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A Short History of the World Paperback – January 1, 2000

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About the Author

H.G. Wells was a professional writer and journalist, who published more than a hundred books, including novels, histories, essays and programmes for world regeneration. Wells's prophetic imagination was first displayed in pioneering works of science fiction, but later he became an apostle of socialism, science and progress. His controversial views on sexual equality and the shape of a truly developed nation remain directly relevant to our world today. He was, in Bertrand Russell's words, 'an important liberator of thought and action'. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Book Tree (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585092118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585092116
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,096,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you have ever wondered about how history hangs together, then this is the book for you. From the dawn of civilization to the modern era, Wells takes you along the journey of civilization (and pre-civilization -- the first few chapters of the book cover geology and evolution). This tome, and if ever a volume merited the word this is it, carries you along the way with Alexander, Persian Kings, Khans, Crusaders, Chinese Emperors, Popes, French Citizens, Tsars, and Kaisers. The sweep of characters, times and places includes a wonderful vista of history, all together and seen in relation to its entirety.
Yes, it's dated. Yes, it's slanted. H. G. Wells is very Victorian in his ethics. His politics were Fabian Socialist so you will find a distinct undercurrent for a socialist world government driving the story along. He is as un-Eurocentric as you could expect for the time: Europe and the Middle East take up the majority of the book, China and India play the next biggest role, followed distantly by Africa, Australia and the Americas.
The flaws are few given the task, the style is immensely readable, and the man who wrote The War of the Worlds, Time Machine, The Invisible Man and the Island of Doctor Moreau knows how to tell a story. Wells had the nerve to take on the World and the world gets a ripping good yarn with Mankind as the hero. You're part of the story; why not read it?
Also if you liked this book, you might enjoy:
Guns, Germs, and Steel : The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Democratic Ideas and Reality by Halford J. Mackinder
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Penguin Egg on May 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the book that had such a powerful impact on Malcolm X. Its easy to see why. The history of the world is vividly outlined in an erudite and readable style. (Ever since I read `The Time Machine' when I was sixteen, I have considered Wells to be the clearest writer of prose in the English language.) Wells takes us from the very beginning of life right up to the League of Nations in 1922, stopping off at most points in-between: Neolithic cavemen, Periclean Athens, Roman and Byzantium civilisations, the life of Jesus, Confucius and Lao Tse, the rise of Islam, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, discovery of America, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, and so on. The book is breathtaking in its scope, but Wells manages to give a succinct, vivid and comprehensive view of world history. I have found myself re-reading many of the chapters and I do not doubt that I will soon be re-reading the book in its entirety. There is little to criticise in this book - maybe it is a little Euro-centric; in the last chapters he does tend to labour his point a bit; and the early chapters are a little dated as we now know so much more about the evolution of our species. These are mere quibbles. Read it and become informed. Read it and be entertained.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on September 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
This has to be one of the most remarkable books I've ever read. According to John Strachey and other contempories of Wells, it represented the first attempt in modern times to compile a complete history of mankind. Wells' writing style is essentially journalistic. It's easy to read and full of colorful facts that make you quite sad they never got round to teach world history in school.

Wells starts at the very beginning, describing the extent of scientific knowledge in 1922 regarding the formation of the earth and the planets. He then traces what was known (based on fossil records) regarding the origin of life, evolution, and the drastic climatic changes associated with successive geologic periods. He talks about the two known (at the time) pre-human species - Neanderthal and Rhodesian Man. He doesn't even try to speculate exactly where the first true man originated. However he talks about caves in France and Spain where artifacts have been found, suggesting there true men living in Europe at the time the last Ice Age receded. He moves on to talk about the beginning of cultivation 10,000 years ago and to outline the ethnic origins of the primitive tribes present in most parts of the known world at the time of the great Greek and Roman civilizations.

He then takes us through the origin of written language in Sumeria and the civilizations of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria. This was my favorite section of the book. Prior to reading A Short History of the World, my only knowledge of these cultures came from the Bible. He covers the Persian empire then, as well as the history of the Jewish people. After covering Greece, Rome and Carthage, he devotes two chapters to the history of China and two to the life of the prophet Mohammed and Arab civilization.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tozer on July 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
In addition to all of the other glowing and positive reviews below, I'd like to humbly add the following......

When it came to my O'levels (GCSE's), I was given the choice of History or Geography; looking back I think it was unfortunate that I chose Geography.

I stumbled across an earlier version of this book about 30 years ago and have never looked back. For me it made the subject so interesting and accessible. The read is absolutely captivating and you really won't want to put it down once you've started.

Obviously because of the author, the book only goes up to around the time of WWII. If you enjoy this book as much I have then you may wish to expand your knowledge with dynamite read by "J.M. Roberts" called "The New Penguin History of the World".

Both of these books are classics, or certainly will be and really ought to be in pride of place in all school book library history sections if not on each student's desk during history lessons!! Essential reading and fantastic reference for any history buff.
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