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95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final word one world history
Anyone fascinated by world history will be delighted with the appearance of a new edition of John Robert's History of the World. His ill health mentioned in the preface made it hard work, and his recent death confirms his prophesy that this will be the final edition of this successful book. Overall Roberts provides a great summation of world history, supplying a sweeping...
Published on 18 Sep 2003 by Oren Peer

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I was hoping for a serious book which describes some facts from our history, but the majority of the 1200 pages are just the subjective thoughts of the author, with no specific things, dates, events described. For example he mentions there were cities in mesopotamia in general, but nothing particular remains, cities, events, just general things. It is also very hard to...
Published on 16 Nov 2012 by peter_uk


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95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The final word one world history, 18 Sep 2003
This review is from: The New Penguin History of the World (Hardcover)
Anyone fascinated by world history will be delighted with the appearance of a new edition of John Robert's History of the World. His ill health mentioned in the preface made it hard work, and his recent death confirms his prophesy that this will be the final edition of this successful book. Overall Roberts provides a great summation of world history, supplying a sweeping overview with perceptive insights, and avoiding the temptation to become enmeshed in encyclopedic detail. The themes he follows, those of change and continuity, the impetus of history and the relationship between tradition and innovation in human history are well chosen and help to find a context for this daunting subject. Additionally he makes relevant the weight of the past to present events (including a very good job of bringing the book right up to date with post-9/11 events). His overall perspective on history has changed surprisingly little over the years, perhaps because one of his basic philosophies is durable; "the two phenomena of inertia and innovation continue to operate in all historical developments ... we shall always find what happens both more, and less, surprising than we expect". Sounds like a bet both ways, however thinking about recent events it is quite plausable.
The book, it is freely acknowledged by Roberts, comes from a white, middle class western perspecive, however every edition finds him attempting to balance his global coverage further, as well as expanding the text to include more on gender issues and the environment. The thinness of material on non-Western cultures, such as Africa and Latin America is more related to knowledge than bias. He certainly has always argued strongly for the "European Age" since the age of exploration and I think he tends to overemphasise its influence on the world's population as a whole (important as it was). A little more material on imperialism from the subjects perspective might have helped, although don't get the impression that the book is a whitewash.
His prose is enjoyable, although his sentance structure could be improved at times, and the book provides a servicable set of maps althought not always on the right location in the book.
Anyone who reads this book will certainly gain a comprehensive and valuable overview of the forces of the past that manifestly continue to shape the world today, and a fine insight into the way human societies and cultures work.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de force - my desert island book, 2 Aug 2006
By 
Martin (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I recently went on a 6 week bike trip round France. To keep weight low I could only take one book with me and chose the New Penquin History of the World. I made the right choice. The book is the perfect travelling companion, easy to read and highly informative. It has immense scope and covers all its topics in just the right amount of detail. It is structured by themes as well as timeline and this helps give it coherence and allows you to see the linkage between apparently separate events. What is astonishing is the relevance of events far in the past on todays world. Just two examples: The link of Charlemagne having to divide his kingdom equally between his sons and the wars of the 20th century and the beauty pagent which resulted in Russia choosing Eastern Orthodoxy and had repercussions which still reverberate today.

I love this book. If I could only take one book with me to a desert island it would be this. I have ordered a second copy (since mine is now so battered) to give to my son who will start History AS next month. I can think of now better foundation for him to start this course.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great starting point for anyone interested in History..., 1 Sep 2011
By 
Joshua (Preston, UK) - See all my reviews
This book has many sides to it, ranging from the amazingly positive, to the somewhat negitive.
On the plus side this book accuratley and decidley covers a broad range of eras in a concise and clear manner. Including enough detail for the reader to follow the narrative, but so much as to loose the reader in a dense mass of detail. Roberts tackles the huge catalogue of human history, by identifying the themes of comtinuity and change through the chronological study of our past. He does this very well and the added section detailimg from 9/11 onwards rounds off a superb effort.
However, the piece does have some short comings. Most notably the 'eurocentricity' running throughout. The most obvious case of this is that Roberts spends chapter upon chapter detailing the development of Europe and the Near East up to 1500, but only 20-40 pages outlining the same time span for other great centers of culture such as Japan, China or India. This continues throughout the book, and although China goes on to feature more so, really does let it down.

On the whole though a very good piece of work by a great Historian, and a must read for anyone wanting to be able to see the 'bigger picture' of history!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!!, 26 Jun 2007
The definitive guide to world history. I haven't quite finished it yet (it's taken me a year!) but it gives you an amazing synopsis and helps to put events into perspective. World events that you previously would not have considered as important as others are given greater prominence, and vice versa. It shows that many of the current problems are certainly not new or different. A book every politician (and every other member of the planet for that matter) should read!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives a marvellous sense of perspective on human existence, 22 Dec 2009
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This is a classic read - the story of all human endeavour since recorded time - and well written and entertaining too. Sometimes we get too embroiled in the trivia of our daily lives and books such as Roberts' History of the World help us realise that people have always faced difficulties and always will - it's how we face them that matters. What work of fiction could compare with the grand panoply of human history? A great achievement and a fitting legacy for a great historian. Recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of the World, 30 April 2012
By 
Miss G. Bagshaw "GemmaHist" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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For anyone wishing to understand how the world has evolved from the very beginning, this is the book for you. Starting at the evolution of humans, into homosapiens, and then assessing each civilisation throughout history to the modern day, the Penguin History of the World provides the best introduction to the study of history.

I was a bit apprehensive of a book that claimed to cover every period, but the book is nicely written and so clearly expressed (and without doubt seems to cover every major event that I can think of) that this book isn't just for academics, but the general reader who wishes to get a grasp of how events have shaped the world.

Separated into seperate topics for each civilisation, the text is easy to navigate and not only looks at political, but also social and cultural events. If you wish, you can follow the footnotes or further reading to look into topics in more detail - this book can only give you the basics.

One of the best 'History of the World' books I have come across. Downloaded onto my kindle, it also came with clearly labelled maps so I was able to keep an eye on which part of the world I was reading about.

5/5
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes for very good reading, 9 April 2014
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This book was bought as a present, it was the first history book that I read from cover to cover, as normally I would use a book as reference. Once I'd opened I couldn't put it down, Excellent reading material.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll either love it or hate it, 19 Oct 2011
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If like me you have a woeful grasp of history and want an accessible overview of all the "important bits" (which monarch did what, the World Wars in summary, etc) then please be aware that, despite the title, this book does not do that. It does cover those things of course, but this book looks at everything from a larger perspective - how the civilisations of the world came to be and how they evolved. And it is not an easy read.

But if you're willing to put in the effort to really read this book (and I mean "really" read - skim readering will leave you bored and none the wiser) you will be rewarded - it is truly fascinating and a real education. To put it plainly this book has transformed the way I looks at and understand our civilisation.

For those interested in religion (from either side of the fence) there is also a lot to interest here. Love it or hate it, religion has played a massive role in shaping every civilisation and much of this book is a chronicle of how those religions evolved.

The writer has gone to laudable lengths to be as objective as possible and any subjective judgements he makes are clearly presented as such. Just be warned you may need a dictionary here and there because he uses a lot of big words!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of the history of the world from paleolithic ..., 30 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The New Penguin History of the World (Hardcover)
An excellent overview of the history of the world from paleolithic times to 2001. JM Roberts has thoughtful incites into what makes human beings tick.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Book, 10 Jan 2012
This review is from: The New Penguin History of the World (Hardcover)
The New Penguin History of the World by J.M. Roberts is an interesting book spanning the whole period of human civilisation from pre-history to the modern day. It is a work worth perservering with because although it starts in my opinion quite slowly it is worth the effort to complete. It is on the whole well-written and detailed although because it is a one volume history of the world it cannot cover everything. All in all though it is a very good book.
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The New Penguin History of the World by J M Roberts (Hardcover - 27 Feb 2003)
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