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Complete History of the World. Edited by Geoffrey Barraclough 8th Revised edition Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0007315697
ISBN-10: 0007315694
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Editorial Reviews

Review

* "This is one of the great works of historical reference in the English language. If you were allowed only one history book in the whole of your life, The Times Complete History of the World would be hard to beat because it conveys a sense not only of time, but also of place." Niall Ferguson, Professor of History, Harvard University. * "Wonderfully told history, brilliant graphics and maps, comprehensive and utterly accessible. In the internet age, proof positive that this reference book still has the edge by a considerable margin." Jon Snow

About the Author

Richard Overy is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He spent his earlier career teaching at Cambridge and at King's College, London. He has published over twenty books on the Second World War, the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin and the history of air power. His most recent books include The Battle of Britain, The Dictators, The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilisation 1919-1939 and 1939: Countdown to War. He has edited the past three editions of the Times History of the World. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2001 he won the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for his contributions to military history and in 2010 the James Doolittle Award for his contribution to aviation history. He is currently director of the Centre for State, War and Society at Exeter University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 8th Revised edition edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007315694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007315697
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 1.8 x 14.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a great overview of world history, which at only 432 pages is not meant to discuss any topic in the depth. For instance, the US Civil War and the Reconstruction that followed are covered in only 2 pages. I mention this not because I consider it a deficiency, but rather to illustrate that since all of the history of all of the world is covered, any individual topic must, of necessity, be covered in a somewhat cursory manner. However, none of my many history books exceed this one in its scope or pictorial quality. Nor do they exceed the way it gives one a feeling for the flow of history and the forces that drive it.

The book begins with the pre-history (before any type of written record) of human origins and culture and ends with the state of the world at the beginning of the 21st century (up to 2006). The book covers the whole world, not just those facets of history that impact Europe and North America. There are sections on Asia, South East Asia, India, Africa, South America, Australia and the Middle East. The book is copiously illustrated and contains many maps and timelines. The maps are historical maps that not only show geographical features but also focus on topics such as historical boundaries, the migration of people, and military events. There are economic charts and graphs and photographs of historical artifacts. In addition to the typical bibliography and index, the book also contains a 38-page glossary, which is a mini-encyclopedia of sorts that provides one-paragraph entries on many people, places and events.

One question that should be addressed when assessing a book like this one is whether, given the Internet (especially Wikipedia), this book is necessary. I think that the answer is decidedly yes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is what I was expecting from a historical atlas. While I would personally prefer to do away with some of the commentary, it is not overbearing in scope (compare to National Geographic Historical Atlas of the United States). The atlas starts with a 13p timeline of world history divided between Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and tech. The next 330pp are principally devoted to maps. The maps take up roughly 60% of the text. Generally a large map appears on the odd pages, periodically with some text. The even pages describe the historical significance of the map, with an additional 1 to 3 inset sized maps. Additionally, some room has been set aside for a period picture suitable to the subject. After a 5p essay upon reaching the present state of the world, the atlas concludes with a 36p glossary and a 28p index.

Out of a quick perusal of the text there were only a few maps I found wanting: the European Axis advances of WWII, and then the Allied advances of WWII. Considering the marks against only 2 maps, (not pages, just maps) I think that rates an excellent.

So why 4 stars? I find a minor issue with some of the large scale maps. In an effort to add geographical perspective, some maps are shown at oblique angles such that one sees the curvature of the Earth. In a few instances it leads to some interesting geometrical effects that affect the readability of the map. In some places it helps to show the global perspective, such as nuclear deterrence with the US vs. USSR. Others, such as the monarchies of Renaissance Europe or the English Industrial Revolution, leave me scratching my head.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is HUGE. I don't mind though. It has some very good information. I cannot say it is a true complete history (heck a complete history would take many, many volumes), but it touches on a lot of different parts of world history. It has pictures, maps, and other graphics that help you better understand the material.

Only downside some may see here is the size. It is a VERY tall book and will not fit in most bookshelves.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, I admit there is no one to blame but myself for my appalling lack of knowledge about world history. I wasn't required to take any history courses for my college degree, so I didn't. However, I thought that I might begin to remedy that by purchasing this book. Some reviewers said it would be an excellent resource for someone like me. I am about 1/3 through it and feel only a tiny bit more knowledgable. I think there's simply too much information, in too condensed a form, to help someone like me. I was hoping to get more a of a feel for various names (such as Hannibal and Charlemagne) and events that I have heard referenced through the years, but I'm simply not. I also think it's every bit as dry as the history books of my youth, so maybe that's why I'm not more engaged. I'll need to buckle down and read several books and/or take some college courses. I guess it's just not realistic to think that I can grasp world history by looking at one book.

I also find the format of the book to be frustrating. Places are mentioned in the text that aren't shown on the maps and vice versa. Much of the text and many of the maps go too deep into the crease of the book, forcing me to crane my neck sideways and push down hard on the spine of the book to try to see what's down in there. AND...even with my reading glasses, I <really> strain to see much of the text; so much of the font is TINY...really teeny-tiny, so it's not so great for the over-Fifty crowd of which I am a proud member.

I suppose if you love history, or if you are currently taking world history courses, this book could help you refresh your memory and see things in a larger context, but it just doesn't seem to be helping me in my quest to become more history literate.
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