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World History For Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyles Paperback)) Paperback – March 15, 2001

46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5555026810 ISBN-10: 0764552422 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"…a friendly reference. You can bone up on all those facts you missed in history class and have a good time in the bargain." (Manx Independent, Friday 27th April)

About the Author

Peter Haugen (Madison, Wisconsin) is an accomplished university lecturer, journalist, and author.


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Product Details

  • Series: For Dummies (Lifestyles Paperback)
  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: IDG Books; 1 edition (March 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764552422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764552427
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Southern California (working class L.A. County), grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, near Fresno. Graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. Served in U.S. Army. Graduate of U.S. Department of Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. Worked as reporter, news editor, feature writer, and critic for several newspapers, notably the St. Petersburg Times and the Sacramento Bee. Worked in book publishing and as freelance magazine writer. Author of books including "Was Napoleon Poisoned?" Happily married with two teen sons. Reside in Madison, Wisconsin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Ken on August 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I got this book because I wanted to refresh my knowledge of world history and I figured I could actually make it all the way through (as opposed to the huge volumes out there by other authors). I wasn't disappointed. It was easy and entertaining reading with a good format. The organization of the book is very helpful to enable people to put together the histories of various civilizations. I now have a clear picture of how the Inca, Mayan, and Aztec fit into the scope of world history (and numerous other cultures and historical figures are now clear in my mind).
That said, there were a few annoyances. The first and biggest, was the FREQUENT use of parenthetical statements referring the reader to other sections of the book for more information about a particular subject. Not only did these interrupt the flow of thought, but they were generally useless (vaguely referring the reader to another chapter, but not telling where within the chapter the subject is covered). Either eliminating these completely or placing them in the margin would have greatly improved the readability of the book.
The second annoyance was that there were some obvious errors in the information given. The accepted age of the earth, as mentioned by another reviewer, was one. He repeated the false urban legend that the nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Rosie" came from the black plague. There were a few other errors I detected as well. This made me question the level of research the author did and raised doubts about the accuracy of other sections (though in general I think it was pretty accurate).
Overall, I'd recommend this for anyone that wants a readable introduction into world history. It would be helpful for either a student currently studying it or an adult wanting a refresher course.
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84 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Jad (TJ) Duwaik on December 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read the review about the annoying parenthetical comments, but thought Winters was just over-reacting. Having obtained and read the book myself, I must thoroughly apologize to Winters.
The parenthetical comments are *EXTREMELY* annoying!
Haugen, the author, thinks he's making the text more modular (he encourages the reader to skip around), but he just makes reading the book feel like you're watching a tv show with a commercial break everytime the story gets interesting. (Your book has an index, Haugen. Let the reader use it.)
That said, this is a pretty good review of world history, quickly summarizing thousands and thousands of years into a short, readable volume. It also has a good survey of philosophy, religion, and the instruments of war. For an introduction to world history, the content is 150% there. (I just wish there weren't so many useless parenthetical references.)
Oh, one other (big) criticism: there are only two maps in the entire book and neither were very helpful, so I recommend "Atlas of World History" by John Haywood as an awesome companion piece.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By x_bruce on November 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Far from comprehensive and lacking in detail one would think World History for Dummies would be a disaster. Because of Peter Haugen's entertaining but taught writing the reader will get a great outline of major concepts of world history.
I am aprehensive of books that adhere to a formula like the Dummies books do but Haugen works with skill within the formula making a strong impression on the subjects he writes about. There are no particular political viewpoints and discussions, while light, are treated thoughtfully and transparent of the author's politics.
I was attracted to this book when I realized my apalling lack of memory on the basics in world history. I wanted to know about why things happened, how historical events came to be and in this simple volume I got a clue along with ideas on where to continue reading.
This is a book parents can give to their kids knowing it will help augment the sometimes boring classwork and keeping the idea that history is about people and can be as exciting as any fiction they read or see in film and television.
I can't recommend this fine review of world history high enough. That does not mean it is without fault. At times the tone of the prose is condesending although it is quite possible that this is part of the format of Dummies books as the other couple of books in this series try to disamingly walk readers through concepts that may require humor to disarm otherwise intimidating subject matter.
In the end, World History for Dummies is a useful primer for adults or school age children. My favorite feature of this book is Peter Haugen's gentle reminder of multiple disciplines involved in the understanding of the world that formed the civilization we now live in.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Edwin B. Wollet on May 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
World History for Dummies is valuable if you have already read more extensive literature on world history. In that respect, I would recommend it as a refresher, a tool to jar your memory of more indepth texts.
Major advancements in western history, including ancient societies such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, and of course Greece and Rome are covered. Other civilizations are represented as well, though not in as much detail as western civs. Examples include China, Japan, Aztecs, and Incas.
I would recommend that an historical text on geography accompany this book as maps are scarce and the ones available aren't very comprehensive. This is a particular peeve since it is often nice to have a visual perspective of what is being studied.
All in all, a good "reference for the rest of us", but not a text I would recommend for the first-time reader.
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