Monday, February 09, 2009

A Little History of the World

One of my new favorite books; bought it on a whim this weekend. If you've never heard of it, it's the entire history of the world up to WWII, written for children. The German author didn't translate into English until the very end of his life, but the way he words things are simply marvelous.

To wit, his description of the conversion of the pagans: "In the end they paid a terrible price for their resistance: Charlemagne had more than four thousand of them put to death. The remaining Saxons allowed themselves to be baptized without protest, but it must have been a long time before they were able to feel any affection for the religion of loving kindness."

And, a personal favorite, talking about Neanderthal skeleton finds in Germany: "On another occasion, but still in Germany—in the Neander valley—a human skull was found. And this was also immensely interesting because nobody alive today has a skull like this one, either. Instead of a forehead like ours it just had two thick ridges above the eyebrows. Now, if all our thinking goes on behind our foreheads, and these people didn't have any foreheads, then perhaps they didn't think as much as we do. Or, at any rate, thinking may have been harder for them. So the people who examined the skull concluded that once upon a time there were people who weren't very good at thinking, but who were better at biting than we are today."


1 comment:

Elissa said...

That is utterly fantastic. =)