Author Topic: Outline of History, HG Wells  (Read 1065 times)

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Online amysrevenge

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Outline of History, HG Wells
« on: August 16, 2011, 12:23:56 am »
I enjoy reading this mammoth, and now I'm listening to the audiobook (70-ish hours!)

It is written very obviously from the perspective of a privileged white person in the early 20th century.  He dwells, I find, excessively on the Middle East, but the book is surprisingly not overtly Christian in nature (other than dealing with portions of the Bible as historical).  He more or less treats Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha on equal footing, and doesn't pretend that the stories of Genesis and of Moses weren't lifted whole-cloth from the Babylonians.  He talks about millions of years without batting an eye, and doesn't mention that young earth creationism is even a thing, let alone dwell upon it.

There is an enormous blind-spot regarding China and eastern Asia, but that's not his fault (European scholars had barely cracked that nut at the time), and he fully acknowledged that he just didn't have the material to do it justice.

The book also dwells painfully and extensively on race/ethnicity with a determination and vigour that you just wouldn't see today.  He tries so very hard to treat everyone as happy equal-but-different groups, but throws out a few too many "primitives" and "savages" for my taste.

That said, I still really enjoy the book, and have reread it a couple of times.

I've always had a fondness for old history books for two reasons:

1) You learn as much about the time when the book was written as you do about the time the book is about

2) There are some things that are "ancient" history to us that are closer to current events to the authors.  For instance, Wells' chapters on the 19th century are written from much closer, and with fewer (or no) degrees of separation between author and event.  You get a much different perspective than you do generations removed.

Anyway, I read this book knowing full well what it's flaws are (and I certainly don't fool myself that these flaws aren't monumental), but I still really enjoy going through it.
Big Mike
Grande Prairie AB Canada

Offline MikeHz

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Re: Outline of History, HG Wells
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2011, 10:40:11 pm »
Read this years ago, and loved it. At 70 hours, the audio version is no longer than Game of Thrones.
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Offline rreppy

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Re: Outline of History, HG Wells
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 04:49:45 pm »
A good overall outline, but Isaac Asimov's Outline of History is even better, and more up to date. I also highly recommend Mr. Asimov's guides to the Bible and Shakespeare.
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