A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich

A Little History of the World
E.H. Gombrich’s truly lovely A Little History of the World.

Here we have E.H. Gombrich‘s wonderful A Little History of the World. We’ve been in an educational and book reading mood this week. Learned, huh? Professional Moron will always support the absurd, but we demand we do it in the most humanistic and intelligent way possible.

In 1935, the Vienna born Gombrich went on a fact finding mission to piece together a book detailing a brief history of the world. The result is this book, which has grown in stature year-on-year since its publication. The staggering thing about it is anyone can find it immediately accessible and enjoyable. For kids we can recommend the highly awesome Illustrated Edition which, believe it or not, comes equipped with drawings of stuff. For adults, it’s a chance to learn more about the world about you. Fabulous!

A Little History of the World

In a mere 40 chapters, Gombrich takes the reader from the Stone Age (when there were, like, loads of stones) to the Atomic Age (when, like, Blondie released that single in 1979). This isn’t the type of book kids can race through, though. It’s not a Harry Potter type experience – Chapter 24, for instance, is titled Emperors In the Age Of Chivalry.

Know any kids who can tell you what “chivalry” means? We didn’t even know and we’re 30! We had to look it up in our dictionary, along with “emperors”, “in”, “the”, “age”, and, “of”. We figured out Chapter 24 is a homage to chips. We realised the “v” was a typo for “p” and the “alry” was some weird deduction on phonetical spelling Gombrich succumbed to in a moment of lunacy. Whilst eating chips.

Anyway, this isn’t a book to be avoided as it takes on complex and often difficult topics. For adults, it’ll likely inspire you to read further into new topics, and encourage you to be a pacifist in this age of excess and tumult. You’ll also get a great fun educational lesson along the way.

For children, it’s a slightly different matter – this is why we recommend the full quality, image packed edition to help keep young ones enthralled. As Wall Street Journal critic Anthony Grafton put it:

"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."

A Quick Catch Up

If you’d like to skip ahead and learn a few things here and now, historian David Christian provides a run through human history in less than 20 minutes above! Alternatively, it might inspire you to pick up Gombrich’s book and get to grips with the history of everything. After this, especially for adults, we can also recommend Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and even Roy Porter’s Blood & Guts: A Short History of Medicine to further your knowledge.

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