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A Short History of the World

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,006 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A superb history of the world's people during the last four million years, beginning before the human race moved out of Africa to explore and settle the other continents. Mr. Blainey explores the development of technology and skills, the rise of major religions, and the role of geography, considering both the larger patterns and the individual nature of history. A ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 25th 2003 by Ivan R. Dee Publisher (first published October 1st 2000)
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 ·  1,006 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Fungus Gnat
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Blainey seeks to cover the history of the human species, including its prehistory, in the space of little more than 400 pages. Necessarily, this is not a history in the conventional sense—persons and places and dates, the actions of great men (and a few great women;). No, this is more a broad-brush cultural history: Where people lived, where they moved to (and from), the religions they followed, their view of the world (constrained, most of the time), the technologies (broadly speaking) they ...more
Millie Muroi
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The kind of book that makes you wonder.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
It's good.

It's definitely a book I would suggest and an enjoyable reading.

As a history enthusiast, I would suggest it to introduce someone into the topic. However, there are some significant issues, that someone has to take into account while reading it.

- Western thinking/focused: There is a huge part of the book, mostly after the Antiquity, that the book is Europe, Western focused, in a way that it can be misleading, even more now, that Europe is in a sensitive "turn". For example, there are
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Interesting and readable. Blainey follows social, cultural, religious and technological themes rather than the political or military. He attempts to tell the story of human experience rather than to recount a sequence of significant historical events, Thus, political and military developments are often unexpectedly relegated to supporting evidence for whichever larger theme he is developing. This approach enables him to move through large swathes of history quite quickly while still developing a ...more
David Norris
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly readable, uncomplicated and thought-provoking. I like Blainey's writing style as it appeals to the historical layperson who doesn't want to get bogged down in a labyrinth of detail. Also offers some Asian/African history as well as Indigenius Australian which is often neglected in grand historical overviews.
João Henrique
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Nice book but there are others with the same subject and more interesting.
Chris Waterguy
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great and very readable introduction to the big picture of world history - a good starting point that will help make sense of more focused books of history.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Not very well-written, but interesting nevertheless. Good progression through the ages, covers many of the factors that have shaped human existence.
Brett Mclay
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia
Wonderfully interesting geographical points, dates and connections. Very relatable style without getting argumentative or cloudy. What I'll remember is the differing essence of European grains (wheat, barley) and Asian (rice) and their importance to developing civilizations. Also the fantastic rate of silt distribution in the Yellow River basin (China).
~ Milton, VT library, "for the win" again . . .
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite non-fiction book - and favorite book overall.

The history of our civilization is diverse and fascinating, and Geoffry Blainey does a great job of condensing it down in the form of a chronological book with good flow, while still managing to showcase many of the diverse cultures around the globe, and how events connect to each other over time.
Damien O'Brien
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
An easy and enjoyable read covering the history of the world with broad brushstrokes.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Short, clear, deep with a lot of statistics and figures. I had pleasure reading it.
Peter Riddell
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an awesome read! Just spending long enough on each topic to make it interesting, so many times across the book I'm going, "wow, I didn't know that!"
Luis Fernando
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
An amazing journey through the history of the human kind!
Bendick Ong
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humanities
This is the second book i have recently on human history as a whole. My first was e.h.gombrich’s a little history of the world which i read 2-3 years ago and was actually a very good read. And this is the second - inspired by again a good post-lunch small-talk on world history, presidents, charisma and space expeditions with cb, e and k in one of those freer afternoons; and which later inspired further discussions with j on egyptian pharaohs, garden of eden and noah’s ark, and e’s recommendation ...more
Well, I enjoyed this book, though I've been meaning to look more closely into the historiography of it all. Geoffrey Blainey, I think though I might be wrong, is a fairly conservative historian, one of those who leaned towards John Howard's side in the history wars. Since I most definitely did not support that side, I suspect this means I should read it again with a critical eye.

Historiography aside, my main complaint with this book was that it spent rather too long discussing the less
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is an overview of the history of the world and the evolution of humanity. Even though it is quite brief, it makes us imagine an experience in each place described by the author.
Toby Chapman
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Concise history of humankind from prehistory. Very readable, covering a variety of geographies, areas and empires.

Any world history of this size will inevitably have omissions however the focus on technology and technological advances provides for a logical focus.

At point the author does digress from point somewhat but I personally found these events relatively few and mostly relevant.

All together a good 4* read for me.
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non_fiction
Interesting reading, with non-biased comments and opinions. This book does exactly what it said it would: tell a very short history of the world as if the author was there, feeling what a typical person from the several times, continents, cultures, civilizations and religions felt. I missed a time line and mention to the Internet, though.
Darryl Hall
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
For the reason I read it, it was a perfect choice. My only critique would be the sections that make reference to Biblical writings as historical fact when some of those references we know today as part legend/part myth. But the general approach and the focus on the events or advancements that made huge changes in civilizations made it good.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure. Mr. Blainey isn't the most eloquent of writers. His transitions a bit awkward, there were some weird contradictions, and very often I felt like I'd been promised more information than I actually got. But I learned a little, which, I suppose is the point.
Saul Abbad
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It is interesting to have a good perespective of western history evolution
Greg Tred
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Makes me wish I did history at school - took a long time to read, not a page turner but a lot of info there that I just didn't know and other stuff I learnt a lot more about.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
I learned about the history of the world. A very easy read.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Good read, almost like a personal view or story telling - - probably time to re-read it.
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all
phenomenal, i didn't really learn that much new information, but this book put so much of what i already knew into it's proper prosepective
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Good summary of the historical ideas that took us for a spin!
Chee Chee
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I feel like this is a good book. Just not my type.
Herbert Hotzendorf
Fantastic!!! Gives you a brief but complete view on the evolution of mankind. It makes you understand who we are and how we got to where we are now.
Antonio Luís
Jun 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Geoffrey Blainey was very assertive in his approach in order to hold the reader's attention. The book is really very informative.
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Geoffrey Blainey, one of Australia's most eminent historians, was appointed the foundation Chancellor of the University of Ballarat (UB) in 1993 after an illustrious career at the University of Melbourne. He was installed as UB Chancellor in December 1994 and continued until 1998. The Blainey Auditorium at the Mt Helen Campus of UB is named in his honour. Blainey, always a keen exponent of ...more
“The magnitude of these shattering changes can perhaps be grasped by imagining that the invasion had been in the reverse direction and that the Aztecs or Incas had arrived suddenly in Europe, imposed their culture and calendar, outlawed Christianity, set up sacrificial altars for thousands of victims in Madrid and Amsterdam, unwittingly spread disease on a scale that virtually matched the Black Death, melted down the golden images of Christ and the saints, threw stones at the stained-glass windows and converted the cathedral aisles into arms or food warehouses, toppled unfamiliar Greek statues and Roman columns, and carried home to the Mexican and Peruvian highlands their loot in precious metals along with slaves, indentured servants and other human trophies.” 4 likes
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