Most people can name the influential leaders and major battles of the past. Few can name the most destructive storms, the worst winters, the most devastating droughts.
In The Earth Transformed, ground-breaking historian Peter Frankopan shows that engagement with the natural world and with climatic change and their effects on us are not new: exploring, for instance, the development of religion and language and their relationships with the environment; tracing how growing demands for harvests resulted in the increased shipment of enslaved peoples; scrutinising how the desire to centralise agricultural surplus formed the origins of the bureaucratic state; and seeing how efforts to understand and manipulate the weather have a long and deep history. Understanding how past shifts in natural patterns have shaped history, and how our own species has shaped terrestrial, marine and atmospheric conditions is not just important but essential at a time of growing awareness of the severity of the climate crisis.
Taking us from the Big Bang to the present day, The Earth Transformed forces us to reckon with humankind's continuing efforts to make sense of the natural world.
Peter Frankopan is a Professor of Global History at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, published by Bloomsbury in 2015, was a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller and remained in the top 10 for nine months after publication. It was named one of the 'Books of the Decade' 2010-2020 by the Sunday Times. The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World was published by Bloomsbury in 2018 and won the Human Sciences prize from the Carical Foundation in 2019.
– An instant #2 Sunday Times bestseller
– A 2023 highlight for BBC News, Sunday Times Culture, Financial Times, New European, Guardian, New Statesman, The Times, The Week, Waterstones, Blackwell's
"[...] What sets Frankopan's book apart is the comprehensive nature of his historical gaze in terms of both time and place, covering all parts of the world, as well as the multiple linkages from climate to species, soils to oceans [...]"
– Nick Robins, Resurgence & Ecologist 339, July/August 2023
"Vast, learned and timely work"
– The Sunday Times
"Frankopan shows you how everything fits together [...] vast, learned and timely [...] The Earth Transformed is Sapiens for grown-ups [...] it holds lessons for a world grappling with rapid climate change caused by human industry"
– Dan Jones, Sunday Times
"Frankopan has brought all this scholarly work together into a massive book that is comprehensive, well-informed and fascinating. It has the intellectual weight and dramatic force of a tsunami [...] This is an endlessly fascinating book, an easy read on an important issue"
– Gerard DeGroot, The Times
"Frankopan demonstrates an impressive mastery of anthropological, historical, and meteorological literature, and his scrupulously evenhanded analysis carefully notes uncertainties in scientific and historical evidence. Elegant and cogently argued, this illuminates an age-old and urgently important dynamic"
– Publishers Weekly
"[Frankopan] succeeds in mastering a seemingly impossible challenge, distilling an immense mass of historical sources, scientific data and modern scholarship that span thousands of years and the entire globe into an epic and spellbinding story. Humanity has transformed the Earth: Frankopan transforms our understanding of history"
– Financial TImes
"This is epic, gripping, original history that leaps off the page. I wanted to buy everyone I know a copy"
– Sathnam Sanghera
"All Historians aiming to tell a narrative face the problem of when exactly to start it. Only Peter Frankopan would go back 2.5 billion years to the Great Oxidation Event"
– Tom Holland
"A dazzling compendium of global research [...] The value of this book is as an act of deep understanding, recognising not only scientifically but culturally and philosophically that we are epiphenomena – not dominators of the Earth but products of it"
– Adam Nicolson, Spectator
"The Earth Transformed by @peterfrankopan truly is an epic masterpiece. There are many 'big ideas' books out there, but often are beset by wafer-thin scholarship, and few stand up to scrutiny. This absolutely does. It's a book for the ages, and I cannot recommend it enough"
– Adam Rutherford
"He has attempted successfully, and deftly, what few others have and provided an overarching perspective of the way climatic events and trends, geography and human opportunism have intertwined and defined Homo sapiens' relationship with the planet"
"The Earth Transformed makes a major contribution to raising awareness and concern, and hopefully will reach those decision makers, in the political and commercial spheres, who might have the power and means to do something about it. In many ways, this fascinating and thoughtful book's lack of an overt political message – and its clear focus on the lessons we can learn from past civilisations and their response to climate change – make it all the more powerful a weapon, for which Prof Frankopan deserves credit and thanks"
– Country Life
"Importantly, Frankopan shows our modern concerns about the environment are no modish fad: they were shared by ancient thinkers and leaders. Anyone with an interest in building a more sustainable world would do well to read his book"
– New Scientist
"Peter Frankopan reveals how our lives have been shaped by environmental changes since the emergence of Homo sapiens in this sweeping, riveting study"
"Frankopan has done the sterling, even heroic job of making readily available much of the bountiful harvest of research in climate and environmental history. For thousands of aficionados of door-stopper history books, this one is likely to be their introduction to climate and environmental history"
"A wise, well-researched and essential study for our precarious times"
– The Independent
"Peter's book is an incredible, must read, magnum opus on the history of humanity and the environment, and I THOROUGHLY suggest you read it"
– Greg Jenner