The seventh part of our pocket history of the world focuses on what most of us would call the East, and especially on China and India. It was here that, in the millennia leading up to the Common Era, many of the most crucial developments in the unfolding human story took place: in agriculture, manufacturing, statecraft, philosophy and religion.
The causes of these innovations had as much to do with Nature as with Man. Their effects can still be felt today, all over the world.
As our series reaches the halfway stage – the remaining booklets appear over the next seven days with The Independent and The Independent on Sunday – our story is growing more complex and dramatic, its protagonists more recognisable as fellow members of civilised societies. Yet our distinctive approach – examining events in terms not just of history but also of natural history, culture, economics and much else besides – remains as relevant and enlightening as ever.