History was one of my least favourite subjects at school. I completed my education with a very poor understanding of the events that shaped the world as we know it today. In recent years, I’ve had the urge to educate myself thoroughly, so I’m always on the look-out for books that will help me learn something quickly. This title, being only 250 pages, is one such. There are several books available with this same generic title; the one under review here is published in the UK by Armadillo Books.
The volume is divided into several parts: The Ancient World, covering the emergence of homo sapiens, the Egyptians, Sumerians, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, etc. The Middle Ages, covering the Fall of Rome, the expansion of Christianity, Islam, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, the Aztecs and Incas, etc. Each subsequent part then takes a century at a time, beginning with the fifteenth and covering the discovery of the New World, the printing press, the Renaissance, the War of the Roses.
The book is roughly A4 in size, and each topic is presented attractively over two facing pages, featuring an brief overview, an illustrated exposition of key events, and a chronology. The presentation makes it feel like a school library book, perhaps aimed at a junior high level, but it’s perfectly useful for higher ages nonetheless.
Overall, this is an excellent presentation, and perfect for someone who doesn’t have the time to read a mammoth tome. My only criticism is that it’s not quite comprehensive enough. A section on the Crusades is notable by its absence.
Conspiracy buffs have ideas about a secret Illuminati manipulating the world from the shadows for hundreds or thousands of years. As someone who once flirted with that scene, I can’t help but think that if only those people would take a more thorough look at the forces which have moved the world over the centuries, they would see that their theories fall apart. The conspiracy scene seems to thrive on filling the void left behind from a poor education. That’s why it’s so important to read a book like this.