Author(s): Peter Watson
A highly ambitious and lucid history of ideas from the very earliest times to the present day.
In this hugely ambitious and exciting book Peter Watson tells the history of ideas from prehistory to the present day, leading to a new way of telling the history of the world. The book begins over a million years ago with a discussion of how the earliest ideas might have originated. Looking at animal behaviour that appears to require some thought: tool-making, territoriality, counting, language (or at least sounds), pairbonding.
Peter Watson moves on to the apeman and the development of simple ideas such as cooking, the earliest language, the emergence of family life. All the obvious areas are tackled: the Ancient Greeks, Christian theology, the ideas of Jesus, astrological thought, the soul, the self, beliefs about the heavens, the ideas of Islam, the Crusades, humanism, the Renaissance, Gutenberg and the book, the scientific revolution, the age of discovery, Shakespeare, the idea of Revolution, the Romantic imagination, Darwin, imperialism, modernism, Freud right up to the present day and the internet.
A TERRIBLE BEAUTY has sold over 16,000 copies in paperback (16.99) 'The history of ideas deserves treatment on this scale' Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Evening Standard 'It would be a dull reader that failed to be stimulated either by the questions it raises or by the answers it gives to all sorts of questions that one would never have thought of asking' Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph 'An astonishing overview of human intellectual development...For him, human thought develops as much in response to changes in the natural environment - such as shifts in climate and the appearance of new diseases - as from any internal dynamism of its own. This overarching perspective informs and unifies the book, and the result is a masterpiece of historical writing' John Gray, New Statesman
Peter Watson was born in 1943 and educated at the universities of Durham, London and Rome. He was deputy editor of NEW SOCIETY and spent four years as part of the 'Insight' team of THE SUNDAY TIMES. He was New York correspondent of THE TIMES and has written for THE OBSERVER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, PUNCH and THE SPECTATOR. He is the author of thirteen books and has presented several television programmes about the arts. Since 1998 he has been a Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, at the University of Cambridge.