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on October 26, 2007
I love this book. It starts with a chapter titled Our Remote Ancestors about how humans evolved and ends with a chapter titled Shrinking World about developments in communication and technology and how they have changed the world. The book is big. 12 x 10.5 x 1.75. It is full of pictures. This book reminds me of the wonderful travel guide books that DK publishes. History is a guidebook to the history of the human race. There are hundreds of wonderful pictures, maps, timelines and charts. This is a book that viscerally appeals to me. Since it arrived I have enjoyed opening it and browsing at every opportunity.

The other thing that I love about this book is that it allows me to find answers to the random historical questions that often come up when I am traveling, reading the newspaper or watching historical fiction on TV. I have three examples of this.

A recent visit to the ancient bristle cone pines made me want to understand more about ancient civilizations and human migrations. History: The Definitive Visual Guide allowed me to satisfy my curiosity.

History: The Definitive Visual Guide helps me to understand the historical backgrounds of the presidential biographies I have been reading.

A waitress recently told us she was from Moldova. I knew almost nothing about Moldova. One of the nice features of History: The Definitive Visual Guide is that it has a 110 page section that traces the individual histories of the world's 193 countries. When we got home I read up on the history of Moldova.

In my opinion History: The Definitive Visual Guide is a must have for anyone who is fascinated by history. I highly recommend this book. It would make a great Christmas present!
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VINE VOICEon December 16, 2007
DK does for history what it has previously done for the universe, the earth, animals, and humans in gorgeously-illustrated large-format "visual guides" entitled, logically enough, "Universe," "Earth," "Animal," and "Human." Each book in the series is as comprehensive as possible, though of course none of them can be as endlessly expansive as the enormous subjects they tackle. But they do a wonderful job of categorizing knowledge and related fields, including copious detail, and inspiring curiosity and wonder.

"History" will not replace standard textbooks on specific historical eras or regions of the world, but it serves as an excellent general introduction, particularly for those who might otherwise be turned off by the subject of history. It starts with the origin of our species, its spread throughout the globe, and prehistoric developments that ensured our survival. Early and classical civilzations are covered next, followed by the Dark and Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, and finally the Industrial Revolution and the Modern Age. A lengthy appendix concludes the book with brief timelines for all of the world's nations.

Numerous maps, links, and period documents are included. There are special two-page features on such leaders as Rameses II, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Ganghis Khan, Elizabeth I, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Lincoln, Victoria, Stalin, Hitler, and JFK, along with photo features on Egyptian, Celtic, Islamic, and Native Amerian artifacts, personalities like Columbus, Leonardo, Marx, and Einstein, decisive events like the Battle of Stalingrad, D-Day, the bombing of Hiroshima, 9/11, and many others. Recommended.
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This book is visually stunning, endlessly entertaining and educational, and explores history through every imaginable angle, holding it up to the clear light of academic exploration. You can read it from cover to cover, flip through it for quick, factual insights, or explore some area for specialized focus.

It is so well done, that it will (I guarantee) hold inexhaustable fascination for you and everyone in your household. Where did we come from and where are we going? Find your answers here.

Perfection! I adore it.
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on September 18, 2009
This book is a pleasure to look at. I'm reminded of a combination of Life Magazine and National Geographic. Its got that visual quality to it. I'll let all the other reviews describe the other good stuff rather than be repetitive.

I have one concern and that is the text legibility. I wish to pass on to the publishers to please consider making the text larger even if it requires that some of the pictures be a little smaller. Also background images obscure the readability of the text. Some people actually do want to read the book and some of the text is a challenge for me to read because of the size of the print or the fact that the legibility is obscured by a background image.
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on December 23, 2010
DK Publisher's History: The Definitive Visual Guide is a grandiose and impressive tour of civilization from its dawn to the present age. I had read one of DK's previous book on world history called the History of the World published in 1994. I have read several DK books and all of them are of superb quality, especially the graphics in which they excel. This book is no exception. Their previous book on world history seemed to be too compacted with almost too many illustrations on one page. Their present book is in a larger format - the book seems to be a fourth larger which is a better size considering the sweeping scope of world history. This book is divided into Seven Major Sections covering the broad march of world history in the following seven major sections in chronological sequence:

1 ORIGIN - 4.5 million years ago to 3000 BCE
2 RULERS & HIERARCHIES - 3000-700 BCE
3 THINKERS & BELIEVERS 700 BCE-600 CE
4 WARRIORS, TRAVELERS & INVENTORS 600-1450
5 RENAISSANCE & REFORMATION 1450-1750
6 INDUSTRY & REVOLUTION 1750-1914
7 POPULATION & POWER 1914-PRESEN

At the end of the seven main themes, book sets out to survey NATIONAL HISTORIES by Continents:North and South America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania in altogether about 100 pages.

Each major section has a time line of five rows noting the highlights of a particular time span. Noteworthy also is the color-coding of the right hand edge with a distinctive color for each section making it easier to return or find a certain area.

This book is extremely well-organized. Each section is broken down into subsections. For example the first section, ORGINS, begins with Our Remote Ancestors. Each subsection has a BEFORE BOX in which key points are noted preceding this section and also a AFTER BOX which outlines the result of this time period. This pattern is followed throughout the book making it easier for students and others to see the period in a larger historic perspective. In this first section in the BEFORE BOX it looks briefly at the Human Family noting that chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, we share 99 percent of our genes , but the one percent difference is what makes us human. It surveys briefly our oldest prehistoric ancestors. Some of these ancestors may have end died-out. Next, it discusses the molecular clock which Started with the last common ancestor of man and dates the split between man and chimpanzees .The AFTER BOX for this section notes that the arrival of homo sapiens may have signaled the end of the Neanderthal Man.

Another outstanding feature of this book is that most all subtopic are cover in two facing pages which makes it much easier to grasp and understand. This book is packed full of wonderful color illustrations. This would make an ideal gift for almost any student in elementary, high school or college.

If you would like to see my last book review in the Search Box on Amazon type in Smithsonian's Earth. This is a wonderful book published by the Smithsonian Institute a few years ago but still may be on the market.
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on August 10, 2008
I love DK books in general,and this book does not disappoint. The pictures and text compliment each other very well. It was a pleasure to read this well written and beautifully illustrated book. My only complaint is that my first edition book needed some editing. Several dates were off by years, but I found it to be 99% accurate.
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on January 5, 2011
I have finished half of it. Besides the many typos, the book has several errors. For example:
1. The Chinese drawing was about Qing Ming Festival, not Spring Festival.
2. Independence War: the first shot was fired in Lexington, Massachusetts, not Lexington, Kentucky.

The author, who clearly is not an expert in history, should have this book proofread by an expert and publish an errata as soon as possible.
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on February 28, 2014
I bought this book because I am trying to brush up on my world history. After reading this book, I have a much deeper insight into world news topics that I hear about on TV. History was definitely not my favorite subject in school, and it was not until I was an adult that I came to appreciate it. This book fills in a lot of gaps in my history knowledge. I love how it very succinctly covers every major historical event. It gives you a foundation on each event, and if you want to dive deeper, you can branch off into Wikipedia or other verbose media on the topic. Having the groundwork laid by this book, provides you with an easier transition. The only negative I have is that some of the chapters were written with the assumption that you already have knowledge of the event. Because of this, some of the chapters are not an easy read like a novel, and will require you to reread paragraphs over again to connect the dots.
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on March 26, 2014
The wonderful graphics of this volume do make it entertaining and informative. But note that this is an episodic book, with about 150 historical events, all getting exactly a two-page visual treatment. This cookie-cutter approach can make the events appear to have the same significance, and also there is no connection made between them. Thus "The Napoleonic Wars" follows "The French Revolution" two-pager, treating them as separate occurrences, which they by no means are. To really understand the STORY of history, one needs to read a good continuous account, using this as an enjoyable supplement. Its biggest appeal to me has been as a great browzing book, which I often open up randomly to read up on some event, like "Celtic warriors," that I know little about.

The paperback edition of this big book has several advantages over the hardcover. It costs less, and--what I most like--it is lighter and less bulky to hold on your lap when reading. The print font is slightly smaller, so some people may still prefer the hardback.
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on October 3, 2011
The book appeals to almost anyone. The pictures are all fascinating, regardless of interests and education level. It has the history of evolution, the basic history of most large groups of people, whole pages for each major event in recent history, and a whole page for each modern country. Everyone I've shown it to has loved it.

You can spend 30 seconds looking at an interesting picture or 30 hours going through the whole thing. Because of the pictures and the format, it's interesting and doesn't take much effort.

I wish they taught history like this in schools because it's interesting, it makes history seem real, and relevant. My history classes were all names and dates to memorize, which was boring and meaningless.

Obviously, the only two negative reviews (as of the time this review was written) are from nationalistic Chinese people, who are offended that the book doesn't agree with their government's propaganda. I suspect the book would similarly be offensive to Christians because it talks about evolution, and doesn't mention Adam and Eve or Noah.
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