“A History of the World in 100 Objects” by Neil MacGregor


The concept sounds way cool, but actually the book is kind of boring to read all the way through.  The author tries hard, but the groupings of different objects do not yield a free-flowing narrative at all.  It also suffers from being (I suppose) basically a transcription of an audio broadcast.  If you have interest, I would recommend surfing through the British Museum website about the series rather than slogging through the book.

I read through to the end though, because several of the objects were kind of interesting and off the beaten path of a typical Western history of the world.

But then again, my short list of cool objects (below) is solely from that Western history… West is Best, I guess?  (don’t hate me)

  • Rhind Mathematical Papyrus – I just like the idea of Egyptian math.
  • Rosetta Stone – pretty much the crown jewel of the British Museum.  (Wait, unless the have the actual Crown Jewels?  Nah, I think that’s the Tower of London…)
  • Sutton Hoo Helmet – just looks cool!
  • Pieces of Eight – the first global currency, beloved by pirates and parrots alike.  Never heard of the Potosi silver mines before … guess they were pretty important!

Main takeaway: The world has always been surprisingly connected.  Lots of objects could only have been made with materials found far away from where the object was created/used/found.


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