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A Short History of the World Paperback – December 1, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
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
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.Read more ›
The writing is excellent and pretty easy to follow. The chapters are well arranged to take the reader progressively through history. His analysis of history is normally spot on. Here is an example of the author's comments on the Treaty of Versailles: "The treaty of Versailles was intended to be exemplary and vindictive; it provided tremendous penalties for the vanquished; it sought to provide compensations for the wounded and suffering victors by imposing enormous debts upon nations already bankrupt, and its attempts to reconstitute international relations by the establishment of a League of Nations against war were manifestly insincere and inadequate." (Kindle Locations 5473-5475). That is about as good an analysis of the Treaty of Versailles in one sentence as you could ever get.
Mr. Wells also lets us know when he is speculating about history. Note: "And now let us indulge in a very interesting speculation; how did it feel to be a man in those early days of the human adventure? How did men think and what did they think in those remote days of hunting and wandering four hundred centuries ago before seed time and harvest began." p.24 Kindle Edition. H.G. Wells clearly labels his comments as speculation. This is not usual for writers of history. Historians often tell us what happened in an era long before writing as if it were taken off of live film footage. Wells, at least, tells us we are guessing.
The author's discussion of Socialism, page 152 - 156, is excellent and worth the price of the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What could be better?...a book about history by a great writer.Published 1 month ago by T. Wetherell
It's probably Wells least known book, but is quite an extraordinary work. Of coure archalogical discoveries and scientific breakthoughs have proven some of his theories incorrect... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ron Whittle
It takes tenacity to stay with it. It's very worthwhile however. It's a must especially for further reference, Very educational and / or refreshier course for everyone. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Albert Dolmans
Once again, H. G. Wells comes out with a great book and this time it's not just fantasy, it's history! Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cindi La Rosso
it is ok
but i am looking for Concise History of the Work by H G Wells
I can't believe that the Amazon sell this crudely-made copy to its customers and label it as classics version. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Yang Haoyuan
This is an extremely well written book which takes a look at all of history as a single process, and evokes such a profound appreciation of the facts of history as much as it... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mark Wiechert