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The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 2: From the Bastille to Baghdad Paperback – October 6, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The final installment of Gonick's deeply funny and impeccably researched series has finally arrived, and like the rest of his Cartoon History series, the book covers a wide range of key and fascinating historical events and topics that have managed to slip through the gaps of common knowledge. The section linking the slave trade, the Haitian revolution and the Napoleonic Wars is particularly good, as are the segments on the modern history of Japan and China. Brilliantly funny, the series finds the inherent humor in history rather than pasting on irrelevant jokes. This is the most politicized book in the series, a jarring but perhaps unavoidable element, since it covers an era ending when Gonick sent the proofs to his publisher. Also, the pacing is odd and frequently rushed—it seems to need an extra hundred pages. Possibly as a result, the book has some interesting gaps. Most notably, aside from the occasional snide remark or allusion, the entire pre-Vietnam history of the United States is completely left out. While Gonick has covered these topics in depth in other books (the stand-alone Cartoon History of the United States) and perhaps tired of them, the absence is glaring. (Oct.)
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Review

“Full of facts and wisdom, horror and humor….Gonick’s one-two punch of pictures and words isn’t just a gimmick; it makes it much easier to remember the facts of history. If we really wanted kids (or adults!) to learn history, we’d throw away our textbooks, and teach Gonick.” (Bryan Caplan, The Library of Economics and Liberty EconLog)

“With limber pen and nimble mind, Larry Gonick completes a cartoon journey that started at the dawn of time. Brisk, informative, and hilarious, The Cartoon History Of The Modern World fills us in on exactly how we got so screwed up on a global scale.” (K. Thor Jensen, author of Red Eye, Black Eye)

“Like any good historian, Larry Gonick seasons his facts with a good dose of perspective, and like any good cartoonist, he mixes his drama with a good dose of humor.” (Jeffrey Brown, author of Clumsy and Funny Misshapen Body)

“Gonick makes history fun for comic book nerds and comics readable for history nerds. If you’ve ever looked around this modern world and wondered how we got into this mess, it’s time to curl up with his latest book. You won’t even realize you’re learning—histo-tainment at its best.” (Alex Robinson, Eisner Award winner and author of Box Office Poison)

“Lively cartooning and pretension-puncturing wit.” (Booklist)

“The final installment of Gonick’s deeply funny and impeccably researched series has finally arrived... Brilliantly funny, the series finds the inherent humor in history...” (Publishers Weekly)

“Funny, informative, and comprehensive, Gonick’s history concludes with this second volume. His unique wit, sense of irony, and passion for humanity’s complex story of triumphs, compromises, and disasters are as evident here as they are in his previous books... An insightful review of history.” (School Library Journal)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060760087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060760083
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read Gonick's original volume of this series - The Cartoon History of the Universe Volume 1 - back in the early 90's as a teenager. Since then I have kept up with each of the new volumes, so it was with both great excitement and a little sadness that I finally cracked open this final volume.

This volume does not disappoint. Gonick keeps up the fast paced run through of history that we have come to expect in the books, covering from the 1700's all the way through 9/11 and today.

Finally getting up to a century that I know well - the one we were all born in - it was interesting reading his take on events that I actually knew in great detail. There were a few things that I was bummed were left out - though planes start appearing in panels, the beginnings of flight are not covered. While Sputnik is mentioned and ICBMs, the space race is not covered. However, knowing Gonick's work as well as I do, I know this wasn't due to any ignorance or forgetfulness on the author's part - he simply could not put everything in.

As I said before, fans can rejoice because this volume is no different than the others. It is more of the same wonderful history and cartoons fans have come to expect.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Larry Gonick's "Cartoon History of the Universe" series are my favorite books, or any media, ever. They work as entertainment because Gonick has a great, irreverent sense of humor and an engaging writing style. They (generally) work as art because Gonick is a top-notch cartoonist. And most crucially, they work as history because Gonick conducts careful research and is able to synthesize the bewildering subject that is world history in a coherent, informative way. As such it's easily the best introduction to the subject and did more than anything else to start my lifelong interest in history.

It is thus with a heavy heart that I consider this last volume the weakest in the series. The bitter truth, noticeable in the third volume but readily apparent by the fourth, is that the overall quality steadily declines as the series goes on. Gonick's first book, written in installments back in the '80s, has more youthful vigor, creativity, lush illustrations, detailed explanations, and coherence. These last two volumes, the so-called "Cartoon Histories of the Modern World," are smaller in size and contain fewer pages. Book 1 had 7 volumes (50 pages each); this one has 5. Gonick's style has changed a lot over the years, and frankly, it's just not as good. The smaller pages and panels make for less detail and more cramped, confusing panels (although there are a few cases of wasted space, too).

I was nervous years before this that Gonick wouldn't be able to adequately juggle the increasing amount of information that comes with modern history. Book 4 did it decently, but here I think he falters. 5 volumes simply isn't enough to adequately cover all that happened. In general Gonick tries to focus on something in each volume.
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Format: Paperback
The only thing I found disappointing about this final volume in Gonick's classic Cartoon Histories was the fact that it he hadn't made it a couple hundred pages longer by being more detailed about certain periods - but that only emphasizes how much fun these books are to read.
Another brilliantly-written and drawn chronicle that you'll want to read again and again over time.
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I am a big fan of Larry Gonick's cartoon history books. I own and have read all of them. Of course I am a trained historian, but you don't need to be to enjoy these books while learning a lot of history. In fact I would recommend these books to people who think that all history is boring. You might be surprised how entertaining our past can be! Gonick is a master at making anything funny, but the history in these books is accurate and well researched, so you are learning while having fun. That is the way all education should be. If only social studies classes in school were this good!
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I first fell in love with Larry Gonick's Cartoon History series back in the late seventies when they were first published in comic book form. Later they were anthologised in book form. As a student and teacher of history I have used them on many occasions with classes and have used them as a first port of call when checking some historical period.

Not only is Gonick's work historically interesting, he recreates the past with flair and humour. Any volume of this series is worth dipping into for insight and entertainment. Gonick's historical knowledge is profound.and his passion for his subject permeates every page. His humanist, left of centre perspective resonates with my own and often over the years I have been drawn back to these books as a means of making sense and getting a handle on complex historical events. Gonick is never superficial, he invites his readers to consider history and its meaning.

This final volume in a massive historical, artistic and publishing enterprise is a fitting conclusion, full of Gonick's clever illustrations and unique take on history. If you enjoy history then all of Gonick's volumes deserve a place on your bookshelf.
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