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National Geographic Visual History of the World [Hardcover]

National Geographic , Douglas Brinkley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
List Price: CDN$ 48.00
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2005
The world history book to define all others, National Geographic Visual History of the World is a classic in the making. No other volume offers such a comprehensive and richly illustrated chronicle of world events, from the construction of the Pyramids to the overthrow of the Taliban. Readers see how momentous happenings, personalities, catastrophes, discoveries, and inventions unfold in a visually stimulating layout. Four eight-page gatefolds bring to life major events of world history and thousands of paintings, photographs and illustrations depict subjects ranging from the Roman Empire to the Reformation, World War II, to the war in Afghanistan. A timeline at the bottom of every page highlights the most important events, names, and dates of the era, and color-coded cross-referencing helps point readers to other applicable sections. Ideal for people who prefer to flip through books at random, this highly accessible resource contains sidebars on the great religions, influential ideologies, and other topics, as well as biographies of world leaders and notable personalities in the arts and humanities.

National Geographic Visual History of the World is an indispensable, impressive, and extravagantly illustrated reference of social, cultural, and military history in one volume. It is a must-have for all families, armchair historians, and serious scholars alike.

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Product Description

From Booklist

This hefty volume covers history from around 4000 B.C.E. to the contemporary era. Each of the eight chapters--"Prehistory," "First Empires," "The Ancient World," "The Middle Ages," "The Early Modern Period," "The Modern Era," "The World Wars and The Interwar Period" and "The Contemporary Period"--is divided into topical sections and one-page subsections. Each section has a brief introduction, and each subsection is introduced by a one-sentence description. A time line found at the bottom of every page pinpoints key events, names, and dates corresponding to the page's content. Embellishing every page are anywhere from 5 to 10 illustrations, mostly in color, and though they are small, the illustrations are clear and well chosen and do a good job of bringing history to life. Numbers are used to key the images to the text. Other features include sidebars containing quotations, brief biographies, or interesting facts. Five two-page "Key Ideas" sections cover topics such as Christianity and Islam, and four "In Focus" foldouts offer chronological summaries of the Roman Empire, the Reformation, the French Revolution, and World War II.

Other recent single-volume world histories for the high-school level and up include Facts On File's Encyclopedia of World History (2000) and the sixth edition of Houghton's standard Encyclopedia of World History (2001). Each offers something different; the copiously illustrated Facts On File volume is arranged alphabetically, while the Houghton volume is arranged by broad time period, with divisions for regions, countries, and cultures. The National Geographic volume is more current, and this, along with content that is well organized, balanced, and attractively presented, makes it an exceptional value for school and public libraries. Carol Sue Harless
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Douglas Brinkley is director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies and professor of history at the University of New Orleans. Brinkley's recent publications include Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company and a Century of Progress and The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation with Stephen E. Ambrose. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, Anne, and daughter, Benton.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT! April 2 2006
I love it! The pages are of good quality and the pictures are nicely put together. The price is reasonable too.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  37 reviews
58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating! Nov. 7 2005
By The Spinozanator - Published on Amazon.com
I've always been a big fan of National Geographics and this comprehensive volume of world history doesn't disappoint. Complete with spectacular photography, the author includes written highlights on each page, covering events from the beginning of history to current times.

A color coded cross-referencing system allows the reader to stay on topic, but it's thrilling to just browse in this magnificent book. Open the 600-plus page volume to any page and learn while being entertained about things you vaguely remember from history class, complete with world famous paintings, illustrations, and biographies.

Brinkley is a history professor who must have agonized over what to include in this obvious labor of love. Highly recommended - would not collect dust on your coffee table.
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Spectacular! Nov. 13 2005
By History Buff - Published on Amazon.com
I was so excited when I saw that this book was for sale, and I was even more excited to find that it was a work by the National Geographic Society. They have truly outdone themselves, combining various people, places, and artworks into a readable text concerning numerous facets of world history. This is NOT a western-obsessed book; there are plenty of representations of Middle-Eastern, African, and Asian history.

If the original pictures are in color, then they are VIBRANTLY portrayed
as such; there are no petty black and white substitutions (unless of course they were created in black and white). The pages are glossy, relatively heavy, and well bound.

The text is probably the worst feature of the book. It is not, in any mindset, for a scholar, but that is beside the point, because this book's focus evidently lies in photos and images.

Another great feature of the book is how it is organized. There are
several fold out components, as well as miniature timelines near the bottom. Furthermore, the major personalities of particular eras - such as the French Revolution, etc. - are organized together, with their pictures, of course, and a brief paragraph outlining their particular role in that period.

The final and notably fantastic aspect of this book came as a bit of a surprise. The foreword by Douglas G. Brinkley, goes slightly beyond just a sappy introduction, and includes some profound philosophical ideas concerning world history, which will inevitably provoke some thought if you are a passionate history buff.

Thus, for only thirty-five dollars retail, and around twenty-five dollars here on Amazon, there is no excuse not to buy this book. As a final thought, once you buy it, browse slowly and allow the pictures to soak in. I've had my copy two days and only looked at around ten pages. This book is too great to be appreciated with just a few cursory glances!
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars informatie and pleasing to read Oct. 17 2006
By Pei Kang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was an in-depth look at our world history and written in an easy fashion.

The pictures were well rendered and I loved the stuff written on the early cultures (the byzantine empire, etc).

However, I was a little disappointed on the all-too brief pages written on Asian history. Asia has over 12,000 years of history combined (if you include India, Japan, China, Korea and the Islamic worlds etc). and the authors/editors decide to skim it with only 15 pages or so?

That's not quite a complete view of the world, if you ask me....

There's plenty of focus on the European eras (all of them) and not enough on the Asian ones.

Still an excellent read though; and for any student of history (or needing a paper done in minutes) this is definitely the book to use!
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars few maps for a history book Nov. 11 2007
By Sorin Jianu - Published on Amazon.com
In my opinion the book has a major flow, which is it contains very few maps. Unless the reader has a good idea about ancient and modern world history, it is quite hard to figure out where everyhing is where. The book is very superficial in this respect.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and easy to follow but no maps July 2 2009
By Tomasz Stasinski - Published on Amazon.com
National Geographic Visual History of the World, or NGH for short, is an extensive, well-illustrated, up-to-date book covering the history of humankind from the appearance of the first hominids to about 2005. It's concise, accessible to non-scholarly readers and can be a great fun just to browse through the illustrations, but it doesn't contain any meaningful maps!

With illustrations being its main selling point NGH presents us mostly with a treasure trove of images of historic figures and buildings, and of other artefacts like art, tools and weapons. They are numbered and linked to the corresponding text, even if they relate to it only vaguely. On the other hand, with often a dozen pictures per spread it's easy to forget they should be useful as well as numerous.

Surprisingly there are hardly any maps and this is NGH's biggest minus. A historical atlas is a required companion, or in case of Philip's Atlas of World History(Hardcover) a worthy substitute with plenty of text and abundance of maps, charts and an occasional picture.

NGH has an easy to follow format. The world history is divided into eight periods, from pre-history to the modern times, each color-coded for easy search. Each period is divided into much smaller sections. With about 120 sections in total a typical section focuses on one subject like a country or an event, with one page being a section introduction, for example "The Kingdom of Franks" and another one or a few pages more specific - "The Rise of Carolingians", "Charlemagne's Wars", and "The Empire of Charlemagne" for example.
At the bottom of each age there is a timeline of the period concerned, but naturally they often overlap. This is a clear layout of data that is both easy to follow and easy to search - the NGH's biggest plus.

National Geographic is a very trustworthy publisher, but a book of this scope is bound to contain some errors or bones of contention. For example, on page 20 it states that 'around 40,000 years ago, modern Homo sapiens, in the form of the Cro-Magnon man, finally migrated out of Africa to Europe.' This is an over-simplification at best. Homo sapiens had made a long detour in Middle Asia before populating Europe.
Also, for the earliest history it follows the middle chronology (reign of Hammurabi 1792 ' 1750 BCE), instead of recently more supported short chronology (1728 ' 1686 BCE). By the way, Hammurabi is spelt Hammurapi in NGH. While it's not a mistake, NGH doesn't specify which chronology it chose to follow, which makes it more confusing if you want to consult other sources.

For a world history book it's slightly too concerned with the Western hemisphere, but other regions are fairly and consistently covered as well.

NGH's main competitor in books is DK History: The Definitive Visual Guide : From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day (Hardcover) or DKH for short.

They are quite similar, both are about the same size, are fairly recent and up to date and of course come with a wealth of illustrations. The main difference is the price - NGH is much cheaper, which is also the reason why I chose it. However, DKH contains maps, graphs, etc, making it worth paying a few bucks extra. But on the whole they present history in different ways and focus on other details, but it's a matter of personal preference which book does it better.

I also believe it still competes well against online sources like Wikipedia, especially thanks to the illustrations and conciseness, but if you want to read about anything in more detail, Wikipedia wins hands down.

To sum up, NGH is well worth the price, but it would be more informative with maps.
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