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A Little History of the World (original 1936; edition 2008)

by E. H. Gombrich, Clifford Harper (Illustrator)

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1,953483,486 (3.99)37
Member:mallyp
Title:A Little History of the World
Authors:E. H. Gombrich
Other authors:Clifford Harper (Illustrator)
Info:Yale University Press (2008), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich (1936)

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» See also 37 mentions

English (39)  Dutch (4)  Catalan (3)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  English (48)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Lovely book. Written for children but a delight for adults too, even those (like me) who fancy they know their history. Some lyrical visual passages that make one elated at the thought of being part of this great narrative, a scope that suggests that history does make some kind of sense. Enjoyed the familiar bits (Roman Empire) as well as the less familiar (Holy Roman Empire). Got bit frustrated with his sub-Marxian picture of the Industrial Revolution as all bad news, but then forgave him when his Afterword apologised and adjusted the viewpoint. ( )
  vguy | Aug 30, 2016 |
I'm a bit torn about this one...
I did enjoy reading it. It gives a nice bit of history in short chapters and accessible language. It's meant for kids, and Gombrich uses a colloquial style, writing as if he's talking to you - it really feels like there's a nice uncle or grandfather telling you cool stories. I can very much understand why this book was once a very popular work as an introductory history text for children.

My problem with the book is twofold though:
Firstly, it is very much a book of it's time. I guess you can't really blame an author for writing in a way that is in keeping with the ideas in his own era, but reading the book nowadays some parts make you cringe. Gombrich writes very much from the point of view that Western Europe is the civilized world and Christianity the 'right' religion. Other peoples are described as primitive and he often breaths a sigh of relief that we weren't born in places with such barbaric culture. I think nowadays historians try to be more objective and more accepting of other cultures, keeping in mind that no culture is 'right' or 'wrong', they're just different.
Secondly, tying into his way of writing about other countries and cultures, the book is not really a history of the 'world'- it's a history of (mainly Western) Europe and Christianity, with some chapters about the ancient middle east (as the seat of our culture and Christianity) and a chapter about China. North and South America, Africa and Asia are really only mentioned as far as their relation to Europe is concerned. Australia apparently doesn't exist at all. I understand that Gombrich was aiming for a brief introductory text, but leaving most of the world out as if nothing important ever happened there is terribly eurocentric.

Though I did enjoy the book, and like said, I understand that it was popular at the time of publication, I feel like it's too outdated to still be relevant in this day and age. I would certainly not give it to my children as a history book, since I do not wish my children to be exposed to such cultural bias. It is a pity though, in a way it would be nice if somebody were to rewrite this book, in the same style, but with a more modern approach.

One final remark: I found it very interesting to read the last chapter - this was added in 1989, and discusses a bit of very recent history and the future. It is interesting at this moment to see the positivity with which Gombrich viewed the world, and I do remember this sense of optimism from the nineties: the economy would only get better, more countries would profit from greater wealth, hunger and disease would be eradicated and increasing international relations would bring people across the world closer together and end wars... At that time, with the Soviet Union collapsing and large economic growth and scientific progress, this was how many people felt. I can only regret that, in our current time, the predictions seem to have been false and there is much less reason to be optimistic. ( )
  Britt84 | Apr 30, 2016 |
Looked cute, was. Didn't finish the whole thing, but was fun! ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jan 27, 2016 |
Easy to understand and fun to read. ( )
  zhoud2005 | Sep 4, 2015 |
A wonderful introduction to a western oriented world history written for an older preteen audience. The last chapter is very interesting in that the author added this chapter for the English translation and it is 50 years more up to date and is focused changes that took place during the author's lifetime. Those events include WWII, holocaust, atomic bombs, etc. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. H. Gombrichprimary authorall editionscalculated
Katzer, FranzIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Für Ilse.
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All stories begin with "Once upon a time". And that's just what this story is all about: what happened, once upon a time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030014332X, Paperback)

In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and "Eine kurze Weltgeschichte fur junge Leser" was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five languages across the world. In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colourful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:31 -0400)

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Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this book tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. What emerges is a colorful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. Tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb.… (more)

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Editions: 0300108834, 030014332X

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