When different cultures come in contact with one another, the impact on the course of history can be dramatic and unexpected. Encounters between separate societies or civilizations have resulted in the spread of major religions, vast migrations, scientific breakthroughs, the dissemination of powerful political notions, and many other transformations. This unique book brings to life key episodes of cultural contact in world history, from the beginnings of civilization to the present. Through a combination of vivid case studies and imaginative colour maps, award-winning history professor Peter Stearns shows how we can better understand world history by examining what happens when culture meets culture. New contacts can lead to assimilation, rejection, or, most often, a merging of elements from both cultures. Stearns focuses on fourteen important historical examples of intercultural exchange from around the globe. He considers: * the spread of major religions, such as Buddhism and Islam * voluntary and forced migrations, such as the Jewish and African diasporas * the dissemination of modern forces, including nationalism and Marxism * the impact of European colonial rule on gender relations in India and in Africa * recent international diffusion of consumer culture as well as much else. For each example, original maps reveal geographic patterns and provide a clear sense of the impact of that particular meeting of cultures.