The world changes in two ways: Inevitably and stubbornly over decades, centuries, millennia; and, suddenly, without warning, events bubbling up to affect history. Both happen. Both have always happened. The story of the human race is a mix of the cogs slowly grinding and punctuated equilibrium.

If you're feeling particularly caught up in the grand sweep at the moment, you could do worse than read Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. It's a history of the next two thousand million years of humanity, and one of the most relentless, numbing books I've read. Very good, but I suppose probably not what you need in these Troubled Times. Or is that Dark Days?