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By E. H. Gombrich

In 1935, with a doctorate in paintings background and no prospect of a role, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was once invited by way of a publishing acquaintance to aim a background of the realm for more youthful readers. Amazingly, he accomplished the duty in an excessive six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser used to be released in Vienna to speedy luck, and is now on hand in seventeen languages the world over.

towards the top of his lengthy existence, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, ultimately, an English translation. a bit historical past of the realm provides his energetic and concerning historical past to English-language readers for the 1st time. fantastically designed and freshly illustrated, it is a publication to be savored and picked up.

In 40 concise chapters, Gombrich tells the tale of guy from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In among emerges a colourful photo of wars and conquests, grand artistic endeavors, and the unfold and barriers of technological know-how. it is a textual content ruled no longer via dates and proof, yet through the sweep of mankind’s event around the centuries, a advisor to humanity’s achievements and an acute witness to its frailties.

The made from a beneficiant and humane sensibility, this undying account makes intelligible the whole span of human historical past.

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His name may sound as if it comes out of a storybook, but there is nothing fanciful about his laws – they are strict and just. So it is worth remembering when King Hammurabi lived: around 1700 , that is some 3,700 years ago. The Babylonians, and the Assyrians after them, were disciplined and hardworking, but they didn’t paint cheerful pictures like the Egyptians. Most of their statues and reliefs show kings out hunting, or inspecting kneeling captives bound in chains, or foreign tribes-people fleeing before the wheels of their chariots, and warriors attacking fortresses.

Clambering up its huge stone blocks is like scaling a mountain peak. And yet it was human beings who piled those gigantic stones on top of each other. They had no machines in those days – rollers and pulleys at most. They had to pull and shove every single block by hand. Just think of it, in the heat of Africa! In this way, it seems, for thirty years, some hundred thousand people toiled for the pharaoh, whenever they weren’t working in the fields. And when they grew tired, the king’s overseer was sure to drive them on with his hippopotamus-skin whip, as they dragged and heaved those immense loads, all for their king’s tomb.

Nor did any single empire survive long within firm frontiers. Many tribes and many kings held power at different times. The most important of these were the Sumerians, the Babylonians and the Assyrians. For a long time it was thought that the Egyptians were the first people to have everything that goes to make up what we call a culture: towns and tradesmen, noblemen and kings, temples and priests, administrators and artists, writing and technical skills. Yet we now know that, in some respects, the Sumerians were ahead of the Egyptians.

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