History of Everything

Word Wednesday: ‘History of Everything (in 32 Pages)’

Books Columns Reviews Word Wednesday

This Week’s Word Is “Condensed.”

We love a good timeline book here at GeekDad and Word Wednesday (a day late; sorry about that), and frankly, who doesn’t? 3 years ago, I reviewed the excellent What on Earth? Timelines book, from What on Earth? publishing. This year, it’s Laurence King’s turn to give it a go and, audaciously, they’ve tried to condense everything from the Big Bang to the present today into 32 pages. The result is the excellent and “does exactly what it says on the tin,” History of Everything (in 32 Pages). 

What is The History of Everything (in 32 Pages)?

It’s a large-format hardback, which unsurprisingly, has 32 pages. It begins with the Big Bang and ends with the present day. By necessity, everything is covered by a brief overview, with each era depicted using a richly illustrated double-page spread. The book is perfect for ages 9-14, to give them a basic outline of the history of our planet. Younger children can access its information too, but may need a little help. 

To give you some idea of the scope of the book, humans don’t arrive until page 18, meaning that half the book is given over to The Big Bang, the formation of the universe, Earth, and the arrival of life (and of course, dinosaurs). The second half of the book takes in the rise of humans and agriculture, cities, civilizations and empires, the enlightenment, industrial revolution, and the evolution of technology, before arriving at the space-faring, internet-using present.  

Why Read The History of Everything (in 32 Pages)?

As an overview of the planet’s history, this is an excellent book. Despite having barely any space in order to describe billions of years of history, the book is surprisingly comprehensive. It is definitely engaging too and will pique interest in young readers, tempting them to find out more information about a whole host of subjects. 

Young me would have been drawn to the Solar System and Big Bang pages. They typify the concise well-delivered information found in the book, as well as covering a subject I was passionate about growing up. I would have loved the infographic-lite depiction of data too. It’s the same throughout the book; whether you have a young naturalist, paleontologist, or historian in your house, this is an inspiring book, perfect for triggering inquisitive minds. 

This book is great for internet age, project work too. Perhaps it’s my generational disconnect talking, but whenever my kids bring home a school project, I always try to start them off by asking them to look in a book (we’re fortunate enought to have plenty to look through in this house), rather than jumping straight to Google. Yet, when they do, I have to agree with them, that often the information they want is hard to find, or is at the wrong level of detail. The History of Everything cuts through that. Having information at a high level enables readers to get a broad overview of the subject they’re investigating. Key terms and concepts described in the book promote deeper searching, either in other books or with a more focused internet search. It helps solve the problem of how to find the right answer without knowing the answer first. 

The History of Everything is a great book, that achieves exactly what it sets out to do. It’s the perfect introduction to pretty much all of history. No mean feat in just 32 pages. 

You can pick up a copy of The History of Everything (In 32 Pages), here in the US and here, in the UK.

If you enjoyed this review do check out my other Word Wednesday reviews. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review. The Bookshop.org link is an affiliate link. 

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