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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.

"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

"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

"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

"So sharp was Gombrich's intelligence and so lively his pen that it can be appreciated as much as literature as history. . . . There is not one of the 39 short chapters that is not enlivened by a sharp insight or arresting image."-Tim Blanning, Sunday Telegraph

"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, Times

"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

". . . 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

". . . 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

". . . 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

"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 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

"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
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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