I really like this book. I've mentioned a number of times on this blog that history is not my forte. I think it was all of the memorizing of dates and stuff in school that really turned me off. However, books like this really get me interested in it for, what feels like, the first time. I love learning new stuff and this book presents history in an interesting way. The book is a nice compact size, contains lots of great information and is beautifully laid out. Beside the articles, there are plenty of photographs and lots of quotes from various historical figures and documents. I especially like the timelines of each period, which are presented right after the introduction. These timelines list and briefly describe the major events of the era in chronological order.
Lots of little things make the book visually appealing. Many two-page layouts have three or more colour photographs or illustrations. That's a lot for a book this size. There are also large, clear headings, colour coordinated boxes around the titles, nicely spaced text and photographs and an adequate font size.
For me it's not the type of book you sit and read in a straight-through fashion, although, I guess it's possible to do so. I prefer to flip through it reading whatever catches my eye or use to look up stuff I'd like to know more about (like ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the terracotta warriors or WWI).
The directory near the end of the book provides tons of information in chart form. I love lists, so as you can guess I love this part of the book. It lists world rulers, such as Egyptian Pharaohs, Emperors, Kings and Presidents. There are also lists of major battles in each of the wars from the Greek-Persian Wars (490 - 448 BCE) to Afghanistan War (2001-). This section also has lists of explorers, inventors and discoveries, advances in medicine, artists, architects, writers (Yay!), composers (Yay!), faiths and thinkers.
The book opens with two appropriate quotes regarding history, both of which I liked:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana, 20th-century philosopher)
Think of tomorrow. The past can't be mended. (Confucius, Analects, 6th century BCE)
The table of contents is pretty good. It's nicely laid out and not only lists the major time periods, but it also breaks them down into areas of the world. Therefore, if you want to find out what was happening in The Americas during Medieval times, it's easy to find. The index is quite extensive and is good for finding items in the book.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the DK website.
I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.
Eyewitness Companions: World History by Philip Parker, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2010. ISBN 9780756649845(Paperback), 512p.