Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review: Watersheds of World History: Civilizations Rediscovered

Watersheds of World History - From Monarchies to Democracy and From Myth to Reason written by John L. Taylor exceeds in delivering that what it claims through its title. It is a marvelous renaissance of a detailed walk through the past of earth starting from where the civilization put its first step on the earth. I can bet that if you never had any interest in history of mankind and civilizations, you will become a big fan of this book right from the moment you start reading it. It happened not only because the context has been sequenced to fantastically, but it also hold your hand and walks you along through each page of the book passing through birth of civilization on the earth right up to the day of its modernization leaving us back to the place where we are today.

All credit goes to John L. Taylor for writing such a lovely book that holds you closely while opening up amazing facts about our civilization growth right since its inception. It is a very simple, engrossing and easy to understand book without any complication of maps, references, dates or images to grasp and remember. Nonetheless at no point you loose the grip and interest during any of your journeys to various parts of the world through different pages of this book.

The moment I started reading this book, I began encountering useful referral matter important for one reason or the other. So, I decided to mark those important points with pencil of pen so as to refer to them at a later stage as and when required. Finally when I was at the verge of completing Watersheds of World History, I noticed that almost every page had paragraphs, lines etc. marked throughout. What it means is that there is a lot of useful and important stuff lying on each page of this book written by John L Taylor. Based on the matter covered in this book, I am sure that it is going to get a place in all good libraries throughout the world, in all countries. Probably in some schools/ universities it might become a text book or a reference book prescribed by local education administrations.

The fantastic and adventurous journey starts right after the end of ice age that was almost 9000 BC (or a little more) when hardly a small amount of mankind was into existence surviving in very small groups having no civilization in place and mostly moving from one place to another. There was no fire, no language, no culture and all that these nomadic knew was hunting (animals) and gathering (leaves, fruits from plants/ trees). Nature was in abundance and there was a huge scarcity of knowledge with this humankind. Initial traces of these small nomadic groups are reported near Arabian Sea, Deserts of Arabia, Tigris river, Mediterranean Sea, Jordan river, Dead Sea, and Nile river. Initially they were just limited to staying at small places and dependent merely on animals and fruits. Gradually they started depending on rivers nearby and fishing as a source of food.

It took a little time for them to move to sea, ships and travelling across the sea to move from one location to another distanced miles apart. That is why initially they were known as People of the Rivers. Sumer and Egypt were two places where civilizations started growing separately with different ideologies and thoughts. Egypt people used to think that there is a world below this earth where people when die start living there. They also thought that when Sun sets in the evening, it goes to the other part of world and comes back in the morning. That made their thinking stronger that people who die will come back again on this earth.

Soon there were empires and people of the rivers became people of the Sea. Language and Reason took birth among the mankind. Alexandria became a great knowledge hub. The credit for this goes to Ptolemy for building large institutions, museums and libraries for scholastic and scientific researches. A large library in Alexandria was built (that exists even today) where one could find 500,000 manuscripts at that time. By the time Cleopatra died in 30 BC, Egypt flourished and groomed like anything. Gradually with the increase in civilizations, mankind and knowledge - empires and republics started. Rome became a big power during that period.

Christianity, initially faced a lot of troubles and Christians were treated as enemies by all others - viz Jews, Romans and other European places. Gradually many religions emerged and a number of great emperors gave lot of space to all religions, faiths and communities.


Overall this book would be a point of interest and curiosity for anyone belonging to any age. Probably one can have it as a part of its personal library as a good reference book for digging through the facts related to history of the world.