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The World

By: Simon Sebag Montefiore
Narrated by: Ajjaz Awad,Ako Mitchell,Anna Cordell,Ayesha Dharker,Damian Lynch,Gunnar Cauthery,Jonathan Aris,Kevin Shen,Lara Sawalha,Leighton Pugh,Lucian Msamati,Nabiha Akkari,Nneka Okoye,Rachel Handshaw,Raj Ghatak
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Publisher's Summary

THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR

ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

From the master storyteller and internationally bestselling author - the story of humanity from prehistory to the present day, told through the one thing all humans have in common: family.

We begin with the footsteps of a family walking along a beach 950,000 years ago. From here, Montefiore takes us on an exhilarating epic journey through the families that have shaped our world: the Caesars, Medicis and Incas, Ottomans and Mughals, Bonapartes, Habsburgs and Zulus, Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Krupps, Churchills, Kennedys, Castros, Nehrus, Pahlavis and Kenyattas, Saudis, Kims and Assads.

A rich cast of complex characters form the beating heart of the story. Some are well-known leaders, from Alexander the Great, Attila, Ivan the Terrible and Genghis Khan to Hitler, Thatcher, Obama, Putin and Zelensky. Some are creative, from Socrates, Michelangelo and Shakespeare to Newton, Mozart, Balzac, Freud, Bowie and Tim Berners-Lee.

Others are lesser-known: Hongwu, who began life as a beggar and founded the Ming dynasty; Kamehameha, conqueror of Hawaii; Zenobia, Arab empress who defied Rome; King Henry of Haiti; Lady Murasaki, first female novelist; Sayyida al-Hurra, Moroccan pirate-queen. Here are not just conquerors and queens but prophets, charlatans, actors, gangsters, artists, scientists, doctors, tycoons, lovers, wives, husbands and children.

This is world history on the most grand and intimate scale - spanning centuries, continents and cultures, and linking grand themes of war, migration, plague, religion, medicine and technology to the people at the centre of the human drama. As spellbinding as fiction, The World captures the story of humankind in all its joy, sorrow, romance, ingenuity and cruelty in a ground-breaking, single narrative that will forever shift the boundaries of what history can achieve.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

A history of the world from the Neanderthals to Trump. It's a rollicking tale, a kaleidoscope of savagery, sex, cruelty and chaos. By focusing on family, Montefiore provides an intimacy usually lacking in global histories. [It] has personality and a soul. It's also outrageously funny . . . an enormously entertaining book (Gerard DeGroot)

Magnificent . . . magisterial . . . [a] real-life Game of Thrones. Dip into this book anywhere and the minutiae of history leap off the page . . . Dip too into the author's copious footnotes and there are gems to be mined. Often sassy, always entertaining . . . To my mind what it gives above all is perspective from which comes understanding and not a little wisdom (Tony Rennell)
For any reader with the stomach for bloodshed and megalomaniac ambition, for anyone with a taste for Ptolemaic depravities or who would simply like to spend some quality time with China's imperial eunuchs, Montefiore's 'World' . . . will deliver it and more in spades. The author's major achievement is to make us see the world through a different lens - to make the unfamiliar familiar and, more important, the familiar unfamiliar. There is hardly a dull paragraph (David Crane)

What listeners say about The World

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • DN
  • 15-01-2024

Too much information too confusing

This book is trying to jam so much into one book it’s impossible to keep up and understand unless you’re an Oxford professor. A waste of a credit, I wouldn’t recommend unless you have several history degrees.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Some narrators difficult to understand.

There are many unfamiliar names and events in this massive account. Narrating it is a challenge and some of the narrators, especially those who appear to be non-native speakers and female, make the narration hard to follow especially if you are a bit hard of hearing. On the other hand, a few narrators were superb and I could just relax and listen. It’s not easy narrating and therefore I think more care should be taken in selecting narrators. Volunteering should not be a recommendation. I would have preferred one good narrator to the various good and bad presenters in this text. Some made it impossible for me to relax and listen as I strained to make sense of their accounts. Just one good narrator please and, in general, be more selective in choice of narrators, it is a specialist skill.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The appalling reading

The reading but it was badly written too.
The first time I have ever reviewed but this deserves it.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hindered by poor narration

An interesting concept & a super broad canvas, this has lots of potential but limited success. Much of the content was interesting and revealed the capacity of humans for cruelty & inhumanity. However, it did not always hold coherence. Most limiting was the inconsistent quality of the 20 narrators, many which lacked clarity, fluency and effective pronunciation.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

The World?

Minus next to nothing about the Mycenaean era, a few words at the beginning tossed at the worlds oldest continuous civilisation- the Australian Aboriginal peoples - (who don’t qualify as part of a world history) and throughly piecemeal for all else. I stopped listening when Sparta was stumbled through with nothing resembling truth and mythical Archons became fact.

Waste of time.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The most poorly narrated book on Audible.

It is impossible to properly judge the content of this book when it is totally overshadowed by the appalling narration.

Avoid at all costs.

Update: Thankfully it is just one of the narrators who is completely incomprehensible. The others are mostly fine.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ian
  • 03-06-2023

Comprehensive

Broad in scope with some fascinating anecdotes. But one or two readers who clearly had English as their second language made some listening infuriating.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poor Narration let’s stories down

Potentially fascinating stories spoiled by uneven and at times terrible narrators which makes it hard to listen to despite having a great interest in the subject matter.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

Comprehensive historical record of the major characters in human history from a unique perspective with so many intriguing and surprisingly salacious details. Impressive piece of research across vast breadth. Bravo Simon. Delivery was somewhat mixed.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

good content, difficult to listen to

some of the readers were good, but too many are hard to listen to, they do not phrase the sentences for easy comprehension. shame as the book is interesting.

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