Jeremy Lent set out to prove a theory about humanity that interprets the history of the human race as a search for meaning based on certain long-term “big ideas”. Whether he proves this theory or not, this wide ranging account of history and prehistory throughout the world creates a wonderful background for developing an understanding of where we have come from and who we are.
Lent does not hide his ecological leanings and indeed proposes that as hunter gatherers, we were naturally in tune with our environment. First agriculture and then monotheistic religions led us away from this “Garden of Eden” towards a culture that considered nature and our environment as merely tools and resources to be used to our own selfish ends. These are big themes, but they do ring true.
Ever since I read H G Wells’s “Short history of the world” as a teenager, I have been looking for a modern encyclopedic account of developments in human culture over time drawing in the many different civilisations that rose and fell across the globe. This is definitely it! I think this book could help lead many people towards an enlightened view of humanity’s impacts, responsibilities and place in the living world. It is clear that change will be needed if we are to have any hope of shaping a sustainable future.