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A Little History


The Yale Little Histories Series is a collection of concise, entertaining works that are certain to delight readers both young, old and in between.  Inspiring and entertaining, each short book utilizes brief but poignant chapters to lay out the histories behind some of the world’s most prominent subjects.  With charming and personal insights from an expert in each area of study, every book takes the reader on a journey from antiquity all the way through to present day, covering the major themes, ideas and events relating to its respective topic.  So, whether you’re looking for the perfect primer to bring your children up to speed on history or you’ve simply resolved to refresh your knowledge in order to appear more interesting at dinner parties, the engaging Little Histories Series might just be the perfect complement.


A Little History of The World E.H. Gombrich

In his first book, a history primer for children published in German in 1936, art historian E.H. Gombrich wrote, “If you want to do anything new you must first make sure you know what people have tried before.” One year earlier, with a doctorate in art history and few prospects for work, the 26-year-old Austrian had been invited to attempt a history of the world intended for a younger audience. Astoundingly, the young author completed the task over the course of an intensive six week period. And soon, Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna only to be greeted with immediate success. Today, Gombrich’s classic, A Little History of the World, is available in twenty-five languages around the globe and weaves a brief yet colorful tale of mankind, focusing not on small detail but on the sweep of human experience, the extent of human achievement and the depth of its frailty. From the Stone Age to the atomic bomb, this bestselling history of the world makes intelligible the full span of human history and serves as an excellent primer to the story of our world.

A Little History of Science William F. Bynum

From Albert Einstein and Madame Curie to Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrassi Tyson, curiosity has gripped men and women from all walks of life, inspiring each of them to explore scientific fields in order to gain a better comprehension of the universe. Through experimentation and calculation, many of the mysteries behind the grand design of the physical world have been revealed. Whether related to the infinite reaches of space, the microscopic world of living organisms or anything in between, the results of such pursuits have led to discoveries so impactful that our world has been altered in ways never thought possible. A Little History of Science boils down the long and complex story of this discipline, linking together its many different fields and tracing its progress through the centuries. From the first civilizations relying on their eyes alone to gaze at the stars above or study the earth beneath their feet to present-day generations using telescopes to explore the deepest regions of the cosmos or computer-aided technology to decipher the basic building blocks of life, author Bill Bynum opens a window to the exciting history of science.

A Little History of Philosophy Nigel Warburton

A runaway train is careening down a track. In its path, a group of 5 workers stand toiling, unaware, certain to be killed. However, just before these unsuspecting men there lies a fork in the tracks and you happen to be standing beside the switch that can divert the train down the alternate line. There’s just one thing. Down this other path there stands a lone worker who is sure to be crushed under the train. What would you do? The “Trolley Problem” is an example of a classical thought experiment used by philosophers to consider the most complicated ethical problems. Philosophy begins with questions such as this concerning the nature of reality and how humans should behave. Many of us grow up instinctively asking our parents, teachers, peers and even ourselves the timeless questions that have vexed even the greatest of minds for thousands of years: ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’. A Little History of Philosophy takes readers on a chronological tour of the major ideas in the history of philosophy and, along the way, introduces some of its greatest thinkers. Author Nigel Warburton offers an examination of the lives and deaths of thought-provoking philosophers from Socrates, who chose to die by hemlock poisoning rather than live without the freedom to think for himself, to Peter Singer, who dares to confront some of the most complex philosophical and ethical questions that haunt our own times.

A Little History of Literature John Sutherland

From Greek mythology to graphic novels, The Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter, literature from across the globe holds the power to transport us beyond our tiny worlds, to help us make sense of what it means to be human. Today, with more and more text available at the touch of a screen than ever before, twenty-first century readers are living in a golden age of abundance. Throughout its glorious span, literature has constantly shown itself to be in a state of flux, both fluid and adaptable but always reflecting the diversity of our world. A Little History of Literature is a welcome reminder of the role this art form has played in our lives and of its inevitable prominence in the future. John Sunderland’s literary compendium masterfully covers the depth and intrigue of reading, guiding audiences both young and old on an entertaining journey and promoting a greater awareness of how works like Beowulf, Shakespeare, Don Quixote, Moby Dick, The Waste Land, 1984, and dozens of others have brought entertainment as well as enlightenment to readers around the world.

A Little History of the United States James West Davidson

From William Bradford stumbling into an Indian deer trap on his first day in America to Harriet Tubman setting loose a pair of chickens in order to divert attention from escaping slaves, American History is comprised of thousands of individuals whose riveting stories have become engrained as lore and legend in the back story of an extraordinarily diverse nation. Throughout its brief history, this immense land and its people have come together under a banner of freedom and equality to form one of the most remarkable nations in the world. A Little History of the United States traces a 500 year trajectory of America, from the first contact between natives and “explorers” to the rise of America as a superpower in an era of looming atomic threats and diminishing resources. Beginning with Christopher Columbus and spanning to Vietnam and beyond, James West Davidson takes readers on a journey covering major movements like the Industrial Revolution as well as the Cold War, effectively summarizing entire eras in brief but informative sections.

A Little Book of Language David Crystal

From the barely intelligible words of an infant to the modern idiosyncrasies of text messaging, language, in its myriad forms, plays an integral role in our daily lives. With countless nuances, these complex systems are the means by which we consider, comprehend and participate in the world around us. Language is perpetually surprising and new. But, with a dialect disappearing, on average, every two weeks and new slang coined almost daily, an understanding of the origins of communication has never been more necessary. Examining everything from a baby’s first words to the death of ancient tongues and presenting various examples of spoken, written, signed, texted and pictured vernaculars in between, A Little Book of Language covers much more than just the sprawling history of this phenomenon. Shedding light on subjects such as the development of unique linguistic styles, the origins of obscure accents, and the search for the first written word, linguist David Crystal investigates the rules of grammar, the different ways in which writing developed, how we take part in conversations and the ever-changing fashions of slang, swearing and style.

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