A History of the World in 100 Objects: From the Handaxe to the Credit Card by Neil MacGregor (2013, Penguin Books; 736 pages)
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, brings us a book to enjoy over and over again. The book takes a dramatically original approach to the telling of history, using objects that previous civilizations have left behind as a way to explore the lives of men and women.
A History of the World in 100 Objects tries to bring alive all sorts of objects, from a cooling pot to a golden galleon, from a Hebrew Astrolabe (a favorite) to a Suffragette-defaced penny (my absolutely favorite). And it does so in a way that is truly enjoyable, with great pictures and descriptions that don't stop with the objects, but go on to show us their significance in the context of where the objects appeared. If you enjoy finding out how Spanish pieces of eight explain the beginnings of global currency; how an early Victorian tea set reflects the impact of empire; how the Ain Sakhri Loves Figurine (another favorite chapter!) may embody a key response to a new way of living and a different way of humans to think about themselves, this is the book for you.
The book is an encyclopedic project because it embraces the history of humanity, a history of invention and innovation. The writing is wonderful, vivid, witty, and humorous. The contents are divided into twenty parts, starting with “Making us Human,” a period between 2,000,000 and 9000 BC and ending with “The World of Our Making” from AD 1914 to 2010. It also includes maps, a list of objects, a great bibliography, references, picture credits and text.
I read an object a day, and I didn't finish the book before I had to bring it back to the library. So I decided to purchase it, because it is one of those books that will call you over and over again. A book to find answers in the silent past, and a call to slow down. Delightful. Read it.
Find this title in our catalog: A History of the World in 100 Objects
Recommended by: Maite