The Great Divide
Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New
By Peter Watson
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061672453, 640pp.)
Publication Date: June 2012
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
Exploring the development of humankind between the Old World and the Newfrom 15,000 BC to AD 1500the acclaimed author of Ideas and The German Genius offers a groundbreaking new understanding of human history.
Why did Asia and Europe develop far earlier than the Americas? What were the factors that acceleratedor impeded development? How did the experiences of Old World inhabitants differ from their New World counterpartsand what factors influenced those differences?
In this fascinating and erudite history, Peter Watson ponders these questions central to the human story. By 15,000 BC, humans had migrated from northeastern Asia across the frozen Bering land bridge to the Americas. When the world warmed up and the last Ice Age came to an end, the Bering Strait refilled with water, dividing America from Eurasia. This divisionwith two great populations on Earth, each unaware of the othercontinued until Christopher Columbus voyaged to the New World in the fifteenth century.
The Great Divide compares the development of humankind in the Old World and the New between 15,000 BC and AD 1500. Watson identifies three major differences between the two worldsclimate, domesticable mammals, and hallucinogenic plantsthat combined to produce very different trajectories of civilization in the two hemispheres. Combining the most up-to-date knowledge in archaeology, anthropology, geology, meteorology, cosmology, and mythology, this unprecedented, masterful study offers uniquely revealing insight into what it means to be human.
Peter Watson has been a senior editor at the London Sunday Times, a New York correspondent of the London Times, a columnist for the London Observer, and a contributor to the New York Times. He has published three exposÉs on the world of art and antiquities, and is the author of several books of cultural and intellectual history. From 1997 to 2007 he was a research associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. He lives in London.