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Man, John. Atlas of the year 1000.

Harvard Univ. Press. 144p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. c1999. 0-674-00678-X. $19.95. JSA

In this remarkable overview of the world's diverse cultures as they existed at the turn of the first millennium, the historian and travel writer John Man offers the intriguing thesis that the year 1000 or thereabouts represented the first time in history in which nearly every culture on earth had a direct or indirect connection to every other. While Islamic traders in Baghdad were exchanging goods and ideas with their African and Byzantine neighbors, the Vikings were busy spreading their culture not only to the coast of Europe, where feudal lords and the church of Rome competed for dominance, but to the distant shores of North America as well. There, native cultural traditions thrived from the northernmost Inuit, whose ancestors had long ago crossed the Bering Strait, to the bison-hunters of the prairies and on southward to the great civilizations of Mexico and the Andes. At the same time, Chinese and Indian traders were traveling throughout Asia, spreading their ancient civilizations to the Indonesian islands and returning with rare spices to export to their neighbors in Central Asia and beyond.

The deceptively slender book makes ample use of colorful maps and photographs along with highly readable text to offer an exciting glimpse into dozens of diverse cultures as they existed a thousand years ago. A general introduction to each geographical area is followed by detailed, but never didactic, accounts of the major cultural groups existing within each region. Curious readers of all ages can open the book at random to enjoy a fascinating and informative look into the human condition at the turn of the first millennium, while those with more scholarly interests will appreciate the extensive bibliography and detailed index that make this volume an excellent reference work as well. Among the historians and cultural anthropologists of the future are sure to be YA readers of today who were fortunate enough to be exposed to this well-designed and richly rewarding book. Jeffrey Cooper, writer/ Editor, Long Island, NY
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Cooper, Jeffrey
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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