From the acclaimed author of The Romanovs--a magisterial history of humanity viewed through the lens of its most powerful dynasties
In this sprawling and eye-opening book, best-selling historian Simon Sebag Montefiore chronicles the world's great dynasties across human history through engrossing tales of palace intrigue, glorious battle, and the real lives of people who held unfathomable power. He trains his eye on founders of humble origin, like Sargon, the Mesopotamian cupbearer sent to help defeat a rival who returned with an army to dethrone his own king, and Liu Bang, a peasant who became a rebel leader and founded the Han dynasty. Montefiore illuminates the achievements of fearsome emperors, including Yax Ehb Xook, whose Mayan city-state Tikal boasts some of the most monumental ancient architecture that exists today; Jayavarman II, who proclaimed himself "universal king" and whose Khmer empire in South Asia heralded a thousand years of Indic ascendancy; and Ewuare, the African emperor who built a capital city that rivaled any in Europe. He writes, too, about remarkable women rulers, like Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh, and Maria Theresa, the only woman to rule the Habsburg empire. These families represent the breadth of human endeavor, with bloody civil wars, treacherous conspiracies, and shocking megalomania alongside flourishing culture, moving romances, and enlightened benevolence. A dazzling epic history as spellbinding as fiction, The World
is testament to Montefiore's acclaimed career as our poet laureate of power.