A World History, by William H. McNeill

William H. McNeill, born in 1917, is described by Wikipedia as "among the world's most respected historians" and as having been Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Chicago.

This is a one-volume, 552-page work published by Oxford University Press, which describes the book as emphasizing "the four Old World civilizations of the Middle East, India, China, and Europe, paying particular attention to their interaction across time as well as the impact on historical scholarship in light of the most recent archaeological discoveries. The engaging and informative narrative touches on all aspects of civilization, including geography, communication, and technological and artistic developments, and provides extensive coverage of the modern era."

The book touches on that important aspect of civilization, religion. I found nothing on Christianity's Bishop Irenaeus, or the anti-Confucianist Mozi. He did mention points on cultural diffusion's impact in the creation of Islam, but cultural diffusions and religious belief is generally ignored. I found no suggestion of any Zoroastrian influence on Judaism. His view of the origins of World War I is very brief, describing it as an accident in that "no European government wanted a general war." Missing here is something required for an adequate description of what happened in one of history's biggest events.

An important understanding of the origins of World War I requires mention of the context of empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The war began with Franz Joseph trying to defend his rotten empire from Serb nationalism and the stupid Wilhelm II (the Kaiser) of Germany supporting Franz Joseph because he thought regicide (the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand) had to be punished and believed that his cousin the tsar understood that necessity. The Russians were willing to go to war in support of Serbia, and Germans believed they had to go to war not only to help Franz Joseph against Serbia but mainly to defend themselves from the Russians. McNeill describes the events leading to World War I on one page (page 492) with some relevant observations, but essential ingredients are missing.

A McNeill quote:

“We have to do the best we can with the language and concepts we inherit and not worry about obtaining a truth that will satisfy everyone, everywhere, and for all time”