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A Little History of the World [Paperback]

Ernst Gombrich
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Hardcover 10.49  
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Book Description

19 Aug 2008
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 für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five languages across the world. Toward the end of his long life, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, at last, an English translation. A Little History of the World presents his lively and involving history to English-language readers for the first time. Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savoured and collected. 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.

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A Little History of the World + A Little History of Philosophy + A Short History of England
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (19 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030014332X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300143324
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.4 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,364 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

Review

"... [a] wondrous, passionate history book... full of ... common sense and wonder ... an inspiration for children and a refreshment for adults." -- Irish Times, January 2009

"... a short but measured jog through ... world history ... told in warm, unhurried tones ... a ... truly beautiful, rich and satisfying history book." -- Lucy Mangan, Guardian, 14th March 2009

"... a superbly organized, energetic, humane, gripping chronicle of the human race ... No enquiring mind can afford to do without this book."
-- Chris Stephenson, Carousel, 1st March 2009

"I love the new translation of Gombrich's classic history for children. Both entertaining and informative, it makes perfect bedtime reading." -- Katy Lazenby, Western Morning News (Devon), 10th January 2009

Review

"I love the new translation of Gombrich's classic history for children. Both entertaining and informative, it makes perfect bedtime reading."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only.... 9 Mar 2007
Format:Hardcover
...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
Format:Hardcover
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful history book 27 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
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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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For all ages 17 Aug 2006
By Sydney
Format:Hardcover
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 Scott 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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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible history in a beautiful book 5 Oct 2005
Format:Hardcover
'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
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 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 months ago by Mr R P Sykes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book
Very good basic world history that covers a lot of areas not studied as a child. Sent a copy to my grandson, who is into history and he likes it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by cspears
5.0 out of 5 stars great service
great book and a super way to begin to understand the history of the world in an easy and straightforward way
Published 2 months ago by Jennie C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely Readable History
Reading this for the second time now with my son, it is only getting better. The history of our world and its civilisations is presented in such an accessible and non-condescending... Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. Fox
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, beautifully read
This grabbed my son's attention from the first paragraph. The narration is excellent, understated yet draws the listener in. Read more
Published 3 months ago by SF UK
5.0 out of 5 stars EH GOMBRICH DOES IT AGAIN
EH Gombrich told Walter Neurath, later of Thames & Hudson that he could write a better history book than the one he was working on: It is to the credit of Neurath that he took... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Charles Radcliffe
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story of history
Reads well, Koran was presented as the only sacred script that talks about killing infidels and I'm not entirely sure that this is correct.
Published 4 months ago by Karolina
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good.
Fascinating. What else can I say about it. I first came across a copy of at a friend's house and decided to buy a copy rather than
borrow their's
Published 4 months ago by Mr. W. P. Corlett
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