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A Little History of the World
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About the Author

Among E. H. Gombrich's many writings are the international bestsellers The Story of Art and Art and Illusion. He was director of the Warburg Institute of the University of London from 1959 to 1976.

Reviews

This is an unusual work for Yale: a children's history originally published 70 years ago. But it is a work one can quickly come to love. Gombrich, later known as an art historian, wrote this primer in 1935, when he was a young man in Vienna (it was soon banned by the Nazis as too "pacifist"). Rewritten (and updated) in English mainly by Gombrich himself (who died in 2001, age 92, while working on it), the book is still aimed at children, as the language makes clear: "Then, slowly the clouds parted to reveal the starry night of the Middle Ages." But while he addresses his readers directly at times, Gombrich never talks down to them. Using vivid imagery, storytelling and sly humor, he brings history to life in a way that adults as well as children can appreciate. The book displays a breadth of knowledge, as Gombrich begins with prehistoric man and ends with the close of WWII. In the final, newly added chapter, Gombrich's tone sadly darkens as he relates the rise of Hitler and his own escape from the Holocaust-children, he writes, "must learn from history how easy it is for human beings to be transformed into inhuman beings"-and ends on a note of cautious optimism about humanity's future. (Oct. 13) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"In simple, vivid prose, Gombrich surveys the human past from pre-history to his own time. . . . Lucky children will have this book read to them. Intelligent adults will read it for themselves and regain contact with the spirit of European humanism at its best."-Anthony Grafton, Wall Street Journal

". . . a marvellous antidote to history without chronology: the whole experience of human history, from prehistory to the Second World War, compressed into a flowing narrative. . . . [Gombrich] excels in creating a sense of the continuities of history - the ways in which human nature has not budged over the millennium, and the smallness of the differences between people. A delight."-Daily Telegraph

"Gombrich knows precisely how to converse with his audience, intelligent children between nine and thirteen. He uses powerful imagery to convey the sheer length of time that separates us from the dinosaurs."-Andrew Roberts, FT Magazine

"Gombrich opens with the most magical definition of history I have ever read . . . Tolerance, reason and humanity . . . suffuse every page of the Little History."-Amanda Vickery, Guardian Review

"This 'little history' has aged amazingly well."-New York Times Book Review

"The book is intellectually valuable, and unusual; rather than breaking history into eras or artificial categories. . . . Gombrich contextualizes them all and gives the vast unfolding of the Western world one wise, simple narrative. . . . For adults, it is full of delightful reminders as well as forgotten or never-known tidbits. As for younger readers . . . [the book] is a treasure for them."-Katie Haegele, Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is an unusual work for Yale: a children's history originally published 70 years ago. But it is a work one can quickly come to love. . . . Using vivid imagery, storytelling and sly humor, [Gombrich] brings history to life in a way that adults as well as children can appreciate. The book displays a breadth of knowledge."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)




"The true fairy tale of the evolution of mankind."-Die Zeit

"A panoramic overview of history from the Stone Age to the 1990s that . . . manages to be entertaining and informative. . . . Gombrich, in other words, is a born teacher whose humanistic values are implicit in every word he wrote. . . . It has taken almost 70 years to reach English-speaking readers. It has been worth the wait: expertly translated, elegantly produced and charmingly illustrated by Clifford Harper, it will enchant any child."-Joel Greenberg, The Australian

". . . an engrossing kaleidoscopic account of global history from the ancient Egyptians to the Treaty of Versailles."-Tristram Hunt, BBC History Magazine

". . . this book . . . has been called 'the true fairytale of the evolution of mankind.' I would happily go along with that and intend to give a copy as a stocking present to a favourite Godchild of mine."-Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post

"Any adult reader will find plenty to nourish thought."-John Whale, Church Times

". . . the book charms, amuses and informs superbly . . . In A Little History, Gombrich proves he is as much a story teller as a professor."-Andrew Roberts, Daily Express

". . . this Little Book . . . is a thing of ripping yarns told at a rattling pace. Seventy years too late, I wish that the first edition had been available to me to read as often and over as many years as The Wind in the Willows, a book that grew in depth as I grew older. . . . Had I a dozen grandchildren (of any age) I'd order two dozen copies, one for the children, the other for their parents. Do not, from its title, underestimate this book."-Brian Sewell, Evening Standard

". . . another charming work of history for children which is shortly to be published by Yale and first appeared in 1935. . . . It's as fresh now as it was then. If I were Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, I'd order a copy for myself. Then I'd make it prescribed reading for every primary school in the country."-Melanie McDonagh, Evening Standard

"Christmas gift of the year is surely . . . A Little History of the World. This is a magical work for children. . . . Perfect for bedtime reading."-John Banville, Irish Times

"It is a joy to read, not merely because of his effortless mastery of global history, but also because he clearly was an enchanting man."-Kevin Myers, Irish Times

". . . a joyful book . . ."-Richard Aldous, Irish Times

"The publishers tell us that Phillip Pullman found it irresistable. So it is . . . It certainly couldn't be done more agreeably . . . a perfect birthday present for a child with an enquiring mind. I wish it had been available when I was young."-Allan Massie, Literary Review

". . . the main body of the book retains an irresistible, boyish energy and enthusiasm. . . . Here, in this little book are answers to many of the questions you never dared to ask."-Margaret Drabble, New Statesman

"The Little History grips the reader with its vivid accounts of ordinary people and world-shaking events. As in all of his extraordinary works, Gombrich illuminates the present day with his human and fascinating insights into the past."-RA Magazine

". . . ostensibly a book for children, designed to present a chronology of world history, but it's a delight for all ages. The pages sparkle with the learned author's wit and wisdom - and reading them, one feels as if Gombrich, one of the greatest ever art historians, is guiding one through time with a grandfatherly gleam in his eye."-Ben Schott, The Observer

"A Little History reveals the seasoned humanity of its author's mind, as well as the knowledge archivally stored in it. Gombrich remains a tribal elder, he is, if Leonie consents to share him, everybody's grandfather."-Peter Conrad, The Observer

"A chewy read for the 21st century teenager, this Little History supplies a humane, and sweeping, guide to Man's achievements from the caves to the Paris Commune."-Robert McCrum, The Observer

"Rather than giving your child a book about Santa, try this. I think this is an essential read for any ten-year-old . . . it presents a very important message for children about striving towards a more tolerant and humanistic society."-The Scotsman

Featured in the 2006 Association of American University Presses (AAUP) University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries


Named a Favorite Book of 2005 by the Los Angeles Times

A 2006 Book Sense Highlight



E.H. Gombrich was awarded the 1985 International Balzan Foundation Prize


"A brilliant piece of narrative, splendidly organised, told with an energy and confidence that are enormously attractive, and suffused with all the humanity and generosity of spirit that Gombrich's thousands of admirers came to cherish during his long and richly productive life. It's a wonderful surprise: irresistible, in fact."-Philip Pullman



"Imagine the full story of human habitation on our planet being told in such flowing prose that you want to read it out loud. If you can't imagine that, read A Little History of the World and experience it!"-Patricia S. Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and Former U.S. Representative from Colorado



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