The book covers the last thousand years of the history of the world. The key
word here is "world". This is not the usual Europe-centric history of the world
that mostly describes how the various European nations evolved from the Middle
Ages into the superpowers of the colonial era. Fernandez-Armesto is a "total"
historian who analyzes events happening at the same time in different continents
and relates them to each other. Therefore we are treated to a simultaneous
film of France, China, India, Australia, Africa, Russia and so on.
His method works wonders for the first 500 years. Both the interdependencies
and the contrasts between various civilizations (that were not as separated
as most imagine) are fascinating.
The method works less well for the second half of the book, that feels a bit more superficial, and it becomes erratic when dealing with the last fifty years of the millennium (for example, he has very little to say about the Soviet Union and the Middle East).