The Story of Mankind

Book review by
Tanya Smith, Common Sense Media
The Story of Mankind Book Poster Image
A must-have for the home or classroom library.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that a direct writing style, and enough topics to appeal to all interests, make it hard for readers to put the book down. But the crude drawings lack visual interest.

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What's the story?

A must-have for the home or classroom library, this updated eighty-year-old Newbery Award winner is a lively, awe-inspiring chronicle of human evolution, from cave dwelling to Net surfing. It's a volume readers of all ages will turn to again and again for the stories of who we are and how we were.


Is it any good?

Despite its ponderous title, The Story Of Mankind is a lively book, laced with dry humor and wry observations. Although broad in scope, the book is capable of delving beneath the surface, as in its discussion of the Third World's own three "worlds." Nonetheless, some modern-day topics are given short shrift: AIDS is covered in a mere five sentences, and the Internet is discussed in just a half a paragraph; by contrast, in the same chapter, the rise and fall of the Nicaraguan contras is given over a page.

A book this ambitious deserves better illustrations, though. The handwritten words within the illustrations are tiny, and the large-typeface captions are easily confused for chapter subheadings. Black-and-white photos or more detailed drawings would be a major improvement.

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