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

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Published: August 1, 2008

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UK, Europe and Rest of World

Hardback  | Paperback  | eBook

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North America

Hardback  | Paperback  | eBook

We are very pleased to announce that E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World has been selected as one of the twenty featured titles for World Book Night 2013, which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift specially chosen and printed books in their communities.

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 für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five 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 savoured and collected. 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. An illustrated edition of this title is also available.

Some reviews

‘Brilliant, irresistible: a wonderful surprise.’ Philip Pullman
‘Gombrich opens with the most magical definition of history I have ever read … Tolerance, reason and humanity … suffuse every page of the Little History.’ Amanda Vickery, Guardian
‘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 marvellous antidote to history without chronology: the whole experience of human history, from prehistory to the Second World War, compressed into a flowing narrative… [Gombrich] excels in creating a sense of the continuities of history – the ways in which human nature has not budged over the millenium, and the smallness of the differences between people. A delight.’  Robert Hanks, Daily Telegraph
‘If you are on a Gombrich spree you might like 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

Read an extract

About the author

Ernst-Gombrich-001

E. H. Gombrich, author of the 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.

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About the illustrator

From 'A Little History of the World'

Clifford Harper was born in 1949 in a working class neighbourhood of West London. His father was a postman and his mother a cook.

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