Making Sense of World History is a comprehensive and accessible textbook that helps students understand the key themes of world history within a chronological framework stretching from ancient times to the present day.
To lend coherence to its narrative, the book employs a set of organizing devices that connect times, places, and/or themes. This narrative is supported by:
- Flowcharts that show how phenomena within diverse broad themes interact in generating key processes and events in world history.
- A discussion of the common challenges faced by different types of agent, including rulers, merchants, farmers, and parents, and a comparison of how these challenges were addressed in different times and places.
- An exhaustive and balanced treatment of themes such as culture, politics, and economy, with an emphasis on interaction.
- Explicit attention to skill acquisition in organizing information, cultural sensitivity, comparison, visual literacy, integration, interrogating primary sources, and critical thinking.
- A focus on historical “episodes” that are carefully related to each other.
Through the use of such devices, the book shows the cumulative effect of thematic interactions through time, communicates the many ways in which societies have influenced each other through history, and allows us to compare and contrast how they have reacted to similar challenges. They also allow the reader to transcend historical controversies and can be used to stimulate class discussions and guide student assignments.
With a unified authorial voice and offering a narrative from the ancient to the present, this is the go-to textbook for World History courses and students.
The Open Access version of this book has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.
Table of Contents
PART I: Organizing world history
1. Making sense of world history
PART I: Prehistory and ancient history
2. The Big History prelude: From the Big Bang to hominids
3. Evolution of human hature itself in early human history
4. A critical transformation: The development of agriculture, nomadism, and fishing
5. Some early impacts of agriculture: Key technologies and trade practices
6. Grappling with “civilization”: The development of cities, states, and writing
7. Early civilizations around the world
8. Belief systems: The nature and development of early religions
PART III: Classical history
9. Political Oorganization on an unprecedented scale: The classical empires
10. Similarities and differences: The Roman and Chinese Empires compared
11. The birth of missionary religions: Why and how did the world’s major religions emerge?
12. A new force in world history: The Islamic conquests
13. Eurasia in the centuries after the fall of the classical empires
PART IV: The Middle Ages
14. Seeking global commonalities: Some key thematic trends 900–1500 and beyond
15. Regional developments: Eurasia after 900
16. Regional developments: Polynesia, the Americas, and Africa
17. The Mongols and the largest ever contiguous empire
PART V: The Early Modern period
18. Thematic developments in the Early Modern period 1450–1800
19. Exploration and trade: Linking the continents
20. Comparing new empires in Asia
21. It seems so natural now: The emergence of the modern nation state
22. The Great Divergence: The rise of the European economy and military
PART VI: The nineteenth and twentieth centuries
23. Key thematic transformations of the long nineteenth century
24. Industrial revolutions: Innovation, factories, and economic growth
25. Political revolutions around the world: A diverse set of experiences with important commonalities
26. A unique historical transformation: The abolition of slavery and serfdom
27. Key thematic transformations of the twentieth century
28. Devastation and fear: War in the twentieth century
29. The worst of times and the best of times: The Great Depression and postwar recovery
30. An unprecedented development: Postwar decolonization
31. Population movements: Dramatic changes in the numbers, location, and health of humans
PART VII: Drawing lessons
32. Drawing lessons from History: Why, how, and what
Rick Szostak is a professor at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is the author of eighteen books and sixty journal articles spanning the fields of world history, economic history, history of technology, methodology, interdisciplinary studies, and knowledge organization.