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The Cartoon History of the Universe II, Volumes 8-13: From the Springtime of China to the Fall of Rome (Pt.2) Paperback – September 18, 1994

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The Cartoon History of the Universe II, Volumes 8-13: From the Springtime of China to the Fall of Rome (Pt.2) + Cartoon History of the Universe Volumes 1-7 + The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (Cartoon History of the Modern World)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (September 18, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385420935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385420938
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Continuing right where the first book left off, The Cartoon History of the Universe II once again combines Gonick's superb cartooning with the lessons of history. Find out what Lynn Johnston, creator of For Better of Worse, calls "a gift to those of us who love to laugh and who love to learn." Part II contains volumes 8 to 13, from the Springtime of China to the Fall of Rome (and India, too!).

From Publishers Weekly

Gonick has done it again with a diffuse but deep excavation into early civilizations from ancient China to the Germanic tribes. In some ways, Gonick asks a lot of American readership's occidental training by detailing every dynastic hotshot from the Orient. This also being a fertile time for the development of religious cults, Gonick spends much time on Christ (whom he insists on calling "Jeshua ben Joseph"), Confucius, (not, one might note, Lao Tsu or K'ung fu-tsze), Buddha and the like. Gonick's main focus is not to outline the contributions that allowed their teachings to survive the centuries, but rather to humanize them, and some come across as fanatical seekers simply looking for a following, a good meal, a wicked battle, a girlfriend or a shower. The artist's style is versatile and engaging, and his asides, puns and parenthetical references do much to keep the reader's attention throughout this tome, but that cannot entirely make up for the fact that some of this history is just plain dry. However, aficionados of cartoon blood, backstabbing, sex and history will love this volume, and might find a place for it near their encyclopedias.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Larry Gonick has been creating comics that explain history, science, and other big subjects for more than thirty years, ever since Blood from a Stone: A Cartoon Guide to Tax Reform appeared in 1977. He has been a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and is staff cartoonist for Muse magazine.

Customer Reviews

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See all 50 customer reviews
He is smart and funny and draws like a champ.
Steve L. Rapp
In the days where we seem to be trying to repeat some of history's mistakes (or maybe rectify them) this is a good way to find out just what those events were.
David Fields
And, after Larry Gonick completes his "Cartoon History of the Universe" series, most everything will be.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Conrad Leviston on January 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
As with Larry Gonick's other guides he manages to pull off the trick of being both amusing and edifying. He also has the artistic flare for painting history in broad yet revealing brush strokes.
The second instalment of his history of the Universe covers ancient India, China's early years and Rome from its mythical founding to its very real collapse.
Gonick is not afraid to offend. His depictions of Jesus, Krisna, Buddha and Confucius are all less than entirely flattering. While he is not the sort to be disrespectful through ignorance, Gonick will not fail to pick out the more obvious weaknesses of any institution or historical figure he comes across. He even takes a swipe at one of Afrocentrisms unjustified claims. Although in the end he pays due recognition to the achievements of each of these figures it is possibly best to avoid this book if you are the sort to yell "Blasphemy!".
Anybody else who has a sense of humour and an interest in history should get their hands on this book immediately.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Even though this is a collection of cartoons and the text in the dialog balloons is generally meant to be frivolous, it is possible to learn a lot of history from the book. Unlike so many history books that concentrate on Western Europe and derivatives, this one deals extensively with India and China. Volume 8 deals with the early history of India and how the great religions that we associate with India arose. From it, you also learn the origins of the great early works of Indian civilization such as Bhagavad Gita.
The origins of the ancient Chinese civilization are covered in volumes 9 and 10. Most of the points deal with the battles for supremacy and feature court intrigue, deception and a lot of killing. We tend to think of massive deaths in war as being a modern invention, but that is a misconception. Well before the year 0, the army of Chin was ambushed and massacred, over 200,000 men were killed in one day.
Chapter 11 begins with the last days of Alexander the Great. It correctly points out that while Alexander was married to a Persian, that union was largely political. The great love of Alexander's life was Hephaestion, his male grand vizier. When Hephaestion died, Alexander grieved over the body for two days. The next sections chronicle the origin and rise of Rome as a great power. Once again, it is largely a tale of murder, intrigue and war. As the power of Rome grew, it was no longer possible to maintain the republican form of government. At first the supreme position was called the consulship, where the holder was powerful, but not yet a dictator. All this changed when Julius Caesar marched off to conquer Gaul and then returned to march on Rome. This began several decades of near constant warfare in the Empire, some of which was civil.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lieder on February 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Every book in this series is both funny and intelligent. Much of the dumb humor comes from getting the facts straight. Even small details like Galba jumping into his boyfriend's arms after learning that he has been declared emporer is from Tacitus.

This is my favorite by virtue of being about Ancient Rome, its rise as a Republic, the height of Empire and its collapse into the dark ages. The fact that he doesn't flinch from the more scandalous details (such as Tiberius' proclivities towards little boys) or skimp over some of the more interesting controversies of the time (Josephus comes off as a wily con artist) makes it that much more entertaining. And I also would have never read The Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire had it not been for this book. And trust me, Edward Gibbons rocks.

Besides, the Western History, Gonick also spends a great deal of time with Indian and Chinese history. One of the major crimes of our education system is the fact that this is all probably very basic material, but the best source for it is probably in a cartoon book. Still, it's a great cartoon book and you can't fault the cartoon book for the deficiencies in other educational venues.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gagewyn on November 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Cartoon History of the Universe is an excellent series. Volume two covers history from the death of Alexander the Great through the fall of Rome and includes Chinese history up through around 0 AD.

One thing that I really like about this series is the good research that went into it. Although sources are not given in footnotes or interspersed in the text, there is a bibliography, and Gonick includes enough detail to make it possible to verify the facts he states. So basically it is well written and doesn't use being a comic book as an excuse to be sloppy. I wouldn't feel odd about citing it as a reference on a term paper, and I actually did cite this one. Another nice feature is that humor is usually in the form of little anecdotes that actually happened and not slapstick. History is full of colorful characters (Nero anyone?) and so it can be presented interestingly with a bit of effort and research. Gonick does that here.

I recommend The Cartoon History of the Universe to everybody. The humor and visuals are nice to apply to a subject which can seem like a dull stream of names and dates at times. It is a good supplement to a history class, because it covers in depth some things that tend to only be included in history classes for the sake of political correctness. For example, Gonick's history of China is in depth and covered with the same research and humor as the European history. In most history books the sections on China are very stiff and PC. To me this book is valuable if only for the section on Chinese history.
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