Wed 19 Nov, 2008 03:51 am
whats a very extensive, very in depth history book or books?
i dont care if its 20 books, i just want the history of man from beginning to end. VERY in depth might i add, it would be good if it takes about a year to read ;D
The Outline of History by H. G. Wells is pretty good, although it has become rather dated, and no longer takes into account a good deal of new historical and archaeological evidence which has come to light in the last century. (The work was originally published in 1919, and has been edited and revised several times, the last time being in 1971; his son and one other gentleman--i don't recall the name--edited and revised later editions after the death of Wells.) The work has been criticized on one reasonable basis, that he sees human development as one continuous evolutionary development; and on one intellectually snide and sulky basis, that he portrayed the putative Jesus as just another religious visionary and christianity as just another religious movement trapped in the toils of institutional power. Personally, i don't see anything wrong with the latter notion of the significance of the putative Jesus and the religion built up around the biblical myths; and the former idea, the evolutionary view, was almost inevitable, given Wells participation in the then popular intellectual movement known as social Darwinism: the application of the principles of biological evolution to cultural development. It is easy enough to get around that, and anyone reading history needs to avoid simply imbibing the views of an author uncritically. You can read history as you would a newspaper, with a grain of salt, a healthy scepticism.
More recent, though still not current, is "The Story of Civilization" by Will and Ariel Durant, in eleven volumes, each published as a separate work. Begun in 1935 and completed over the succeeding 40 years, it does what Wells' book intended, which was to cover the entire scope of history. It only reached The Age of Napoleon, however, before they ran out of time (more or less). They did leave behind notes and material for two more volumes, which would have taken the narrative up to 1945. Like most such works, it suffers from being focused on the "western" world. Three other works by the Durants are quite good, too, two of them being published after Will Durant's death. Those are The Lessons of History, a very short work which can serve as an outline for the entire series; and The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time and Heroes of History: A Brief History of Civilization from Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern Age, these latter two being published twenty years after Will Durant died.
Let me run over to Wikipedia and get you a list of titles for the Durants' work.
Here's the list of the titles which make up "The Story of Civilization" by Will and Ariel Durant:
Our Oriental Heritage
The Life of Greece
Caesar and Christ
The Age of Faith
The Age of Reason Begins
The Age of Louis XIV
The Age of Voltaire
Rousseau and Revolution
The Age of Napoleon
All of these were published originally by Simon and Schuster, New York. Any reasonably decent library should either have these on the shelf, or be able to get them for you through inter-library loan.
Of the two, the Durants' work, though a little better informed by modern scholarship, is more focused on European history (in which i include the history of the "new world," which is essentially European in culture, religion and politics). Wells' The Outline of History has that same prejudice, although to a lesser degree. You could read the Wells more quickly (it has been published in single volume abridgements, and the original work comes in three volumes--i recommend the complete work over the abridgement), and then read the Durants.
I know of no other complete surveys in English--which doesn't mean there aren't any, just that i don't know of them. At the same time, it is worth pointing out that both Oxford and Cambridge have published literally hundreds of works of survey history, as narrowly focused as the history of England and as broad as the histories of all the regions of the world. It would be a good deal more difficult to list all of those for you, and i won't try.
thank you,i was hoping their wouldnt be any bias..
gah. oh well better than nada.
You're not going to find any history which was written completely "bias-free" (historians who make their best efforts cannot escape the cultural assumptions with which they were raised and educated). The case is even worse with biography. That being said, i was not suggesting that either Wells or the Durants were biased, simply that they tend to focus on "western civilization," and i did point out that Wells had less of a problem with this than do the Durants.
Daniel Boorstin wrote The Discoverers, The Creators and The Seekers, a trilogy of books that attempt to survey the scientific, artistic and philosophic histories of humanity, respectively.