I recently read ‘A little history of the world’ by E.H. Gombrich and can heartily recommend it to anyone interested in history. Originally written for his young niece in the 1930s, ‘little history’ provides a great overview of the development of mankind. It is written with passion and sensitivity. It tells a story about civilisation and gives a broader sense of history beyond the recent obsessions with Hitler, Stalin, war and destruction. When talking of the Spanish conquistadores, Gombrich steers us away from horror like some kindly uncle, explaining ‘this chapter in the history of mankind is so shameful to us Europeans that I would rather not say anything more about it’. From anyone else, such a statement might be seen as ‘coy’. But with Gombrich all is sincerity. He inspires in his reader a sense of wonder at man’s achievements, an affinity with those who lived in the past, and a respect for humanity:

‘They were people just like us. Often unkind to one another. Often cruel and deceitful. Sadly, so are we.  But even then a mother might sacrifice her life for her child and friends might die for each other. No more but also no less often than people today. And how could it be otherwise?’

 I really can’t recommend it enough. Click on the picture to follow a link to Amazon, alternatively if you are a student at Little Heath we have two copies of the book in the school library.

‘Brilliant, irresistible: a wonderful surprise’ Philip Pullman