A Little History of the World
By E. H. Gombrich
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300176148, 304pp.)
Publication Date: November 2011
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E. H. Gombrich's Little History of the World, though written in 1935, has become one of the treasures of historical writing since its first publication in English in 2005. The Yale edition alone has now sold over half a million copies, and the book is available worldwide in almost thirty languages.
Gombrich was of course the best-known art historian of his time, and his text suggests illustrations on every page. This illustrated edition of the Little History brings together the pellucid humanity of his narrative with the images that may well have been in his mind's eye as he wrote the book. The two hundred illustrations—most of them in full color—are not simple embellishments, though they are beautiful. They emerge from the text, enrich the author's intention, and deepen the pleasure of reading this remarkable work.
For this edition the text is reset in a spacious format, flowing around illustrations that range from paintings to line drawings, emblems, motifs, and symbols. The book incorporates freshly drawn maps, a revised preface, and a new index.
Blending high-grade design, fine paper, and classic binding, this is both a sumptuous gift book and an enhanced edition of a timeless account of human history.
E. H. Gombrich, author of the international classic The Story of Art, was born in Vienna in 1909. He moved to London in 1936, where he later became director of the Warburg Institute and professor of the history of the classical tradition at London University. Winner of the Erasmus Prize, the Hegel Prize, the Wittgenstein Prize, and the Goethe Prize, he was admitted to Britain's highest honor, the Order of Merit, in 1988.
"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 remarkable book, written in an amiable, conversational style, effortlessly explaining, without condescension, difficult matters like the achievements of Charlemagne, the monetary system of medieval Europe and the ideas of the Enlightenment. . . . This resurrected history deserves reading for all its delights."—Edward Rothstein, New York Times
"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
"His enthusiasm for his subject is irresistible... With Gombrich''s Little History, at last available in English there will be many generations of future historians who will attribute to it their lifelong passion for history - and for truth."—Lisa Jardine, The Times
"Christmas gift of the year is surely . . . A Little History of the World. This is a magical work for children. . . . Perfect for bedrime reading."—John Banville, Irish Times
"... 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 masterpiece of nonfiction writing for children. It is a wry and charming book, perfectly suited to the capacities of a 10-year-old, but also remarkably free of condescension. An adult can read it with pleasure. And, indeed, with instruction."—Scott McLemee, Newsday
"I am going to buy ten copies of this book and give it to my ten favourite children... this is a book which teaches what it is to be civilised by its very tone, which is one of gentleness, curiosity and erudition."—A.N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement
"... 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 millenium, and the smallness of the differences between people. A delight."—Robert Hanks, The Daily Telegraph
“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
"... 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
"... an engrossing kaleidoscopic account of global history from the ancient Egyptians to the Treaty of Versailles."—Tristram Hunt, BBC History Magazine
"A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich is a bedtime treat to share with my two children and proof that brilliance and perspicacity needn''t be stuffy."—Bettany Hughes, The Times
"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
“Sumptuously illustrated…Perfect for reading to alert and curious children, but it’s even better as a secret pleasure, read alone, with no children in sight.”—Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post
"[A] brisk, clear-eyed trot through the centuries."—Tom Beer, Maine Sunday Telegram