A History of the World in 25 Cities

A History of the World in 25 Cities
Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg
Nosy Crow and The British Museum

If you want to be a time traveller as well as a world tourist, then this is for you.

In collaboration with experts from The British Museum, authors Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin, present a brilliantly conceived and executed large format book, superbly designed and illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg. Featuring 25 detailed city maps, it takes readers on a historic world tour visiting locations from every continent at a specific moment in time, and in so doing offers a look at the development of humankind.

‘Cities are full of possibilities.’ say the authors in their highly thought-provoking introduction, ‘… They are where big ideas are born, because they welcome people from far and wide, bringing them together to live and work, and to swap skills, inventions and thoughts.’

We’re taken first to the walled city of Jericho around 8500 BCE and as well as a map (carefully researched), there are pages vividly illustrating life then(and now) as well as bite-size paragraphs giving details of same. (for instance ‘Being close to the salty Dead Sea meant that the people of Jericho could trade salt for other goods.’ There’s also, bordering one page an ‘In Numbers’ feature.

Other cities featured are Memphis circa 1200 BCE, Athens 500 BCE,

Xianyang 212 BCE , Rome 100-200 CE, Constantinople, Baghdad, Jorvik, Beijing, Granada, Venice, Benin City, Cuzco, Tenochtitlán circa 1520, Delhi, Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney, Bangkok, London, Saint Petersburg, New York City, Berlin, San Francisco and finally, Tokyo of today – now the world’s most densely populated city and originally a small fishing village.
Through the wonderful visuals and text it’s possible to imagine walking at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the ornate gardens of 1400s Islamic city kingdom of Granada; wandering the beautiful palm-oil lamp-lit streets of medieval Benin in the West African rainforest; or roaming within the walls of capital city Delhi in 1660 with those packed bazaars of Chandni Chowk and its impressive buildings such as the Red Fort. (it’s not all that different today).

Another of the featured cities I’ve visited is one of my very favourites, Amsterdam, where in the 1670s the 100km canal system was key in transporting goods to buyers around the city and beyond.

With a final look forward to the cities of tomorrow in the hope that they will become increasingly green, this amazing book bursting with historic detail, maps and engrossing illustrations, is one for class collections and for giving to youngsters who want to broaden their horizons.

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