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The World

From the master storyteller and internationally bestselling author – the story of humanity from prehistory to the present day, told through the one thing all humans have in common: family.

We begin with the footsteps of a family walking along a beach 950,000 years ago. From here, Montefiore takes us on an exhilarating epic journey through the families that have shaped our world: the Caesars, Medicis and Incas, Ottomans and Mughals, Bonapartes, Habsburgs and Zulus, Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Krupps, Churchills, Kennedys, Castros, Nehrus, Pahlavis and Kenyattas, Saudis, Kims and Assads.

A rich cast of complex characters form the beating heart of the story. Some are well-known leaders, from Alexander the Great, Attila, Ivan the Terrible and Genghis Khan to Hitler, Thatcher, Obama, Putin and Zelensky. Some are creative, from Socrates, Michelangelo and Shakespeare to Newton, Mozart, Balzac, Freud, Bowie and Tim Berners-Lee.

Others are lesser-known: Hongwu, who began life as a beggar and founded the Ming dynasty; Kamehameha, conqueror of Hawaii; Zenobia, Arab empress who defied Rome; King Henry of Haiti; Lady Murasaki, first female novelist; Sayyida al-Hurra, Moroccan pirate-queen. Here are not just conquerors and queens but prophets, charlatans, actors, gangsters, artists, scientists, doctors, tycoons, lovers, wives, husbands and children.
This is world history on the most grand and intimate scale – spanning centuries, continents and cultures, and linking grand themes of war, migration, plague, religion, medicine and technology to the people at the centre of the human drama.

As spellbinding as fiction, THE WORLD captures the story of humankind in all its joy, sorrow, romance, ingenuity and cruelty in a ground-breaking, single narrative that will forever shift the boundaries of what history can achieve.

Sources and notes for THE WORLD: A FAMILY HISTORY are available to download here.

Reviews

‘A staggering achievement. Montefiore has given us a tremendous gift: a pulsingly readable world history through the millennia and from one end of the globe to the other’ Simon Schama

‘A tour de force – hugely ambitious, erudite and filled with surprises – that puts the family and families back into the heart of history’ Peter Frankopan

‘Compelling, moving, epic and diverse, Montefiore’s wonderful storytelling prowess and the wide research pulls off this unparalleled world history in a single narrative with unforgettable style. All the drama of humankind is here from cavemen to Putin and Zelensky’ Olivette Otele

‘One word for Montefiore’s book: magisterial’ Ben Okri

‘In this work of astonishing scope and erudition, Montefiore interweaves the stories of the servants, courtiers and kings, pioneers, preachers and philosophers who have made history. A brilliant synthesis that will impart fresh insight to even the most learned readers’ Henry Kissinger