Reviews/ Awards
  • Tales of Invasions and Empires won a 2019 CIPA EVVY Award in History Non-Fiction

For the past quarter century, the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) has presented its coveted EVVY Awards; entries are received from all over the world. The CIPA EVVY is one of the longest-running and most prestigious book award competitions in the
independent publishing scene.

Each year Outskirts Press, the #1 independent publishing company according to Top Consumer Reviews, nominates less than 5% of its books published during the previous year for a CIPA EVVY Award. With its achievement, Tales of Invasions and Empires joins the even more exclusive club of an award winner. This is especially notable for the taking on in our trilogy, within a unique framework, the challenge of making the whole of world history comprehensible.

  • Kirkus Review of Our Axial Age

A learned historian offers a challenging road map to humanity’s future.

Augustson refers to a “New Axial Age” in his heavily detailed, impressive debut. His explanation of the term looks back to German philosopher Karl Jasper’s idea of a first Axial Age, which occurred around 500 B.C. and featured the simultaneous flowering of Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and the Socratic origins of Platonism. Augustson also makes the case for the rhythmic communal but uncoordinated upsurge of transformative events over the course of time. In five densely packed chapters, the author makes the case for a new age borne out of four powerful cultural movements: Confucian China, Hindu India, the Muslim Middle East, and the Christian West.

The book looks to history in its broadest sense, which requires it to cover the fundamentals of historiography in its earliest chapters. Its main point is that the relatively sudden appearance of republics over the last two centuries has laid the groundwork for a transformation of human civilization.

The sections which Augustson makes predictions about the future of the New Axial Age are intriguing. However, prognostication is the Achilles’ heel of the historian’s art, and readers will doubtless contest some statements. Augustson also takes issue with the concept of “the end of history,” instead seeing “a path to new adventures to which we currently lack the strength to walk”. Like the rest of his book, it’s controversial but endlessly thought-provoking.

A wide-ranging, comprehensive study of the meta-history of human civilization.

  • Kendra Review of Tales of Invasions and Empires

I am always deeply appreciative when authors manage to do three things: show their authority (and expertise) on a subject, make plain their personal bias without compromising the books value, and produce a readable book. Augustson doesn’t lead his with his thirty years in government affairs; I had to delve into the author’s notes and so forth at the end. But it becomes clear early on that he knows what he is doing so far as crafting a persuasive argument and backing it up with curated information that’s digestible to the common reader. There are charts. There are maps. There are structured chapters. But there is also a kind of playfulness and a clear voice to the work which keeps it from feeling overwhelmingly textbooky.

Augustson provides seventeen chapters about seventeen intersecting lives. Fair warning though, he takes it for granted that readers are familiar with some terms that I personally hadn’t seen before (“Jaspers Age” being one, and “Axial Age” another). A little quality time with le Googl brought me up to speed, but it is well worth the time taking a pause after the introduction to study the initial charts and timelines and lock in some of those terms before going further. I was set up well for this book by reading Keay’s history of China last year and having started Dalrymple’s The Anarchy more recently. Once I finish Dalrymple, Augustson has inspired me to look for a book on the history of Islam and Muslim culture; then I will have a better understanding of his four cornerstone civilizations.

Augustson’s grasp of history is one thing, but his ability to draw together the different threads of history in very different parts of the world by focusing on the intersecting lives of one or two individuals per chapter is what sets this history apart. Whatever you personally believe about the threefold ages Augustson argues in favor of, it is worth reading this book simply for the pleasure of seeing so many lives wound so cleverly together. The fifteenth chapter, which deals with “Global Cold and the Black Death” is both hard and valuable to read on its own.

In summary, Augustson’s experience in government affairs is put to work in this mammoth installment of what could safely be called history with a bent toward interpretation, and he makes an interesting argument for the realization of humanity in three stages.