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Word Count: 399
History at 1000 mphPower Greed A Short History of the WorldPhilippe GigantsConstable 1299 pp251In the past 25 centuries man has excelled in two areas the creation of rules for a just society and the breaking of these rules in the pursuit of power That is Philippe Gigantss framework for his history of the world from the Greeks to the Byzantines the Moors to the European colonisers the revolutionaries of France and America to Chairman MaoGigantss specific innovation is the concept of the grand acquisitors - Agrippina Theodora Napoleon Hitler and an assortment of crusaders conquistadors and caudillos - whose lust for power routinely breaks the rules established by the legendary figures such as Plato Jesus Muhammad and Buddha Unfortunately he does not develop this thesis and some of his most entertaining thoughts are relegated to the footnotesGigantss cavalier approach makes Power and Greed a lively read focusing on personalities rather than abstract notions He gladly relays unsubstantiated gossip libidinous explanations of turns of events and speculates about the psychological games played by Cortes in conquering the AztecsProfessional historians may recoil at the quips about the Hundred Years War - I think of it as a drug war - or the report of Napoleons alleged comment that if Spaniards could do it 27 times a day so could the French But such a journalistic approach - Gigants was The Observers Washington correspondent in the 1950s - makes entertaining reading if not rigorous historical analysis he applies Confuciuss learning to King George IIIs obstinacy over the American colonies he invokes Plato in his discussions of the Hindu caste system and Latin Americas racial spectrum he masterfully interprets part of the Old Testament as a precursor to Keynesian deficit spending and refers to the Catholic and Orthodox clergy who fought against the reduction of their power in the Middle Ages as mullahsGigants shows that the worthy revolutionaries of world history tend to excel in developing systems that
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