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.Awww! I mean, isn't that kind of cute?
Here I give you the key that will open the door.
When you return, you too will understand the reason for my enthusiasm.
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.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.
This creature, though you may hardly believe it, was your first "man-like" ancestor.