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A Little History of the World

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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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.


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.

"'I wish it had been available when I was young.' Allan Massie, Literary Review 'There is not one of the 39 short chapters that is not enlivened by a sharp insight or arresting image.' Tim Blanning, The Sunday Telegraph '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 'Do not, from its title, underestimate this book.' Brian Sewell, Evening Standard 'Gombrich opens with the most magical definition of history I have ever read.' Amanda Vickery, Guardian Review 'Brilliant, irresistible: a wonderful surprise.' Philip Pullman 'the whole experience of human history, from prehistory to the Second World War, compressed into a flowing narrative... A delight.' The Daily Telegraph"

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