Not really about trade routes at all, this is a kind of outline history of the rises and falls of commercial empires from the dawn of civilization to the present, in the manner of a documentary on our shrinking world. It makes a poor showing of the extensive usage of photo-illustration: pictures are arbitrarily chosen and singularly ill-placed--e.g., an ""Illustrated poster of 1845"" (parodying a North African with a gun and bearing the words L'Algerie) on the same page as a discussion of Japanese industrialism and Latin American independence. And the hardly enlightening captions often appear on the outer margins of the leaves opposite the pictures rendering them even more remote. The text itself epitomizes the mis-presentation of data as information--facts piled on facts, all effects and no causes, in a way that defeats whatever small interest may have been provoked. French historian Jean Duche has managed to include an incredible lot here but it's all very taxing. . . the net intake bearing little relation to the gross output.