Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Story of Mankind

Originally I had thought it would be fun and perhaps educational to start at the beginning, but now that I'm a few chapters into The Story of Mankind I'm having some doubts. And Melissa's comments about The White Stag and Invincible Louisa haven't exactly whetted my appetite for more. Anyway, now that we have the list in the sidebar we can see what's been read already, and we can either choose to read along, or go for variety and see if we can get a post on each book! :)

So, The Story of Mankind. It actually has a certain dry charm, if you like this sort of thing. Here's an example, from the foreword:
History is the mighty Tower of Experience, which Time has built amidst the endless fields of bygone ages. It is no easy task to reach the top of this ancient structure and get the benefit of the full view. There is no elevator, but young feet are strong and it can be done.

Here I give you the key that will open the door.

When you return, you too will understand the reason for my enthusiasm.
Awww! I mean, isn't that kind of cute?

The book starts at the very beginning, with the primordial stew and the evolution ("ascent") of Man:
This creature, half ape and half monkey but superior to both, became the most successful hunter and could make a living in every clime... It learned how to make strange grunts to warn its young of approaching danger and after many hundreds of thousands of years it began to use these throaty noises for the purpose of talking.

This creature, though you may hardly believe it, was your first "man-like" ancestor.
And it goes on in this vein. Subsequent chapter titles are "Prehistoric Man Begins to Make Things for Himself" and "The Egyptians Invent the Art of Writing and the Record of History Begins." And so on. I assume it won the award because of its breadth -- he makes a point of including non-Western civilizations -- and its friendly tone. But reading it today, it feels like nothing more than a curiosity, and I don't see much point in finishing it. But I'm glad I took a look.


Alicia said...

I, er, can't wait for you to pass it on.

The redesign looks just lovely, by the way. And the titles down the left is brilliant. Well done! You rock (even if The Story of Mankind doesn't).

By the way, as I understand the Newbery rules, the recipient is a book that was published in that year, yes? Perhaps the '20s were just not the best time for children's authors. Makes me wonder if someone hasn't done a dissertation on that. Perhaps it's linked to national events (The Depression?) or international events...or just dumb luck.

Melissa said...

I've always wanted to read Dr. Dolittle; maybe we should start there?

Sandy D. said...

I don't know, Julie, I think I'm going to have to check it out, given the subject.

The site is gorgeous now. Really impressive. I had better get reading.

Julie said...

Y'know, leafing through the book I am finding more cute stuff here and there. The chapter on the French Revolution ("The Great French Revolution Proclaims the Principles of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality Unto All the People of the Earth") begins: "Before we talk about a revolution it is just as well that we explain just what this word means. In terms of a great Russian writer (and Russians ought to know what they are talking about in this field) a revolution is..." blah blah blah. Pretty cute, huh? So, I dunno, Alicia. I might keep it a few more days after all. :)

Glad you like the design. Let me know if anything looks weird in IE/Win.

Bekah said...

The site looks great!

I need to go pick up TSM at the library, just haven't had time to do it yet. I expected it to be a bit more dry than most selections. I'm intrigued by it because it's been recommended in a few homeschooling resource lists I've seen, so I'll be perusing it for potential use with my kiddos.

Sandy D. said...

I got it from the Saline library today. I think they started using the bar codes in the 90's, but according to the card in the back the book was not checked out from 1971 to whenever the bar codes went in there. I'm surprised they still kept it on the shelves.

It's BIG! Damn, I didn't expect a kid's book to be so darn long, even in 1922.

The illustrations have a certain charm.

Joanne said...

If you're wanting to read an early award winner, try Roller Skates from 1937 by Ruth Sawyer--it's absolutely wonderful!

Melissa said...

I finally got a copy from the library. I'm not going to read it. But looking at it, it reminds me of the History of the World series from Will and Ariel Durant.

Russell's comment was:"THIS is a Newbery book?"

Juliette said...

Hello Julie
I have just returned from taling my list to the library and was thinking of starting with the earliest book. You may be interested to know that The Story of Mankind is no longer listed as Junior Fiction, nor Teenage Fiction but is in the adult section here in Oxfordshire England! Maybe I won't be reserving it just yet!