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A Little History of the World Hardcover – October 13, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Over the weekend, I picked up a book that I've long wanted to read, shown to me by a friend several years ago when it was first translated into English: A Little History of the World. First written and published in 1936 (written in six weeks - SIX), this book covers a staggering amount of history, starting from the very beginnings of human history and culture, from the prehistoric eras, and running up through to the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945. Needless to say, in 284 pages, this is not a book rife with specific details, names and dates. Rather, this is an extremely broad look at how human history progressed.
While there are plenty of details lacking, this book is not intended as a grand work of history. It's written simply, for a younger audience, to tell the tale of our existence - it helps to provide a broad context for our history to anyone who is mildly interested in the subject, and at this, the book succeeds wonderfully. As a student of history, I can appreciate the task at hand, and having read through the book in a day, I was astounded at just how much information is here. Almost every major era of human history is covered, and linked to the next - reading over the pages, we move from the Egyptian dynasties to ancient Babylon, to Greece, to Rome, to the Middle Ages and so on, up through to the present day.Read more ›
In contrast to a typical "dry" history book with facts and dates, this book's style was extremely engaging. Gombrich did not shy away from using the first person and second person, and that made the style feel very interactive. For example, the section on Alexander the Great included, "His commands could now be said to reach all the way from the Nile to Samarkand. This would probably have been enough for you or me, but Alexander was far from satisfied." More importantly, Gombrich liberally inserts his own unique interpretations of the key takeaways, which add to the charm and coherence of the book. I loved that the book interprets rather than just relates. For example, he concluded his Bronze Age section with, "They were people just like us. Often unkind to one another. Often cruel and deceitful. Sadly, so are we. But even then a mother might sacrifice her life for her child and friends might die for each other. No more and no less than often than people do today." This also illustrates the author's ability to relate ancient events and people to modern people and current practices.
In fact, what amazed me about the style is that it managed to be conversational and dynamic but the author was still able to seamlessly integrate profound observations and sweeping statements. One of my favorite sentences was the description of the Spartans and the Athenians: "Knowing how to die like that isn't easy. But knowing how to live is, perhaps, even harder." Nonetheless, the grand generalizations were balanced by carefully selected details which made the history come to life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The last chapter moves this book from 4 stars to 5 stars.Published 11 hours ago by Roberta J. Raaen
Great resource to round out background knowledge. It is well written and clear with nice images.Published 16 days ago by readz4fun
This is an excellent compact book for my grands and for me as well. Thanks.Published 19 days ago by Arkady
It's a nice way to keep in touch with history while on commute or doing operational tasksPublished 23 days ago by Sausalillo Salvation
Yes, this is charming, and very readable. It covers a vast expanse of history, in quite a comprehensible and comprehensive manner. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Evelyn Uyemura
The easiest-to-read, most informative, most entertaining general history of the world I could ever imagine. A true delight!Published 2 months ago by J. Jones
An amazing book! Gombrich is an excellent writer that tells history easy and accurated. I recommend this book.Published 2 months ago by L. Calcano