In Search of the First Civilizations, Paperback

In Search of the First Civilizations Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Five thousand years ago there began the most momentous revolution in human history.

Starting in Mesopotamia, city civilization emerged for the first time on earth, to be followed in Egypt, India, China and the Americas.

The ideals of these ancient civilizations still shape the lives of the majority of mankind. "In Search of the First Civilizations" (previously published as Legacy) asks the intriguing question: what is civilization?

Did it mean the same to the Chinese, the Indians and the Greeks?

What can the values of the ancient cultures teach us today? And do the ideals of the West - a latecomer to civilization - really have universal validity?

In this fascinating historical search, Michael Wood explores these ancient cultures, looking for their essential character and their continuing legacy. "A brilliant exploration." - "Sunday Times". "Well-written, gorgeous and guaranteed to induce thought...Wood takes great care to put everything in a large historical perspective, which is actually more disturbing than comforting." - "New York Post".


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages, Illustrations, maps
  • Publisher: Ebury Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780563522669



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Michael Wood's clear writing renders his overview of the "First Civilisations" (as defined by him, based on a fairly Western definition of civilisation) easy to read as well as informative. He's generally aware of colonialism and his own potential bias. He does his best to explore the ancient civilisations of Iraq, India, China, Egypt and the Americas on their own merits, though he frequently lapses into wondering about what merit they could have for our own civilisation's future, particularly in the last section of the book.<br/><br/>Well-illustrated and, as with his other books, more of an overview than anything, but worth picking up for an introduction. I didn't know all that much about these civilisations apart from the official colonial myths still taught in schools. (E.g. the Mayans doing human sacrifices and needing to be subdued for their own good.)