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Book Review < Back

The Cartoon History of the Universe

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Larry Gonick
Publisher: Doubleday


Spanning 13 billion years in 350 pages, the first volume of Larry Gonick's CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE is an adaptation of the greatest story of all time: humanity. Gonick's massively ambitious and epic project is a self-proclaimed attempt at documenting the history of the universe from the proverbial "dawn of time" all the way through to contemporary times. In this first volume, Gonick starts with the Big Bang and takes us through the age of the dinosaurs, the Ice Age, the evolution of man, all the way through to the beginnings of Alexander the Great's conquests.

In a uniquely charming style, CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE recounts deeply researched facts about history (an awesomely diverse rendition of history at that), in a way that is simple enough that children will be able to understand, yet sophisticated enough for grown-ups to enjoy. Narrated by a time traveling scientist, the book is a massive journey around the world and through time, documenting various points in history that capture everything from flirty protozoa, to smart-ass migrating brontosauruses, to crazed marching Athenians. Gonick's cartoonish drawings literally strip history down to funny anecdotes that humanize and humorously embellish what is usually boring fodder for standardized tests.

While most folks might think a history book isn't exactly the most fun-filled gift to hand to a friend, CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE is one of the few books that is truly as educational as it is fun, though you probably wouldn't realize it because you're too busy laughing at the wacky historical hijinks.

-- Charlie Chu


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