A Short History of the World is a book written by H.G. Wells summarizing the major events of Earth's (relatively) recent past. In it, he combines evolutionary, sociological, and anthropological points of view for a unique (when it was written) historical perspective.

The author puts it best:

"THIS SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD is meant to be read straightforwardly almost as a novel is read. It gives in the most general way an account of our present knowledge of history, shorn of elaborations and complications. It has been amply illustrated and everything has been done to make it vivid and clear. From it the reader should be able to get that general view of history which is so necessary a framework for the study of a particular period or the history of a particular country. It may be found useful as a preparatory excursion before the reading of the author’s much fuller and more explicit Outline of History is undertaken. But its especial end is to meet the needs of the busy general reader, too driven to study the maps and time charts of that Outline in detail, who wishes to refresh and repair his faded or fragmentary conceptions of the great adventure of mankind. It is not an abstract or condensation of that former work. Within its aim the Outline admits of no further condensation. This is a much more generalized History, planned and written afresh."

--H.G. Wells

Here is the entire text:

  1. The World in Space
  2. The World in Time
  3. The Beginnings of Life
  4. The Age of Fishes
  5. The Age of The Coal Swamps
  6. The Age of Reptiles
  7. The First Birds and the First Mammals
  8. The Age of Mammals
  9. Monkeys, Apes and Sub-men
  10. The Neanderthaler and the Rhodesian Man
  11. The First True Men
  12. Primitive Thought
  13. The Beginnings of Cultivation
  14. Primitive Neolithic Civilizations
  15. Sumer, Early Egypt and Writing
  16. more to come...

"Ofcourse there may be a deception in these appearances, as a room may be made to seem endless by putting mirrors facing each other at either end"

A Short History of the World is a book by H.G. Wells. As the title suggests, it a short history of the world, la 320 pages. It is a purely journalistic venture, with the author keeping his personal insights to himself for the large part and focusing on factuality.

Although written in 1922, it is by no means a dated read. In his introduction, the Mr Wells states that this book 'is meant to be read straightforwadly almost as a novel' and that it 'may be found useful as a preparatory excursion before the reading of the author's much fuller and more explicit Outline of History is undertaken'.

The book focuses almost entirely on political history, with some religion thrown in. The arts (architecture, music, literature etc.) are completely neglected. This made the book a drab for me, since I am not particularly into kings and their doings.

I have heard a lot about H.G. Wells, but this was the first time I read a book by him. Not the perfect introduction, some might say. After reading this book, my one word description of the author would be : Journalist.

Below I try to trace an incomplete timeline between the formation of earth and the appearance of homo sapiens - this was the most interesting part of the book for me.

2,000,000,000 years
The Record of the Rocks
Natural Selection
Azoic Seas
9 feet long water scorpions
Silurian division
Carboniferous Plants
Mesozoic Reptiles
Something bad happens
The Four Glacial 'Ice' Ages
Java Man
Neanderthaler Man
30,000 years ago : Arrival of the True Man

It'd be great if someone can continue this timeline after this point. I would, but after this point I read the book skipping pages at whim. However, below are some of the more interesting things I did read about.

Sowing, harvesting and human blood sacrifice
The first chronology
Aryans and Swastika
The Long Barrows
The Greatest King
Alchemy and the search for Philosopher's Stone
Roger Bacon

and some things I'd never have known otherwise. Did you know that..

  • We still breathe air dissolved in Water?
  • Our thumbs are opposable to the fingers?
  • Non-Conformists were fourteenth century church dissidents and not some group of pompous postmodernist assholes?
  • The American war of independence started because Britain favoured Indian Tea over American ?
  • H.G. Wells took up writing in order to pay for his many mistresses?

"The variety of the universe is infinite and incessant; it progresses eternally; history never repeats itself and no parallels are precisely true. The differences between the life of Mesozoic and Cainzoic periods are far profounder than the (obvious) resemblances"

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