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By E. H. Gombrich

In 1935, with a doctorate in paintings historical past and no prospect of a task, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was once invited by way of a publishing acquaintance to try a heritage of the realm for more youthful readers. Amazingly, he accomplished the duty in an excessive six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was released in Vienna to instant good fortune, and is now to be had in seventeen languages around the world.
Toward the tip of his lengthy existence, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, eventually, an English translation. A Little background of the realm presents his full of life and related to background to English-language readers for the 1st time. fantastically designed and freshly illustrated, it is a booklet to be savored and collected.
In 40 concise chapters, Gombrich tells the tale of guy from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In among emerges a colourful photo of wars and conquests, grand artworks, and the unfold and boundaries of technological know-how. this can be a textual content ruled now not by means of dates and proof, yet by means of the sweep of mankind’s event around the centuries, a consultant to humanity’s achievements and an acute witness to its frailties.
The made of a beneficiant and humane sensibility, this undying account makes intelligible the complete span of human history.

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Whatever can they be? They aren’t pictures, they are hieroglyphs – or ‘sacred signs’ – the Egyptian form of writing. The Egyptians were immensely proud of their writing – indeed, they were almost in awe of it. And of all professions, that of scribe was the most highly esteemed. Would you like to know how to write using hieroglyphs? In fact, learning this sort of writing must have been incredibly hard, as it’s more like constructing a picture puzzle. If they wanted to write the name of their god, Osiris, they would draw a throne ( ), which was pronounced ‘Oos’, and an eye ( ), which was pronounced ‘iri’, so that the two together made ‘Os-iri’.

After Solomon’s reign things went less well for the Jews. Their kingdom split in two: the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. Many battles followed, at the end of which one half, the kingdom of Israel, was invaded by the Assyrians in 722 , and was conquered and destroyed. Yet what is so remarkable is that the effect of so many disasters on the few Jews who survived them was to make them even more devout. Men arose among them – not priests, but simple people – who felt compelled to speak to their people, because God spoke through them.

Not just on the walls of palaces and temples, but also in books, though the books are no longer very legible. For the ancient Egyptians did have books, even that long ago. Of course they weren’t made of paper like ours, but from a certain type of reed that grows on the banks of the Nile. The Greek name for these reeds is papyrus, from which our name for paper comes. They wrote on long strips of this papyrus, which were then rolled up into scrolls. A whole heap of these scrolls has survived. And when we read them we discover just how wise and clever those ancient Egyptians really were.

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