The events of September 11, 2001, as nothing in the immediate past, have brought upon the world a new awareness of human history in a global con-t. Prior to that day North American readers generally understood world history and globalism as academic concepts; they now understand them as realities shaping their daily lives and experience. The new, immediate pressures of the present draw us to seek a more certain and extensive understanding of the past. The idea of globalization is now a pressing reality on the life of nations, affecting the domestic security of their citizens, their standard of living, and the environment. Whether, as Samuel Huntington, the distinguished Harvard political scientist, contends, we are witnessing a clash of civilizations, we have certainly entered a new era in which no active citizen or educated person can escape the necessity of understanding the past in global terms. Both the historical experience and the moral and political values of the different world civilizations now demand our attention and our understanding. It is our hope that in these new, challenging times The Heritage of World Civilizations will provide one path to such knowledge. THE ROOTS OF GLOBALIZATION Globalization--that is, the increasing interaction and interdependency of the various regions of the world--has resulted from two major historical developments: the closing of the European era of world history and the rise of technology. From approximately 1500 to the middle of the twentieth century, Europeans gradually came to dominate the world through colonization (most particularly in North and South America), state-building, economic productivity, and military power. That era of European dominance ended during the third quarter of the twentieth century after Europe had brought unprecedented destruction on itself during World War II and as the nations of Asia, the Near East, and Africa achieved new positions on the world scene. Their new political independence, their control over strategic natural resources, and the expansion of their economies (especially those of the nations of the Pacific rim of Asia), and in some cases their access to nuclear weapons have changed the shape of world affairs. Further changing the world political and social situation has been a growing discrepancy in the economic development of different regions that is often portrayed as a problem between the northern and southern hemispheres. Beyond the emergence of this economic disparity has been the remarkable advance of political Islam during the past forty years. In the midst of all these developments, as a result of the political collapse of the former Soviet Union, the United States has emerged as the single major world power. The second historical development that continues to fuel the pace of globalization is the advance of technology, associated most importantly with transportation, military weapons, and electron communication. The advances in transportation over the past two centuries including ships, railways, and airplanes have made more parts of the world and its resources accessible to more people in ever shorter spans of time. Military weapons of increasingly destructive power over the past century and a half enabled Europeans and then later the United States to dominate other regions of the globe. Now, the spread of these weapons means that any nation with sophisticated military technology can threaten other nations, no matter how far away. Furthermore, technologies that originated in the West from the early twentieth century to the present have been turned against the West. More recently, the electronic revolution associated with computer technology has sparked unprecedented speed and complexity in global communications. It is astonishing to recall that personal computers have been generally available for less than twenty-five years and the rapid personal communication associated withCraig, Albert M. is the author of 'Heritage of World Civilizations Brief', published 2004 under ISBN 9780131501003 and ISBN 0131501003.