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Centuries of Change: Which Century Saw The…
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Centuries of Change: Which Century Saw The Most Change? (2014)

by Ian Mortimer

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I found this very interesting, Mortimer takes various centuries and examines change during those centuries, pointing out that without this then that wouldn't have happened and at the end of each chapter he selects one thing that he prefers over all of them. It's a whirlwind tour of the world, well mostly Western Europe and some of America after invasion, but it's endlessly fascinating to hear what he selects. His coda (which is what he narrates) is also interesting and would be interesting to revisit in later years to see if much of what he posits would come true. ( )
1 vote wyvernfriend | Feb 20, 2018 |
This is really original and fascinating concept, looking at the last thousand years of Western history, which century has seen the most change?

Ian Mortimer is an excellent historian, his works on the Middle Ages are both entertaining and academic. here he has widened his remit to look at the key factors causing change over time and the proportionate effects. Taking each century in turn Mortimer explores the changes that took place economically, societally and scientifically and looks at their impact on life. He also considers which individuals had the biggest influence through their work.

What makes this book more that just a personal view of history is the attempt to quantify some of the information and actually produce a more scientific conclusion than mere opinion. Using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and a range of statistical sources Mortimer actually comes up with an answer. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Throughout the later part of 1999, many programs were dedicated to showing the impressive change in the 20th Century over any other time in the previous 1000 years. Author Ian Mortimer thought this was presumptuous and decided to research to find which century of Western civilization in the previous millennium saw the most change. In Centuries of Change Mortimer presents the fruits of over decade worth of research to general audience.

From the outset of the book Mortimer gives the reader the scope and challenge about defining and measuring change, especially when focusing in specific 100 year periods. Avoiding the cliché answers of bright, shiny objects and larger-than-life historical figures from the get go, Mortimer looked for innovations of cultural, political, societal, and technological significance that fundamentally changed the way people lived at the end of a given century than when it began. Throughout the process Mortimer would highlight those inventions or well-known historical individuals that defined those innovations of change which resulted positively or negatively on Western civilization. At the end of each chapter, Mortimer would summarize how the ‘changes’ he highlighted interacted with one another and which was the most profound in a given century and then identify an individual he believe was ‘the principle agent of change’.

The in-depth analysis, yet easily readable language that Mortimer wrote on each topic of change he highlighted was the chief strength of this book. The end of chapter conclusions and identification of an agent of change is built up throughout the entire chapter and shows Mortimer’s dedication to providing evidence for his conclusion. Whether the reader agrees or not with Mortimer, the reader at least knows why he came to those decisions. When coming to a decision about which century of the past millennium saw the most change at the end of the book, Mortimer’s explanation of the process in how he compared different periods of time and then the results of that process were well written and easily understandable to both general readers and those from a more scholarly background, giving the book a perfect flow of knowledge and thought.

Centuries of Change was geared for the general reading audience instead of a more academic one. While I do not think this is a negative for the book, it did allow for those editing the book as well as Mortimer in reexamining his text to miss several incorrect statements on events and personages that while minor do to missing a word or two, just added up over the course of the book.

While looking at the progression and development of Western civilization is always a challenging process, Ian Mortimer’s Centuries of Change gives readers glimpse of how different types of innovations impacted just a 100 year period of time. Very readable for general readers and a nice overall glimpse for more academic readers, this book is a thought-provoking glimpse in how human’s bring about change and responds to change. ( )
  mattries37315 | Feb 1, 2017 |
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Placidi, SabrinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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History's greatest tour guide is back. And he's ringing the changes. In a contest of change, which century from the past millennium would come up trumps? Imagine the Black Death took on the female vote in a pub brawl, or the Industrial Revolution faced the internet in a medieval joust - whose side would you be on? In this hugely entertaining book, celebrated historian Ian Mortimer takes us on a whirlwind tour of Western history, pitting one century against another in his quest to measure change. We journey from a time when there was a fair chance of your village being burnt to the ground by invaders, and dried human dung was a recommended cure for cancer, to a world in which explorers sailed into the unknown and civilisations came into conflict with each other on an epic scale. Here is a story of godly scientists, shrewd farmers, cold-hearted entrepreneurs and strong-minded women - a story of discovery, invention, revolution and cataclysmic shifts in perspective. Bursting with ideas and underscored by a wry sense of humour, this is a journey into the past like no other. Our understanding of change will never be the same again - and the lessons we learn along the way are profound ones for us all.… (more)

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