Cartoon History of the Universe 2 Paperback – Sep 18 1994
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Continuing right where the first book left off, The Cartoon History of the Universe II once again combines Gonick's superb cartooning with the lessons of history. Find out what Lynn Johnston, creator of For Better of Worse, calls "a gift to those of us who love to laugh and who love to learn." Part II contains volumes 8 to 13, from the Springtime of China to the Fall of Rome (and India, too!).
From Publishers Weekly
Gonick has done it again with a diffuse but deep excavation into early civilizations from ancient China to the Germanic tribes. In some ways, Gonick asks a lot of American readership's occidental training by detailing every dynastic hotshot from the Orient. This also being a fertile time for the development of religious cults, Gonick spends much time on Christ (whom he insists on calling "Jeshua ben Joseph"), Confucius, (not, one might note, Lao Tsu or K'ung fu-tsze), Buddha and the like. Gonick's main focus is not to outline the contributions that allowed their teachings to survive the centuries, but rather to humanize them, and some come across as fanatical seekers simply looking for a following, a good meal, a wicked battle, a girlfriend or a shower. The artist's style is versatile and engaging, and his asides, puns and parenthetical references do much to keep the reader's attention throughout this tome, but that cannot entirely make up for the fact that some of this history is just plain dry. However, aficionados of cartoon blood, backstabbing, sex and history will love this volume, and might find a place for it near their encyclopedias.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The origins of the ancient Chinese civilization are covered in volumes 9 and 10. Most of the points deal with the battles for supremacy and feature court intrigue, deception and a lot of killing. We tend to think of massive deaths in war as being a modern invention, but that is a misconception. Well before the year 0, the army of Chin was ambushed and massacred, over 200,000 men were killed in one day.
Chapter 11 begins with the last days of Alexander the Great. It correctly points out that while Alexander was married to a Persian, that union was largely political. The great love of Alexander's life was Hephaestion, his male grand vizier. When Hephaestion died, Alexander grieved over the body for two days. The next sections chronicle the origin and rise of Rome as a great power. Once again, it is largely a tale of murder, intrigue and war. As the power of Rome grew, it was no longer possible to maintain the republican form of government. At first the supreme position was called the consulship, where the holder was powerful, but not yet a dictator. All this changed when Julius Caesar marched off to conquer Gaul and then returned to march on Rome. This began several decades of near constant warfare in the Empire, some of which was civil.Read more ›
The second instalment of his history of the Universe covers ancient India, China's early years and Rome from its mythical founding to its very real collapse.
Gonick is not afraid to offend. His depictions of Jesus, Krisna, Buddha and Confucius are all less than entirely flattering. While he is not the sort to be disrespectful through ignorance, Gonick will not fail to pick out the more obvious weaknesses of any institution or historical figure he comes across. He even takes a swipe at one of Afrocentrisms unjustified claims. Although in the end he pays due recognition to the achievements of each of these figures it is possibly best to avoid this book if you are the sort to yell "Blasphemy!".
Anybody else who has a sense of humour and an interest in history should get their hands on this book immediately.
In Volume II he begins with the defeat of Alexander the Great in India, which never mentions his presence in any of their historical documentation of the time, and ends with the beginning of the "Dark Ages" and the appearance of visitors in a "surprising" direction between Europe and China.
None of this is a mystery, of course, it can be found in your history books, but most of it is a mystery to lay people because history books are inaccessible to most, and too dense in their materials.
And that is the point of the Gonick books: to give the average,on the street person a grasp of some sort of the history of the world. In the days where we seem to be trying to repeat some of history's mistakes (or maybe rectify them) this is a good way to find out just what those events were.
As a historian who bemoans the lack of interest shown by most kids today in the subject, I applaud Larry Gonick for giving us another tool to use in trying to spark enthusiasm. The humor is great, and in some places almost bawdy, which keeps a teenager's attention far better than a list of emperors in a textbook. Example: Julius Ceasar tries to ask an intellectual question of Cleaopatra. She responds as she leans over him seductively, "You sure talk a lot for a guy with your reputation." All the scandal and sex and violence of history (and the religions that have driven it) are here, not hidden as they are in most texts. All the excitement of pop culture, but with substance behind it, not to mention an excellent bibliography. This series is the only set of books that I have known students to actually read from cover to cover without expecting a test. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in history, or anyone with a sense of humor.
He devotes lengthy chapters to Chinese, Indian, as well as European and Middle Eastern history, giving the reader a great sense of how history unfolded.
My only reservation is that sometimes Mr. Gonick goes for the more controversial interpretation of history (i.e. the sexual preferences of some major historical figures, etc.), which I'm sure are intended partly for fun and humor. Nevertheless, he does present views that are rarely voiced in mainstream history texts, and as in any academic endeavour, divergent opinions are the best way to reach the truth.
Kudos for Mr. Gonick, and hoping that vol. III will be on the way soon.
Most recent customer reviews
These books deeply offended me. As a person who loves history and graphic novels, I can't stress enough how brutal and bigoted this series was. Read morePublished on July 15 2012 by Brent Wiley
This second book in the Cartoon History of the Universe series is every bit as good as the first! This book is extremely well researched, and is a great overview of many of the... Read morePublished on Dec 12 2003 by Patrick Beaudry
Never has history been so fun, or so understandable. Gonick really adds substance to dates and facts and his subtle humor can really make you question about long-held beliefs you... Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003 by Eric Nanneman
One of the best books on history! I love this book! It has everything you will ever need to know about this timeframe. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2003
Not as interesting as the first one, but it still has its great parts, which is almost all of it. If you want your kids to learn about history, you probably can't do better than... Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2003 by Lauren Ormston
In anticipation of of times of mental distress where a delightful, quick, and cheap escape is needed, I always have two sets of books near by: The story of Civilization (Will... Read morePublished on June 1 2002 by M. Saleh
This book is not as entertaining as the earlier volume. But it does cover a lot of history, and certainly is one way to get kids today learning some history. Read morePublished on April 24 2002 by Amazon Customer
Gonick is educating thousands. Strangely, but doing it nonetheless.Published on Nov. 23 2001 by Amazon Customer
If you love history and you love the irreverence of Mad magazine, you will love this gem. Accurate, blunt and fun fun fun.Published on Oct. 5 2001 by M. Henson