Man through the Ages: From the Origins to the Eighteenth Century

Man through the Ages: From the Origins to the Eighteenth Century

Man through the Ages: From the Origins to the Eighteenth Century

Man through the Ages: From the Origins to the Eighteenth Century

Excerpt

Anyone who stands on Win Green, above Cranborne Chase in Wiltshire in England, can look east to the New Forest and Solent and south to the Purbeck hills, then along the high country behind Dorchester, Bridport, and the coast; while westward lies Mendip, and to the north, Martinsell and the line of the Marlborough downs. Though he cannot discern the details of the landscape, even a newcomer to the country can take in the structure of a large part of southern England. Similarly, anyone who observes the great prospect eastward from Monticello, in America, across the woods towards the sea, and westwards, over Charlottesville and the University, to the dramatic line of the Blue Mountains, can apprehend the structure of the Virginian landscape.

Today, with modern knowledge, one can quite well take comparably vast views in time, and apprehend the essentials, if not the detail, of the main structure of world history, the geo-political and cultural data which have come down to us and condition our world. And if the time-traveller can never see for himself all that went on in that long vista of the past, he can gather a great deal, in the light of modern knowledge and transport, from the written records and from geography; from archaeology, economic history, literature and the arts. Anyone with the will to do so can now grasp the main landmarks in the development of the chief civilizations. Their sequence becomes as intelligible and familiar as that, for an Englishman, Tudors, Stuarts and Hanoverians succeeded one another; or, for an American, that the oligarchy of Washington and Jefferson was succeeded by Jacksonian democracy, or the original preponderance of the Eastern States by the impact of the Middle West. Yet, while communications increasingly annihilate distance and television presents a panorama of the world, few people are familiar with even the outlines of the history of the Far East, of the Hindu and Muslim civilizations, let alone with the background of Africa or of pre- Columbian America. Yet all are highly relevant to the modern world. The debt of our own civilization to Greece, Israel and Rome is widely appreciated, but few who are not experts under-

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