The Literary City

The World–A Family History With Simon Sebag Montefiore

February 08, 2023 Explocity Podcasts Season 3 Episode 51
The Literary City
The World–A Family History With Simon Sebag Montefiore
Show Notes Chapter Markers

This interview was recorded live at Blossom Book House, Bangalore.

Many years ago I saw a TV commercial that stuck with me. It showed a montage—sepia tinted portraits of older couples, with rather interesting last names:

Alois and Klara Hitler
Beso Jughashvili and Ekaterine Geladze (Josef Stalin’s parents)
Andruta and Marie Ceausescu (parents of Nikolai Ceausescu, the genocidal leader of Romania.)

And a few similar others. And then the punchline “If only these people had heard of Trojan condoms.”

This commercial spoke a truth—that families are involved and responsible for the good ones and the monsters alike.

We have heard much of the campaigns and conquests and cruelties of world leaders and we have read stories of incidents that might have influenced their growing years. But history is rather quiet on the roles their mothers played. Yes, what about Mom? How did Mom mess with their heads?

The most definitive record of this truth—that is the family’s role in history—is written by Simon Seabag Montefiore in his book, "The World—A Family History". Simon’s book opens with the discovery of footprints. In 2013, a storm lashed the coast of eastern England in Norfolk at a village called Happisburg and uncovered these footprints. They found out that these footprints were left behind at least 850,000 years ago by a small group of humans and children— and that is the first evidence of a family.

A blurb in Simon’s book says that from the beginning of history through the present, the one thing that humanity has in common is family. The World—A Family History reveals how the family unit has driven history—from the prehistoric homo antecessors of Happisburg to the modern days—the Trump family included.

The book has such a huge span. In about 1300 pages it takes us through recorded history as we know it and in a never done before narrative, presents the history of the world through the families that have caused and created history in every corner of the world.

This book is nothing short of a modern day epic. To those who have not had the pleasure of reading Simon Sebag Montefiore, let me say that his narrative is not only deep but gripping. And don't let the size of the book fool you. It is unputdownable and call me if it doesn’t go faster than binge-watching Game of Thrones with as much guts, gore and sex.

I have been given the honour of bringing to you this prolific and hugely entertaining historian.

Montefiore is the internationally bestselling author of prize-winning books that have been published in 48 languages. Catherine the Great & Potemkin, The Court of the Red Tsar, Young Stalin, Jerusalem: The Biography, and The Romanovs: 1613-1918. He is the author of the Moscow Trilogy of novels: Sashenka, Red Sky at Noon and One Night in Winter. He also wrote Written in History: Letters that Changed the World and Voices of History: Speeches that Changed the World.

You can get a special 20% discount at Blossom Book House on Church St in Bangalore.  Or you can it order it from them here:  The World: A Family History: or better, here:

Co-host Pranati "Pea" Madhav joins Ramjee Chandran in "What's That Word?!",  where they discuss the interesting origins of the word, "CONDOM".

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