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A Little History of the World (Little Histories) Paperback – October 7, 2008
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"A remarkable book, written in an amiable, conversational style, effortlessly explaining, without condescension, difficult matters like the achievements of Charlemagne, the monetary system of medieval Europe and the ideas of the Enlightenment. . . . This resurrected history deserves reading for all its delights."—Edward Rothstein, New York Times
"In simple, vivid prose, Gombrich surveys the human past from pre-history to his own time. . . . Lucky children will have this book read to them. Intelligent adults will read it for themselves and regain contact with the spirit of European humanism at its best."—Anthony Grafton, Wall Street Journal
". . . a marvellous antidote to history without chronology: the whole experience of human history, from prehistory to the Second World War, compressed into a flowing narrative. . . . [Gombrich] excels in creating a sense of the continuities of history - the ways in which human nature has not budged over the millennium, and the smallness of the differences between people. A delight."—Daily Telegraph
"Gombrich knows precisely how to converse with his audience, intelligent children between nine and thirteen. He uses powerful imagery to convey the sheer length of time that separates us from the dinosaurs."—Andrew Roberts, FT Magazine
"This is an unusual work for Yale: a children’s history originally published 70 years ago. But it is a work one can quickly come to love. . . . Using vivid imagery, storytelling and sly humor, [Gombrich] brings history to life in a way that adults as well as children can appreciate. The book displays a breadth of knowledge."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The true fairy tale of the evolution of mankind."—Die Zeit
"This is the first English translation of a book written in 1935 in German and translated into 18 languages. Thirty years later, a second German edition was published with a new final chapter. In 40 brief chapters, Gombrich relates the history of humankind from the Stone Age through World War II. In between are historic accounts of such topics as cave people and their inventions (including speech), ancient life along the Nile and in Mesopotamia and Greece, the growth of religion, the Dark Ages, the age of chivalry, the New World, and the Thirty Years' War. Much of this history is told through concise sketches of such figures as Confucius, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Jesus Christ, Charlemagne, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, and Columbus. Gombrich was asked to write a history geared to younger readers, so the book is filled with innumerable dates and facts, yet it is one to be read by adults. With 41 black-and-white woodcut illustrations and nine maps, it is a timeless and engaging narrative of the human race."—Booklist
"A masterpiece of nonfiction writing for children. It is a wry and charming book, perfectly suited to the capacities of a 10-year-old, but also remarkably free of condescension. An adult can read it with pleasure. And, indeed, with instruction."—Scott McLemee, Newsday
"[A] lively and involving history. . . . Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savored and collected. . . . This is a text dominated not by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind’s experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity’s achievements and an acute witness to its frailties. The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history."—Artdaily
"Charmingly illustrated with woodcuts and beautifully produced."―Bookseller
"A timeless and engaging narrative of the human race."―Choice
"Includes insightful looks into the world of art and science . . . readers of virtually any age can enjoy it."—Dennis Lythgoe, deseretnews.com
"The author's voice is conversational, and Gombrich brings clarity to broad movements in history while focusing on rich real-life characters. You'll be reaching for it to help your children with their history assignments when traditional textbooks leave them confused and overwhelmed."—Fort WorthStar-Telegram
"To round out our word feast for young minds, we've picked a nonfiction work called A Little History of the World, a 300-page tome that has been wildly popular across the globe since it was first published in 1935 but has just been translated into English. . . . [An] excellent choice for out-loud family reading."—Catherine Mallette, Fort WorthStar-Telegram
"An intriguingly brisk journey for anyone looking to (re-)enter the world of history, or a realm of events and facts larger than ourselves."―David Podgurski, Greenwich (CT) Times
"Imagine the full story of human habitation on our planet being told in such flowing prose that you want to read it out loud. If you can't imagine that, read A Little History of the World and experience it!"―Patricia S. Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and Former U.S. Representative from Colorado
About the Author
Among E. H. GOMBRICH’s many writings are the international bestsellers The Story of Art and Art and Illusion. He was director of the Warburg Institute of the University of London from 1959 to 1976.
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I have read many negative reviews ( go to the 1 stars for this especially) and have found almost to a T that they are all commenting on the fact that religion is brought into the telling. Religion is a part of history. It was everywhere until very recently and until this day and age, it has always been the color of stories and history books. The way that history is written and interpreted, the objectives that are brought into history - and they ALWAYS are - is called zeitgeist, or the spirit of the age.
In a nutshell, this is a lovely book meant for children. It is meant to appeal to their sense of wonder.
My oldest kids grew up hearing this book but now my youngest love listening (and the teens still hang around while I do). The chapters are short but full of the important information, and are told in such a likeable voice that they really feel as if a sweet man from history is telling the stories directly to them.
We have the "Story of the World" books but we find them incredibly boring and I don't like the way bible stories are presented as fact in that series. While the author of this book was religious (Jewish), he keeps his religion mostly out of the book. For instance, at one point he talks about something from the bible and he asks if the reader has read the bible and says "you should sometime" but "no hurry."
Of course, the book was originally written by a young art student on commission to write it in an incredibly short time frame in Germany before WWII, so it is not going to be the end-all history book for all parts of the world and all history. The author and his grandson revised and updated it before his death, but Gombrich's optimistic voice remained, telling history as best as he could in small, interesting chapters to an audience he clearly cared about.
The author uses a simple and friendly language so as for the readers to learn the history readily. As was this text intended for young readers in relatively short length, many historical memorabilia are omitted. However, I do think that is forgivable, given the short length and intended usage of it. This book is not textbook worthy, but a book to compliment history textbooks.
Hugely argued against this book was the lack of contents of other worlds than the West. I do agree that the title of this book "a little history of the world" is a bit misleading in this sense. However, I ascertain that this is condonable as well, based on that fact that the author showed much efforts to cover the history of Asia and Middle East.
By and large, this is a great history book that is not just dry, nor boring. I recalled many that I had forgotten since high school history class and learned some new things. Never have I felt bored all the way through the book, and it is very rare that I feel this way about a history book. I do plan on reading more books written by this author.
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