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How the World Made the West

A 4,000-Year History

Josephine Quinn



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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
04 June 2024
A Guardian, Financial Times, New Statesman, The Rest is Politics and Waterstones Highlight for 2024 'Quinn has done a lot more than reinvent the wheel. What we have here is a truly encyclopaedic and monumental account of the ancient world' THE TIMES 'A work of great confidence, empathy, learning and imagination' RORY STEWART 'Bold, beautifully written and filled with insights . . . Extraordinary' PETER FRANKOPAN 'One of the most fascinating and important works of global history to appear for many years' WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

The West, the story goes, was built on the ideas and values of Ancient Greece and Rome, which disappeared from Europe during the Dark Ages and were then rediscovered by the Renaissance. But what if that isn’t true?

In a bold and magisterial work of immense scope, Josephine Quinn argues that the real story of the West is much bigger than this established paradigm leads us to believe. So much of our shared history has been lost, drowned out by the concept – developed in the Victorian era – of separate ‘civilisations’.

Moving from the Bronze Age to the Age of Exploration, How the World Made the West reveals a new narrative: one that traces the millennia of global encounters and exchange that built what is now called the West, as societies met, tangled and sometimes grew apart. From the creation of the alphabet by Levantine workers in Egypt, who in a foreign land were prompted to write things down in their own language for the first time, to the arrival of Indian numbers in Europe via the Arab world, Quinn makes the case that understanding societies in isolation is both out-of-date and wrong. It is contact and connections, rather than solitary civilisations, that drive historical change. It is not peoples that make history – people do.
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
ISBN:   9781526605184
ISBN 10:   152660518X
Pages:   576
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Josephine Quinn is Professor of Ancient History at Oxford University, and Martin Frederiksen Fellow and Tutor of Ancient History at Worcester College, Oxford. She has degrees from Oxford and UC Berkeley, has taught in America, Italy and the UK, and co-directed the Tunisian-British archaeological excavations at Utica. She is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, as well as to radio and television programmes. She lives in Oxford.

Reviews for How the World Made the West: A 4,000-Year History

A revelatory account of how the ancient world was much wider and more interconnected than traditionally thought - and the lessons that holds for today -- What to Read in 2024 * Financial Times * Astounding . . . Both erudite and witty, sweeping and granular, this book is revisionist history at its best * i-news * Incredibly ambitious and wide-ranging, it connects disparate parts of the ancient world with dazzling shafts of insight and intuition, held together by vast scholarship, elegant prose and an enviable lightness of touch. It is not just revelatory, it is also hugely important, completely reframing our conception of the Western classical world as something whose influences and inspirations stretch far beyond 'Mare Nostrum', allowing us to understand just how globalised and interconnected mankind has always been -- WILLIAM DALRYMPLE Bold, beautifully written and filled with insights, How the World Made the West demands that we challenge traditional views of the past. An extraordinary achievement -- PETER FRANKOPAN An eye-popping, mind-blowing, ground-breaking juggernaut of an argument, from a writer ready to roar -- LUCY WORSLEY Erudite, inventive, playful – a work of great confidence, empathy, learning and imagination -- RORY STEWART No one but Josephine Quinn could have written a book like this - a book of enormous erudition and curiosity; a book that teaches you something new on almost every page. With a sense of growing political urgency, How the World Made the West reveals the folly of civilisational thinking. In its place, Quinn traces the many entangled paths of art, commerce, religion, and language, forging a deeper and truer understanding of our common world -- MERVE EMRE A masterpiece that gives us a new lens to understand 4,000 years of history -- OLIVETTE OTELE This book – full of memorable stories – is nothing less than a reorientation of the history of “the West.” Josephine Quinn persuasively shows that the mingling of cultures through trade and migration is as old as civilisation itself, breaking down the hackneyed idea of the uniqueness of the Greco-Roman world . . . This is a book to unite us in divided times -- SIR JONATHAN BATE Josephine Quinn is one of the few scholars writing today who could possibly present such a masterful sweeping overview as an accessible and compelling story . . . A marvelous, majestic book. This will be an instant classic -- ERIC CLINE Jo Quinn gives us a fascinating insight into the entanglements that have driven change in our collective past: the journeys, meetings, relationships and exchanges that, more than anything else, have helped shape our world today. It is a brilliant reminder that our human story is – and always will be – empty if we don’t acknowledge the ways in which we have constantly interacted with, and depended on, one another -- MICHAEL SCOTT

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