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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 members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

5 of 5 people found this review 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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • s
  • Chiswick, United Kingdom
  • 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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms
  • Tatsfield, United Kingdom
  • 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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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perspective writ large. Brilliant.

Really useful way of putting history and what we think we know about it in perspective.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Mortimer - as good as expected

I like books by Ian Mortimer a lot as they show vivid insight into societies, in this case even into a contemporary one. Changes that turned up over the centuries might surprise not to include some names and individuals or events you may count on as granted. Ian Mortimer is selective in his chioce and only picks only those that had real impact on mankind, that changed totally our perception and our way of life. The book at its finist describes a bit of depressing view of future, however in my opinion it shows quite possible turn that may happen. I think all the readers and listeners hope that the bleak visions will soften as suggested at the very end.

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A Thought Provoking Read.

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

It's a great listen. It highlights four periods of change in each century from the year 1000ad up to the 20th century and how each change affected the world.These changes can be brought about, for example, by a person (Hitler) religion (Martin Luther) or science, medicine or technology (steam engine) Each century also gets a most influential person.

Any additional comments?

A listen that will make you think. Ian Mortimer uses his hometown to illustrate how the historical changes have affected our lives and the way we live.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nike
  • Devon
  • 22-08-17

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.

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Outstanding

Insightful and well written. This is panoramic in scope and absorbing. However, the final hour of istening is deeply disturbing and raises questions there is need for us all to ask of ourselves.