The origins of Chinggis/Genghis Khan, Mongol takeover of China, Mongol takeover of Muslim lands, Silk Road, postal services in Mongol empire, Prince Henry’s invasion of Ceuta, Cape Bojador, Madras battle between the French & British, East India company’s dominance in England, Arcot battle, the black hole of Calcutta, Battle of Plassey, Judengasse, Antisemitism in old Frankfurt, Banks funding both sides of war, The Rothschild banking network, Origin of the name Rothschild, Victorian Internet, Start of oil industries in USA, Diplomatic relation between France, Britain and USA during and after world wars, Origins of European Union, Thatcherism, Thatcher the Milk Snatcher, battle of Falkland islands, Privatization of government owned companies in Europe, Effect of ICs and microprocessors in consumer electronics, 1103, 8080, Inflection point, Long march, Great Leap Forward. Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, One country two systems, Fox and Hedgehog
Through this book the author takes us through the lives of ten personalities that he thinks are significant in the story of globalization. They are Genghis Khan, Prince Henry, Robert Clive, Cyrus Field, Mayer Rothschild, John D. Rockefeller, Margaret Thatcher, Jean Monnet, Xiaoping Deng and Andrew Grove. The book is filled with information about them and the world at their time. I had read about some of them but was not aware of Cyrus Field, Mayer Rothschild, Jean Monnet or Xiaoping Deng. However the spirit in which the book is written i.e. globalization, in my opinion it was only Cyrus Field and Jean Monnet who were aware of the effect their work will have on the future world.
The book begins with the story of Genghis Khan and establishment of the Mongol empire. Most books or articles you might have read would have covered the brutalities by which the Mongol empire was established but this book focuses on the administration part after that. For example establishment of the Silk Route and facilitation of trade through post offices, credit systems etc. The author explains that the Mongols were only driven by the riches and did not have to force their religion or practices in the occupied lands.
Next we are introduced to a 17 year old Robert Clive and his journey to become the commander in chief of India for the British India Company. He is a man who has been written about many times and this book offered nothing surprisingly new. For me the only new thing was the character of Omichand in the battle of Plassey.
Next person the author writes about is Mayer Rothschild. I did not know that antisemitism has a history that goes so far back, though that is not the focus in his story, for me it was new knowledge. His story follows how he and his five sons went on to establish a bank that had branches in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna and Naples. A bank that could bailout Bank of England and Bank of Paris!
Cyrus Fields is next. This man, had he not dared to think about the Transatlantic Telegraph network, you probably would not be reading this blog. The scale of failures he had to face and yet on the face of it he kept on trying, quite inspiring.
I did not quite enjoy the John D. Rockefeller part as he did not seem very interesting to me. Yes he was the richest man in history, made his money through questionable methods and in the second half of his life focused on philanthropy. But his character was not that appealing to me, I do not know a lot about him so can not say if it is the book’s problem or not.
The man that I liked the most, yet knew the least about was Jean Monnet. Today we take the EU for granted but it was this man who had the vision of an united Europe with united interests. An idea which contradicted the nationalist spirit. He was never power hungry, left the administration to successors after steadying the ship. His mission to find common interests between UK and France during world wars was captivating.
The part about Margaret Thatcher is okay, most of it is covered in many books though, as she was one of the most remarkable politicians. Still her campaigns, opposition to her and privatization etc are covered nicely.
Andrew Grove, well what can I say. The author has done justice covering his story but somehow I do not find any liking to his character, may be because I have seen such characters in real life.
Lastly we come to Deng Xiaoping, the most complex character in this book. China and its governance has always been in the news since the 1950’s. Deng’s story has so many peaks and falls that it might have taken a heart of steel to go through that. May be the communism values in him were strong that he chose not to run from the unfavorable situations or may be it was his subtle quest for power, I do not know. But definitely an interesting part of the book.
Conclusion & Rating:
I liked this book in parts. I mean there is a lot of information but I can not quite align with the spirit of the book for all the characters. I think for someone who is just starting to read about world history, this book could be interesting. It covers many personalities, so one could decide what or who he wants to read next.