These are the books I like to read so I can have a broader historic view and a good general timeline. H. G. Wells was the man!
"Wells starts at the very beginning, describing the extent of scientific knowledge in 1922 regarding the formation of the earth and the planets. He then traces what was known (based on fossil records) regarding the origin of life, evolution, and the drastic climatic changes associated with successive geologic periods. He talks about the two known (at the time) pre-human species - Neanderthal and Rhodesian Man. He doesn't even try to speculate exactly where the first true man originated. However he talks about caves in France and Spain where artifacts have been found, suggesting there true men living in Europe at the time the last Ice Age receded. He moves on to talk about the beginning of cultivation 10,000 years ago and to outline the ethnic origins of the primitive tribes present in most parts of the known world at the time of the great Greek and Roman civilizations.
He then takes us through the origin of written language in Sumeria and the civilizations of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria. This was my favorite section of the book. Prior to reading A Short History of the World, my only knowledge of these cultures came from the Bible. He covers the Persian empire then, as well as the history of the Jewish people. After covering Greece, Rome and Carthage, he devotes two chapters to the history of China and two to the life of the prophet Mohammed and Arab civilization."
"Yes, it's dated. Yes, it's slanted. H. G. Wells is very Victorian in his ethics. His politics were Fabian Socialist so you will find a distinct undercurrent for a socialist world government driving the story along. He is as un-Eurocentric as you could expect for the time: Europe and the Middle East take up the majority of the book, China and India play the next biggest role, followed distantly by Africa, Australia and the Americas."
"As a 23-year-old who feels his knowledge of history is sub-par due to our ever failing public education system with its endless supply of dry history textbooks constipated with years and names, I just felt like knowing our first president was Washington or that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776 had improved my quality of life very little. I was searching for something much more relevant that I could learn viable lessons from, and I think I found it."
"Written in the first part of the 20th century, this work was ahead of its time. it delineates the stupidity of mankind through the ages. It also show the restrictive power of organized religion on the education of the human race. the heir-achy of each successive founding of faith ignores the reality of the gift of god in the all too often successful suppression of mankind in order to suppress the masses and use them to amass wealth for the over-glorified leaders of the CHURCH whatever domination you choose to research."
"Even though this book is only called the outline of history, I have found it to be the most comprehensive history book in my very large collection. Even though the book is as old as my grandparents, the information it contains is still valid today, and since I am a history buff, it occupies an honored place in my library at home. I do not agree with all of his conclusions, but his insight and honesty (I am glad he is not one of those who worships the past) are very refreshing. A must read for anyone who wants to find out about the history of the world."
"In a time of "political correctness" in everything including our history texts, it's not startling to find the most unbiased look at world history is in a text that was first published 80 years ago! H. G. Wells was a man well in advance of his time. Not afraid to contradict the jingoistic attitudes of contemporary European and American historians, he places equal importance upon the development of Asian and African civilizations in his text, making sure the reader realizes that many events were happening simultaneously around the world, as well as pointing out the follies of European colonizing policies. (At the same time, he doesn't hesitate to point out mistakes made by African and Asian governments in their dealings with Europeans and each other."
"He also consciously tried to avoid a problem common to most Western historians, that is, a Eurocentric view of the world. He attempted to give a presentation as balanced as possible, showing the contributions to history of non-European peoples (particularly Asia and Africa)."
"This is the most thought provoking book I ever read. It puts all of history into perspective and explains why people and the world are the way they are today. Since HG Wells is a fiction author, the book is very readable. It describes the major causes of the advancement of civilization, and dissects the reasons for the decline of other civilizations. It describes the role the major religions have played in shaping men's thoughts, and in turn the world. It puts the utopian American experiment into its true place in history. It was written in 1920 to explain to the world the causes of WWI, and presumably how to avoid another one (unfortunately it was not read by enough people to make a difference)."