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The Great Divide

Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New

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In The Great Divide, acclaimed author and historian Peter Watson explores the development of humankind between the Old World and the New, and offers a groundbreaking new understanding of human history.

By 15,000 BC, humans had migrated from northeastern Asia across the frozen Bering land bridge to the Americas. When the last Ice Agecame to an end, the Bering Strait refilled with water, dividing America from Eurasia. This division continued until Christopher Columbus voyaged to the New World in the fifteenth century.

The Great Divide compares the development of humankind in the Old World and the New between 15,000 BC and AD 1,500. Combining the most up-to-date knowledge in archaeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, cosmology, and mythology, Peter Watson’s masterful study offers uniquely revealing insight into what it means to be human.

From Publishers Weekly

Apr 30, 2012 – Watson, a former senior editor at the London Sunday Times, explores the radically different cultures and fates of the Eastern and Western hemispheres in this sweeping comparative history from the last Ice Age to the Columbian contact. His analysis spotlights gross environmental disparities: compared to the Old World, the Americas had a smaller land mass and population, a geographical layout that impeded cultural and technological exchange, a dearth of domesticable plants and animals and an unstable climate and terrain wracked by hurricanes, droughts, volcanoes, and earthquakes. But Watson reaches further sometimes implausibly far in linking physical and ecological conditions to ideology and religion; he contends that the New World s frequent geoclimatic disasters provoked rites of human sacrifice to propitiate angry gods, and that the Old World s experience with animal husbandry helped engender both the Judeo-Christian tradition and rationalism. Watson (The Caravaggio Conspiracy) integrates reams of multidisciplinary scholarship into an ambitious and stimulating unifying framework. Inevitably, some of his speculations feel forced, especially on the meanings of the New World s bloodthirsty rituals and shamanistic jaguar deities, which feel like exotic enigmas beside the more familiar narrative of Old World progress. Still, like Jared Diamond s Guns, Germs, and Steel, his grand-scale history contains fascinating insights at every turn. B&w illus.; maps.
The Great Divide
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  • $8.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Jun 26, 2012
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 640 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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