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The Outline of History, Vol. 1 (of 2)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  783 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Several revised versions were produced during Wells' lifetime. He kept notes on factual corrections he received from educators around the world. The last revision in his lifetime was published in 1939. In 1949, an expanded version was produced by author & scholar Raymond Postgate, whose additional material initially expanded the timeline thru WWII, with subsequent addi ...more
Library Binding, 713 pages
Published June 1st 1920 by Reprint Services Corp (first published 1919)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  783 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I have the 1921 edition - the original which I picked up at a local second hand shop a few years ago for just $1.00. I had no idea that H.G. Wells had written a history text. Being a history buff and having earned my degree in history I was suprised. I never heard this text mentioned once in four and a half years of higher education - why?

Well for one Mr. Wells does not fit the academic mold nor does his book follow what is still established doctrine for history texts. He has opinions about eve
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with blanks in their history.
Recommended to Frightful_elk by: David Attenborough

I hunted this book down after realising it was a book I needed in my life, my knowledge of history was patchy at best, Eurocentric and in a bit of a jumble.
David Attenborough was in a similar pickle when he was appointed head of the new BBC2, and this was the book that set him straight and proved a bit of an inspiration. I am glad to say it's done the same thing for me.

This book is not without flaws, it is about 80 years old now, and the early chapters on man's evolution are probably laughable
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Quite an wonderful, and extensive, work. Wells takes the reader through human civilization, admittedly from the viewpoint of Europeanism, from the paleolithic to the end of WW1 and the League of Nations. He reviews the origins of the "great" religions; Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, and explains their doctrines and the ways in which religion has poisoned the original assertions, and the reasons and benefits of its arising, of each faith. The final chapter is exceptional in ...more
Ann Michael
May 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Fascinating from a cultural-historical perspective (trying to imagine Wells' frames of reference and open-mindedness in the years 1918-1929)

Not a bad choice for the average US citizen to read just for filling in our cultural gaps, still true today as in the 30s.

Interesting, to me, that Wells at the start of the 20th century understood the need to de-westernize history...he doesn't know all that much about Asia but he knows those cultures are valuable and important, and part of collective histor
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read it about 3 years after reading War of the Worlds. My Dad was an avid reader, & he had accumulated some very interesting books. I had no idea really there was a 2nd volume, I just uncovered this book will looking for another. I thank Goodreads for this rare gem, as I probably wouldn't have found it for a long time. I am unearthing closets full of books to enter in my Goodreads bookshelves. My brother took most of the books my father owned, I glad he missed this one. Maybe he has volume ...more
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
If history of humanity feels a lot like the following video to you, then you need to read this book, or at least my review of it: (PG-13 for violence and some language, but it is VERY relevant!).

The premise of this monumental work of H.G. Wells’ is staggering: sketch all of history as succinctly as possible while critiquing major figures and events, noting their contributions to the evolving story and progress of humankind, and imagining for the reader th
Robert Morrow
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Although dated by the ongoing march of knowledge, it is still enjoyable to read Wells' writing and his different perspectives on historical events and figures. His passages on Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad are insightful and against the grain. The writing tends to weaken considerably near the end of WWI, and when another writer picked up the tale in WWII, all the British colonial biases began to seep in to the story. But his emphasis on the human race evolving into a community of will is dead on an ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I read just volume 1. Good book for a broad outline (though I prefer to go deep and read either primary sources or a story about a specific time in history). This gives a nice broad overview of important things in history. I like that it covers it everything (as an outline/summary), but is not focused on facts/dates/trivial things but on high level insights, great! Even the part that I thought would be very boring, which is the part before humans, was really interesting. Sometime it did get bori ...more
Federico Salinas
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is heroic. Like all heroes, it is deeply flawed, but it is a flaw that provides the book with a unity of purpose that makes it a great book: HG Wells, a socialist and a humanist in the grandest scale, could not escape the prejudice of his era in the belief in an Aryan race that had contributed almost all that is progressive and good in civilisation.

The book is nevertheless an astonishing achievement, and a jolly good read. It sweeps confidently through the ages with brisk, vigorous na
Apr 21, 2014 added it
I wanted to read a brief history of nearly everything. I wanted to learn about the early empires, wars, battles, philosophies, and how the world has changed over time. I thought this would be the book for that. It could have been but I got too bored. I read the stuff I thought would be interesting and skipped over the parts I thought would be boring. I skimmed over the stuff in between. I still only got through the first 200 hundred pages before calling it quits. I thought the book would be easy ...more
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A .romp through history in a breezy and opinionated fashion. It has got it all from prehistoric times to Egypt, Greece, Rome, a sideways glance to India, China, and the rest of the world, the Crusades, Islam, the Renaissance and so on up through World War one. Not to be read in one go through, at least I didn't, but you can literally open the book randomly and find yourself absorbed. This is easily accessable, popular history. Wells must have sold a ton of these books because you can still find ...more
Jan 09, 2008 rated it liked it
A great outline of world history, from the formation of the solar system through WWII. Puts everything in perspective.

BUT, great as it is, I can't actually endorse this book. After reading it, it came to my attention that in all likelihood 'Outline' is a complete plagiarization of a book called 'The Web,' written by a feminist author named Florence Deeks. There is a book out there, which I haven't read but which I'll bet is interesting, called 'The Spinster and the Prophet: H.G. Wells, Florence
Dec 31, 2010 rated it liked it
My copy is a single-volume 1961 edition that doesn't appear to be listed separately on Goodreads. Can't say I've attempted to read it start to finish, but it is a useful reference to consult when Wikipedia merely whets the appetite.
John Montagne
Aug 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I like Wells' perspective on history, one even finds a subtle humor in here. Though large portions of it is now outdated, it is a great piece if you wish to get the zeitgeist of what folks in this age thought of history.
May 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Even though the history is technically out of date; I enjoy reading what H.G. Wells had set out to do with his history and how it tries very had not to be euro-centric.
Brandon Cerny
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting non fiction reference book from H.G. Wells!
Jan 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Maybe I'm just a big history geek but I couldn't put this down. I found the ancient history the most interesting.
Julian Jenkinson
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Intensely valuable from a historiographical perspective. Great read in general
Joel Jenkins
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very dry in spots but quite interesting in others--and interspersed with Wells' opinions (some of which are on-point and others off the mark) that demonstrates that at the very least Wells has given various points of history much thought. Adherents of just about any religion will doubtless find fault with some of Wells' conclusions as he is dismissive of any divine manifestation. I've got to give it an extra star just for the vast scope of the undertaking.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
my book is vol ll only
The Outline of History
The whole story of man
new enlarged edition
c1949 Doubleday Garden City Books

p 653 to 1288
ch XXXl through XL
Christendom and the Crusades through The Second World War
brought up to the present by Raymond Postgate

hardcover with a dust jacket
the volume is perfect and the dust jacket is ragged
Tyler Roundy
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Good info, but hard to finish.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely dated, but offers an interesting perspective of our past, from our past.
The Outline of History Volume 1 (Hardcover)
by H.G. Wells
Pieter Schiettecatte
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Volume I. 5/5. Magnificent.
Ali Gilani
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is amazing at so many levels. I particularly enjoyed the opening chapters on the origin of life. The writing is superb and the book is informative. Wells is particularly big on selflessness: Buddha, Christ and Asoka are his heroes. Violence, wars and Machiavellian manipulations are not his thing. He was particularly hard on Romans to destroy Carthage. History is brutal and it is only recently that we have been shedding violence and embracing peaceful means to live our life. That's a pr ...more
Carlton R.
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this book in my mid thirties as I recollect. It was on a discard pile in a second hand book store and I thought "what the hey it's in terrible shape but only a quarter." So I picked it up and actually got it free when I presented two books from the pile. Jeez he wanted to get rid of that pile. Today, and having read it, I'd pay at least a double sawbuck for it even in lousy condition. But then, now I know it's contents.
I got, from this book a thorough understanding of the groaning weight
Chase Parsley
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books (or rather, two books) that you feel like you should get a college credit for completing.

H.G. Wells takes us on a journey through the entire span of history. It moves quickly, but at around 1,000 pages with small font, it is still quite dense. It is meant for the average reader and not for the professional historian.

Subject-wise, I most enjoyed his writings about the French Revolution and Napoleon, the Romans, and the rise of Germany before WWI. Wells comes from a diff
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a big picture tour of history
Shelves: history
A very enjoyable read. Wells has a great writing style and a drive to be comprehensive and interesting. The sweeping big scope tale goes from geology and the ages of the rocks through the passage of climate and evolving plant and animal life to the foibles and character failings of Roman leaders. Some of it is probably out-of-date, as in more is known now, and some terminology is dated as well, but this will give you a good picture of history and guaranteed there's something you didn't know abou ...more
Jeremy Egerer
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow -- I don't know where to begin. Whether in clear yet powerful prose or in broadness of scope, this book excels; absolutely an A+ read.

The section on Jesus was quite possibly the most generous and pious description I've ever encountered from a non-Christian; Wells somehow comes much closer to understanding the Kingdom of Heaven than most Christians. And the section on Islam was equally interesting, bringing to light a host of characters both noble and exciting; men I'd previously never heard
Marc Washburne
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Please note: my review dates are somewhat inaccurate. I actually first read this 2 volume set several years ago. My 'current date' shown is for a general re-read.
HG Wells is a prolific author who spans several decades of writing with an impressive range of subjects. The Outline of History has been heavily critisized for many, many reasons. I found his storytelling of history to be very enjoyable. Time and history have not turned out to be entirely on Well's side. But, setting aside the flaws an
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an enlightenment work 1 6 Jan 06, 2014 09:11PM  

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In 1866, (Herbert George) H. G. Wells was born to a working class family in Kent, England. Young Wells received a spotty education, interrupted by several illnesses and family difficulties, and became a draper's apprentice as a teenager. The headmaster of Midhurst Grammar School, where he had spent a year, arranged for him to return as an "usher," or student teacher. Wells earned a government scho ...more
“Jesus was a penniless teacher who wandered about the dusty sun-bit country of Judea, living upon casual gifts of food; yet he is always represented clean, combed, and sleek, in spotless raiment, erect, and with something motionless about him as though he was gliding through the air. This alone has made him unreal and incredible to many people who cannot distinguish the core of the story from the ornamental and unwise additions of the unintelligently devout.” 4 likes
“ever and again we find some leader or some tribe amidst the disorder of free and independent nomads, powerful enough to force a sort of unity upon its kindred tribes, and then woe betide the nearest civilization. Down pour the united nomads on the unwarlike, unarmed plains, and there ensues a war of conquest. Instead of carrying off the booty, the conquerors settle down on the conquered land, which becomes all booty for them; the villagers and townsmen are reduced to servitude and tribute paying, they become hewers of wood and drawers of water, and the leaders of the nomads become kings and princes, masters and aristocrats. They, too, settle down, they learn many of the arts and refinements of the conquered, they cease to be lean and hungry, but for many generations they retain traces of their old nomadic habits, they hunt and indulge in open-air sports, they drive and race chariots, they regard work, especially agricultural work, as the lot of an inferior race and class. This in a thousand variations has been one of the main stories in history for the last seventy centuries or more. In the first history that we can clearly decipher we find already in all the civilized regions a distinction between a non-working ruler class and the working mass of the population. And we find, too, that after some generations, the aristocrat, having settled down, begins to respect the arts and refinements and law-abidingness, of settlement, and to lose something of his original hardihood. He intermarries, he patches up a sort of toleration between conqueror and conquered; he exchanges religious ideas and learns the lessons upon which soil and climate insist. He becomes a part of the civilization he has captured; and as he does so, events gather towards a, fresh invasion by the free adventurers of the outer world. Early” 1 likes
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