Exploring the development of humankind between the Old World and the New—from 15,000 BC to 1500 AD, when the two came together—the author of The Medici Conspiracy and The Modern Mind here offers a groundbreaking understanding of human history. Why did Asia and Europe develop far earlier than the Americas? What were the factors that accelerated—or impeded—their developments? Peter Watson identifies three major differences between the two worlds—climate, domesticatable mammals, and hallucinogenic plants—that combined to produce very different trajectories of civilization in the two hemispheres.
"The past, Peter Watson argues in this magnificent history of sixteen-and-a-half millennia, is a whole series of foreign countries—and explaining the differences between them helps accounts for just about everything we take for granted in the here and now."—Christopher Bray
"An ingenious work about the course of human history.... The author seems to know everything about his subject and to hold an opinion on every issue, which he enthusiastically passes on.... Fascinating."—Kirkus Reviews