The Story of Mankind (YA)

by Hendrik Willem van Loon

I am trying to read, or at least attempt, all of the Newbery Award winners from 1922 to the present, and this is the very first. It tells the history of the world from the beginning of time through the present day. Because the scope is so broad, some people groups get left out, or get touched on only briefly–by the author’s own admission, inclusion in the book requires that the people do things that change the course of human history, which not all peoples at all times have done.

When I first took this book out of the library, I was intimidated by the size–it’s pretty thick, and I was afraid it would be dry and boring and a drag to get through. In general, the conversational tone and story-telling attitude made it an enjoyable read. Some chapters were quick and fun; others did drag on, and I had a hard time staying interested. Overall, though, it does a good job of making history accessible for everyone.

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