This Fleeting World is the smallest book of big history, telling the story of the universe and history of humanity in less than one hundred pages. Prize-winning historian David Christian covers it all in this compact, accessible, and inspiring guide to the history of everything, from stars and empires to cities, the World Wide Web, capitalism, and globalization. (If you are looking for the edition designed for AP World History and other courses, please visit this page.)
This Fleeting World: A Very Small Book of Big History
“What a quick, convenient, and persuasive way to begin to understand the confusing world in which we find ourselves!” –William H. McNeill
“I hope this book will introduce a wider audience to this gifted scientist and teacher.” –Bill Gates
This Fleeting World: A Very Small Book of Big History, or the Story of the Universe and History of Humanity is the smallest book of big history, telling the story of the universe and history of humanity in less than one hundred pages. This is an updated version of the popular Teachers Edition, redesigned for the general reader. (If you are looking for the edition designed for AP World History and other courses, please visit this page.)
Prize-winning historian David Christian covers it all in this compact, accessible, and inspiring guide to the history of everything, from stars and empires to cities, the World Wide Web, capitalism, and globalization. David Christian’s approach to human history and big history is a call to action, based on a profound and fresh understanding of our place in the universe. This book is essential reading for our time.
David Christian asks big questions. Will contemporary challenges will lead to the emergence of a new global system capable of ecological, economic, and political stability? Or is the accelerating pace of change a prelude to a sudden, sharp collapse that will drive many parts of the world back to the productivity levels of the early agrarian era?
He presents our origin story and the history of women and men across the entire world, within the framework of the universe explaining, for example, that the chemicals we are made of come from supernovae. He tells the human story as a story of changes: changes in the ways we produce and distribute food, move from place to place, organize ourselves into communities, explore and populate our environment, and both create and respond to crises. He gives us maps of time, history on different temporal-spatial scales, and even offers paths to locate evidence that might challenge his big story.
Big history leads to strategies for building a more sustainable world, and Berkshire Publishing is proud to offer this new edition of a big history for our common future. The 2018 edition has been expanded and updated for the general reader; there is another bestselling edition designed for use with AP World History and other courses, which included a teachers’ guide.
David Christian, Macquarie University; Ewha Womans University
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Midwest Book Review –
A good read from beginning to end.
Terry Burke, University of California, Santa Cruz –
David Christian is the Copernicus of “Big History.” His approach [is] so capacious, conceptually rigorous, and challenging as to force the reconsideration of all histories written on a lesser scale. I strongly recommend it.
History teachers wrestling with the question “How do I teach all the stuff that makes up world history?” might find some answers here. Rather than focus on the minutiae of details, Christian suggests teaching from the big picture. When flying above familiar terrain, he writes, “From the plane you will not see many details, but you will get a clearer sense of the landscape. Individual objects may be blurred, but you will see the relationship between them more easily.” The book can easily be read in one sitting and should prove to be a valuable classroom resource.
Bill Gates –
I first became an avid student of David Christian by watching his course, Big History, on DVD, and so I am very happy to see his enlightening presentation of the world’s history captured in these essays. I hope it will introduce a wider audience to this gifted scientist and teacher.
William H. McNeill –
Julius Caesar famously summed up the surprises and confusion of ten years of war in Gaul with three Latin words: veni, vidi, vici – ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’ Here, David Christian performs a similar feat by summing up the surprises and confusion of 250,000 years of human history in just 92 pages; and improves on Caesar’s boast by showing how persistent collective learning expanded human skills, and enlarged our numbers, wealth, and power across the ages. What a quick, convenient, and persuasive way to begin to understand the confusing world in which we find ourselves!
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, professor of modern history, University of Notre Dame –
No one except David Christian could do it. He has a unique talent for mastering data, processing it efficiently, and writing it up lucidly. He can simplify without dumbing down and can be provocative without sliding into outrage. Readers can rely on him for a sensitive, well-informed, well-judged, reflective, and miraculously concise overview.
Bill Gates –
“I hope this book will introduce a wider audience to this gifted scientist and teacher.”