Civilizations: A Novel

We rated this book:


Alternate histories can sometimes be a lot of fun, but they can also be dangerous. Civilizations by Laurent Binet (translated from the French) straddles the line and crosses it sometimes.

In this story the Vikings do more than just land in Vinland, reaching as far as central and south America. Then five hundred years later, Columbus arrives to find a formidable people who don’t take lightly to strangers wanting to take over; he doesn’t last long. Europe meanwhile becomes entrenched in religious fanaticism and primed for a revolution. The last Incan emperor, Atahualpa, launches a mission to Europe, landing first in Portugal and then Spain, and through a series of strategic maneuvers, becomes ruler of many.

What should be a fascinating look into the lives the Incan people and culture as they do to Europe what Europe did to them, is instead at times a strange celebration of all things great with Europe and for Atahualpa to be successful requires help and support from Europeans making it seem like it would not be achievable without them, essentially whitewashing what should be an interesting piece of alternate history. Civilizations has so much more potential than what it delivers.

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Author Laurent Binet
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date 14-Sep-2021
ISBN 9780374600815 Buy this Book
Issue December 2021
Category Historical Fiction