Is there a book in the same vein as Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, only covering history instead of science?
April 24, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Is there a book in the same vein as Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, only covering history instead of science?

Something that's fairly light and fun(ny?) to read, not dense and textbook-like.
posted by wordsmith to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A Little History of the World
by E.H. Gombrich

Just recently translated from the German in 2005, the book is highly rated and contains sly humor like Bryson.
posted by Zipf at 2:03 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is entertaining, but covers only US history.
posted by dersins at 2:04 PM on April 24, 2009

Cartoon History of the Universe does a pretty good job.
posted by NoraReed at 2:06 PM on April 24, 2009

Seconding "A Little History of the World". Just reading it right now and it has been fantastic so far.
posted by clarkie666 at 2:08 PM on April 24, 2009

nthing Gombrich and Cartoon History of the Universe.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:16 PM on April 24, 2009

I've been enjoying this immensely, sounds like what you're looking for.
posted by jbickers at 2:18 PM on April 24, 2009

A Concise History of the World is a pretty good read. Not really funny, though. Entertaining, but not funny.
posted by torquemaniac at 2:20 PM on April 24, 2009

With great skepticism I recently glanced at 1001 Days That Shaped the World at the bookstore (it's from the 1001...before you die series). I have to say, though, that it was surprisingly complete and wide-ranging, with some rather obscure yet informed choices (the Second Crusade, for example...a little-known debacle that did much to re-shape both European and Middle Eastern history). Fun book if you like lists.
posted by hiteleven at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

The New Penguin History of the World, by J.M. Roberts.

It's a history book published by Penguin, not a history book about new penguins.
posted by Tin Man at 2:31 PM on April 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

It has to be Gombrich. HG Wells also wrote a little history of the world, which is pretty good, but it cuts off in the early 20th century and is slanted towards a number of Victorian attitudes that might be unappealing, not to mention Wells' own beliefs, which were somewhat strange in places (and farseeing and progressive in ohers).
posted by WPW at 2:38 PM on April 24, 2009

william durant's "Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time" convinced me that he is a great writer of history. Also, "Guns Germs and Steel" and "Collapse" are popular ones that tackle history from a particular angle.
posted by maulik at 3:14 PM on April 24, 2009

Best answer: The Mental Floss History of the World, put out by the people behind Mental Floss magazine, is described quite well by its tagline: An Irreverent Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits. It's got quite a few fun facts and gives a decent overview of history, with timelines and lists of important figures for each period of world history.
posted by Hargrimm at 4:49 PM on April 24, 2009

Jared Diamond's excellent Guns, Germs and Steel for a broad look at human civilization from prehistory to the modern era, although the underlying premise of the book is his take on environmental determinism.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:24 PM on April 24, 2009

The Discoverer's is an excellent all-in-one history book. It does primarly focus on how human - inventions, time, measurement, mapping and other inovations hae shaped our world but I think it does so wonderfully.
posted by bigmusic at 12:37 AM on April 25, 2009

For a different take, David Christian's Maps of Time provides what the author calls a modern origin myth, with each chapter focused on the emergence and consequences of new levels of organization, from the Big Bang through the origins of galaxies, the solar system, the earth, life, multicellular life, animals, hominids, humans, agricultural societies, cities, empires, and industrial societies.
posted by brianogilvie at 4:09 PM on April 25, 2009

If you're interested in British history, there's always John O'Farrell's An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge)
posted by almostwitty at 7:46 PM on April 26, 2009

« Older Building better boundaries for bugs   |   Self hosted, dummy proof, open source idea... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.