A Short History of the World

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These first real humans beings we know of in Europe appear already to have belonged to one or other of at least two very distinct races. One of these races was of a very high type indeed; it was tall and big brained. One of the women's skulls found exceeds in capacity that of the average man to-day. One of the men's skeletons is over six feet in height. The physical type resembled that of the North American Indian.... They were savages, but ...
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A Short History of the World (Barnes & Noble Digital Library)

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These first real humans beings we know of in Europe appear already to have belonged to one or other of at least two very distinct races. One of these races was of a very high type indeed; it was tall and big brained. One of the women's skulls found exceeds in capacity that of the average man to-day. One of the men's skeletons is over six feet in height. The physical type resembled that of the North American Indian.... They were savages, but savages of a high order.
-from "The First True Men"

When H. G. Wells published this popular history of planet Earth in 1922, the highest off the surface humans had reached was seven miles, barely 37,000 feet; the best guess at the planet's age was merely "more than" 2 billion years; the beginnings of organic life on Earth were still little understood.

But with all the confidence of his immense genius and wide-ranging appreciation for all things scientific, Wells presents a readable, concise survey of the state of knowledge at his time about the planet and human presence upon it.

Wells asks that you read this hefty 1922 work-adapted from his two-volume Outline of History, published in 1920-"straightforwardly almost as a novel is read," and indeed, this story of Earth, from its very formation and the first appearance of homo sapiens through the Russian Revolution and the reconstruction after World War I, reads like the most thrilling adventure story ever told.

Though it has been factually supplanted by scholarship that came after it, this remains an engaging history, a classic of science fact from one of the fathers of modern science fiction.

British author HERBERT GEORGE WELLS (1866-1946) is best known for his groundbreaking science fiction novels The Time Machine (1895), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596055858
  • Publisher: Cosimo
  • Publication date: 12/1/2005
  • Pages: 476
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.06 (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."

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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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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2014

    The Greatest Story Ever Told! Along with The Outline of History

    The Greatest Story Ever Told!

    Along with The Outline of History, this Short History of the World is the best and most underrated book by H. G. Wells, the master of science fiction, much better than all his scientific romances combined since it is actually a true story. It tells the epic adventure of the history of the world, life, and mankind according to the sciences of astronomy, biology, geology, anthropology, and world history. This is the modern worldview expounded by Wells in the early twentieth century. The book spans from the origins of the solar system to the outbreak of World War 1, with footnotes covering later history like World War 2 and the Space Race. Before the Big Bang theory, Wells speculates that the universe has existed for billions of years or has existed for an infinite amount of time. After dealing with the origin and evolution of our planet, the story covers the origin of life in the first seas and the evolution of life towards dry land, the sky, and beyond. The geological ages covered include the Ages of Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds, Apes and Submen, and finally Mankind. Despite the subsequent progressive ages, the Paleolithic Age, the Neolithic Age, the Industrial Age, and the various imperial ages of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Arabs, and later Europeans, the many wars detailed in the book and the Darwinian struggle for existence prove that history is more nature red in tooth and claw and more about the march of armies than the march of progress and enlightenment. The book likewise covers the history of religion, including paganism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, giving interesting biographies of the major founders of these great but outworn faiths. Despite the sufferings and tragedies of world history, life moves on and slowly progresses, perpetually dying as the old generation and being reborn as the new generation, and the range of life widens until the modern era when life has left our little planet and started to explore the wider universe. Thus, humanity finds itself on the path either to self-imposed destruction by modern global warfare or to further social and biological evolution in the formation of a world state and the colonization of space. It appears despite the sheer length of this epic story, we are merely at the twilight of the dawn and future history will be far longer and greater than all the history already recorded, if we don’t blow ourselves up first of course. I’d recommend this book as a good swift prelude before one reads the larger and better Outline of History, also by Wells, and the modern version of Mr. Wells’ History, Big History by David Christian. This story is clearly the greatest story ever told!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    Ok book


    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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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.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 5, 2012

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    Posted June 17, 2011

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