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The Curious Curator's Book Blog

Contemporary art curator. Student. Book addict. Art lover. Geek. Dreamer. Curious about everything. Check out my website http://thecuriouscurator.com/

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Centuries of Change by Ian Mortimer

Centuries of Change: Which Century Saw The Most Change? - Ian Mortimer

Centuries of Change looks at the previous ten centuries of Western history and asks: “Which century saw more change?”. The premise is intriguing and the book presents a complex, well-researched discussion of the evolution of Humanity’s way of life, and what is ultimately more important to us as members of a society, whether we realize it or not.

The choice to focus on the Western world is explained by the author, historian Ian Mortimer, right at the beginning, and makes sense if we consider that the Western world was the principal agent of change at the time, but still, it would have been nice to hear a bit more about the perspective of those people elsewhere. Also, I found the author’s choices of the most defining changes, and the agents of such change, in each century, strange, but I guess that’s because they ultimately hinge on personal beliefs on priorities - and, to be fair, the author also acknowledges this. And I did ultimately see the logic in his conclusions (though I won’t spoil them here). His reasoning that diminishing resources will eventually result in most of the Western world turning into oligarchies is, unfortunately, quite sound, and in some cases, that future is already here.

Still, this book is entertaining (though, ultimately, frightening) and it was interesting to discover a bit more about Western world history. It was fascinating to read about everyday life and the social, scientific, economical and political changes that brought us where we are today. My mother is a History teacher, so I’m perhaps in a privileged position when it comes to the discipline, and I was already familiar in general with a lot of the changes described in the book, but they're presented in such staggering detail that you can’t help but learn many new things, even if you’re a History buff. I can’t begin to imagine the amount of work that went into writing this book, which clearly demanded not only knowledge of History, but also of Geography, Sociology, Philosophy, Epidemiology… The list goes on. The final chapters were particularly gripping, and I found myself unable to put down the book.


In the end, this is a thought-provoking book that will make you wonder about your own life and that of your ancestors, and ponder the fragility of Humanity’s way of life. Recommended.


Note: I got this book for review purposes through NetGalley.