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The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New: History and Human Nature in the Old World and the New [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Peter Watson

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Gebundene Ausgabe, 12. Januar 2012 EUR 30,38  
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12. Januar 2012
In 15,000 B.C. early humankind, who had evolved in Africa tens of thousands of years before, and spread out to populate the Earth, arrived in Siberia, during the Ice Age. Because so much water was locked up at that time in the great ice sheets, several miles thick, the levels of the world's oceans were much lower than they are today, and early humans were able to walk across the Bering Strait, then a land bridge, without getting their feet wet, and enter the Americas. Then, the Ice Age came to an end, the Bering Strait re-filled with water, and humans in the Americas were cut off from humans elsewhere in the world. This division - with two great populations on Earth, each oblivious of the other - continued until Christopher Columbus 'discovered' America just before 1500 A.D. This is the fascinating subject of THE GREAT DIVIDE, which compares and contrasts the development of humankind in the 'Old World' and the 'New' between 15,000 B.C. and 1500 A.D. This unprecedented comparison of early peoples means that, when these factors are taken together, they offer a uniquely revealing insight into what it means to be human. THE GREAT DIVIDE offers a masterly and totally original synthesis of archaeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, cosmology and mythology, to give a new shape - and a new understanding - to human history.

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The past, Peter Watson argues in this magnificent history of sixteen and a half millenia, is a whole series of foreign countries - and explaining the differences between them helps accounts for just about everything we take for granted in the here and now...Impossible, of course, to summarise this massive book in a small review. Sufficient, perhaps, to say that the year's first necessary read is here. -- Christopher Bray WORD MAGAZINE In drawing together evidence from complex strands of archaeology, climatology, genetics and religious symbolism, Watson is compulsively speculative. -- Peter Forbes THE INDEPENDENT Synthesizers like Watson play a valuable role in disseminating and linking up specialist research findings -- Peter Coates TLS 20120608 An ingenious work about the course of human history...The author seems to know everything about his subject and to hold an opinion on every issue, which he enthusiastically passes on...fascinating KIRKUS REVIEWS


Jared Diamond's 1999 international bestseller GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL sought to explain the rise of the West; why it was that the 'Old World' civilizations reached the point they could discover and conquer those of the 'New World'. Peter Watson develops this a great deal further. For 15,000 years mankind existed on both hemispheres of the planet but with no contact between them. Radically different civilizations produced startingly different mindsets and cultures. One would wipe out the other in within a generation of first contact. THE GREAT DIVIDE will be the first book to reveal just what was lost in the clash of civilizations that ended thousands of years of separate development. In IDEAS, Peter Watson demonstrated an impressive mastery of every historical discipline. Now he will bring his ability to tell a complex big story in an accessible way to explain how the very different conditions of the Americas affected human civilization, religion, agriculture, technology and above all, thought. Contrasting these strands with the history of the 'Old World' is a radical new way to examine the political and intellectual history of mankind.

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19 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Beautifully written; a delight for the mainstream reader 5. September 2012
Von Anne Rice - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Books like this have to be beautifully written. If they weren't, I doubt anyone would read them. What the book offers is an interpretative overview of history that is well documented and makes for compelling reading. There is a wealth of material here and great bibliography. A book like this prompts us to put in coherent form what we know about thousands and thousands of years of history. And I think our minds long for this coherence, long to make sense of the tons of data we have accumulated in modern times about our past, and the wilderness of specialized studies published every day that are too numerous for any one reader to ever fully examine. --- I found this highly readable and entertaining, an excellent book for the scholar and a delight for the mainstream reader who loves history and has wondered about many mysterious cultural developments and whether they are at all related. Quite an achievement. Quite a find. Highly recommended.
14 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen If you're a belt and suspenders type of guy this may not be the bo 20. September 2012
Von Lawrence Meyer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you're a belt and suspenders type of guy--that is, you want to see a case built up brick by solid brick--this may not be the book for you. Its subject is global, its sources multidisciplinary, and its theses one highly speculative suggestion after another. Paleoanthropology, human genetics and linguistics, plate tectonics, climatology, comparative religion and mythology--these are just a few of the threads the author attempts to weave into the tapestry. Most academics working in these fields I suspect would have their heads handed to them on a plate by their professional peers were they to attempt such breathtaking causal and chronological linkages as this author attempts.

I confess I have not finished the book and may revisit this review if and when I begin to make out where he is going with it. For now, that is precisely my major problem with it. I credit the author with sincerely attempting to tackle a gargantuan mass of matter that I now think beyond the ken of any brain I can name to master.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Mixed 23. August 2013
Von Marty McFly - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
At its best, this is a fascinating book that summarizes much recent scholarship about the divisions between the Old World and the New. At its worst, this is a frustratingly vague exercise in unsupported speculation. The unsupported argumentation, which pervades the book, is all the more disappointing because the core story is one that needs no flights of fancy to support. At the very least, it's never boring.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen CHEW ON THIS 16. Dezember 2013
Von Juliet Waldron - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The subtitle is: “Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New” which comes close to a summing up, for this is history—roughly, from 15,000 BC to 1500 AD--as seen through a compound eye composed of studies in archeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, climatology and mythology. It’s a massive (and often unwieldy) synthesis, with ideas and theories drawn from many disciplines, used to support a thesis about why the cultures of the New World evolved differently to the cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe, and, further, why the “discovery” of the 15th Century caused the great western civilizations to so speedily collapse. The wandering, highly speculative subject matter might drive a scientific specialist crazy, but as a writer and an avid reader of popular works by Jared Diamond, Barry Cunliffe, Brian Fagan, Spencer Wells, Bryan Sykes, J.P. Mallory et al, I couldn’t stop turning pages. There were points at which I was off the bus, but the “No Way!” moments didn’t, in the end, detract from my overall enjoyment. Copious notes and reference material are provided for further research. There is plenty here to provoke, educate and entertain. (Originally reviewed for the Historical Novel Society.)
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Outstanding 10. Januar 2014
Von jan winters - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
If you are a big picture person, this book is for you. Like Watson's History of Human Thought and Intellectual History of the Twenty Century, this book is meant to provoke you to think through some serious questions. Why would the people of the two hemispheres who share common ancestors develop so differently? I suspect most of us don't take the time to keep up with current research in different fields and most academics would be too cautious to make sweeping generalizations. Mr. Watson has attempted again to connect the dots from new research and to try to identify possible explanations - that have a rational basis - to age old questions. He is excellent at synthesizing and finding patterns.

A highly readable, thought provoking and an important contribution.
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