I finished this book recently. It’s a very light read for young readers, sufficiently detailed to spark anyone’s interest in history. Not at all lengthy and long-winded. I haven’t been too keen in history, and my experiences with it in school many years ago had been dismal. Well, school makes many interesting things uninteresting. But I enjoyed my times in school. And I’ve not enjoyed history this much before.
Admittedly, this book is not some deep and extensive work of time’s tales. From the time of ancient Egypt to World War II, Gombrich has picked out the defining moments to put together this concise volume. The facts may be speckled, gaps abound and (only slightly) biased from his Austrian origin. But one can easily sense it as an impassioned work that has served its purpose. And that purpose is to inspire and to educate the general public, as it has done for me. What I found most outstanding about it was the personal touch the writer included. And it was genuine when he expressed his disdain for the most hideous instances or his favor for the most beautiful moments of human history. This unabashed expression of his emotions toward certain events may seem unprofessional, but that is only human. He has told the story of time through his research, through his mind. Like a story. There is always another time for those heavy tomes of chronicles.
It is always an experience reading a book, and a different experience to finish reading one. This might be obvious to the many readers out there, but the truth is I haven’t been reading so much before this year. When I was young I read children’s books, like every other child. But as I transited into adolescence I was more drawn to videogames and books were simply boring. Every now and then I would pick up some books from the library, but rarely I would read them after I brought them home. I read, perhaps, a book or two a year. This may well be the greatest regret of my life (not that I’ve for very long to substantiate this claim). Now that I’ve gotten the bookworm, I hope I am never cured of this parasite.
Wait, I always find myself digressing to random perspectives like this, and find it hard to work back to what I intended to write about.
So yes, about finishing a book. When I finish a book, I would close the hind cover, not with a loud thud but perhaps you do, and ponder. Ponder about new perspectives and inspirations that have gotten to me. Many times have these ‘newfound insights’ dissipate after a while, but I’ve decided to write about it here for once. This time I have thought about the frailty of our societies, more so of human nature. I think we are still capable of the brutality that we judge of our ‘uncivilized’ ancestors. I think I’ll stop at this before that pessimism kicks in.