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A Little History of the World (Deckle Edge) [Hardcover]

Ernst Gombrich , Caroline Mustill
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Kindle Edition 5.56  
Hardcover 11.99  
Paperback 6.29  
Audio, CD, Audiobook 10.96  

Book Description

2 Sep 2005
'Exceptionally clear and beautifully organised...the sheer brio of storytelling...irresistible' - Philip Pullamn. A new book by Sir Ernst Gombrich, author of the international bestsellers The Story of Art and Art & Illusion (among others), and Director of the Warburg Institute of the University of London 1959-1976, is clearly an event. In 1935, with a doctorate and no job, the 25 year-old Gombrich was invited by Walter Neurath (later founder of Thames and Hudson) to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Written in an intense six weeks, Eine Kurze Weltgeshichte für Junge Leser was first published in Vienna the same year. An immediate success, it has since been translated into seventeen languages, tailored for the different markets. The original German edition was reissued in 1985 with an Epilogue bringing the story to the present, and Gombrich further revised it shortly before his death, aged 92, in 2001. The Little History, as it came to be known, has never been published in English until now. In forty chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. There emerges a colourful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, the spread and limitations of science, tribes evolving towards society. This is not a text dominated by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind's experience across the centuries, a guide to man's achievements and an acute witness to his frailties. What has made the Little History an international success? The key is its tone - completely clear, straightforward, relaxed, unpompous, humane - Gombrich makes immediate contact with the curious of all ages. It is the product of a pan-European sensibility, and is wholly free of nationalistic preoccupations. The broad sweep of mankind's history seems freshly intelligible when told in this profoundly generous spirit. The first English edition of this classic book is being produced by Yale to reflect its status as a timeless work to be collected and savoured: fine design and setting, printed on a high quality of paper, cloth binding, ribbon marker, and newly commissioned illustrations.

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A Little History of the World (Deckle Edge) + A Little History of Philosophy + A Little History of Literature (Little Histories)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (2 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300108834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300108835
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 14.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, OM, CBE (30 March 1909 - 3 November 2001) was an Austrian-born art historian who spent most of his working life in the United Kingdom. He is the author of many works of art criticism and art history. (Photograph: Pino Guidolotti)

Product Description


'Conversational in style, as of a grandparent talking with a child, the story of humanity from prehistory is told.' --Peter Andrews, School Librarian, vol. 54 no. 2, Summer 2006

'...a perfect present for a child with an enquiring mind. I wish it had been available when I was young.' --Literary Review, September 2005

'Had I a dozen grandchildren...I'd order two dozen copies, one for the children, the other for their parents.' --Evening Standard, 26 September, 2005


"I love the new translation of Gombrich's classic history for children. Both entertaining and informative, it makes perfect bedtime reading." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful history book 27 Feb 2010
This book was originally written in the author's native German in the 1930d, and was translated into many languages, becoming something of an international bestseller. Its English translation came much later. Its span is very large: from pre-history to the Second World War. The origins of occidental civilisation in the near-East and Egypt are well covered. We then move on to the Classical period and the Middle Ages. The fount of oriental civilisation in China is certainly not ignored, but it msut be said that European history is the focus of the book. The book is divided into small chapters, each with a different subject.

The book is clearly aimed at children and young people. The style is friendly and informative, and reading it will benefit a child's education. The author encourages the reader to think and also to find out more about the subject, which is a positive recommendation. Some children may need an adult to help them with the book. The book is also great for adults, as one can learn a great deal from it. Of course a book with such scope can only provide an outline, but what a great outline it is!

In conclusion, this is a pleasantly traditional history book, and it should prove an enjoying and satisfying read. Recommended.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only.... 9 Mar 2007
...there was one book you could turn to which would take you through the entirety of human history in an entertaining as well as educational manner. Well guess what: there is, and 'A Little History..' is it. Don't be dissuaded by the fact that this is nominally a children's book. Unless you have devoted years to the study of history, you will finish this book a more knowledgeable person than when you started.

And for those who are put off by the size of the text, the audio version is available and beautifully read by the author's grandson.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully vivid history for young readers 1 Oct 2005
By A Customer
Yale UP deserve congratulations from young and old readers alike for this beautifully produced and translated book. Written in the 1930s but only now translated into English it is vintage Gomnbrich - clear and concise and fascinating and thought aimed at younger readers will be enjoyed by adults too. And the compact size and gorgeous newly commissioned woodcuts all add to the joy that this book brings. Can't recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in Gombrich's writings or just looking for a wonderful short historical read.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For all ages 17 Aug 2006
By Sydney
I read this to see if it would be a suitable present for some friend's children, and wound up keeping it myself! You'd have to be one whiz at history not to learn a great deal from this book, it was great to have so many names that rang a vague bell finally put in context in such a concise and entertaining way. An excellent read, and one of the best-presented books in terms of binding and typography I've seen in a while.

The reviewer below who worried about the 'unrestrained paean to Marxism' clearly didn't read Gombrich's thoughtful and honest afterword, where he reviews his own opinions from over 50 years back and concludes that he was mistaken about the Soviet Union (to which he only devotes literally five lines which are not particularily opinionated) and too hard on industrialization. He also corrects his younger self on his orignal, parochial view of the Treaty of Versailles. I honour his candour in keeping the original lines in. In any case the idea that this book, with or without the afterword, is propaganda for ANY ideology is frankly absurd, and I would hate to see any reasonable person avoid the "Little History" from that mistaken impression.

Of course anyone will quarrel with the presentation of parts of history on which have an opinion-- personally I think he was rather too hard on Elizabeth I and rather too easy on the Chinese empire and the Aztecs! But that's the consequence of Gombrich's vivid storybook style, I think, and the fact that he has to deal with very complex situations in a couple of lines. I was especially impressed with the steady grace with which he handles potentially explosive religious issues. On the whole I don't think any but the most committed idealogue, left or right, would have a serious issue with their children reading this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of Fascinating Facts 17 Sep 2009
By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This isn't a book you would read from beginning to end, but as a book to dip in and out of it's highly enjoyable. The author writes with a witty style which is both engaging and easy to read. There are short chapters on all the major historical events in (mostly western) history which despite being brief do manage to capture the essence of the period. Another attractive feature of the book is the actual paper and binding used; if you're fussy about this kind of thing then you'll be pleased that it's a nice book to handle, too!
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible history in a beautiful book 5 Oct 2005
'Once upon a time ... ' A brilliant introduction to 'what is history' which draws you in irresistably - a great outline for adults as well as children. Although inevitably biased towards European history, it does cover the world and tells the 'story' in a way which will encourage you to find out more. Not only beautifully written, as you would expect from Gombrich, but also beautifully produced - in hardback on good-quality paper with stunning [lino-cut?] illustrations and at a very reasonable price. Order more than one - it makes a great present.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and easy read to fill in any gaps in ones knowledge ...
Clear and easy read to fill in any gaps in ones knowledge of recent history - not just for kids!
Published 22 hours ago by Mr. Gr Dudley
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
An interesting approach to history and good for the children
Published 4 days ago by Mark Piper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent product and service
Published 23 days ago by F. A. Sepulveda
5.0 out of 5 stars A good outline for kids
Nice. Fills a niche
Published 1 month ago by *
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well documented and easy for young students to understand. A good teaching tool for young and old
Published 1 month ago by SandraBagg
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, heart-warming read
Beautiful, heart-warming read
Published 1 month ago by flaviasan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
This was recommended to me and I am so pleased. I would not have picked it up without a recommendation and I would have missed a real treat. Read more
Published 4 months ago by bookworm8
4.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to (mostly European) History from earliest times
The style of writing is most definately "Marmite", you will either love it or loath it. It is like a story being read to you by your Grandfather, which is pleasant and a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by GRAHAM COLES
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
My wife won't put it down. It is easy to read and even the children are becoming interested in History.
Published 6 months ago by Tim O'Donnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Everone Should Read It!
An outstanding volume which fills so many gaps in even an historian's knowledge. National curriculum 16+ to be studied by all?
Published 6 months ago by Mr R P Sykes.
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