A view of human history from the Big Bang to experimental lab-grown meat.
With this volume, Lloyd seemingly revises and updates What on Earth Happened?...in Brief (2009) into a rushed survey vaguely positioned as “a gateway to all the knowledge in the world.” It’s a narrow gateway, for all its substantial heft. The author is more or less through with the cosmos, geology, and biology by Page 75 and on to modern humans—beginning with the invention of cooking, a “gigantic breakthrough” in human development. He goes on to a tally of civilizations that’s less Eurocentric than many, although he pays at best scant attention to the Indian subcontinent or to Indigenous North America, not to mention anyone’s art, music, or literature. Moreover, his narrative is so telescoped that World War I is finished off in three paragraphs, and he gets from the space race to SpaceX in two. Still, he does carry his story up to Black Lives Matter, concludes by pointing to absolutism and income inequality as issues to watch, and finishes with an optimistic note that we humans are “superadapters” in a world whose true paradigm is adaptation to change. Reinforcing the panoramic feel, many of the colorful photos, images, and, from Forshaw, diversely hued and clad figures from various eras that brighten nearly every page seem to be marching into or out of view along the edges.
Comprehensively mistitled but worth considering for its unusual angles, or at least as a replacement for the previous edition. (glossary and index not seen) (Nonfiction. 11-13)