This innovative survey of world history from earliest times to the present focuses on the role of four factors in the development of humankind: climate, communication and transportation technology, scientific advances, and the competence of political elites. Matossian moves chronologically through fifteen historic periods showing how one or more of the causative factors led to significant breakthroughs in human history. Shaping World History is based on original research and also draws widely from the literature on the history of science, technology, climate, agriculture, and historical epidemiology. This compelling analysis is presented in a personal style and includes reflections on how things work and why they are important.
Part 1 Introduction - Major Causes of Breakthroughs: Climatic Changes; Technologies of Communication and Transportation; The Competence of Political Elites; Scientific Progress. Part 2 From Hominids to Humans - Biology, Geography and Climatic Change: Anthropology and Prehistory; Geography and Prehistory; How Climatic Changes are Reconstructed. Part 3 The First Farmers: The Origins of Agriculture; Mouldy Food and Mortality; Agriculture in Other Regions; Metallurgy, Pre-Writing and Trade; Transportation Technology and Trade; Toward the Birth of Civilizations. Part 4 The Birth of "Civilization" 3000-500 BC: Ploughing and Irrigation; The Invention of Writing in Eurasia; Social Control; Climatic Change for the Worse; Political Decentralization and Colonization; Bronze Metallurgy; Iron Metallurgy; Conclusion. Part 5 The Roman Empire and the Han Empire, 200 BC to AD 200: Population Trends; Political Organization; Political Thinking; Climatic Changes; Industrial Technology; Communication Technology; Transportation Technology; The Struggle for Character; Imperial Decline; Conclusion. Part 6 The Chinese Millennium, AD 500-1500: Climatic Change and Population History; Technological Improvements, 500-1000; 1000-1300; 1300-1500; The Decline of Chinese Inventiveness. Part 7 Reasoned Dissent - Printing, Universities and Transport: Mediaeval Universities and Reasoned Dissent; Printing with Movable Type; Urban Development and Transportation Technology. Part 8 Protestant Maritime Political Culture - the Breakthrough to Freedom: The Contrast with Mediaeval Feudal Monarchies; Continental Political Culture; Protestant Maritime Political Culture; An Example - The Society of Friends; How Did Protestant Maritime Political Culture Emerge?; Advantages of Protestant Maritime Political Culture; Conclusion. Part 9 The Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century: Copernicus; Galileo; Kepler; Newton. Part 10 The Population Explosion, 1700-1900: Origins of the Population Explosion; Climatic Change; Dietary Changes; Transportation and Trade; European Mortality Decline in the 19th Century; European Fertility Decline, 1875-1914; China's Population Explosion; Conclusion. Part 11 The Industrial Revolution in Britain: The Search for Explanations; Key Inventions in the Industrial Revolution; Progress in Chemistry and Physics; Communication at the Speed of Light; Conclusion. Part 12 Social Control Since 1789: Political Cultures and Literacy; The French Revolution of 1789 - Origins and Consequences; Nationalism; Democracy; Systematic Cooption; Social Control After 1918; Conclusion. Part 13 Darwin's Dangerous Idea: The Importance of Geology; Evolutionary Thinking in Darwin's Time; Early Life of Darwin; Why Darwin's Idea was Dangerous. Part 14 Breakthroughs in Science and Technology: The Influence of Steam Transportation; The Marriage of Science and Technology; Electricity in Industry; Industrial Chemistry; The Internal Combustion Engine; Conclusion. Part 15 (Part contents)