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The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (Cartoon History of the Earth) [Paperback]

Larry Gonick
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Jan 2003 Cartoon History of the Earth (Book 3)
Larry Gonick's celebrated series The Cartoon History of the Universe is a unique fusion of world history and the comics medium, a work of serious scholarship and a masterpiece of popular literature. Praised by Jonathan Spence in the New York Times Book Review as "a curious hybrid, at once flippant and scholarly, witty and politically correct, zany and traditionalist," Gonick's clever illustrations deliver important information with a deceptively light tone, teaching us about the people and events that have shaped our world. This long-awaited new volume covers the Middle Ages around the globe, including the multicultural Middle East, West Africa and the cross-Saharan trade, Central Asia and the Byzantine Empire, the European Dark Ages and the Crusades, the Mongol conquests, the Black Death, the Ottoman Empire, the Italian Renaissance, and the rise of Spain, leading up to Columbus's departure for the new world. Gonick offers an historical survey that is at once multicultural, humanistic, skeptical, and laugh-out-loud funny.

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The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance (Cartoon History of the Earth) + The Cartoon History of the Universe II: Volumes 8-13 + The Cartoon History of the Modern World: From Columbus to the Constitution: 1
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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Gph edition (14 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393324036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393324037
  • Product Dimensions: 26.6 x 19.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 170,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A brilliant application of the cartoon medium wedding learning with fun. Bravo! --Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, A Contract with God, and The Dreamer"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gonick does it again! 1 Mar 2003
After being an avid fan of the first two books, I waited what seemed to be forever (8 years!) to get my hands on the third volume of the 'Cartoon History of the Universe' series. I picked up the book and just kept reading. The content is as funny as ever and the historical facts are researched with great precision. Gonick not only protrays the environment accurately through pictures, but also by not drawing some elements that shouldn't be drawn (the Prophet Muhammad, for instance). If you've read ANY of the previous volumes, this is a must get, just so you can extinguish your thirst of Gonick's masterful touch. The book gives the basics on arabian and central asian history as well as the origin of the central europeans. The book also includes an index for refrence. Just can't wait for volume 4 (the Americas)!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genius 24 Aug 2010
Sometimes a thick book about history can be a drag but with The Cartoon History you can get what you need to understand the times, the politics and the people in an easy to read format while still getting a fair amount of detail. The artwork is excellent, the writing is perfect and the handling of religious history is spot on. No western bias and based on science and historical facts. Genius
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The trouble with history teaching in schools, especially nowadays, is it is too deep and not wide enough. So you'll learn for example all about the industrial revolution in Shropshire in the 18th century and nothing aboout what was going on in other parts of the world at the same time, or what happened thousands of years previously.

What Larry Gonick's series does is provide the width. If your history knowledge is basic, you'll learn a lot, very quickly. If your history knowledge goes to PhD level, you'll still learn a lot because these books will fill in the gaps for you. If you're in the first category you'll love the humour and how easy these books are to read. If you're in the latter category, you'll be impressed that the back of each book contains a proper bibliography.

Hugely impressive. Very readable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  55 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and more fun to read than Durant 21 Dec 2002
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Gonick is a highly trained mathematician who more or less left academe to become a cartoonist, and has won several awards in that endeavor. He's also a very fair general historian, especially in the way of multi-everything synthesis. This volume comprises volumes 14-19 in the series (as they were originally published), covering the back-story to and rise of Islam, the post-Roman history of Africa, the further development of China and India, and all the complexity of events taking place in Central Asia. Oh, yeah -- Europe, too! Actually, most of us with professional historian's training are still apt to think in European and North American terms, for which Gonick's work is a great antidote. He also puts paid to any notion of Islam being a "peaceful" religion -- no more than Christianity, certainly -- and readers with a knowledge of Jewish history also will be nodding at his witty but pointed renderings. And how many comic books have you read that include an index and an annotated bibliography?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Masterpiece - INCREDIBLE 6 Dec 2002
By "topcat817" - Published on
I just finished reading this third volume of the greatest history books ever! It's simply a masterpiece. Larry Gonick has a superbly keen sense of understanding political, cultural, and even economical atmospheres in the context of the era he covers in this book (appox. 500-1500 CE). All the significant events and trends are tied together in an incredibly witty way, and always in a global context. He cleverly shows how interrelated and interdependent the world was back then. Jewish kingdom in Central Asia, Normans at the Balkans, and the Christian mother of Kublai Khan are all the surprizing new gems of knowledge I gained from this delightful book. Drawing-wise, I am glad Gonick took extra effort (better than Volume II) to create a feast of imagery and emotion. His medium of cartoon really gives much more than plain texts, especially historical texts. Just look into all those sad expressions of the ill-fated ones, and don't tell me you dont get sympathetic!
Volume I was my favorite book when I was in middle school, Volume II during my senior year in high school, and now, with a degree in History, I still get inspired and taught by this new, and best yet, volume of the History of the Universe series.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned more history than I would have cared to otherwise 25 Mar 2006
By Manish Laxmikant - Published on
After having grown up with the "Amar Chitra Katha", a brilliant idea that put India's vast mythology, history, and even some classic stories and legends in comic book form, I can greatly appreciate Gonick's work here.

I give it five stars even after reading some of the criticisms because of my own perspective on the presentation of historical "fact". There's never a case where the author's perspective or opinion isn't reflected in the work. We don't notice it when we agree with most of it. But again, all this is opinion.

The Cartoon History of the Universe series lays out a frame or foundation for otherwise dreary historical matter. After reading this comic series, it's much easier to pick up a history book and build on that base or even make adjustments to suit what you find more accurate. People already in the field of history may see holes or flaws, but anyone who has already dodged that career path is now enlightened, and carries the seed of interest.

Part III continues feeding me the reasonably heavy but still very entertaining content that makes me not want to put the book down. Gonick breaks the book into digestible parts, occasionally switching to a different part of the world or another culture and eventually bringing them all together. And this third book continues to make me laugh or smile. Look how gory history can be. The humor just reminds me of how we'd try to "look back and laugh" at the end of a difficult session of history class.

I admit I may only pick up corrections and adjustments to my historical knowledge over time and as I encounter them. But at least I won't ignore them, thanks to this series.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hello, stranger 19 Nov 2002
By Center Man - Published on
It's been eight years since the last volume of Larry Gonick's fitfully-amusing, often-infuriating and always-interesting chronicle came out. Was Volume 3 worth the wait?
Well, no, not really. I don't envy Gonick the task of squeezing three continents and 800 years into 300 pages, but he was able to do the second volume in four years, and many fans have been tapping our fingers with impatience waiting for this one to come out.
That snit-fit out of the way, the book is all you'd expect from the previous volumes, with terrific chapters on the rise of Islam and the Mongols. The narrative gallops along at a brisk pace, with unexpected surprises and much needed chronicles of dark chapters in history, like Visigothic Spain. Gonick also cuts back on some of his politically-correct tendencies and amps up the humor in this work. You're not going to agree with all of Gonick's conclusions, he gets a few things wrong (the dates of Clovis' reign in France come 40 years after the man died) and is generally too hard on Europe and too easy on the Byzantine Empire and the caliphate.
These are minor nits to pick, though. The book is as engaging as other entries in the series, and more informative than some straight histories. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another decade for Volume IV.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gonick Makes History...Again! 22 Oct 2002
By Thomas D. Harrington - Published on
When Gonick's comics first started popping up in comic book stores, I took it as some sort of underground comics joke - "This can't actually be about history, right?" Then I figured, "He'll never get an audience." Then I figured, "he'll never finish it."
Well, "Cartoon History" became a bookstore smash, and now Gonick takes us right up to the time of Columbus (the book ends with him setting sail).
I'm not enough of a historian to judge his accuracy, but his hard work and love of the subject are obvious, and his cartooning is delightful. Typically, Gonick's text tells us what's happening, and the cartoon shows it happening, with the real-life characters often giving away their true motives in reg'lar talk that intentionally robs them of their mystique. Instead of making them seem fictional, the cartooning and jokes make the icons of history humans we can relate to.
Sometimes characters are sketchy, or crowded out by text and/or maps, but that's because this book has a lot to say, and Gonick goes with whatever gets his point across best. The best part of this approach is how many disparate events can be tied together, and you SEE not just when but WHERE events happen. This is great because it makes the geography of history, always a great headache to me, easier to follow. Good thing, too, because this one literally goes all over the map. (as it should!)
Highly recommended to history and comics fans of all ages, though high-minded parents should be notified that, though his work couldn't be called [bad], Gonick does not shy from tackling issues ...
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