63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
I've always been a big fan of National Geographics and this comprehensive volume of world history doesn't disappoint. Complete with spectacular photography, the author includes written highlights on each page, covering events from the beginning of history to current times.
A color coded cross-referencing system allows the reader to stay on topic, but it's thrilling to just browse in this magnificent book. Open the 600-plus page volume to any page and learn while being entertained about things you vaguely remember from history class, complete with world famous paintings, illustrations, and biographies.
Brinkley is a history professor who must have agonized over what to include in this obvious labor of love. Highly recommended - would not collect dust on your coffee table.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2005
I was so excited when I saw that this book was for sale, and I was even more excited to find that it was a work by the National Geographic Society. They have truly outdone themselves, combining various people, places, and artworks into a readable text concerning numerous facets of world history. This is NOT a western-obsessed book; there are plenty of representations of Middle-Eastern, African, and Asian history.
If the original pictures are in color, then they are VIBRANTLY portrayed
as such; there are no petty black and white substitutions (unless of course they were created in black and white). The pages are glossy, relatively heavy, and well bound.
The text is probably the worst feature of the book. It is not, in any mindset, for a scholar, but that is beside the point, because this book's focus evidently lies in photos and images.
Another great feature of the book is how it is organized. There are
several fold out components, as well as miniature timelines near the bottom. Furthermore, the major personalities of particular eras - such as the French Revolution, etc. - are organized together, with their pictures, of course, and a brief paragraph outlining their particular role in that period.
The final and notably fantastic aspect of this book came as a bit of a surprise. The foreword by Douglas G. Brinkley, goes slightly beyond just a sappy introduction, and includes some profound philosophical ideas concerning world history, which will inevitably provoke some thought if you are a passionate history buff.
Thus, for only thirty-five dollars retail, and around twenty-five dollars here on Amazon, there is no excuse not to buy this book. As a final thought, once you buy it, browse slowly and allow the pictures to soak in. I've had my copy two days and only looked at around ten pages. This book is too great to be appreciated with just a few cursory glances!
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
This was an in-depth look at our world history and written in an easy fashion.
The pictures were well rendered and I loved the stuff written on the early cultures (the byzantine empire, etc).
However, I was a little disappointed on the all-too brief pages written on Asian history. Asia has over 12,000 years of history combined (if you include India, Japan, China, Korea and the Islamic worlds etc). and the authors/editors decide to skim it with only 15 pages or so?
That's not quite a complete view of the world, if you ask me....
There's plenty of focus on the European eras (all of them) and not enough on the Asian ones.
Still an excellent read though; and for any student of history (or needing a paper done in minutes) this is definitely the book to use!
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2009
National Geographic Visual History of the World, or NGH for short, is an extensive, well-illustrated, up-to-date book covering the history of humankind from the appearance of the first hominids to about 2005. It's concise, accessible to non-scholarly readers and can be a great fun just to browse through the illustrations, but it doesn't contain any meaningful maps!
With illustrations being its main selling point NGH presents us mostly with a treasure trove of images of historic figures and buildings, and of other artefacts like art, tools and weapons. They are numbered and linked to the corresponding text, even if they relate to it only vaguely. On the other hand, with often a dozen pictures per spread it's easy to forget they should be useful as well as numerous.
Surprisingly there are hardly any maps and this is NGH's biggest minus. A historical atlas is a required companion, or in case of Philip's Atlas of World History(Hardcover) a worthy substitute with plenty of text and abundance of maps, charts and an occasional picture.
NGH has an easy to follow format. The world history is divided into eight periods, from pre-history to the modern times, each color-coded for easy search. Each period is divided into much smaller sections. With about 120 sections in total a typical section focuses on one subject like a country or an event, with one page being a section introduction, for example "The Kingdom of Franks" and another one or a few pages more specific - "The Rise of Carolingians", "Charlemagne's Wars", and "The Empire of Charlemagne" for example.
At the bottom of each age there is a timeline of the period concerned, but naturally they often overlap. This is a clear layout of data that is both easy to follow and easy to search - the NGH's biggest plus.
National Geographic is a very trustworthy publisher, but a book of this scope is bound to contain some errors or bones of contention. For example, on page 20 it states that 'around 40,000 years ago, modern Homo sapiens, in the form of the Cro-Magnon man, finally migrated out of Africa to Europe.' This is an over-simplification at best. Homo sapiens had made a long detour in Middle Asia before populating Europe.
Also, for the earliest history it follows the middle chronology (reign of Hammurabi 1792 ' 1750 BCE), instead of recently more supported short chronology (1728 ' 1686 BCE). By the way, Hammurabi is spelt Hammurapi in NGH. While it's not a mistake, NGH doesn't specify which chronology it chose to follow, which makes it more confusing if you want to consult other sources.
For a world history book it's slightly too concerned with the Western hemisphere, but other regions are fairly and consistently covered as well.
NGH's main competitor in books is DK History: The Definitive Visual Guide : From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day (Hardcover) or DKH for short.
They are quite similar, both are about the same size, are fairly recent and up to date and of course come with a wealth of illustrations. The main difference is the price - NGH is much cheaper, which is also the reason why I chose it. However, DKH contains maps, graphs, etc, making it worth paying a few bucks extra. But on the whole they present history in different ways and focus on other details, but it's a matter of personal preference which book does it better.
I also believe it still competes well against online sources like Wikipedia, especially thanks to the illustrations and conciseness, but if you want to read about anything in more detail, Wikipedia wins hands down.
To sum up, NGH is well worth the price, but it would be more informative with maps.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2007
In my opinion the book has a major flow, which is it contains very few maps. Unless the reader has a good idea about ancient and modern world history, it is quite hard to figure out where everyhing is where. The book is very superficial in this respect.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2005
The good reviews National Geographic Visual History of the World has gotten on Amazon aren't hype, this is a history book worth owning. This is more of a survey overview of earth's past than it is an in-depth study, but for family use it's absolutely magnificent. This book has illustrations that rise to the levels of high art and the text is a near perfect blend of impressive scholarly expertise and colloquial readability. This is a book to pore over for fun and to take pleasure in owning. It makes a great adornment to any home library and rises above any other history text that's even close to this price range.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2006
Since I graduated college several years ago, I always wished I could have taken more history courses.
I wanted to find a history book that would cover all the details, but not drown me in a sea of words. This book does exactly that. The bonus of course being the excellent photography and overall presentation. I found the book's depth to be just about right. The ancient Egypt section for example, covers all the major time periods in about eight pages of text. It doesn't bog you down in too many details but still manages to immerse you.
The only downfall of this book is that there are no maps. I would highly recommend picking up an historical atlas as a companion just to reinforce what your reading. This would be especially helpful in understanding something like the conquests of Alexander. The book's layout is a little off as well. For the most part everything is in chronological order, but occasionally you will see some gaps. A good example of this is the coverage of the Minoans in the chapter after the Egyptians and Persians.
Overall, it's a great book for the price and it contains just enough history to satisfy your appetite as well as beautiful photography to suck you in.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2007
This book provides a wonderful way of learning history -- interestingly written and great pictures and photographs. The only thing lacking (and a major omission) is maps. In covering world history over its complete span, the reader cannot be expected to know the exact location of the Asian Steppes or Bithynia. Please include adequate maps for the next edition.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2007
There is simply too much of world history to know. But this fantastic book makes it all visual by proper focussing, page by page, time after time and through topic after topic, scientifically organized. In this age of over-information through cyberspace, it is difficult to wade through all of it to get to the truth. Here is an authoritative book, with lots and lots of pictures, overviews and short biographies, that does not miss anything of significance, and tells you the truth in such a way that you have no heart to lay the book down. You have only to think of any subject -- be it Industrial Revolution, European Trading Companies, Early China, Wars of ideology and Extermination or anything connected with history -- you will find a whole page devoted to that topic with all the related stories. Well, this book is a must for every home-library.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2006
I found the book to be excellent. It accomplishes its main goals: to summarize the history of the world in an overview style. If you want to get into deep history, you can take some of the sections and delve further into other annals. As for other readers accusing the book of having a negative revisionist slant, I would disagree. Modern scholarship is most definately revisionist, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Revisionist history is only a bad thing when there is an agenda for personal gain. To revise history based on new scholarship is a wonderful thing which can sometimes disprove earlier "revisions" to history.