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A Short History of the World (Pelican Books. A.5.) Unknown Binding – 1949

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B0018H5ODM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,689,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England, on September 21, 1866. His father was a professional cricketer and sometime shopkeeper, his mother a former lady's maid. Although "Bertie" left school at fourteen to become a draper's apprentice (a life he detested), he later won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London, where he studied with the famous Thomas Henry Huxley. He began to sell articles and short stories regularly in 1893.

In 1895, his immediately successful novel rescued him from a life of penury on a schoolteacher's salary. His other "scientific romances" - The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and The War in the Air (1908) - won him distinction as the father of science fiction.

Henry James saw in Wells the most gifted writer of the age, but Wells, having coined the phrase "the war that will end war" to describe World War I, became increasingly disillusioned and focused his attention on educating mankind with his bestselling Outline of History (1920) and his later utopian works. Living until 1946, Wells witnessed a world more terrible than any of his imaginative visions, and he bitterly observed: "Reality has taken a leaf from my book and set itself to supercede me."

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The story of our world is a story that is still very imperfectly known. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Penguin Egg on 11 May 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the book that had such a powerful impact on Malcolm X. Its easy to see why. The history of the world is vividly outlined in an erudite and readable style. (Ever since I read ‘The Time Machine’ when I was sixteen, I have considered Wells to be the clearest writer of prose in the English language.) Wells takes us from the very beginning of life right up to the League of Nations in 1922, stopping off at most points in-between: Neolithic cavemen, Periclean Athens, Roman and Byzantium civilisations, the life of Jesus, Confucius and Lao Tse, the rise of Islam, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, discovery of America, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, and so on. The book is breathtaking in its scope, but Wells manages to give a succinct, vivid and comprehensive view of world history. I have found myself re-reading many of the chapters and I do not doubt that I will soon be re-reading the book in its entirety. There is little to criticise in this book – maybe it is a little Euro-centric; in the last chapters he does tend to labour his point a bit; and the early chapters are a little dated as we now know so much more about the evolution of our species. These are mere quibbles. Read it and become informed. Read it and be entertained.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Brady on 7 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a book you can read over and over again. Periods of history, Empires, their rise and fall, yet never overwhelming. It's sufficient in data with maps and chronology, but still ultimately readable, throwing in a human perspective occasionally ; what life was like. Read of Jesus and Mohammed as historical characters,
read about Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun. It's a springboard to further reading, but enough information to give you perspective. One of the most treasured books on my shelf.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "gmgjkfjkg" on 28 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
At first I was hesitant about this book. This final edition of the book was finished just before the author's death just after World War 2. It is therefore a dated book and a lot of scholarship has happened in that time period. Once I started reading the book, however, my doubts evapourated. Wells uses the great literary abilities he has in fiction to create one of the best written works of historiography you will ever come across. Moreover the idea of writing a complete world history from dawn to dusk actually works. It gives you an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all the events throughout history to each other throughout the world. I love both history and theology. This book enables me to contextualize both the events of history I have studied and the religions I have studied within the overall history of this planet. I have learnt more from this little book than I have from other much bigger and scholarly books. My recomendation to you is simply, READ IT!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Woolgatherer on 11 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Recounting the history of the world in a shade under 300 pages is not a task for the faint hearted! Luckily, the erudition and imagination of H G Wells is equal to the challenge.

Of course, there are sweeping generalisations, periods of history passed over in a blink of the eye and parts of the globe barely mentioned. And yes, sometimes the author's own views intrude, particularly when he is dealing with more recent periods. Moreover, and perhaps inevitably this is a largely Eurocentric version of history. In fairness, however, Wells makes a point of showing how different races and parts of the world have excelled across the epochs; and in particular he attacks the then (the book was first published in 1922) prevalent assumption that Europeans were somehow inherently superior to everyone else.

As importantly, the need for brevity forces a focus on the impact on human history of ideas, cultures and technology (and indeed, on how those three interact one with the other) and shows how they (and not the transitory excitements of politics) are drivers of change.

This broad view makes the book interesting and thought provoking; it is also remarkably prescient. For example, Wells highlights the need for European countries to combine if Europe is not to tear itself apart, and hints at the potential of a modernised China. Unfortunately there are one or two factual errors; and I cannot forbear from mentioning one of those: Adam Smith is described as an English economist - he was, of course, Scottish.

Nonetheless, although written almost 90 years ago, there is plenty in this book that is relevant today, and it is well worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tozer on 20 July 2007
Format: Paperback
In addition to all of the other glowing and positive reviews below, I'd like to humbly add the following......

When it came to my O'levels (GCSE's), I was given the choice of History or Geography; looking back I think it was unfortunate that I chose Geography.

I stumbled across an earlier version of this book about 30 years ago and have never looked back. For me it made the subject so interesting and accessible. The read is absolutely captivating and you really won't want to put it down once you've started.

Obviously because of the author, the book only goes up to around the time of WWII. If you enjoy this book as much I have then you may wish to expand your knowledge with dynamite read by "J.M. Roberts" called "The New Penguin History of the World".

Both of these books are classics, or certainly will be and really ought to be in pride of place in all school book library history sections if not on each student's desk during history lessons!! Essential reading and fantastic reference for any history buff.
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