General Question

rockfan's avatar

Where's the best place to start if someone wants to learn about world history in extreme depth?

Asked by rockfan (11972points) June 27th, 2015

I know basic history rather well, but I’ve never studied history in depth. Do you think it would be too tedious to start chronologically? And are there any books you recommend?

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10 Answers

longgone's avatar

I’ve heard the history book by Bill Bryson is good. It’s called “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. I haven’t read it, but many of his other books are informative, funny, and easy to read.

kritiper's avatar

The PBS series “The Western Tradition.”

snowberry's avatar

Try reading books written before WW2. It’s not a sure thing, but many of them give a much less uncensored view of history.

janbb's avatar

“The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Gibbons is a classic. “Civilization” by Kenneth Clark gives an art history perspective. Look at college text book titles for Western Civ or Asian history.

Pachy's avatar

Will and Ariel Durant’s 11-volume The Story of Civilization
is a great place to start, albeit an expensive one.

janbb's avatar

@Pachy I was trying to remember the title of their work.

Pachy's avatar

@janbb, I have the complete set, a gift from a friend decades ago who was then working for its publisher Simon & Schuster. She, bless her heart, delivered it to me volume by volume for over a year. It has languished on my bookshelves in countless residences ever since. Truth be told, I never made it through all 14 volumes.

My dad, whom I believe did read every word considered it gospel truth. He passed away long before the Net entered our lives and became our main source of information and I think would be horrified by what passes for “gospel truth” today.

sahID's avatar

For the Roman Empire, Gibbons is still the best place to start. For world history the Durants are detail rich and free of currently popular revisionist bias.

For world history with an intellectual history focus, the works by historian Peter Watson are excellent (& encyclopedic in depth).

stanleybmanly's avatar

Start with a subject, person, period, topic, etc. that interests you. I agree with the assessments above regarding the Durants, and don’t worry about chronological order. Personally I recommend the first volume from the Durant pile that you attack be “Caesar & Christ”. And when reading any book, if you find your enthusiasm on the wane, put it down & move on. Keep in mind, that this a project that will require time, but believe me, it’s time well spent.

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