A Short History of the World

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This is a book for the average person with a great curiosity toward the world. H. G. Wells had an intense curiosity and used it to investigate and then share the entire history of the world in a condensed form with this book. Wells, the great science fiction writer who wrote The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man, among others, was fascinated with the real world just as much as his imaginary ones.

This book is a testament to his genius and immense knowledge involving the ...

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This is a book for the average person with a great curiosity toward the world. H. G. Wells had an intense curiosity and used it to investigate and then share the entire history of the world in a condensed form with this book. Wells, the great science fiction writer who wrote The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man, among others, was fascinated with the real world just as much as his imaginary ones.

This book is a testament to his genius and immense knowledge involving the key events of humanity throughout the history of the world. It is true that much was left out, but Wells covers the high points so that one can follow the more important paths of history as we learned, grew, and reached deeper understandings throughout our physical, intellectual, and spiritual evolution.

The great thing about this book is that it allows us to see a bigger picture. An overall pattern emerges that one can only grasp by reading and experiencing the book fully. Wells was considered a genius and clearly wrote with this larger vision in mind.

Upon completing the book, he reveals that we, as humanity, are still in our infancy and have only just begun an immense and important journey. The pattern he lays out shows that we are moving toward new ways of understanding, growth, and wisdom. This book should be read by all those who wish to understand more about the world and our place in it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141441825
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/31/2007
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 924,469
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.85 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

H. G. Wells

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England, on September 21, 1866. His father was a professional cricketer and sometime shopkeeper, his mother a former lady’s maid. Although "Bertie" left school at fourteen to become a draper’s apprentice (a life he detested), he later won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London, where he studied with the famous Thomas Henry Huxley. He began to sell articles and short stories regularly in 1893. In 1895, his immediately successful novel rescued him from a life of penury on a schoolteacher’s salary. His other "scientific romances"—The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and The War in the Air (1908)—won him distinction as the father of science fiction.

Henry James saw in Wells the most gifted writer of the age, but Wells, having coined the phrase "the war that will end war" to describe World War I, became increasingly disillusioned and focused his attention on educating mankind with his bestselling Outline of History (1920) and his later utopian works. Living until 1946, Wells witnessed a world more terrible than any of his imaginative visions, and he bitterly observed: "Reality has taken a leaf from my book and set itself to supercede me."


Social philosopher, utopian, novelist, and "father" of science fiction and science fantasy, Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent. His father was a poor businessman, and young Bertie's mother had to work as a lady's maid. Living "below stairs" with his mother at an estate called Uppark, Bertie would sneak into the grand library to read Plato, Swift, and Voltaire, authors who deeply influenced his later works. He shoed literary and artistic talent in his early stories and paintings, but the family had limited means, and when he was fourteen years old, Bertie was sent as an apprentice to a dealer in cloth and dry goods, work he disliked.

He held jobs in other trades before winning a scholarship to study biology at the Normal School of Science in London. The eminent biologist T. H. Huxley, a friend and proponent of Darwin, was his teacher; about him Wells later said, "I believed then he was the greatest man I was ever likely to meet." Under Huxley's influence, Wells learned the science that would inspire many of his creative works and cultivated the skepticism about the likelihood of human progress that would infuse his writing.

Teaching, textbook writing, and journalism occupied Wells until 1895, when he made his literary debut with the now-legendary novel The Time Machine, which was followed before the end of the century by The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, books that established him as a major writer. Fiercely critical of Victorian mores, he published voluminously, in fiction and nonfiction, on the subject of politics and social philosophy. Biological evolution does not ensure moral progress, as Wells would repeat throughout his life, during which he witnessed two world wars and the debasement of science for military and political ends.

In addition to social commentary presented in the guise of science fiction, Wells authored comic novels like Love and Mrs. Lewisham, Kipps, and The History of Mister Polly that are Dickensian in their scope and feeling, and a feminist novel, Ann Veronica. He wrote specific social commentary in The New Machiavelli, an attack on the socialist Fabian Society, which he had joined and then rejected, and literary parody (of Henry James) in Boon. He wrote textbooks of biology, and his massive The Outline of History was a major international bestseller.

By the time Wells reached middle age, he was admired around the world, and he used his fame to promote his utopian vision, warning that the future promised "Knowledge or extinction." He met with such preeminent political figures as Lenin, Roosevelt, and Stalin, and continued to publish, travel, and educate during his final years. Herbert George Wells died in London on August 13, 1946.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The War of the Worlds.

Good To Know

In 1891, Wells married his cousin Isabel. However, he eventually left her for one of his brightest students, Amy Catherine, whom he married in 1895.

Wells was once interviewed on the radio by an extremely nervous Orson Welles. The two are unrelated, of course.

Many of Wells's novels became film adaptations, including The Island of Dr. Moreau, filmed in 1996 by Richard Stanley and John Frankenheimer, and The Time Machine, filmed in 2002 by Wells's great-grandson, Simon Wells.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Herbert George Wells (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1866
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bromley, Kent, England
    1. Date of Death:
      August 13, 1946
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Table of Contents

Chapter I. The World in Space 9
Chapter II. The World in Time 11
Chapter III. The Beginnings of Life 13
Chapter IV. The Age of Fishes 15
Chapter V. The Age of the Coal Swamps 18
Chapter VI. The Age of Reptiles 21
Chapter VII. The First Birds and the First Mammals 24
Chapter VIII. The Age of Mammals 27
Chapter IX. Monkeys, Apes, and Sub-Men 30
Chapter X. The Neanderthaler and the Rhodesian Man 33
Chapter XI. The First True Men 38
Chapter XII. Primitive Thought 41
Chapter XIII. The Beginnings of Cultivation 44
Chapter XIV. Primitive Neolithic Civilisations 48
Chapter XV. Sumeria, Early Egypt and Writing 53
Chapter XVI. Primitive Nomadic Peoples 56
Chapter XVII. The First Sea-Going Peoples 59
Chapter XVIII. Egypt, Babylon and Assyria 63
Chapter XIX. The Primitive Aryans 67
Chapter XX. The Last Babylonian Empire and the Empire of Darius I 71
Chapter XXI. The Early History of the Jews 75
Chapter XXII. Priests and Prophets in Judea 80
Chapter XXIII. The Greeks 83
Chapter XXIV. The Wars of the Greeks and Persians 87
Chapter XXV. The Splendour of Greece 90
Chapter XXVI. The Empire of Alexander the Great 93
Chapter XXVII. The Museum and Library at Alexandria 96
Chapter XXVIII. The Life of Gautama Buddha 100
Chapter XXIX. King Asoka 104
Chapter XXX. Confucius and Lao Tse 105
Chapter XXXI. Rome comes into History 109
Chapter XXXII. Rome and Carthage 113
Chapter XXXIII. The Growth of the Roman Empire 117
Chapter XXXIV. Between Rome and China 126
Chapter XXXV. The Common Man's Life under the Early Roman Empire 129
Chapter XXXVI. Religious Developments under the Roman Empire 134
Chapter XXXVII. The Teaching of Jesus 139
Chapter XXXVIII. The Development of Doctrinal Christianity 144
Chapter XXXIX. The Barbarians break the Empire into East and West 147
Chapter XL. The Huns and the End of the Western Empire 151
Chapter XLI. The Byzantine and Sassanid Empires 155
Chapter XLII. The Dynasties of Suy and Tang in China 159
Chapter XLIII. Muhammad and Islam 161
Chapter XLIV. The Great Days of the Arabs 164
Chapter XLV. The Development of Latin Christendom 168
Chapter XLVI. The Crusades and the Age of Papal Dominion 176
Chapter XLVII. Recalcitrant Princes and the Great Schism 183
Chapter XLVIII. The Mongol Conquests 190
Chapter XLIX. The Intellectual Revival of the Europeans 195
Chapter L. The Reformation of the Latin Church 202
Chapter LI. The Emperor Charles V 205
Chapter LII. The Age of Political Experiments; of Grand Monarchy and Parliaments and Republicanism in Europe 212
Chapter LIII. The New Empires of the Europeans in Asia and Overseas 221
Chapter LIV. The American War of Independence 226
Chapter LV. The French Revolution and the Restoration of Monarchy in France 230
Chapter LVI. The Uneasy Peace in Europe that followed the Fall of Napoleon 237
Chapter LVII. The Development of Material Knowledge 241
Chapter LVIII. The Industrial Revolution 248
Chapter LIX. The Development of Modern Political and Social Ideas 251
Chapter LX. The Expansion of the United States 260
Chapter LXI. The Rise of Germany to Predominance in Europe 267
Chapter LXII. The New Overseas Empires of Steamship and Railway 269
Chapter LXIII. European Aggression in Asia and the Rise of Japan 274
Chapter LXIV. The British Empire in 1914 278
Chapter LXV. The Age of Armament in Europe and the Great War of 1914-18 280
Chapter LXVI. The New Order in Russia 285
Chapter LXVII. The League of Nations 292
Chapter LXVIII. The Failure of the League of Nations 296
Chapter LXIX. The Crisis of Human Adaptation 307
Chronological Table 311
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Ok book


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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012


    Completely boring. DO NOT READ!!! REPEAT:DO NOT READ!!!! I literally would have given it zero stars. Its too....... just not my type of reading. But seriously, i wouldnt buy this book if it was required for class. Dont even think about reading it. Not once, and dont even go to twice.

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