This Early 9Th Century Poem Titled “The Charcoal Seller”,
1439 WordsApr 8, 20176 Pages
This early 9th century poem titled “The Charcoal Seller”, featured as one of the many thematic quotes proceeding each subheading of Vaclav Smil 's 1994 book on energy and human development titled Energy in World History, provides a simplistic overview of Smil 's novel. Moving right to left on a timeline of energy development, the high sun of Zhuyi 's poem represents both the primary energy source that the sun provides through processes of photosynthesis and heat energy as well as its inefficient form of energy production for the needs of man. Yes the sun is high, but what good is it doing, it 's energy production is slow and its power is needed to satiate of the hungry-man. Smil spends the beginning of his novel discussing the energy…show more content…
The first 200 pages of the book are brimming with condensed information surrounding the efficient cultivation of energy through advanced technologies and the role this had in the development of civilization. This style of writing, while at times encyclopedic, is aided by Smil 's casual tone and use of detailed figures. What he lacks in terms of discussion, in favor of a more descriptive historical account in the first ¾ of his novel, he makes up for near the end where he discusses the subject of energies role in history and provides a disclaimer on the fallacy in attributing a deterministic account of energy role in shaping human development while still acknowledging its importance as a factor in world history.
As a whole, the book is difficult to make cross-referential criticisms on the basis of its claims, seeing that it did not really make any substantial claims until the last 50 pages. Energy in World History succeeds as a collection of historical facts and data presented in clear and concise terminology and does not strive to be anything more. It will present a topic such as the evolution of pre-industrial energy technologies and then break this down into smaller sub-studies such as transportation, agriculture, and building. Each of these sub-sections, constituting 5-8 pages in this book, can and have warranted entire novels. The beauty of Smil 's book is as a compilation of these various sources into a