April 14, 2003

· Books

image I just finished reading Larry Gonick’s [](;http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/%3Cbr%20/%3E%0A%3CMTAmazonASIN%3E/%3CMTAmazonAssociateID%3E/ref=nosim/).

Yes, yes, I know I ought to be constantly poring over [](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN%3CMTAmazonASIN%3E/%3CMTAmazonAssociateID%3E/ref=nosim/) by the McNeills, or Michael Mann’s [](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/%3CMTAmazonASIN%3E%3CMTAmazonAssociateID%3E/ref=nosim/), or (for local color) Kenneth Pomerantz’s [](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/%3CMTAmazonASIN%3E/%3CMTAmazonAssociateID%3E/ref=nosim/) And in fact I may have looked into these here and there. But where’s the fun? Trying to keep track of the details of theories of world-historical development is like being on some nightmare episode of Jeopardy:

image

“Um, I’ll take Akkadians for 800, Alex.”

“I think you mean Assyrians.”

“Whoever it was that came down like a wolf on the fold. In purple and gold. Or so I was told.”

image Gonick’s epic cartoon version covers all that stuff incisively, reliably and with better jokes. The earlier volumes deal with a lot more besides. The original Cartoon History of the Universe starts at the beginning (the Big Bang) and goes up to Alexander the Great. The second volume takes us from the Springtime of China to the Fall of Rome. Altogether highly recommended.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.

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