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Civilizations by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
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Civilizations (edition 2001)

by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

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569627,120 (3.88)6
Erudite, wide-ranging, a work of dazzling scholarship written with extraordinary flair, Civilizations redefines the subject that has fascinated historians from Thucydides to Gibbon to Spengler to Fernand Braudel: the nature of civilization. To the author, Oxford historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a society's relationship to climate, geography, and ecology are paramount in determining its degree of success. "Unlike previous attempts to write the comparative history of civilizations," he writes, "it is arranged environment by environment, rather than period by period or society by society." Thus, for example, tundra civilizations of Ice Age Europe are linked with those of the Inuit of the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi Mound Builders with the deforesters of eleventh-century Europe. Civilizations brilliantly connects the world of ecologist, geologist, and geographer with the panorama of cultural history.… (more)
Member:googoomuck
Title:Civilizations
Authors:Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Info:Pan Books (2001), Paperback, 656 pages
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Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

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A potpourri of insights into what makes a Civilisation, but lacks a unifying theme.
Read Mar 2004 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 29, 2015 |
The subtitle for Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's amazing book references culture, ambition and nature. These ideas are all central to his history of civilizations, but as he states near the end of the book it is a "book of places". That is an overriding theme that is underscored by the many diverse civilizations that he discusses. Thus the book is a history of civilizations, not one civilization; and it is also about the power and ambition of mankind that he uses to tame geography, ecology, climate and other animals to form cities. Although, the author argues in his introduction that cities are not a necessary condition of civilization no matter how frequently they have been associated with the rise of civilization in history. Like all history the book presents an empirical argument with examples of civilizations from grasslands and forests, arid and rain-filled climates, highlands and ocean-based areas. It is a tribute to the intelligence and adaptability of man that civilizations can be found in places as disparate as the Andes and the Aegean; the Euphrates and post-glacial European forests; the Indus, Yellow, and Yangtze rivers of Asia; and other places. The result of Civilizations wide-ranging, through time and geography, ruminations and revelations is a book that is informative and thoughtful. Undoubtedly controversial at times, it is an exciting read for anyone interested in the ability of man to create and mold the world into civilizations. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Apr 19, 2011 |
A decent book, but it's just uninspiring. The author has clearly aimed this book for a broad public by adopting a very simple and non-analytical approach to world history, grouping civilizations by climate. His wide range of examples is fairly entertaining but most of his generalizations are completely obvious to any person with a little bit of background in history and geography. Maybe this text would be best suited for an introduction to young students in world history.
  thcson | Apr 30, 2010 |
Civilization > History/Human geography/Human ecology/Nature > Effect of human beings on/Ambition > History
  Budzul | May 31, 2008 |
This book studies the largish topic of civilizations by the way in which environmental conditions shape its processes. Since in large part civilization is basically a reshaping of nature "in our own image," as the author says, this approach is able to draw interesting comparisons and contrasts between cultures in different times and places which more chronologically or ideologically focused studies are unable to do. Fun to peruse.
  mike.vaneerden | Sep 12, 2007 |
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