Cascoly Books: World History

Cascoly Books - World History

These books take a broader view, looking to describe cultural, religious, economic or historical trends over many centuries.

 Historical maps

Interactive Online Historical Timelines

A modern approach to history eschews the kings and battles style of classical history or 'whig' history with its teleological progress to the current day.  Instead, world history takes a broader -- objectively describing and tracking religious, cultural, economic and historical trends over many centuries

Fernand Braudel was one of the fathers of this style of writing.

Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century These are hefty books, but full of fascinating peaks at another time, but well worth it -- the scope is phenomenal, touching details across centuries of history and different civilizations.  Fantastic maps and charts illustrate the concepts, along with period pictures. 

  • Vol. I - The Structures of Everyday Life -- Human life in the centuries before industrialization.
  • Vol. II - The Wheels of Commerce - The nature of capitalism and its role in history, examines the machinery of exchange as a whole, from barter to the most sophisticated capitalism.  After a survey of  the instruments of exchange, then moves on to look at the effects of markets on the economy.  Eventually, traders cease to be mere movers of goods from one place to another and start to build production facilities in far off places.
  • Vol. III - The Perspective of the World

    Braudel's books are not for everyone, but they make excellent background reading for anyone interested in historical novels or detailed surveys of how life once was.  They're a handy reference for world building game designers.  Braudel also wrote The Mediterranean in the Time of Philip II and was applying his methods to a multi volume study called the Identity of France: People and Production, but only was able to publish the first volume.

    Fiction writers have used Braudel's work, most explicitly Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle Triology .

  • Quicksilver
  • The Confusion
  • The System of the World

    These books take place at the end off the 17th century, and include historical characters like Louis XIV, Newton, Leibniz and Hobbes. His canvas spreads from the Turkish invasions of Hungary to the New World, focusing on inventors and discoverers.

    Dorothy Dunnett wrote 2 series of historical novels, the Lymond & Nicollo cycles. She shows a profound understanding of the rise of mercantilism that Braudel describes, along with the start of modern capitalism.

    How the Renaissance influenced the scientific revolution

    The Living Theatre's Capital Changes - the emergence of capitalism as a world force is about the last great turning in economic history, the time between 1400 and 1800 when capital emerged as a distinct force in the world. The company has been grappling with this material ... looking at the research of French historian Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) for more than twenty years, drawn to his writing by his brave effort to sidestep ideological biases as much as is humanly possible, and by the wealth in his works of what Ezra Pound called "luminous details," the resonant specifics that reveal the shape of the whole. ... While their identities are fictional, the events that shape their lives are historical occurrences culled from Braudel

    Michael Mann The Sources of Social Power: Volume 1, A History of Power from the Beginning to AD 1760 This is the first part of a three-volume work on the nature of power in human societies. In it, Michael Mann identifies the four principal 'sources' of power as being control over economic, ideological, military, and political resources. He examines the interrelations between these in a narrative history of power from Neolithic times, through ancient Near Eastern civilizations, the classical Mediterranean age, and medieval Europe, up to just before the Industrial Revolution in England. Rejecting the conventional monolithic concept of a 'society', Dr. Mann's model is instead one of a series of overlapping, intersecting power networks. He makes this model operational by focusing on the logistics of power - how the flow of information, manpower, and goods is controlled over social and geographical space-thereby clarifying many of the 'great debates' in sociological theory. The present volume offers explanations of the emergence of the state and social stratification.  


  • William McNeill has written many books on these themes, among them are:

  • Plagues and Peoples
  • Keeping Together in Time
  • The Rise of the West
  • The Global Condition

  • The Pursuit of Power
  • The Human Web

  • Jared Diamond --- Guns, Germs and Steel is a more popularized version of the argument McNeil first made in Plagues and Peoples -- that much of Western civilization's domination of the world can be traced to biological causes. One of the most interesting portions of the argument is the discussion of north-south versus east-west geophysical alignments and how this affected the course of history.


    The Shield of Achilles - War, Peace and the Course of History - Philip Bobbitt

    Another solid read, Bobbitt traces the evolution of various forms of government from Princely and Kingly territories to the modern 'market state' . In Wolf Hall, Hillary Mantel shows how Thomas masterminds the transition of England from a princely state to a nation state. Combining military history, diplomacy and international law, Bobbitt displays how modern states developed during a series of 'long wars' followed by international treaties and consolidations. .

    In his latest book, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century, moving to market states, Bobbitt posits 'terror market states', but pushes his argument a bit too much. He mentions various types of pirates and insurrectionists in previous constitutional eras - but now for first time, the terrorists have become the main antagonist? We really can't compare that with nation states competing among fascism, democracy & communism. These ideologies defined wars and settlements and it's a stretch  forcing his concept to fit contemporary conditions. Certainly those in 1914 couldn't have any idea the long war would end with the cold war collapse of USSR

    Much of his argument seems to be justification of George Bush's pre emptive war doctrines. Bobbitt defines terror states as needing to provide outlets for their subjects - but without a defined territory who are those subjects? 

    The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers - Paul Kennedy - About national and international power in the 'modern' or Post Renaissance period. Explains how the various powers have risen and fallen over the five centuries since the formation of the 'new monarchies' in Western Europe.
  • Noah's Flood
  • Carnage and Culture
  • Byzantium -- a history of the Eastern Roman empire - John Julius Norwich

  • The Silk Road
  • Politics & Economics
  • Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare

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