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Extended Audio Sample A Little History of the World Audiobook, by E. H. Gombrich Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.00010254816656 out of 54.00010254816656 out of 54.00010254816656 out of 54.00010254816656 out of 54.00010254816656 out of 5 4.00 (3,218 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: E. H. Gombrich Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455183869
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In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, twenty-six-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success. It is now an international bestseller and available in almost thirty languages across the world.

In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the Stone Age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colorful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. This is a text dominated not by dates and facts but by the sweep of mankind’s experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity’s achievements and an acute witness to its frailties. The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A remarkable book, written in an amiable, conversational style…This resurrected history deserves reading for all its delights.”

    New York Times

  • “In simple, vivid prose, Gombrich surveys the human past from prehistory to his own time…Lucky children will have this book read to them. Intelligent adults will read it for themselves and regain contact with the spirit of European humanism at its best.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “It is history to read aloud, on a cold evening, preferably by a fire.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “What was the bestselling title this Christmas at Foyles in London? Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize–winning Wolf Hall? Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Cormac McCarthy’s The Road? Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol? No. It was E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World.”

    Sunday Telegraph (London)

  • “A masterpiece of nonfiction writing for children. It is a wry and charming book, perfectly suited to the capacities of a ten-year-old but also remarkably free of condescension. An adult can read it with pleasure. And, indeed, with instruction.”

    Newsday

  • “A beautifully concise volume [that] will remind readers of any age that the past five thousand years have been one big slugfest between darkness and enlightenment, unreason and reason.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Gombrich accomplishes what many university-level Western Civilization classes cannot—a riveting account of events that shaped the world from the Stone Age to the 1930s, illustrating the relevance of history to current events. Teachers and schools should add this to their reading lists.”

    Denver Post

  • “A work one can quickly come to love…Using vivid imagery, storytelling, and sly humor, [Gombrich] brings history to life in a way that adults as well as children can appreciate.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “British narrator Ralph Cosham is a perfect choice for this material. His tone and rhythm render Gombrich’s clear, humane text in a warm and compelling reading…A useful and entertaining overview, and Cosham’s presentation compounds the pleasure.”

    AudioFile

  • “A charming read that extends from prehistory to nuclear warfare and can be enjoyed also by adults in search of an instructive overview of the human drama.”

    First Things

  • “A timeless and engaging narrative of the human race.”

    Booklist

  • “The true fairy tale of the evolution of mankind.”

    Die Zeit (Hamburg)

  • “Blackstone Audio’s A Little History of the World…is a great title to keep in the car to play for the whole family, as everyone will learn something new…Ralph Cosham reads the work in a grandfatherly tone, engaging listeners with his enthusiasm and charm. The title’s forty short chapters allow for easy stop-and-start listening on the go.”

    Audiobooker

  • “A lovely, lively historical survey…A fine conception and summarizing of the world’s checkered past for young and old.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

  • A 2006 Book Sense Pick
  • ALos Angeles Times Favorite of 2005
  • A Federalist Notable Book of 2015

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susie077 | 2/19/2014

    " Fun and interesting. I wish I could retain even half of what I read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wesley | 2/12/2014

    " I have had a read of the comments and reviews about this book, and tend to agree (more or less) with both sides of the coin which have been argued by his readers. However, from my perspective, i found it to be an informative book that was not meant to fully 'inform', but to provide a taster or peek (if you will) of some of the major events in history. I consider myself quite a well read and intelligent person on the whole, but I have a complete lack of interest in history. One of my faults, which caused frustration at school, but hey. Therefore, i found that (shamefully) i actually read about things for the first time in the pages of this book. And far from being the last word on it, it has inspired me to read further about said events that captured my interest. Therefore I have used this book as a stepping stone of sorts to explore these periods/events which I find interesting. So I cannot criticise this book in that respect, and if you assume that this is a stand alone volume on the history of the world then shame on you. If this book is to teach anything (and it did for me), it is that you need to do some further digging in order to learn/understand about historical events, not just believe what is on the page in front of you. Hopefully any child/young adult reading this will be tempted to expand further their knowledge, as opposed to believing everything contained within its pages. I saw it basically as like a wikipedia article. Great for giving you some of the basic and most important facts. But needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and looked into further. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 2/9/2014

    " Like his other books, history becomes a fascinating story! It's written for the "laymen". I'd read this over and over to remember everything that's in it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat | 1/29/2014

    " Gombrich wrote this little book for children when he was 23. I loved it! Gombrich is a wonderful writer and thinker. He literally describes the pivotal events of the entire history of the western world starting with pre-history! Had I read it when I was 10, who knows, I may have become a historian. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsay | 1/12/2014

    " This is the most coherent history book I've ever seen. I really wish I had read it before I started learning about history in school, because it connects events happening around the world at the same time. Usually, history is taught geographically, not chronologically. So you don't get a sense of how things are developing concurrently around the world. This book did a really good job of capturing snapshots of different time periods. It's also really well-written and engaging; I kept returning to it like it was a novel. Definitely on unborn childrens' reading list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Ruberg | 12/31/2013

    " Written for children, I greatly appreciated the sweep and clarity of this ambitious book. I learned (remembered?) much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Quinn | 12/14/2013

    " This was a delightful little book - a good history lesson and a fun read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 12/4/2013

    " A brilliantly broad and accesible overview of world history - recommend to all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Declan | 11/5/2013

    " oh did i love this book, such a simple pleasurable calm story of the world we live in. For parents, offspring or anyone who loves knowledge. Dx "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather Wadia | 10/18/2013

    " Super easy read, totally interesting and compelling. Full of great facts - I kept thinking, "how did I not know that?!" Read a chapter or two before bed each night. Was sad to finish this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie Potter | 9/25/2013

    " Nice whirlwind history of the world, if a little blinkered when it comes to colonialism and sadly lacking Central and South American history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 9/25/2013

    " This is a history of the world written for children by the famous author of 'The story of Art',the best history of art, I ever read. This little history of he world is an excellent book, recommended for (grand)parents to read to their (grand)children. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 John | 7/18/2013

    " A history text book for adolescents. Not an engaging read for adults. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timothy | 1/8/2013

    " Deceptive in its small size, this book however, packs a big punch. To be able to put so much history in such a simple and charming manner with its narrative style, makes this something to treasure for people of all ages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon Zuiderveld | 12/6/2012

    " Although written for children decades ago, a wonderful summary of major historical periods. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 José | 8/6/2012

    " Not intended for the adult history junkie. Great for kids and teenagers looking for an overview of world history. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Emily | 7/24/2012

    " E.H. Gombrich should have titled his book, "A Little History of Mostly Western Civilization as it impacted the British Empire." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shotbyjackbauer | 2/14/2012

    " Everyone should read this. A condensed history of the world in the form of children's stories. One of the most wonderful books I've ever read. Thought-provoking + informative. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pindari N. | 1/12/2012

    " an entertaining book that clearly illustrates the history of the world, from prehistoric ages up till world war II. I definitely recomend it "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rosy | 6/11/2011

    " I would definitely read this to my kids. For me? It was light and refreshed my memory on a few things, perfect for the subway. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mason | 5/20/2011

    " A delightful read on the history of mankind from ancient times up until World War I. Although Gombrich, as a native Austrian, does favor the history of Middle European countries, he creates a thoroughly enjoyable tapestry of our race through top-notch storytelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adil | 5/8/2011

    " Brilliantly done. Makes you feel like you are back at school again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Asha | 5/5/2011

    " A good introduction to history but extremely brief, not going into detail on many interesting subjects. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen | 3/16/2011

    " A really brilliant book, makes history fun for all ages, and really well worth a read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melwyn | 3/1/2011

    " A good swift journey through the history of Europe, told in English, but translated by the author from the original German. Quite unbiassed in its telling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stewart | 2/14/2011

    " Karl and I picked this up at The Carlos Museum book store at Emory. That's a good book store! Check it out. We read this book as we walked back to the car and then read some more when we got home. Very good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 M. | 2/1/2011

    " A terrific, concise little book which tells the history of the world from the stone age to the atomic bomb in extremely readable prose. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amit | 1/29/2011

    " Brilliant writing! Gombrich wrote the book when he was 26 something! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timothy | 1/25/2011

    " Deceptive in its small size, this book however, packs a big punch. To be able to put so much history in such a simple and charming manner with its narrative style, makes this something to treasure for people of all ages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 1/21/2011

    " Great little narrative of how the history of the world came to be - from the Egyptians to WWII. The author is German, so it is focalized around Germany for a good chunk of the book.. I leerned a lotz about the werld. "

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About the Author

E. H. Gombrich (1909–2001), author of the six-million-copy international bestseller The Story of Art and other classic works, was probably the best-known art historian of his time. Born in Vienna in 1909, he moved to London in 1936, working at the BBC and later becoming director of the Warburg Institute and professor of the history of the classical tradition at London University. Among his many honors were the Erasmus Prize, the Hegel Prize, the Wittgenstein Prize, and the Goethe Prize. He was knighted in 1972 and appointed a member of the Order of Merit in 1988.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. In 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for his narration of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.