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

A Little History of the World Illustrated Edition Illustrated Edition E. H. Gombrich

Little Histories
Publication date:
20 Oct 2013
Yale University Press
364 pages: 197 x 127mm
205 color illus.
Sales territories:

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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 over thirty languages across the world.

First published in English in 2005, A Little History of the World has sold over half a million copies and become one of the treasures of historical writing. 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.

Given his subsequent career, it is not a surprise that Gombrich’s text suggests illustrations on every page. This new illustrated edition brings together the pellucid humanity of his narrative with the images that may well have been in his mind’s eye as he wrote the book. With a revised preface, new maps, two hundred illustrations (most in colour), high-grade design and classic binding, this is both a sumptuous gift book and an enhanced edition of a timeless account of human history.


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E. H. Gombrich, author of the international 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. Winner of the Erasmus Prize, the Hegel Prize, the Wittgenstein Prize, and the Goethe Prize, he was admitted to Britain's highest honour, the Order of Merit, in 1988.

Praise for 'A Little History of the World'

"If you are on a Gombrich spree you might like also 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

"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

"The book charms, amuses and informs superbly... In A Little History, Gombrich triumphantly proves he is as much a story teller as a professor." - Andrew Roberts, Daily Express

"The publishers tell us that Philip Pullman calls it 'irresistible'. So it is... as an outline of how we have come to be where we are I doubt it could be bettered... a perfect birthday present for a child with an enquiring mind. I wish it had been available when I was young." - Allan Massie, Literary Review

"Another charming work of history for children which is shortly to be published by Yale and first appeared in 1935... It's as fresh now as it was then. If I were Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, I'd order a copy for myself. Then I'd make it prescribed reading for every primary school in the country." - Melanie McDonagh, Evening Standard

"This is a lovely book which would be a fine addition to any bookshelf. Or better still, plonked into the lap of the nearest child."—Trevor Heaton, Eastern Daily Express

Praise for 'A Little History of the World - Illustrated Edition'

"Wonderful"—Charlie Higson, Mail on Sunday

"A perennial favourite, this is the illustrated edition of Gombrich’s brilliant history and contains 200 pictures, nearly all of them full colour."—Sonali Chapman, Oldie

"Now in a new fully illustrated format could there be any better book to inspire the historians of tomorrow?... We will all want this elegiac, deceptively simple and elegant history... a lovely piece of book production... Yale has done the author proud, producing something that, in the age of electronic publishing, shows just what’s so special about the printed book."—Sue Baker, Lovereading

"Every household should have this book... enriching and enhancing... It makes for an excellent introduction to the world’s history for knowledge-thirsty teenagers and upwards."—Mary Lussiana, Country and Town House