Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Newbery Foray #5: The Story of Mankind
I recently "finished" reading "The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik Willem van Loon, the very first book to win the Newbery Medal. And I have to be honest, if more of the books are like that one its amazing the award has lasted this long. I mean, it's a book written for children, but I don't know if the children would appreciate it. :) Basically the author decided to write a book giving all of known history, for his children or grandchildren, maybe. And it doesn't exactly end up being a history of all the world, mostly just the Middle East and Europe with a little bit of America thrown in. But yeah, it was long, and for the most part slow moving, as history tends to be. And I say "finished" because since the book won the Newbery Medal back in 1922, the author and then his son and now another guy have kept adding history to the book to keep up with...you know...history. Except that all of recorded history up to the 1920s took 500 pages, and then the last hundred years took another 150 pages. Since my main objective was to read Newbery Medal winners, and all that was added after the book won the award, and I'd already been slogging my way through it for 3+ months, I didn't feel too obligated to finish the additional chapters.
In any case, this was by far my least favorite of any Newbery Medal winner I've ever read. I would NOT recommend that you read it unless you have some kind of weird goal to read all the Newbery Medal winners. I guess I should say that I did learn some new stuff about pre-20th century European history, seeing as how that's something that I've never known or learned much about.