There could be no more opportune time than the start of the third millennium AD to produce an entirely new atlas of world history. Not only does this symbolic (if arbitrary) moment provoke a mood of public retrospection, but the pace of global change itself demands a greater awareness of "whole world" history. More than 20 years have passed since a major new atlas of this kind was published in the English language. In that period there has been an explosion of new research into the histories of regions outside Europe and North America, and a growing awareness of how parochial our traditional approach to history has been. In this changed environment, the demand for an un-biased overview of world history has steadily grown in schools and colleges, and among the general reading public.
Several developments within the study of academic history promote the seriousness with which histories of the world are now taken. First the accumulation of knowledge about the past of different nations has engendered excessive specialization. The sheer volume of publications and data about details of the past stimulates demand from students, scholars and a wider public for guidelines, meaning and "big pictures" that world history, with its unconfined time frame and wider geographical focus, is positioned to meet.
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