Architecture is an all-embracing adventure without end. It is a story that can never be completed - not as long as mankind continues to build, to invent, to discover; it is the story told in this book. The history of architecture is also a history of many other things - of politics, economy, religion, of science, ecology and of art and culture generally - and so is essentially a history of the world. For architecture - in its forms and functions - is a very direct mirror of mankind's desires, concerns and aspirations. Journeying across the world, from Syria to Shrewsbury, Sudan to Southern Spain, Dan Cruickshank explores man's most impressive creations. Not only the bastions of defense and aggression; homes for the gods and the dead; temples of commerce and the arts; palaces to express taste, power and wealth; and shrines of science, of learning, knowledge and politics - but also of mammon and of physical and spiritual oppression and incarceration. Can an ignoble cause create great architecture, can a prison be a thing of beauty as well as of power? These are perennial philosophical questions this book seeks to answer. Ingeniously structured by theme, this book surveys civilization through the pioneers, visionaries, follies, ancients, rhetoric, scale, survivals and revivals of its greatest constructions. Together, the stories in this beautifully illustrated book offer a stupendous global cultural history - a history that is full of mystery and ripe for rediscovery.