Days That Changed The World: The 50 Defining Events of World History

Written by Hywel Williams
Review by Sally Zigmond

Ask a dozen historians to list the fifty defining events of world history and you will get at least a dozen different answers.

                This author’s first event is the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC; the last is the horror of Nine Eleven. We might expect to find the crucifixion of Jesus, the storming of the Bastille and Columbus’s landing in the New World. However, to me, the choice of nineteen events from the 20th century seems more than a little unbalanced. It may also be pedantic to question whether the development of the telephone can be classed as a ‘day’ that changed the world; or whether the day a confederacy of German tribes crossed the Rhine marked the downfall of the Roman Empire. To call these ‘days’ when such events are evolutions, culminations of a series of events is a bit of a gimmick. Was the opening of the first passenger railway line more important than James Watt’s discovery of the power of steam or the building of the Rocket? Is the phenomenon that is Bill Gates of equal significance to the birth of Islam and why is the day Isaac Newton matriculated more important than the day the apple fell on his head? I could go on and others probably will.

                Williams, however, is a persuasive and entertaining writer and provides a rich banquet rather than food for thought, but this jury is still out.