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APolitical History of the World A three thousand year history of the world that examines the causes of war and the search for peaceIn three thousand years of history China has spent at least eleven centuries at war The Roman Empire was in conflict during at least 50 per cent of its lifetime Since 1776 the United States has spent over one hundred years at war The dream of peace has been universal in the history of humanity So why have we so rarely been able to achieve itIn A Political History of the World Jonathan Holslag has produced a sweeping history of the world from the Iron Age to the present that investigates the causes of conflict between empires nations and peoples and the attempts at diplomacy and cosmopolitanism A birds eye view of three thousand years of history the book illuminates the forces shaping world politics from Ancient Egypt to the Han Dynasty the Pax Romana to the rise of Islam the Peace of Westphalia to the creation of the United NationsThis truly global approach enables Holslag to search for patterns across different eras and regions and explore larger uestions about war diplomacy and power Has trade fostered peace What are the limits of diplomacy How does environmental change affect stability Is war a universal sin of power At a time when the threat of nuclear war looms again this is a much needed history intended for students of international politics and anyone looking for a background on current events

  • Hardcover
  • 640 pages
  • APolitical History of the World
  • Jonathan Holslag
  • English
  • 04 July 2016
  • 9780241352045

About the Author: Jonathan Holslag

Works as a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders and teach international politics at the Free University Brussels His research focuses on the impact of China’s rise on global politics but he has also a strong interest in Europe’s position in the changing global order The Dutch version of his latest book How Europe Will Survive the Asian Century came out in 2014 His first



10 thoughts on “APolitical History of the World

  1. Charlie Charlie says:

    A concise summary of conflict war and peace from the beginning of states to the present Many wars are written and many are left out We learn It also briefly describes how about war and peace were thought about I knew about most of it from prior reading but it is always good to stay informed about the past I’m a sucker for big history so I lapped it up The author wrote it to cover the most important things that politicians diplomats and other decision makers should know One shortcoming of the book is that the conuests of the Spanish Empire could have been dealt with a bit thoroughly as well as its defeat that was a significant step in the rise of American power In the epilogue the author summarizes the book uickly discusses the theories of international relations and how none of the conflict has been moral But the author never considers the marked decline in violence and war as documented in The Better Angels of Our Nature Why Violence Has Declined which was disappointingI suggest you read this alongside War What is it Good For? which gives key information on the history of war and conflict

  2. Eleanor Eleanor says:

    It's nice to think of oneself as an eclectic reader and I think for the most part I genuinely am but recently I've been experimenting with reading things that really are very off brand for me and a three thousand year history of global diplomacy and warfare certainly ualifies Jonathan Holslag is a professor of international politics in Brussels which is both an occupation and a locale that would seem to euip him thoroughly to write this book For the most part it's delightfully informative covering Asian pre history and antiuity as well as the obvious Western empires There's much less about North and South American civilisations though Holslag acknowledges occasionally peoples like the Olmec and the Maya with the addendum that the documentary evidence for civilisations in these places is thinner on the ground This is probably true although it seems rather weak sauce The main problem though is that he covers so much in the way of historical event kingdom A fought kingdom B; kingdom B forced to defend against kingdoms C through E declined until its overthrow by kingdom F which had been uietly amassing strength for decades that he leaves little room for analysis or exposition regarding diplomacy which is in theory the purpose of the book It's of little interest to know about the vacillations of power amongst kingdoms A through F when the rationale or the psychology behind those vacillations remains largely unexplained 

  3. Tammam Aloudat Tammam Aloudat says:

    This is a difficult book to rate and evaluate on the one hand it is very well written and contains a massive amount of information and knowledge For once a world history book is not entirely western centric and a focus on the Middle East South Asia and China runs through it with almost the same attention that goes into the Western European part However it falls short of covering much of the American civilisations or the Sub Saharan African onesHowever this is not why the book doesn't deserve to be rated very highly The reason is implicit in its very idea describing the history of war and peace of three millenia in six hundred fifty pages This has reduced it to a shallow and rapid description of the main events It was often that whole kingdoms and cultures were touched in a paragraph or two and history changing events in a few pages There was little space for analysis before the last chapter and much of the descirption of events cannot be retained in memory with the hectic pace of writingThis book along with a few works of fiction is what I would give the first arrivals of an alien culture when their first guests arrive to earth knowing nothing about us so they can have the short version of our history and start thinking of how to deal with us The conclusion would be useful for them as well peace is not the natural state of humans be weary of us and know that we will stab shoot or blow you for power or for money whenever we have the chance

  4. Stephan Renkens Stephan Renkens says:

    The set up of this book is terribly ambitious finding patterns in the distribution of power political organization interaction between political entities relationship between man and planet and the nature of world politics by giving an account of three thousand years of history in terms of war and peace The result is sometimes very boring literature a long seuence of persons regimes and facts As a reader than once I felt completely lost in monotony The conclusion on the contrary is strong so just read the conclusion and you are fine For underlying evidence and illustrations however you must dive into the book The book has merits too Holslag divides the last three thousand years of history in twelve chapters of eual length each spanning a period two hundred and fifty years The whole world gets attention Regardless the period the history is told in a consistent modern way demonstrating that the ancient times are not so different from modern timesIn general Jonathan Holslag is uite pessimistic wars are just part of the human condition Peace is relative on only for the happy few Neither diplomacy nor trade put a stop on war Are we really unable to learn from history?A last comment on religion The book shows once again that religion throughout history is only there to organize people into societies Any religion is far a driver for war than a carrier of peace and morality Writing this I must think of Frans de Waal morality is much older than mankind see The Bonobo and the Atheist In Search of Humanism Among the PrimatesI read the book in Dutch

  5. Martin Waterhouse Martin Waterhouse says:

    This is a great overview of the rise and fall of the great and small states and empires over the last 3000 years concentrating on China India the Middle East and Europe with brief forays into the Americas What I really liked about it is that each chapter covers a couple of centuries and so put the various empires in context and it was nice to see what say the Mughals or the Han were up to as their contemporaneous European neighbours were doing their thing There wasn't enough analysis of the causes of peace or a dissection of the breakdown of diplomacy for my liking and what I was expecting from the blurb but it was a good birdseye view nonetheless

  6. Jonny Thomson Jonny Thomson says:

    This is a wonderful book for anyone who wants an overview and grand sweeping tour of global history It does a fantastic job of taking a viewpoint that isn't completely Western centric and in fact I'd say the defining narrative of the book is that since the dawn of man the central powers of the world have drifted across continents The book mainly focuses on five major areas where empires flow and ebb North Africa although this is the first 3rd China the Indian subcontinent Europe and MesopotamiaMiddle East The USA and the Americas feature hardly at all until the final chapter Unlike some reviewers I do not think this is a bad thing it's simply the emphasis of history and of historical records As you see how wealth power technology and political integration shifts across these areas Holslag gives a well constructed impression of how transient things really are The book loses a star simply because it's a bit inconsistent at times in where it chooses to devote attention For example the Song and Ming dynasties get a lot of space yet the Mongols arguably the most important development in the late middle ages are almost a side show Also the book is for me almost too fair in how it divides its chapters Eual space is given to the fairly uninteresting 250 500 period as the busy 1750 2000 This though is likely a matter of my personal preferences but find time could have been given to the technology age of exploration rise of America and Tsarist Russia etcA solid overview of world history though and I learned enough new things to rank it highly

  7. Emmanuel-francis Emmanuel-francis says:

    In terms of how much I enjoyed the text my rating would easily be Five Stars The words jump out to you yelling PAY ATTENTION And I did However as a work of synthesis there are small errors of historical dating names and places; not everywhere mind you blink and miss Further the lesson advanced at the end of our romp the benefits of knowledge edged with humility in our dealings with each other is undeniable It is however unoriginal confirmation of lessons avid history lovers would have already picked up many times At least I have hence the one star really a half star knock offI have and will heartily recommend this book It is a sigh 'timely' reminder that we have a civilisation but only if we can preserve it PS It is entirely the author's fault that from now on all misfortune I may come across shall be met with the cry 'ohh I have seen the wilderness of this world'

  8. Arnoud De Meyer Arnoud De Meyer says:

    How can you summarise 3000 years of wars and peace in 556 pages Holslag does a reasonably good job partially he has an interesting framework He explains uite well this framework in the first chapter and it helps ps in reading the book But it is of course one’ll one lens to look at political history I enjoyed reading the book but his analysis of history is also deeply disturbing and pessimistic There seems to be no hope but that we will be going into the next war I hope he is wrong but I fear he is right

  9. Charles Charles says:

    It doesn't really deliver what it purports to sell a history of war and diplomacy but if you're just looking for a relatively compact summary of the major political developments over the 3000 years since the arrival of Iron this is a pretty good read Obviously very little depth but as someone who has a bit of trouble holding the big picture in my mind when digging into specific cases this was very helpful to deliver some context

  10. Gordon Gordon says:

    The concluding chapter redeems what is otherwise a difficult readbut once you’ve read the final chapter the logic of Jonathan Holslag’s cumbersome and repetitive review of regimes empires nations and cultures makes sense Political history does than “rhyme” it repeats a series of underlying principles over and over again

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