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Summary

In a contest of change, which century from the past millennium would come up trumps? Imagine the Black Death took on the female vote in a pub brawl, or the Industrial Revolution faced the Internet in a medieval joust - whose side would you be on?

In this hugely entertaining book, celebrated historian Ian Mortimer takes us on a whirlwind tour of Western history, pitting one century against another in his quest to measure change.

©2014 Ian Mortimer (P)2015 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"His curiosity is boundless and his profound scholarship is leavened by a sense of fun." ( Daily Express)

What listeners say about Centuries of Change

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars

Though provoking approach to history

I’ve listened to the author’s Time Travellers’ Guides and so looked forward to enjoying the author’s stimulating approach to history. I was certainly made to think about what changes in society actually had noticeable impact on ordinary people during each century of the previous millennium and not just the discoveries, inventions, wars or plagues that with hindsight appear to have changed the course of history.

I was certainly made to reassess the impact of historical events, discoveries or inventions that I thought of as landmarks in human history and have to agree with the author that some of these, though eventually life changing, had little impact during the century in which they occurred.

The present book doesn’t use the intimate approach of the Time Travellers’ Guides in which the listener is imaginatively transported to the streets of, say 14th Century, England to experience what life was like. It more fact driven and dispassionate.

My only caveat but this book is the last 50 minutes or so in which the author speculates about the future. Much is sensible: the problems of over-population, depletion of resources and global warming, however it went on too long and didn’t acknowledge how predicting the future has so often been wrong. However, I forgive the author as I too am feeling pretty depressed about the legacy we are leaving for future generations.

Overall, I enjoyed this thought-provoking approach to history and the lively narration.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 12-04-16

very interesting look at the last 1000 years.

non fiction. good narrator. author speaks in last few interesting chapters about the future.
well worth a listen and isn't too facts and figures.

10 people found this helpful

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Disappointing conclusion

Ian Mortimer is a great popular historian, but the final chapter shows an ignorance of future technologies on the cusp of realisation. In speculating on future energy sources he completely ignores, or has no knowledge of, nuclear fusion. It isn’t mentioned even to dismiss it as being persistently “thirty years away”. His ignorance of the smaller astronomical bodies is also telling.
My disappointment with the ending actually helps me though. I very much enjoyed the book as a whole and my criticism of the final chapters made me review what he had said more carefully. When I listen to this book again, as I will, I will be less accepting of Mr Mortimer’s conclusions and consider what facts he may have, inadvertently, omitted.

The narrator, Mike Grady, spoke clearly and with animation. I will look out other books Mr Grady has narrated.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Ms
  • 21-07-15

Thought provoking

Would you listen to Centuries of Change again? Why?

It would be easy to listen to this more than once, there are so many concepts to thnk about and analyse.

What did you like best about this story?

A mental challenge

Which character – as performed by Ian Mortimer and Mike Grady – was your favourite?

Each century's nomination for basis of change as interesting as the last

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No - too much to think about

Any additional comments?

I did listen to a century more than once

7 people found this helpful

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  • s
  • 07-12-16

Overall the best book so far

Would you consider the audio edition of Centuries of Change to be better than the print version?

Not read the print version but I love the narrators interpretation. I've bought previous
books just to hear him.

What about Ian Mortimer and Mike Grady ’s performance did you like?

The matter of fact tone, the inquisitiveness of the reading. Calm. Natural.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Some of the chapters bring about profound thought. Off the top of my head, when talking about the impact of the Black Death "death as such does not exist, it has no substance, therefor it only exists in the mind of the living and as such demonstrates that death is not a constant but subject to a vast range of changes. (Or something like that)

Any additional comments?

The True Adventure of the Rolling Stones (now unavailable) was my favourite talking book. This tops it

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Revelatory

Really good and well written Though his atheistic viewpoint
Fashionable and offensive to believers quite entertaining to be lulled to sleep withI will listen again.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

I don't 'read' enough non fiction: this was great!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I learned a lot and feel I have missed out: I wish I had known some of this stuff years ago.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Centuries of Change?

Most of it.

Which character – as performed by Ian Mortimer and Mike Grady – was your favourite?

No characters as such, but both narrators were good.

4 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

This would be the 6th Ian Mortimer book I have read. The rest have been emgaging and drew me into our complex history. The book feels like it was an obligatory book deal release. Either deliberately full of filler material or the author was out of inspiration for this work. This is more like a bunch of Ian's opinions peppered with the historical fact he wanted to present.

The result is a very disjointed read that has nothing of the harmonious flowing text his other books have.

It was so bad I returned for a refund!

3 people found this helpful

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A lot of ground covered in such a short book...

Truth is something facts can certainly help with...but at times perspective is a better guide...

Although maybe not the intended goal. If you ever wondered how we got where we are now...you couldn't make a better starting point. Interesting and at times surprising, clear and always engaging. One of the most engrossing reads I've encountered in quite some time. The author is certainly on my personal radar now...

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing end

This could have been an interesting and enlightening walk down the last 10 centuries had the author not chosen to spend the last two hours speculating on the future. He is obviously a good historian but he just as obviously lack the capacity of analytical thought to make any intelligent statement of the future relying instead on fashionable - yet often debunked- doomsday preachers

7 people found this helpful