Friday, November 5, 2010

The Human Web by McNeill & McNeill

The full title of this book is The Human Web, A Bird’s eye view of World History. The Authors are father and son of J. H. McNeill and William H. McNeill. Both these historians are great writers and write history as it should be written (unlike the Times History of the World). Both of these writers have interesting things to say and have interesting view points on history. If you read any of these books, you will not be disappointed.

Thought Eurasia there was a cycle of steppe conquest and native resurgence. Most civilizations governments of Eurasia were at one time descendants of steppe conquerors, either directly or indirectly. It was Chinese armies after 1757 that destroyed the last steppe confederation to challenger an agrarian empire in Eurasia.

They make some other interesting comments on China, which had a market system going back a very long way. They also talk about how the Muslim and Chinese economic enterprises were all management by extended families. The strength of family ties made it difficult or impossible to trust outsiders and this limited the scale of their economic enterprises.

In European societies, the extended family ties were weak and we instead developed stock companies. In European rural areas, people worked in plow teams where members of the team came from different families. If a member of a team did not do their fair share of the work or did not deal honestly with his fellows, then they could be excluded from a plow team the next year, a dire penality. The plow team required mutual trust and cooperation beyond the limits of blood. Could this be why Europeans were prepared to trust one another?

For a book review see www.foreignaffairs.com and at Goliath Business Knowledge.

See an entry for J. R. (John Robert) McNeill on Wikipedia at J. R. McNeill and for William H. McNeill on Wikipedia at William Hardy McNeill.

You can find William H. McNeill on Youtube. William H. McNeill talks about the study of history and how he came to write the Rise of the West at McNeill. See also William H. McNeill and David Christian discuss "Big History" at YouTube. David Christian has written “Maps of Time - An Introduction to Big History”.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See McNeill. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

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