for the myth of Atlantis, that ancient, idealized civilization that Plato wrote about over two thousand years ago? Some scientists and scholars believe it might have been the ancient Bronze Age Minoan civilization that thrived on the Island of Crete. "Secrets of the Dead" follows as scientists of various disciplines uncover what really happened on Crete and happen to find strong evidence of a disaster that correlates with Atlantis's fabled demise.
Last Stand of the 300 (TV 2007)
Watch the entire documentary on TopDocumentaryFilms.com
It is almost impossible to understand how 300 Spartans managed to hold off the million-man Persian army for even a moment, much less seven days. To a man they paid with their lives but their stunning Last Stand assured that their sacrifice would resonate throughout history. Relying on brilliant tactics, lifelong training, and unshakable allegiance, the doomed Spartans achieved the impossible.
The Battle of Thermopylae is literally a textbook case, required reading even to this day at military colleges and officer training around the world. Now, The History Channel offers a definitive perspective on the epic conflict with this instructive and thrilling feature-length presentation.
Transporting dramatizations and incisive graphics put you in the heat of the battle and show the lay of the land. The complications and strategies of the conflict are revealed through careful analysis, and critical moments are reconstructed to show exactly what happened. Discover what the Spartans were fighting for, what made them capable of such heroics acts.
Genghis Khan (TV 2005)
58 min - Biography | Drama
Watch it all here: Youtube Link
Of all the images the name Genghis Khan brings to mind, that of a visionary who brought literacy, law and culture to his people rarely springs to mind. His name is usually synonymous with evil, his image that of a brutal barbarian who slaughtered millions in his quest for power. Yet a BBC drama-documentary is aiming to change the reputation of one of the world’s most notorious warlords to that of a heroic figure who achieved greatness against all odds. Genghis Khan is right up there with the likes of Hitler and Attila the Hun as one of the bogeymen of history, said Ed Bazalgette, the programme’s producer. We hear the phrase somewhere to the Right of Genghis Khan. Everyone has heard the name yet few people know much about his story. It is one of the great untold stories of history and we wanted to get behind the myths. No one is suggesting that he was a benign individual but his history was written by those he defeated. To make a parallel, imagine if our country’s history was written by the people of Africa or India. He was intent on sharing his riches with his people, and wanted to raise levels of culture, law and literacy. He also brought Chinese medicine to his people. Amassing material wealth did not matter much to him, as he shared everything with his loyal supporters. He was seen as a generous leader. Genghis Khan also demonstrated a rather liberal and tolerant attitude to the beliefs of others, and never persecuted people on religious grounds. Born in Mongolia sometime after 1160, he created the largest known empire, covering a fifth of the world, stretching from the Pacific to the Black Sea.
Watch the full documentary on TopDocumentaryFilms.com
This fascinating documentary examines the mystery surrounding the sailing exploits of the legendary Admiral Zheng and his 30 year command of a gigantic Ming fleet. The Chinese court burned all records of Admiral Zheng’s daring voyages and achievements, and unwittingly created a mystery that tantalizes the world 500 years later. You’ve heard what the history books have to say about the discovery of America, but now prepare to have your entire perception of history forever altered with this remarkable release from PBS. Could it be that a fearless Chinese admiral actually discovered America nearly a century before Columbus made his historic landing at San Salvador?
Travel back to the year 1421 and follow the legendary Admiral Zheng as he and his formidable Ming fleet travel far and wide to explore little-visited outposts at the behest of Chinese emperor Zhu Di. Based on theories put forward by noted historian and best-seller Gavin Menzies, this thought-provoking take on conventional history proposes that it was Admiral Zheng who led European explorers to the West a whole 71 years after first setting foot on American soil.
In every major metropolis, skyscrapers loom above, taxis and vendors clamor at street level, and subways rumble below. But deeper beneath the hectic surface lie other, silent worlds, each with its own mysterious and fascinating history. Cities of the Underworld peels away the layers of time-often literally hundreds of feet thick-to expose the incredible pasts lurking beneath some of the most populous cities on earth. Throughout the world, cities such as Paris, New York, Rome and Shanghai all harbor long-submerged networks that once served crucial functions, from eerie catacombs to clandestine hideouts and ancient aqueducts to underground societies. Cities of the Underworld examines these mysterious realms, from the technological feats of their construction and the myths and lore that have cloaked these subterranean marvels for centuries. Featuring rare location hi-definition footage, The History Channel shows a world filled with mysteries and secrets just below the ground we walk on.
Cities of the Underworld Istanbul (TV series documentary 2007– ) Season 1, Episode 1.
Watch all of it here: Youtube Link
Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic and exotic cities in the world. Once the capital city of three of the world's most powerful empires--The Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman--its strategic location made it the perfect spot for empires to rise, fall...and rise again. Residents of Istanbul walk on top of remnants of these fallen civilizations...literally. Taxis drive over parts of Constantine's Lost Great Palace; children play on cobblestone streets concealing a massive Byzantine dungeon; a high school sits on a 3rd century wall leading to the bowels of a 100,000 seat ancient Roman Hippodrome; and basement's of old Ottoman homes lead to subterranean tunnels and secret cisterns. Join host Eric Geller as he leaves the buzz of the city streets behind and follows the pull of the past. Teamed with leading archaeologists and experts, Eric peels back the layers of the past--to reveal a hidden history that hasn't seen the light of day for ages
Cities of the Underworld: Rome’s Hidden Empire (TV series documentary 2007- ) Season 1, Episode 3. Original Air Date—7 May 2007
Watch all of it here: Youtube Link
Much of modern Rome is built upon the foundations of the first century Roman city and was above Goraud at that time. Eric visits some of these ruins and his guides explain the activities that occurred there two thousand years ago.
Cities of the Underworld: Secret Pagan Underground (TV series documentary 2007– ) Season 1, Episode 11
Watch all of it here: Youtube Link
In this episode Wildman explores the legendary region Cappadocia. While on this journey you will visit ancient vertical cities, hundreds of feet below ground, organized like modern apartment buildings and explore subterranean churches, fortifications, dungeons and even livestock pens where roughly 4000 years ago, was home to successive pagan societies-- Hittites, Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Ottomans-- all of which left their distinctive mark on the area.
Cities of the Underworld: Viking Underground (TV series documentary 2007– ) Season 2, Episode 4
Watch all of it here: Youtube Link
Over thousands years Dublin, Ireland has been a brutal combat zone, a bullseye for raiding tribes and powerful empires. But the same forces that repeatedly sacked the city also made it the city it is today. From an underground Viking waterway and the scariest tombs older than both the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge to a deep, dark cave that was the site of a Viking slaughter and a grisly crypt preserving the secrets of these ancient mummies and even a link to the legendary Knight's Templar. Just beneath Dublin's busy streets and pubs are the scars of its violent past.
Cities of the Underworld: Rome: The Rise (TV series documentary 2007– ) Season 1, Episode 13
Watch it all here: Youtube Link
They used to say all roads lead to Rome and for nearly a thousand years that wasn’t far from the truth. At one time over 50,000 miles of road led right here, and while this capital city was exploding above ground, there was another world brewing down below. A world packed with pipes and sewer lines, auditoriums and cities of the dead, it’s a world directly responsible for the rapid rise of Rome. And today we’ve got special access to go down. From one of the world’s oldest sewers that started it all, to ancient Roman warehouses and apartment complexes hidden beneath this modern building, and just outside the capital, this growing city had to get creative with the dead. Entire ancient neighborhoods have vanished beneath these streets, the beginnings of modern day engineering are lost underground as 2,000 years of dirt and debris have buried the roots of Rome.
Cities of the Underworld: Maya Underground (TV series documentary 2007– ) Season 2, Episode 6
Watch it all here: Youtube Link
Like the ancient Romans and Egyptians, the Maya civilization was one of the most advanced in the world, with an empire that stretched throughout Central America. They dominated this region for close to 4,000 years before they mysteriously vanished. Today their great empire has been swallowed up by the jungle, but clues behind their incredible rise and devastating collapse can still be found underground. From the depths of a cave where bloody human sacrifices were desperate pleas to angry gods to evidence of savage warfare inside tombs of a royal temple, the subterranean tunnels where high priests spoke with gods of the underworld. The Maya calendar predicts apocalypse in the year 2012, for them it happened a thousand years too early, but with 2012 almost upon us the clues they left behind may hold answers to the end of their world, and possibly to ours.
Part I: Suggest Book List:
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures. A major advance in our understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel chronicles the way that the modern world came to be and stunningly dismantles racially based theories of human history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of California's Gold Medal.
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlanksy
Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Kurlansky's kaleidoscopic history is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
From groundbreaking writer and thinker, Jared Diamond comes an epic, visionary new book on the mysterious collapse of past civilizations - and what this means for our future. Why do some societies flourish, while others founder? What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island or to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids? Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the temples at Angkor Wat? Bringing together new evidence from a startling range of sources and piecing together the myriad influences, from climate to culture, that make societies self-destruct, "Collapse" also shows how unlike our ancestors we can benefit from our knowledge of the past and learn to be survivors.
Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
The narrator of this extraordinary tale is a man in search for truth. He answers an ad in a local newspaper from a teacher looking for serious pupils, only to find himself alone in an abandoned office with a full-grown gorilla who is nibbling delicately on a slender branch. "You are the teacher?" he asks incredulously. "I am the teacher," the gorilla replies. Ishmael is a creature of immense wisdom and he has a story to tell, one that no other human being has ever heard. It is a story that extends backward and forward over the lifespan of the earth from the birth of time to a future there is still time save. Like all great teachers, Ishmael refuses to make the lesson easy; he demands the final illumination to come from within ourselves. Is it man's destiny to rule the world? Or is it a higher destiny possible for him-- one more wonderful than he has ever imagined?
The World That Trade Created brings to life the history of trade and its actors. In a series of brief, highly readable vignettes, filled with insights and amazing facts about things we tend to take for granted, the authors uncover the deep historical roots of economic globalization.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan abolished torture, granted universal religious freedom, and smashed feudal systems of aristocratic privilege. From the story of his rise through the tribal culture to the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed, this brilliant work of revisionist history is nothing less than the epic story of how the modern world was made.
Conquest in Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale
What distinguishes this book from numerous others (some 150) published on Columbus in this century is Sale's attempt to separate the man from the legend. He returns to the original sources to take stock of the "historical Columbus" and then traces the growth of the "heroic Columbus." Overall, his portrait of Columbus is not flattering. A rootless man who never fully understood the enormity of his discovery, Columbus spent his declining years making unreasonable demands of his sovereigns for his heirs. Sale reminds us that part of the Columbian legacy was environmental despoliation and destruction of native cultures. Most fascinating is his tracing of the Columbus legend from its origins in the 16th century to the present. The story of his transformation from a simple sea captain to a tragic hero is an engaging one, well told and copiously documented here. In the flood of new Columbus scholarship, this certainly merits a place on all libraries' shelves. BOMC and Quality Paperback Book Club alternates. - Brian E. Coutts, Western Ken tucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond
Research biologist (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands) Diamond argues that the human being is just a third species of chimpanzee but nevertheless a unique animal essentially due to its capacity for innovation, which caused a great leap forward in hominoid evolution. After stressing the significance of spoken language, along with art and technology, Diamond focuses on the self-destructive propensities of our species to kill each other (genocide and drug abuse) and to destroy the environment (mass extinctions). He also discusses human sexuality, geographic variability, and ramifications of agriculture (metallurgy, cultivated plants, and domesticated animals). Absent from Diamond's work is the role religion plays in causing both war and the population explosion as well as long-range speculations on the future of our species. This informative, most fascinating, and very readable book is highly recommended for all libraries. - H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.
It was a catastrophe without precedent in recorded history: for months on end, starting in A.D. 535, a strange, dusky haze robbed much of the earth of normal sunlight. Crops failed in Asia and the Middle East as global weather patterns radically altered. Bubonic plague, exploding out of Africa, wiped out entire populations in Europe. Flood and drought brought ancient cultures to the brink of collapse. In a matter of decades, the old order died and a new world—essentially the modern world as we know it today—began to emerge. In this fascinating, groundbreaking, totally accessible book, archaeological journalist David Keys dramatically reconstructs the global chain of revolutions that began in the catastrophe of A.D. 535, then offers a definitive explanation of how and why this cataclysm occurred on that momentous day centuries ago.
Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeil
Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated edition. Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.