Title: Atlas of the Year 1000
Publisher: Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Black Cloth
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Almost Fine
Edition: First US Edition.
Pp. 144, richly illustrated in colour and black & white. Size: Small Quarto. Bookseller Inventory # 18240
This dazzling book takes us on a voyage of discovery around the world at the turn of the last millennium, when for the first time the world was in essence a unity. Islam bridged Eurasia, western Europe, and North Africa. Vikings, with links to Scandinavia and Russia, had just arrived in North America. These and other peoples reached out to create links and put isolated cultures unwittingly in touch. John Man vividly captures these epochal events, and depicts the colorful peoples that defined the world's mix of stability and change, of isolation and contact. In an immensely learned portrayal, he traces enduring cultural strands that became part of the world as we know it today.
In text, maps, and pictures, most in color, and drawing on the expertise of two dozen consultants, John Man has created a concise compendium of all the major cultures of the lost millennial world of 1000. In some cultures--Europe, Islam, China, and Japan--written records contain a vast range of materials, often revealing sharply focused details of life and personality. Here lie startling contrasts with today's world, and even foreshadowing of the future that are equally astonishing in their familiarity. For nonliterate cultures--in the United States, Southeast Asia, Polynesia, Africa--this book draws on a wealth of archeological research, some of it made available to nonspecialists for the first time.
Review: The title is disingenuously precise. Around the turn of the last millennium, time bore a different complexion; indeed, it was expressed through a variety of calendars. The notion of a millennium would occupy a book in itself (and has: see Stephen Jay Gould's terrific Questioning the Millennium), so rather than box himself in, anthropologist John Man wisely attempts a general appraisal of the late-10th-and-early-11th-century world, and how it hung together.
And it did hang together. Vikings were in Vinland (Canada's Newfoundland today), Basques were roaming the oceans, Polynesians roamed the South Seas, and the Jews were the blood coursing through the new-born community's veins, linking empires with their indomitable trading. Recognizable events included the murder of Malcolm, later to be immortalized in That Scottish Play, the writing of The Tale of Genji, possibly the world's first novel, the Battle of Maldon, and the carving of the Easter Island statues. John Man takes on this developing world methodically, moving across the continents, taking each people in turn and in a couple of pages outlining their status in historical and cultural contexts, past and present. Of course, some are easier to trace than others, with the world dividing into those with a written culture and those without; however, large expanses that were previously a mystery, such as sub-Saharan Africa, are only now starting to turn up illuminative archaeological remains and artifacts. As ever, the past is in the future, and will be for many years to come. There is a lot here to digest. The sweep of this book is refreshingly broad and cosmopolitan--for a more Anglocentric perspective, read Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger's The Year 1000. John Man's brief history of a time is more globally connective, broadsheet rather than tabloid, and while there is inevitably a hint of the textbook about it, liberal use of illustrative maps and photographs breaks up the text at apposite points. In a cluttered field, and at a cluttered time, it delivers an instructive and timely historical bookmark. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk
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