I wasn’t planning to write anything on this book but I read it as part of my Goodreads 2013 reading challenge and since I blogged about every other book thus far I thought, why the hell not. This one was a re-read. I loved World History for Dummies the first time I read it and enjoyed my re-read too.
Now, the popular question: WHY read a book called World History for Dummies??
The answer: I was craving history. I wanted a quick run-down of history. I wanted to know what happened without it being boring and stuffy. I wanted it all to be fun. (Textbooks tend not to be fun.)
It’s not because I am unfamiliar with world history that I decided to read this book. It’s because I wanted a refresher without being bogged down. I wanted to read a book that would leave me wanting to know more, not turn me off the subject. World History for Dummies did that. It is written for the everyday girl who has a passing interest in history. Like, she woke up one morning and said to herself, “I want to learn world history today. What should I read?”
World History for Dummies did an okay job. It mentions almost everything; well, all the occurrences that those in the Western hemisphere deem important to know. It is easy to read and the author pokes fun at everyone. In other words, you will enjoy reading it. It is not written so simply that you’ll think the author is being condescending. And of course, it is not hard and filled with language that you might second-guess and have to research to discover its meaning. It’s like in Goldilocks, it’s just right.
The author works from the beginning of civilization all the way up to modern day, where we are trying to annihilate ourselves (he doesn’t really state that but he mentions atomic bombs and all those things which I translate to myself as humans trying to kill their damn selves). He covers wars, weapons, voyages, religion, philosophy, art, and any other thing humans have thought up. It does make for a good read.
The down side though is that he mostly focuses on Europe and the United States the closer he gets to the present day. I understand of course that due to page limit and that sort of stuff everything and everyone cannot be included in the book and so he has to focus on what will interest his readers the most. And since we are in the Western hemisphere, he should focus on the big guns in that section of the world: Western Europe and the U.S. Okay, fine. I was a tad bit upset to not learn more about other parts of the world but he did drop some knowledge of them that caught my interest, which I can follow up on with my own research. That’s what World History for Dummies does to you. It makes you want to know more. It teases you and leads you to go research stuff.
What I enjoyed the most though are the little sidebars with random facts on history, like the one on Rodrigo de Jerez who was reported to the Spanish Inquisition for smoking tobacco (sucks for him; he spent seven years in prison). That’s before smoking became popular. Those along with the author’s jokes makes a lively read. There’s not a dull moment. Haugen keeps you going till the end.
Overall, it’s a good read and I recommend it to others all the time though they may thing it’s dumb to read a book called World History for Dummies, smh. There is much to learn in it. I am peeved about it focusing too much on U.S. and Europe so maybe the title should be Europe’s influence on the World: a history. 🙂
A fan of the For Dummies series.