A Little History of the World Ernst H. Gombrich, Clifford Harper, Caroline Mustill

Little Histories
Publication date:
19 Aug 2008
Yale University Press
304 pages: 214 x 141 x 26mm
40 black & white illustrations

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In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and "Eine kurze Weltgeschichte fur junge Leser" was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five languages across the world.

In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colourful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. This is a text dominated not by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind's experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity's achievements and an acute witness to its frailties.The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history.

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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 honour, the Order of Merit, in 1988.

"If you are on a Gombrich spree you might like also to get hold of his A Little History of the World, which will make you and any children you have handy writhe, ripple and froth with pleasure." Stephen Fry

'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

"A sophisticated narrative by the art historian which runs up to the First World War, written in language any child can understand."—Lorna Bradbury, Daily Telegraph

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

'The publishers tell us that Philip Pullman calls it 'irresistible'. So it is...as an outline of how we have come to be where we are I doubt it could be bettered...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

'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, The Evening Standard

"Written for children, this book is a source of entertainment and revision for adults too. Devoid of pretension and condescension it demonstrates how fluid communication between the generations can be. Without resorting to technical jargon or a raft of dates Gombrich has produced a text that appeals to all ages and inspires further reading… Entertaining, information and enlightening, it will send the reader on a voyage of (re)discovery of the great story of our world." Elizabeth Reid, Kensington Magazine

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