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A Short History of the World (Pelican Books. A.5.) [Unknown Binding]

H. G. Wells
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B0018H5ODM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,220,581 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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First Sentence
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

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and comprehensive view of world history 11 May 2003
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational yet eminently readable 7 Mar 2005
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, Fantastic, Amazing 28 Jan 2002
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, but not Superficial 11 Jun 2011
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Superb!! 20 July 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good for history of science
Very interesting: the history written in 1922, soon after the delusion of WWI, but with the hope of russian socialism. Read more
Published 6 months ago by GraD
2.0 out of 5 stars Just didn't work for me
I actually found this a difficult read, and I struggled to finish it.

Other people have rated it highly so perhaps it's just wasn't for me
Published 13 months ago by Thirts
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
Found a first edition of this which I lost some years ago in a second hand shop in Hexham, sadly now closed. Read more
Published 15 months ago by JJH
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST HAVE!
If you are interested in History, let's face it you probably read it already. For everyone else, this is a must! Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by Cyrill
5.0 out of 5 stars A shoHistory of the world book
A good book I sent to my son, who is in the army, arrived in a few days thank you, he loved it
Published on 5 Aug 2010 by J. Pasley
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of 'The Short History of the World' by H. G. Wells
The book is fantastic for when one is thinking on something which has happened in past centuries and wants a quick refresh but is not bothered to go into the detailed historical... Read more
Published on 29 Feb 2004 by Peter P. VELLA
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, at times funny, a holes filler
So many things you didn't know you don't know. It does seem a little bit weird to cover Earth's first Zillion years in 5 pages but it works. Wells' style is brilliant. Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2001 by Gil Garibi
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking back is perhaps the best way to look forwards.
How will our race change over the next 100 years? This review of our history not only allows us to put into context where we are today but provides some useful insight into trends... Read more
Published on 26 April 2000 by colinw@cyberdude.com
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