GOMBRICH, Ernst H. A Little History of the World. 1936 [Original title: Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser. Translation by Caroline Mustfill]
‘Imagine the full story of human habitation on our planet being told in such flowing prose that you want to read it out loud.’
I beg to differ. Gombrich did write a book aimed at children trying to provide it with a narrative tone and it does flow—at the beginning. This inviting style—although too childish at some point if we take into account the context and the extension of the book—fades exponentially as events get closer to modern days. We shouldn’t be taken aback by this fact for all history books get flooded with names and dates as they reach the last couple of centuries. At that point, A Little History of the World becomes an abstract of any school book.
Regarding the content, the author tells some facts from the region of nowadays Germany—his country—that might not be essential in a little history of the world. Bits of the English and French history have been ignored that are probably more relevant. Additionally [Why not say it?], I missed at least a line about a culture at the east of the Iberian Peninsula that had its share of Mediterranean influence at some point.
Little has my aversion to history been hidden ever; and it was that aversion that expected this book to provide me with some general knowledge I had never acquired. Unfortunately, A Little History of the World didn’t fulfil my expectations.