Books: A great collection of history
TIME Magazine is known for its annual top picks, but now Time Home Entertainment Inc. and the editors of TIME have accomplished a monumental feat: Squeezing the world’s greatest events into just 100 moments, depicted in 154 pages.”Time History’s Greatest Events: 100 Turning Points That Changed the World: An Illustrated Journey” showcases four major time periods: the Ancient World, the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment and Modern Times. It first opens to a photo of a woodcut-print world map from 1507, which in and of itself is fascinating. Beyond this double-page layout lies information for which to ponder and inspire awe.As the editors point out, not everyone will agree with their distillation of history. For one, it represents history from the viewpoint of United States journalists and editors. The editors write: “The broad current driving world events today are more random (than such things as the cold war and World War II); they include a new age of international terrorism, China’s rapid rise as a world economic power, the advent of the World Wide Web and a global renascence in the religion of Islam.” Perhaps that’s true, or maybe history is more easily capsulated after multiple decades- and even centuries- put it into greater context.Regardless, TIME’s encapsulation is fascinating, not only in art and information, but also in its ability to spark the intellect. It recounts the dawn of the alphabet, falls and rises of civilizations and horrendous illnesses in early times; the Renaissance’s huge advancements in terms of the printing press, Columbus’ voyages, Russian transformation and Newton’s laws; and the Age of Enlightenment’s Declaration of Independence in the U.S., the rise and fall of Napoleon, the advent of the railroad, invention of photography, radio, cinema and telephone and Freud’s discovery of the unconscious. (Would these have made your list?)Modern times reflects airplane flight, Einstein’s interpretation of the universe, the dawn of the automobile, more war, more illness, countries’ independence, the decoding of DNA, civil rights, oil wealth and, of course, the World Wide Web phenomenon. Full-page and colorful photos and illustrations add another dimension to the one-page write-ups, which sometimes summarize, say, how Constantine Reshapes The Roman Empire, in three paragraphs. One interesting note is how color fills the collection, until readers reach the Modern Times, depicted mostly in black-and-white, which makes sense in terms of the development of photography but also adds a tinge of gloom, or at least makes a person question what kind of times we live in. Then again, reviewing the other three ages, plenty of war took place then, too. It’s just a little sad to see humans haven’t come too far on that particular issue. Still, spectacular accomplishments, like pyramid building and landing on the moon act to buoy spirits.Whether you page through this book or read it page by page, word for word, it’s like touring some of the world’s greatest museums, looking at the archives of what brought us to our modern-day existence, through rich photos of such artifacts as 14th-century marble bas relief, a carved wall in the ancient capital of Persia in 330 B.C., and a manuscript of the Declaration of Independence, with edits.
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