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Extended Audio Sample A Little History of the World, 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:
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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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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