Ways of the World: A Brief Global History, Volume 1

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-10-26
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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A book that helps students see the big picture

Ways of the World has quickly become one of the most widely adopted new world history textbooks and offers a genuine alternative for your world history survey. Designed as a brief text, Ways of the World focuses on the big picture of significant historical trends, themes, and developments. Author Robert W. Strayer, a pioneer in the world history movement with years of classroom experience, provides a thoughtful and insightful synthesis. The brief narrative allows you to supplement with your own readings and course materials and provides an affordable option for your students. The second edition rolls out Bedford/St. Martin's new digital history tools, including LearningCurve, an adaptive quizzing engine that garners over a 90% student satisfaction rate, and LaunchPad, the all new interactive e-book and course space that puts high quality easy-to-use assessment at your fingertips. Easy to integrate into your campus LMS, and featuring video, additional primary sources, a wealth of adaptive and summative quizzing, and more, LaunchPad cements student understanding of the text while helping them make progress toward learning outcomes.  It's the best content joined up with the best technology. Available in combined and split volumes and in a variety of electronic formats. Also available in a docutext edition with sources.

Author Biography

Robert W. Strayer (PhD, University of Wisconsin) taught African, Soviet, and world history for many years at SUNY College at Brockport, where he received Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and for Excellence in Scholarship. In 1998 he was visiting professor of world and Soviet history at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since 2002, he has taught world history at the University of California, Santa Cruz; California State University, Monterey Bay; and Cabrillo College. His scholarship includes work in African history (Kenya: Focus on Nationalism, 1975; The Making of Mission Communities in East Africa, 1978); Soviet history (Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse?,1998;  The Communist Experiment, 2007) and World History (The Making of the Modern World, 1988, 1995; Ways of the World, 2009, 2011). He is a long-time member of the World History Association and served on its Executive Committee.

Table of Contents


Versions and Supplements 


Special Features

Prologue: From Cosmic History to Human History

The History of the Universe

The History of a Planet

The History of the Human Species... in a Single Paragraph

Why World History?

Comparison, Connection, and Change: The Three Cs of World History

Snapshot: A History of the Universe as a Cosmic Calendar 

Part One: First Things First: Beginnings in History, to 500 b.c.e.

The Big Picture

Turning Points in Early World History 

     The Emergence of Humankind 

    The Globalization of Humankind  

     The Revolution of Farming and Herding

     The Turning Point of Civilization 

     A Note on Dates

*Mapping Part One

1 Chapter One: First Peoples; First Farmers: Most of History in a Single Chapter, To 4000 b.c.e.

Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First Migrations 

     Into Eurasia 

     Into Australia 

     Into the Americas

     Into the Pacific

The Ways We Were

     The First Human Societies 

     Economy and the Environment 

     The Realm of the Spirit

     Settling Down: The Great Transition

Breakthroughs to Agriculture

     Common Patterns 


The Globalization of Agriculture

     Triumph and Resistance 

     The Culture of Agriculture

Social Variation in the Age of Agriculture

     Pastoral Societies 

     Agricultural Village Societies 


Reflections: The Uses of the Paleolithic

Second Thoughts

     What's the Significance 

     Big Picture Questions 

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Paleolithic Era in Perspective

*Portrait: Ishi, The Last of His People

2 First Civilizations: Cities, States, and Unequal Societies, 3500 b.c.e.–500 b.c.e.

Something New: The Emergence of Civilizations

     Introducing the First Civilizations

     The Question of Origins

     An Urban Revolution

The Erosion of Equality

     Hierarchies of Class

     Hierarchies of Gender

     Patriarchy in Practice

The Rise of the State

     Coercion and Consent

     Writing and Accounting

     The Grandeur of Kings

Comparing Mesopotamia and Egypt

     Environment and Culture

     Cities and States

     Interaction and Exchange

Reflections: "Civilization": What’s in a Word?

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Writing in Ancient Civilizations

*Portrait: Paneb of Egypt

Part Two: Second Wave Civilizations in World History, 500 b.c.e.–500 c.e.

The Big Picture

After the First Civilizations: What Changed and What Didn’t?

     Continuities in Civilization

     Changes in Civilization

Snapshot: World Population during the Age of Agricultural Civilization

*Mapping Part Two

3 State and Empire in Eurasia/North Africa, 500 b.c.e.–500 c.e.

Empires and Civilizations in Collision: The Persians and the Greeks

     The Persian Empire

     The Greeks

     Collision: The Greco-Persian Wars

     Collision: Alexander and the Hellenistic Era

Comparing Empires: Roman and Chinese

     Rome: From City-State to Empire

     China: From Warring States to Empire

    Consolidating the Roman and Chinese Empires

     The Collapse of Empires

Intermittent Empire: The Case of India

Reflections: Enduring Legacies of Second-Wave Empires

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Distinctive Features of Second-Wave Eurasian Civilizations

*Portrait: Trung Trac, Resisting the Chinese Empire

4 Culture and Religion in Eurasia/North Africa, 500 b.c.e.–500 c.e.

China and the Search for Order

     The Legalist Answer

     The Confucian Answer

     The Daoist Answer

Cultural Traditions of Classical India

     South Asian Religion: From Ritual Sacrifice to Philosophical Speculation

Buddhist Challenge

     Hinduism as a Religion of Duty and Devotion

Moving toward Monotheism: The Search for God in the Middle East



The Cultural Tradition of Classical Greece: The Search for a Rational Order

     The Greek Way of Knowing

     The Greek Legacy

The Birth of ChristianityÉwith Buddhist Comparisons

     The Lives of the Founders

     The Spread of New Religions

     Institutions, Controversies, and Divisions

Reflections: Religion and Historians

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Thinkers and Philosophies of the Second-Wave Era

*Portrait: Perpetua, Christian Martyr

5 Society and Inequality in Eurasia/North Africa, 500 b.c.e.–500 c.e.

Society and the State in China

     An Elite of Officials

     The Landlord Class



Class and Caste in India

     Caste as Varna

     Caste as

     The Functions of Caste

Slavery: The Case of the Roman Empire

     Slavery and Civilization

      The Making of Roman Slavery

     Resistance and Rebellion

Comparing Patriarchies

     A Changing Patriarchy: The Case of China

     Contrasting Patriarchies in Athens and Sparta

Reflections: Arguing with Solomon and the Buddha

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance? Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Social Life and Duty in India *Portrait: Ge Hong, a Chinese Scholar in Troubled Times

6 Commonalities and Variations: Africa and the Americas, 500 b.c.e.–1200 c.e.

Continental Comparisons

African Civilizations

     Meroe: Continuing a Nile Valley Civilization

     Axum: The Making of a Christian Kingdom

     Along the Niger River: Cities without States

Civilizations of Mesoamerica

     The Maya: Writing and Warfare

     Teotihuacan: The Americas’ Greatest City

     Civilizations of the Andes

     Chavin: A Pan-Andean Religious Movement

     Moche: A Civilization of the Coast

     Wari and Tiwanaku: Empires of the Interior

Alternatives to Civilization: Bantu Africa

     Cultural Encounters

     Society and Religion

Alternatives to Civilization: North America

     The Ancestral Pueblo: Pit Houses and Great Houses

     Peoples of the Eastern Woodlands: The Mound Builders

Reflections: Deciding What’s Important: Balance in World History

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Continental Population in the Second-Wave Era

*Portrait: Piye, Kushite Conqueror of Egypt

Part Three: An Age of Accelerating Connections, 500–1500

The Big Picture

Defining a Millennium

     Third-Wave Civilizations: Something New, Something Old, Something Blended

     The Ties That Bind: Transregional Interaction in the Third Wave Era

*Mapping Part Three

7 Commerce and Culture, 500–1500

Silk Roads: Exchange across Eurasia

    The Growth of the Silk Roads

     Goods in Transit

     Cultures in Transit

     Disease in Transit

Sea Roads: Exchange across the Indian Ocean

     Weaving the Web of an Indian Ocean World

     Sea Roads as a Catalyst for Change: Southeast Asia

     Sea Roads as a Catalyst for Change: East Africa

Sand Roads: Exchange across the Sahara

     Commercial Beginnings in West Africa

     Gold, Salt, and Slaves: Trade and Empire in West Africa

An American Network: Commerce and Connection in the Western Hemisphere

Reflections: Economic Globalization—Ancient and Modern

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Economic Exchange along the Silk Roads

Snapshot: Economic Exchange in the Indian Ocean Basin *Portrait: Thorfinn Karlsefni, Viking Voyager

8 China and the World: East Asian Connections, 500–1300

Together Again: The Reemergence of a Unified China

     A "Golden Age" of Chinese Achievement

     Women in the Song Dynasty

China and the Northern Nomads: A Chinese World Order in the Making

     The Tribute System in Theory

     The Tribute System in Practice

     Cultural Influence across an Ecological Frontier

Coping with China: Comparing Korea, Vietnam, and Japan

     Korea and China

     Vietnam and China

     Japan and China

China and the Eurasian World Economy

     Spillovers: China’s Impact on Eurasia

     On the Receiving End: China as Economic Beneficiary

China and Buddhism

     Making Buddhism Chinese

     Losing State Support: The Crisis of Chinese Buddhism

Reflections: Why Do Things Change?

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


*Snapshot: Chinese Technological Achievements

*Portrait: Izumi Shikibu, Japanese Poet and Lover

9 The Worlds of Islam: Afro-Eurasian Connections, 600–1500

The Birth of a New Religion

     The Homeland of Islam

     The Messenger and the Message

     The Transformation of Arabia

The Making of an Arab Empire

     War, Conquest, and Tolerance


     Divisions and Controversies

     Women and Men in Early Islam

Islam and Cultural Encounter: A Four-Way Comparison

     The Case of India

     The Case of Anatolia

     The Case of West Africa

     The Case of Spain

The World of Islam as a New Civilization

     Networks of Faith

     Networks of Exchange

Reflections: Past and Present: Choosing Our History

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Key Achievements in Islamic Science and Scholarship

*Portrait: Mansa Musa, West African Monarch and Muslim Pilgrim

10 The Worlds of Christendom: Contraction, Expansion, and Division, 500–1300

Christian Contraction in Asia and Africa

     Asian Christianity

     African Christianity

Byzantine Christendom: Building on the Roman Past

     The Byzantine State

     The Byzantine Church and Christian Divergence

      Byzantium and the World

     The Conversion of Russia

Western Christendom: Rebuilding in the Wake of Roman Collapse

     Political Life in Western Europe, 500–1000

     Society and the Church, 500–1000

     Accelerating Change in the West, 1000–1300

     Europe Outward Bound: The Crusading Tradition

The West in Comparative Perspective

     Catching Up

     Pluralism in Politics

     Reason and Faith

Reflections: Remembering and Forgetting: Continuity and Surprise in the Worlds of Christendom

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


*Snapshot: European Borrowing

*Portrait: Cecilia Penifader, An English Peasant and Unmarried Woman

11 Pastoral Peoples on the Global Stage: The Mongol Moment, 1200–1500

Looking Back and Looking Around: The Long History of Pastoral Nomads

     The World of Pastoral Societies

     Before the Mongols: Pastoralists in History

Breakout: The Mongol Empire

     From Temujin to Chinggis Khan: The Rise of the Mongol Empire

     Explaining the Mongol Moment

Encountering the Mongols: Comparing Three Cases

     China and the Mongols

    Persia and the Mongols

     Russia and the Mongols

The Mongol Empire as a Eurasian Network

     Toward a World Economy

     Diplomacy on a Eurasian Scale

     Cultural Exchange in the Mongol Realm

     The Plague: An Afro-Eurasian Pandemic

Reflections: Changing Images of Nomadic Peoples

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Varieties of Pastoral Societies

*Portrait, Khutulun, A Mongol Wrestler Princess

12 The Worlds of the Fifteenth Century

The Shapes of Human Communities

     Paleolithic Persistence: Australia and North America

     Agricultural Village Societies: The Igbo and the Iroquois

     Herding Peoples: Central Asia and West Africa

Civilizations of the Fifteenth Century: Comparing China and Europe

     Ming Dynasty China

     European Comparisons: State Building and Cultural Renewal

     European Comparisons: Maritime Voyaging

Civilizations of the Fifteenth Century: The Islamic World

     In the Islamic Heartland: The Ottoman and Safavid Empires

     On the Frontiers of Islam: The Songhay and Mughal Empires

Civilizations of the Fifteenth Century: The Americas

     The Aztec Empire

     The Inca Empire

Webs of Connection

A Preview of Coming Attractions: Looking Ahead to the Modern Era, 1500–2012

Reflections: What If? Chance and Contingency in World History

Second Thoughts

     What’s the Significance?

     Big Picture Questions

     Next Steps: For Further Study


Snapshot: Major Developments around the World in the Fifteenth Century

Snapshot: World Population Growth, 1000–2000

*Portrait: Zheng He, China's Non-Chinese Admiral




About the Author


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