Synopses & Reviews
In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited by a publishing acquaintance to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in seventeen languages across the world. Toward the end of his long life, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, at last, an English translation. A Little History of the World presents his lively and involving history to English-language readers for the first time. Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savored and collected. In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colorful 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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A Remembrance from Leonie Gombrich:
My grandfather Ernst Gombrich did not usually write for children. Nor did he study history at university: art history was his subject. He was therefore delighted and astonished in almost equal degree that his very first book, Eine kurze Weltgeschichte fur junge Leser, should have endured so long and found so many friends all over the world.
He wrote it as a young man and in a considerable rush, and later considered that both these factors contributed to its long lived appeal. For this little book would never have been written at all were it not for the unusual circumstances that presented themselves in Vienna in 1935.
When the book came out, in 1936, it was very well received, reviewers assuming that my grandfather must be an experienced teacher. Though publication was stopped by the Nazisbecause they considered the outlook too pacifist it was reissued thirty years later. My grandfather added a new final chapter and was once again delighted by the books success, and the many translations that have followed.
The international bestseller available in English for the first time: E. H. Gombrichand#8217;s world history for the curious of all ages...
E. H. Gombrichandrsquo;s bestselling history of the world for young readers tells the story of mankind from the Stone Age to the atomic bomb, focusing not on small detail but on the sweep of human experience, the extent of human achievement, and the depth of its frailty. The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history. In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colorful 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 mankindandrsquo;s experience across the centuries, a guide to humanityandrsquo;s achievements and an acute witness to its frailties.
About the Author
Among E. H. GOMBRICHand#8217;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.