Saturday, 13 February 2021

Guest Review: Treasures of World History By Peter Snow & Ann MacMillan

A spirited examination of world history, told through 50 key documents, by two celebrated historians and journalists. With a wealth of experience between them on political, social, cultural and military history, and today's current affairs, Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan are the perfect guides to appreciating the significance of each document.

Chapters are devoted to each of the 50 documents across the political, military, artistic, and scientific spheres, and supported by additional contemporary images. The documents themselves have been researched from the collections of national archives, museums, libraries, and private collections around the world. The authors explain their criteria for selection and provide the pertinent details of each one, taking us on a journey from the scripts of the earliest civilizations through to momentous speeches and papers of today.





Review:The sub-title of this book is: The Story of Civilisation Told Through its 50 Most Important Documents. Married couple and journalists Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan have selected 50 original documents, spanning a period of approximately 4,000 years, that played a significant role in the development of civilisation. These documents have been sourced from various archives and cover a range of fields of human endeavour in politics, religion, music, science and sport.

The book is divided into four sections, namely: the Bronze and Iron Ages; the Medieval and Early Modern Periods; the so-called Age of Revolution, covering the late 18th to the late 19th centuries; and the 20th century and beyond. Hence, the documents range from a stone plaque inscribed in approximately 1750 BC with a series of edicts known as the Code of the Babylonian king Hammurabi, to the Map of the Universe created by a team of astronomers in 2013. Hence, a wide range of documents are described, including: Magna Carta; the American Declaration of Independence; Anne Frank’s Diary; and the final draft of Francis Crick and James Watson’s letter to the scientific journal “Nature” proposing a double helix model for the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Each document is accompanied by a summary, illustrations, a description of the circumstances under which it was created, and the consequences following its dissemination.

In an introduction to the book, the authors describe their difficulty in narrowing down their list to just 50 documents (and indeed what constitutes a document). In the end, those documents included reflect their personal choices. I found this lavishly illustrated book to be a fascinating way to explore the development of human civilisation throughout the ages. It would also be a useful exercise for readers to think about what their selection of documents would be.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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