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Addiction, Adultery, Incest, Murder, and Mayhem: The Family History of Humanity

A lot of world histories have come out in the last few years, but this one is different. It is the history of the world’s family—not the global history of the family, but of the union of spouses moving from the loose alliances common among hunter-gatherers, through the rigid patriarchy of peasant societies, to the bewildering 21st century. trace how they developed into such diverse residential groups. The history of the world as depicted by the lives of specific families.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, whose past books contain a vivid history of the Romanov family, begins with the oldest named individual called Kushim, who lived in the Middle East in the third millennium BC.

As he advanced through time, its geographic extent The world: family history It spreads more and more. By 1150 BC, the story had expanded to include King Wuding of China’s violent and ancestor-worshipping Shang dynasty, who ruled with his favorite wife, Lady Hao. It is believed that by 800 BC, King Ararah of Kush married his sister and built mud-brick pyramids in what is now Egypt and Sudan. In the 6th century BC, we joined the greedy Alcmaionids of Athens. Meets King Chandragupta and his mother in India around 300 BC. And by the 2nd century AD, we find ourselves at the Mayan court of the bloodthirsty Yax Abe Shuk, or “first step shark,” in Tikal.

By the 19th century, the story of Sebag Montefiore had become truly global, with 30 wives and a £500 girlfriend/counsel Kaahumanu from Kamehameha, Hawaii, and 3,000 more “wives” fighting in the army. The characters were drawn in through King Gezo of Dahomey. , to Victoria of England and her brusque but passionate husband Albert, whose 42 grandchildren reigned on thrones across Europe. One extraordinary story follows another and they are all very well told. It’s hard to stop turning pages — and since the number of pages is well over his 1000, so is it.

One of the most common criticisms of world history like Jared Diamond guns, germs, steel Or Yuval Noah Harari’s sapiens It’s all about the vast impersonal forces of geography and evolution, leaving little room for the very important figures who really made history come true. I enjoy the idiosyncrasies and sheer perversions of an antidote and all-too-human cast.

A large part of the challenge facing authors is that the nature of the evidence changes significantly over time. Until just a few centuries ago, many of our sources were written by, and mostly for, wealthy and educated men. While that requires a primary focus on the narrow elite of wealth and birth, he strives hard to give pre-modern women a voice.

One is about women like we hear. “Women’s greatest glory is,” Pericles of Athens supposedly said.

The women who land on the pages of Sebag Montefiore form a sort of catalog of deviants who constantly betray, torture and/or kill their kin. Whether or not was actually as amazing as the men say is debatable, but the fact that men chose to write about women meant we heard more about monsters like Messalina. To do. Claudius’ life was utterly more miserable than jolly people like Julius Caesar’s daughter Julia, who shared the bliss of marriage with Pompey the Great and died in childbirth.

But among the few things we do know about Julia is that she was only 14 when she married Pompeii and her new husband was 57.of world may mislead us. Throughout most of history, most marriages, even the happiest ones, have been surprisingly patriarchal.

Take Julia’s father. Conquering Gaul, overthrowing the Roman constitution, murdering numerous rivals, reforming the calendar, writing his two volumes on the grammar of the Latin language, and busying himself with some of the most vivid prose ever written. When he was not, Julius Caesar found time to seduce the wife of nearly every woman. He is a Roman strongman, a bastard father to an Egyptian queen, and an adulteress with outnumbered slaves. Still, Caesar’s wife was beyond doubt. When she failed to meet his standards, she had to go.

Sebag Montefiore’s family is overwhelmingly unhappy. The misery of a simple marriage, such as Napoleon’s neglect of the Empress Josephine, is the least of it. rice field.

But my vote for the most broken house in history goes to Temujin, the Mongol boy who grew up to be Genghis Khan. His father, Yesugei, kidnapped her mother Hoeln from her ex-husband, impregnated her, and named him Temujin after the man he killed. Yesugei and Hoeln forgot Temujin when they moved from one camp to another and were unable to return to retrieve him for a year. They kicked her out, stole her animals, and starved her out. In time he murdered the men who kidnapped and raped his half-brothers, blood-brothers, and fiancée, and graduated to become millions of unhappy people from the Pacific Ocean to the Volga River, saving their souls. Harvested. ”, according to a Persian survivor.

But the regularly repeated fact that Genghis was so active in his bedroom that his blood now flows through the veins of 16 million people seems false. it was a migrant mongolian collectThe sex-crazed killer who spread the Y-chromosome C3* cluster across Asia isn’t the only one.

Tolstoy believed that each unhappy family had its own misfortune, but all the unhappy families of Seberg Montefiore tend to be equally unhappy.People who have never seen TV dramas such as Inheritance, or read Shakespeare and be surprised to read that the rich and famous families are terrible. But a dramatist works magic by showing how these mad families are bound together by love, which may be sick and twisted, but is almost as strong as hate. However, Sebag Montefiore’s family has very few redeeming features.

Taken individually, Seberg Montefiore’s vignettes are compelling, but often done in a disturbing way. Taken together, however, hundreds of horror stories can wear down almost anyone’s faith in human nature. It tells us near the end that it makes it hard to understand why. If there’s a real flaw in the book, it’s probably it. “There is such a thing as too much history,” says Sebag Montefiore.

It wasn’t always obvious what each new example added, as well as moving the narrative forward, as family stories piled on family tales spread across 1,250 pages. It could have benefited from a leaner focus on the few examples chosen to demonstrate the

world It begins with a nearly million-year-old set of footprints, believed to belong to the family, unearthed in 2013 on a beach in Happisburg, England. An even older footprint from Laetoli, Tanzania is 3.7 million years old and may belong to a dwelling or kinship group.

The family is undoubtedly the central institution of human history, and Sebag Montefiore’s overview of the last 5,000 years is entertaining and consistently interesting. But that apparently didn’t lead him to any concrete conclusions. This fun book is worth reading, but I have more to say.

world: Family History By Simon Sebag Montefiore, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £35/Knopf $45, 1,344 pages

Ian Morris, Professor of Classics at Stanford University Geography is destiny: Britain and the world, 10,000 years of history (profile)

https://www.ft.com/content/1f8b8647-bb45-49a1-a136-53ff1a3a6074 Addiction, Adultery, Incest, Murder, and Mayhem: The Family History of Humanity

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