12/08/2013 08:54 BST | Updated 09/10/2013 06:12 BST

Book Review: A Little History of the World


My secondary education was a bit of a farce; huddled up in the various institutionalised comprehensive classrooms of the mid 90's surrounded by 30 or so other pre-adolescent types, all were there officially to learn. But in reality for me, purely there to exert oneself socially.

When it came to my options at the end of year 8 (or was it 9?) I had picked most lessons at random, or by simply which of my teachers potentially I would go on to enjoy annoying the most! However, there was one subject that had always captured my imagination. I know what you're thinking... I did enjoy science, but the whole investigative process of a problem that had been solved on countless occasions prior, appeared to me as being somewhat dull and boring; why on earth would you want to try and figure out something that had already been figured out?

History, even then, was a fascination. So I picked it over that rather tedious alternative that tells you why it rains and makes far too much use of the words concave and convex, such silly words.

The Greeks with their swords and Gods awaited! My excitement was matched by the mass of disappointment when I found out that history class wasn't going to be as romantic as I thought, it was in actual fact political and rather dreary. Learning about modern world history, with its iron curtains and various treaties signed in places and cities that I care not to spell or pronounce, was as appealing as my turn to do the dishes after a Sunday Roast!

It has taken me 15 years to pick up a history book ever since that horrendously mundane exposure, but what a book to pick up! A Little History of the World by E.H Gombrich. Of course, I had to opt for the paperback as the dear old book has been in print now since 1935. Nevertheless, despite its age, this book was a profoundly excellent read. A brilliant piece, expertly organised so that people with no GCSE's, such as my goodself, could make complete sense of the countless heroic stories that it contained.


The books very first page is instantly enchanting, welcoming the reader into the fold of an epic adventure story of 'Once upon a time'. It starts at the Earths infancy and with use of its energetic prose, the words flow effortlessly through the ages right up to the 2nd World War. Each page holds new facts to fascinate the reader, compelling you to share such wonderful information about our history as 'down the pub' conversation fodder.


The voice inside my head as I made my way through the chapters evolved quickly into my grandfathers. I couldn't put it down, and even now after finishing it, I look forward to the day that I can pick it up again for the re-read. My children, just as Anthony Grafton's of the Wall Street Journal, will also be included into those lucky enough to have such a delightful book read to them; that is of course, as soon as I get round to having some.