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The Story of Mankind Paperback – March 26, 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Anyone who can chronicle world history from 500,000 B.C. to present times--and do so in a lively, entertaining style--deserves a medal. Luckily, the bestowers of the very first Newbery Medal in 1922 thought so, too. The warm, personable tone of Hendrik Willem van Loon's writing lends itself to true learning in a way that stern, dry textbooks never do. In the introduction, he describes climbing a tower in Rotterdam in his youth. Years later, the perspective at the top inspired the author to develop a metaphor of history as a "mighty Tower of Experience, which Time has built amidst the endless fields of bygone ages."

This genuinely enjoyable charmer, for history buffs and the historically challenged alike, covers human history from prehistoric times, when our earliest ancestors were learning to communicate with grunts, right through to the issues of the latter 20th century: gay rights, Arab-Israeli conflicts, and health and fitness. Revised and updated several times since 1921, van Loon's inviting classic is filled with stories (and witty parenthetical asides) that bring history alive. His pen-and-ink illustrations, maps, and animated chronology contribute to the cozy, round the fireplace aspect of the book. (Ages 12 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

[A] wonderful history of the world―a splendidly lucid way, still, for young people to get one view of Western civilization. (Buffalo News) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1260 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Wilder Publications (March 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604594128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604594126
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
All of us have that book which we remember fondly from childhood, that one book we saw in the school library which we wish were ours so we could keep it in our own private place and read over and over again. Van Loon's Story of Mankind is that book for me. Van Loon does a tremendous service to the study of history. Even though this is a childrens book Van Loon does not ignore or alter the facts of history so that he can comfort instead of educate the child who may be reading the book. And even though the book reads like one big bedtime story, Van Loon always tries to remain objective and never force his opinion on the reader. When he talks about Napolean he makes it very obvious that he does not like the man or what he stood for, but he also tells the reader that his grandfather fought alongside the man and that he(Van Loon) would have probably fought alongside him as well, that's just the kind of man Napolean was. At an age where you will believe almost anything told to you, especially by a man who has written a book, Van Loon tries to give the child both an appreciation for history and a sense of objectivity about events. This was one of the first books, if not the first book, that showed me that everything is not always black and white, good and evil, but shades and gradations of good and evil. I read this to all my nephews, and when they don't know what to read I hand them this book, hoping it will make them a wiser person for listening to Van Loon's lessons.
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Format: Paperback
THE STORY OF MANKIND is a delight. Contrast its wit and insight with the typical history textbooks to which our young are routinely subjected--as ably described by education historian Diane Ravitch:
"The dullness of history textbooks is legendary. I am involved right now in a study of history textbooks, and I must say that I have trouble reading them because of their jumbled, jangly quality. I also have trouble lifting them because they are so heavy and overstuffed with trivia and pedagogical aids. With one or maybe two exceptions, most textbooks put more emphasis on visual glitz than on the quality of their text. By the time that these books emerge from the political process that is called state adoption, they lack voice and narrative power. They lack the very qualities that make historical writing exciting. Our history textbooks are distracting, and I don't know how students learn anything from them."
Van Loon's book won the first Newberry Prize, quite an achievement for a book on world history. "The Story of Mankind" remains a great read for any child thirteen and up (and up).
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Format: Paperback
This book is no longer being printed the old-fashioned way. This version is now a just-in-time book. Which means ALL THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE MISSING. Even the ones that are necessary for the text to make sense. This version of this book is a total rip off. Some one got really sloppy and didn't deliver a complete file for printing. I recommend buying a used version of this book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a classic history book written for children (probably ages eleven to fourteen) which can be fascinating even for adults. The book still rings true in 1999. In 1922, it won the very first Newbery Medal for best contribution to American children's literature (the Melcher family had just established the John Newbery Medal). It concentrates mostly on European history since van Loon, in the early 1920s, is attempting to explain those factors that were present in the world at that time. His son William has written several new chapters which expand this view (his father had passed away in 1944). And, I have seen editions that are furthur updated. But, the elder van Loon simply had a style of writing history that seems attractive to children. I saw a previous edition of this book by van Loon when I was a kid and always wanted to read it. I'm glad that I finally did.
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Verified Purchase
I just bought this book to use as a portion of our homeschool history curricullum. However this versionof the book (ISBN-13: 978-1153721998) also has little or no editing. There are whole sentences missing and some sentences stop mid line then continued on the next line. We can't make sense of it so I have purchaed an original text with illustrations. Hopefully it won't contain these errors and I can write an actual review on the material in the book.
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Format: Paperback
This reprint of Henrik Willem van Loon's "Story of Mankind", winner of the 1922 Newberry Award (first awarded) is a treasure chest of history spiced throughout with van Loon's delightful pen and ink drawings. Modern editors have tried to bring the book up to date by including major world events since van Loon originally
wrote the book, but their writing doesn't have the insight that made van Loon's writings what they are.
Van Loon traces the history of mankind from the beginning, starting with a brief geologic description of planet earth.
His writing makes it seem as if you are reading a docu-drama, and you'll keep wishing that he could spend more
time on each topic.
I especially enjoyed the sections on the middle ages and renaissance, and this book serves as a good
introduction to history for children with writing that brings history to life.
At times, given when this book was originally written, you may be struck by van Loon's eurocentric flavor, but
overall, he does a remarkable job in providing a well balanced presentation of all major world events. He does a great job of
looking at major world religions.
This is not an exhaustive epic of the history of humanity, rather
it is an excellent introduction to history. Sadly, not many histories
can claim to be as entertaining as this volume. Perhaps if more were, history
would not be viewed with dread.
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