Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Published by
Public Affairs (2019-10-01)
Current material
1st Pass Pages
Original language
Politics & government


A 50'000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection

by Ansary, Tamim

A sweeping global human history that describes the separate beginnings of the world's major cultural movements - Confuscianism, Islam, Judeo-Christianity and Nomadism - and the dramatic, sometimes ruinous, sometimes transformative effects of their ever closer intertwinement that is the defining feature of our world today.

Forty thousand years ago, the human species existed as thousands of small, virtually autonomous bands, roaming a world almost entirely untouched by humans, each band in contact with a few neighbors but unaware of the thousands of others spread across the planet. Today, no life can unfold in isolation from the general flux and flow of human activity. Every habitable inch of the planet is inhabited by humans, there is no place left untouched by our presence, and events anywhere on this planet can have consequences felt by people anywhere else on this planet. The center of the world no longer seems to be this place or that place but the system as a whole.

This journey - from vulnerable small groups to a planet-encompassing hive - is the subject of Tamim Ansary's elegant and gripping history. His object is not just to describe the journey, but to illuminate the many essential human qualities that it preserves - our various gods and laws, our rulers and bankers, our philosophers and outcasts, each of which is a continuous presence in the various global cultures. They are the survivors in the human drama, whereas nation states, corporations, policies and political ideas are all susceptible to violent upheaval and dramatic erasure.

Our current moment, Ansary shows, is one of revolutionary reinvention, as old habits are cast aside and reconfigured by the ever more intertwined world we have created. The whole of human history, after all, has been leading up to it.

Tamim Ansary is the author of Destiny Disrupted and Games without Rules, among other books. For ten years he wrote a monthly column for, and has published essays and commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Alternet,, Edutopia, Parade, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrew Show, Bill Moyers, PBS The News Hour, Al Jazeera, and publish radio shows nationwide. Born in Afghanistan in 1948, he moved to the U.S. in 1964. He lives in San Francisco.

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Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

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Quote: Public Affairs

Weaving together multiple complex strands of the human experience into a single compelling storyline, Ansary delivers - in his usual down-to-earth yet erudite style - an engaging global 'narrative of narratives' informed by decades of critical study, reflection, and personal transcultural experience. A deeply enriching, highly relevant read from an important, unique voice of our day.

Quote: R. Charles Weller, Central Eurasian and Islamic world history, Washington State

Tamim Ansary has done it again, writing an expansive, wonderfully readable account of our present world. With deft examples drawn from across history, he skewers the idea that there's anything pure about culture or race. Ideas have blended and meshed across space and time to make the modern world what it is. Ansary is a charming guide to this blesh of civilizations, and to the world's permanent - and hopeful - capacity for change.

Quote: Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved:

The Invention of Yesterday is an insightful guide into human civilization packed with information that shows how we have been connected globally since the beginning of history. Tamim Ansary unpacks complicated theories to make sense of how we became who we are today.

Quote: Fariba Nawa, author of Opium Nation

Brimming with essential insights and yet always approachable, this is the global history we need now.

Quote: Lynn Hunt, author of Writing History in the Global Era

A beautifully written world history focused on the stories different civilizations have told about who we are. It ends with a fundamental question: In today's extraordinary world, can we build new narratives that are inclusive and global enough to encourage worldwide cooperation in the task of building a better future for humanity?

Quote: David Christian, distinguished professor, Macquarie University, Sydney

"Ansary offers a remarkable big-picture synthesis that draws upon geography but resists determinism, and celebrates diversity while embracing humanity's commonalities."

Review: Booklist

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