Post By Corvus Marinus
What are some good "bottom up" world history books?
I.e. taking early cultures and describing how they developed.
How narrow are you thinking? In other words, are you actually looking for a world history textbook with a broad scope, or do you want something culture-specific that will give you a more detailed narrative and analysis? You might also want to look into cultural anthropology, depending on what you want to use the information for.
There are a lot of books out there, and right now your question is a little broad.
You might find the GURPS Low-Tech Companion books useful, they describe various aspects of pre-industrial society in a manner suitable for people building RPG settings: GURPS Low-Tech Companion 1: Philosophers and Kings, GURPS Low-Tech Companion 3: Daily Life and Economics