By William H. McNeill, Jerry Bentley, David Christian
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Extra resources for Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, 2nd Ed.
The benchmark against which future history encyclopedias [will be] compared” (Booklist) and an “engaging analysis of how history has been shaped” (Choice). Students and teachers at the high school and college levels, as well as scholars and professionals, adopted the ﬁrst edition as a deﬁnitive work for a connected, holistic, view of world history—the story of humans and their place on Earth. Now, six years later, we are proud to publish a revised six-volume second edition with continued emphasis on the broad themes that help students orient themselves in world history, and an even greater At a White House ceremony in February 2010, President Obama presented the National Humanities Medal to William H.
As usual, a few restless thinkers responded. The most notable were Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) in Germany and Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975) in Great Britain, both of whom elaborated on classical notions of cyclical rise and fall by treating western Europe as one of several parallel civilizations that followed similar, perhaps even identical, patterns of growth and decay. Spengler and Toynbee both attracted many readers by offering a new explanation for the shifting currents of world affairs, but academic historians paid scant attention, busy as they were pursuing ever more numerous hotly debated questions about speciﬁc times and places in the past.
About three centuries later, the Chinese historian Sima Qian (c. 145–85 BCE) brought Chinese historical records, already voluminous, into comprehensible order by writing a comparably far-ranging account of China’s ruling dynasties from their beginnings, including their relations with a wide circle of adjacent barbarians. Faint traces of contact between the Chinese and Mediterranean worlds have been detected in Herodotus’s remarks about mythical peoples living somewhere beyond Scythia, but for all practical purposes the historiographical traditions of China, Greece, and the biblical scriptures remained independent of one another for many centuries.