This is more a compendium than a book.
It takes us on a wide adventure across Earth and time in the last 20 thousand years since the last ice age, following mankind through its civilizations, its empires, the rise and fall of the currents of history meandering the way dictated by geography and climate, sociology and biology.
This not only tells us why the west rules, for now, but gives a most impressive and comprehensive history lesson; it’s been a while since I felt achieving something when finishing a book; <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/425618-understanding-is-a-kind-of-ecstasy”>Understanding is a kind of ecstasy</a>, no doubt.
The human revolutions, the technology and thought that each era needs to surpass the empire’s fall and transform the meaning of geography, the challenges civilizations face, the driving forces of mankind (greed and lazyness!), all that mixed with an entertaining narrative of mankind’s passage through this planet.
The author, a superstar in his domains, has done a massive amount of research, invented qualitative methods for measuring men and gave a presentable face to his findings; the development index he came up with is fascinating.
Halfway through the book I began wondering if he would make the final jump and talk —in the final chapter(s), of course— of the <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity”>Singularity</a>. I expected him to do so, as technology is the means with which civilizations level-up, and it appears to be in our immediate future; He did so.
A grand book that should be required reading in the schools of the world.
Here’s the professor, archaeologist, historian and academic himself giving a conference about this on the Oriental Institute, think of it as the tl;dr:
This image pretty much sums up the importance of geography in human affairs: