An epic for our time, Big History begins when the universe is no more than a single point the size of an atom, squeezed together in unimaginable density, and ends with a twenty-first-century planet inhabited by 6.1 billion people. It’s a story that takes in prehistoric geology, human evolution, the agrarian age, the Black Death, the voyages of Columbus, the industrial revolution, and global warming. Historian Cynthia Brown visits the Vikings, the Mayas and Aztecs, the Incas, the Mongol empire, and the Islamic heartlands. Along the way she considers topics as varied as cell formation, population growth, global disparities, and illiteracy, creating a stunning synthesis of historical and scientific knowledge of humanity and the earth we inhabit.
Big History represents a new kind of history, one that skillfully interweaves historical knowledge and cutting-edge science. In an age of global warming, when the fate of the earth hangs in the balance, scientific advances permit us to see the universe as never before, grasping the timescales that allow us to understand the history of mankind in the context of its ecological impact on the planet. Cynthia Brown’s lucid, accessible narrative is the first popularization of this innovative new field of study, as thrilling as it is ambitious.