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Old 04-25-2011, 06:58 AM   #1
bonaldo2000
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Best "History Overview" Book?

Hi

I was wondering if any of you know of some good books that simply give an overview of the entire human history - similar to how the book "A Short History of Nearly Everything" gives an overview of the history of natural science.
Obviously such a book can't go into much detail, but I would really like to read something that could give me a general overview on the chronology of events.

Thanks!
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:44 AM   #2
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I haven't read it myself but it seems like "Guns Germs and Steel" might be what you're looking for?

eP
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Old 04-25-2011, 09:54 AM   #3
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I read this book. It really is a good overview of the last thousand years.

Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium by
Ronald Findlay
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:21 PM   #4
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Outline of History -H.G. Wells
Have not got around to reading this yet but it has been highly recomended. I have yet to read anything by Wells I did not like except for parts of The Invisible man.
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:01 PM   #5
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E.H. Gombrich's _A Little History of the World_ --- pair it up w/ _1491_ to get the missing bits of Native American pre-history and say Geronimo's auto-biography to bet the post-Columbus viewpoint.
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Old 04-25-2011, 03:26 PM   #6
bonaldo2000
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Thanks a lot. Great recommendations!

As far as I can see, "A Little History of the World" is a childrens book, though?
Maybe I should stress that I am 29 years old - so I am looking for adult-level books
But maybe it is fine to read by adults too?
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Old 04-25-2011, 11:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonaldo2000 View Post
I was wondering if any of you know of some good books that simply give an overview of the entire human history - similar to how the book "A Short History of Nearly Everything" gives an overview of the history of natural science.
It's been a long time, but I remember reading and liking J.M. Roberts' The New Penguin History of the World. Though it dedicates chapters to historical periods all around the world, the author acknowledges his eurocentricism -- knowing this in advance, I didn't find it a problem. However, it's not really the type of book which somebody with little to no historical knowledge can pick up easily, but is rather a book for the history buff who nevertheless has gaps in their knowledge.

To take a completely different tack, have you considered historical atlases? They often show historical overviews of various areas and periods very well, recounting events in a straightforward historical manner, and have maps of countries and kingdoms long gone by and little heard of. I can't recommend any of those personally, as the ones I have are probably too old to be still sold. I've heard the Oxford and Times editions come highly recommended though.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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Gombrich's book is quite fine for adults --- the material which is overtly left out in consideration of the youth of the intended audience is minimal, and I believe more than adequately covered in the two books which I mentioned (though you might also want to read _Empire of the Summer Moon_ as well, and maybe a book or two on World War II).
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:08 PM   #9
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Roberts is a good writer. I like his history of ancient greece and history of ancient rome books. Most of the history of the world type books that I have run across are college text books, which means they are pretty dry reading. If you are looking for ebooks, then you might check out Susan Bauer's books _The History of the Ancient World_ and _The History of the Medieval World_.
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Old 05-01-2011, 02:47 PM   #10
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To take a completely different tack, have you considered historical atlases?
That's a good tip, thanks. I have not really considered those. I have though of more "illustrated" history books, though. I have this one, for instance: http://www.amazon.com/History-Defini.../dp/075663119X which is a very, very nice illustrated overview of history.
However, such books are a bit cumbersome to read as they are heavy and their layout makes it a bit confusing. I would simply like a pure text book, something to read back-to-back, and also something that fits on my eReader of course.
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:32 PM   #11
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The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers sticks to modern, post-1500, history, but I thought it was a really great read.

Quote:
Kennedy, a history professor at Yale, here assesses the interaction between economics and strategy over the past five centuries; the correlation between productive and revenue-sharing capacities on the one hand and military strength on the other. The book is a vigorous entry in the debate over the extent to which national wealth should be used for military purposes. It reveals, for instance, how the Hapsburg monarchs overextended themselves in repeated conflicts, becoming militarily top-heavy while their economic base dwindled, an imbalance that ultimately proved fatal. In a final section, Kennedy explores the implications of today's economic and technological trends in relation to the balance of military power, and the problems and opportunities in this regard facing China, Japan, the European Economic Community, the Soviet Union and the United States.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Old 05-01-2011, 09:25 PM   #12
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The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers sticks to modern, post-1500, history, but I thought it was a really great read.
I second that about Rise and Fall. I thought it did a fine job pulling lots of threads together.
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:02 AM   #13
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I second that about Rise and Fall. I thought it did a fine job pulling lots of threads together.
I third it :-)
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Old 05-04-2011, 03:16 PM   #14
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Thanks for the recommendations :-)

Great forum, this!
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Old 05-04-2011, 10:57 PM   #15
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Asimov's chronology of the world is quite nice and written in his simple, clear and engaging style. Bryson's short history is quite good also .
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