The History of the Ancient World

The History of the Ancient World covers the “earliest accounts” through the fall of Rome.

I think my main takeaway from this book is that the ancient world was an awful place. It seems like the default way that power was transferred from one person to another was via assassination, often by a family member. Often the children of royal families were killed in order to prevent their ascension to the throne.

I don’t remember a lot of what was in the book (natch) and it was honestly pretty hard for me to follow due to the esotery of the material and the fact that I often have a hard time grasping/remembering stuff in general. It was kind of interesting to get a high-level view of the history of the world though.

I think the reason I picked this book up is because I like the idea of having an understanding of the world from its very beginning. A number of years ago I read Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan which describes the origin of the human species and the biological reasons why we have racism, why we have a bias toward family members and people geographically close to us, and why we have a taboo against incest. I also read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond around the same time which answers the question of why technology progressed faster in certain parts of the world than in others. (The answer had to do with the plants and animals available for use on different continents, the shapes of the continents, and some other stuff I don’t remember, as opposed to anything to do with the inhabitants themselves.)

So I guess this book helped put another little puzzle piece in place as far as who we are and where we came from. It also made me appreciate today’s world. We have some bad stuff going on, like global warming, deforestation, general environmental destruction, the threat of nuclear war, mass government surveillance, the threat of machine intelligence, the obesity and lifestyle disease epidemic and some other awful things, but I also understand it’s true that the world is the safest it’s ever been. We don’t have to worry so much about hunger, disease, war, crime, and many of the other things that were a worse problem many years ago. This book helped me appreciate that.

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