Book Review – List Book – Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

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It’s another history book – what can I say?

The king most noted for his riches, in the opinion of a Majorcan map-maker of the late fourteenth century, was to be found neither in Europe nor Asia. None of the long-established civilizations which had dominated the first third of the millennium could compete for reputed wealth with the recently risen empire of Mali…

Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe, Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, p. 191

However, this one is specifically a history of the time from approximately 1000 C.E. to approximately 2000 C.E. (a few references to back to around 980, and I believe the book was finished around 1997). This seems an unusual time period for a history book (inspired by the approach of the year 2000 at the time), because usually you get the history of a country (say the U.S. or the Roman Empire), or a particular event (World War II or the Crusades), or a century (the 1700’s). Or else a book will attempt to give the history of the world.

Though the thirties were blamed as an “infamous decade” by writers who resented the power of domestic capitalists and foreign imperialists, the real “lost moment” of Argentina’s economic history seems to have come later, during the Second World War and its aftermath.

Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe, Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, p. 524

The approach is different in another way too. The author has specifically sought out some of the less well-known aspects of history to write about. In most of the chapters, he begins by selecting a cultural artifact of a certain period to describe – a work of art or literature, or a building or ruin of a building or area – and expands the tale of whatever historical element he is elucidating from there. He is mostly less concerned with particular people or incidents, except as they may be indicative of an age or idea and more concerned with large entities of history like empires (the Mayan empire, or certain African empires, or China) or cultures (Eastern vs. Western Christianity, Pacific Rim, etc.).

At the end, he includes his guesses about where these cultures will go in the near future (as seen from 1997 or so).

Cover image from Goodreads.

Title:                     Millenium: A History of the Last Thousand Years

Author:                Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

Publisher:            Scribner                                                        

Copyright:           1995                                 

Format:                Paperback

Genre:                  History

ISBN:                    0-684-80361-5

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