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Ellinor's Litventures

This blog is about my literary adventures in different genres. I like variety in my reading and will read books from most genres but particulary book with some literary merit.

Centuries of Change by Ian Mortimer

Centuries of Change: Which Century Saw The Most Change? - Ian Mortimer

In his latest book historian Ian Mortimer examines a much longer period of time than he did in his previous work: Mortimer takes a look at the past 1000 years and examines century by century the most important changes in the respective periods. His aim is to find out which of the past ten centuries experienced the most changes.

Centuries of Change is written in a very readable way. There was lots of information in it I already knew but now looked at again from a different perspective. I just have some minor critic: the further Ian Mortimer progressed in history, the less detailed he was. This is understandable, however: the early centuries just weren't as fast-paced as the later ones. There were still major changes but just not so many of them. At the end of each chapter the principal agent of change for each century is described. In the nineteenth century Karl Marx is named here. Having read the chapter I was a bit astonished by that: Karl Marx is hardly mentioned before and then he is suddenly the most important person of the century. This seemed a bit weird.

One of the best parts of the book is Ian Mortimer's way of figuring out which century really experienced the most changes. To do that he uses Maslow's hierarchy of needs and constructs his own pyramid from that. He then applies different statistical methods constructed by others to rank the centuries for each item. Ian Mortimer finally comes to the conclusion that the twentieth century was the one with the most changes. To him - and also to me - this was a bit surprising: we both would have opted for the nineteenth century.

All in all this book was an enjoyable read, though not quite as entertaining as I'd hoped. I learned a lot from it and also could identify two centuries I definetely wouldn't have wanted to live in: the 13th (because of the Black Death) and the 17th (because of the wars, e.g. the 30-year-war in central Europe).

(I received a free digital copy via Netgalley/the publisher. Thanks for the opportunity!)