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The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events

November 1st, 2010

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Book Overview:

THE NEW FOURTH REVISED EDITIONA vast and absorbing resource, the fourth edition of The Timetables of ™History spans millennia of human history.Unlike any other reference volume, this book gives a sweeping overview of the making of the contemporary world by mapping out at a glance what was happening simultaneously, from the dawn of history to the present day.With nearly 100 pages of new material, including:Recent breakthroughs in science and technologyNew achievements in the visual arts and musicMilestones in religion, philosophy, and learningThe rise and fall of nations and the emergence of historical figuresLandmarks in the drama of daily life around the world

Book Review

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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
History Books THE NEW FOURTH REVISED EDITIONA vast and absorbing resource, the fourth edition of The Timetables of ™History spans millennia of human history.Unlike any other reference volume, this book gives a sweeping overview of the making of the contemporary world by mapping out at a glance what was happening simultaneously, from the dawn of history to the present day.With nearly 100 pages of new material, including:Recent breakthroughs in science and technologyNew achievements in the visual arts and musicMilestones in religion, philosophy, and learningThe rise and fall of nations and the emergence of historical figuresLandmarks in the drama of daily life around the world

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  1. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2010 at 03:36 | #1


    I first came upon this book in the German edition and was fasinated by the format and the amount of information it contained. I am doing research on a 12th century German saint, Hildegard of Bingen, and it was very helpful to me. However, when I returned and bought the English edition, Hildegard was omitted. That was disappointing. At any rate it is certainly worth the price.

  2. Frank T. Manheim
    November 2nd, 2010 at 09:21 | #2


    In 1946 Werner Stein published “Kulturfahrplan”, or “Timetables of History” in Germany – just a year after the end of World War II in Europe. He was the first to crosslist by year, from the first accurately dated event (4241 BC) tens of thousands of people and events in world history and politics; literature and theater; religion and philosophy; visual arts, music, science and technology; and daily life.

    It took another 29 years before the first updated English language edition emerged. The edition I am reviewing goes up to 1978 (published in 1979). Although many more specialized chronologies are now available, nothing matches the Stein-Grun publication in breadth and authoritativeness (leave it to German thoroughness). That explains why this book is still in print with only minor updates since 1975. I have now upgraded the book from 4 to 5 stars, having meanwhile reviewed other chronologies. The five stars rating may suffer from grade inflation (understandably – most people will review books they like) but for those who want to know when practically anything was performed, invented, or happened, or what was going on elsewhere in 1776 besides the American Revolution, this is still the preeminent reference.

  3. Goodbye Cruel World
    November 2nd, 2010 at 18:40 | #3


    With its upright columns that enclose events in neat rows, allows anyone to see history at a glance and simultaneously view contemporary events in all cultures worldwide, in politics, the sciences, arts, etc. Does not focus on any one area of the planet to the exclusion of others. At first its range is broad (each listing in the early stage of the work combines very general information on millennia or centuries) but later we have a year by year recounting of history. Gives an excellent overview of the story of human beings on earth but does not go deeply into the events or individuals it records. Works best for scanning the happenings of a time period, and giving information that can be taken for a more thorough investigation elsewhere.

  4. Anna Belle
    November 3rd, 2010 at 00:44 | #4


    I am a writer and have found this book to be an excellent resource. I want to be sure that dates and events that I might mention in my writing are correct and this book is easy to use and insures that my work is correct. Great book.

  5. Anonymous
    November 4th, 2010 at 12:07 | #5


    It is a MUST have reference for anyone who homeschools or who just has a love for history! It is simple and concise. It will really help you get history in place by helping you to see what was happening in politics, literature and theatre, religion, art, music, science, and daily life. I just used it to discover what was happening during the writing of the Count of Monte Cristo, and it was most helpful!

  6. Debbie Lee Wesselmann
    November 4th, 2010 at 18:48 | #6


    Although it takes a few minutes to orient oneself with the structure of this timeline reference book, the huge amount of information it contains is readily accessible. Beginning in the 5000 BC and going to contemporary times, the timeline contains a year by year (or age by age, for the earliest entries) list of major occurrences in history/politics, literature/theater, visual arts, music, science and technology, and “daily life.” Obviously, not all years contain entries across the board, and several years have packed grids. As the years get closer to the present, huge lists of events can take an entire page for a single year. Although heavily biased toward European and North American culture, the entries are not exclusively western. While helpful in determining the events in a specific time frame, this volume is strictly a timeline without reference to specific trends and without analysis.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone putting together a collection of easy-to-access reference books.

  7. Anonymous
    November 5th, 2010 at 07:40 | #7


    This seems like a wonderful book… the whole thing is a chart of what happens year by year (or in larger chunks). No prose, just lists of occurances, dates, figures. It is effective if you are interested in general facts for a certain year, but for a general history book, it is unreadable and uninteresting. Much better to purchase the Wall Chart of World History for the same information. Mine is on my bedroom wall and I refer to it all the time!

  8. R. Smith
    November 7th, 2010 at 21:53 | #8


    I bought this to do research for writing an historical book about Asia. It is certainly a wonderful reference and puts the events together like no other book around. However, in pouring over a small span of dates, I did note a number of discrepancies, most involving the listing of an event more than once in different years. Also, (as the authors do admit up front) the book is heavily weighted with Western European and U.S. events. Overall, it is really fun to just page through it and see what was going on when, but if you need real accurate detail, especially about non-Eurocentric and American events, you are going to have to look further elsewhere.

  9. absent_minded_prof
    November 9th, 2010 at 19:16 | #9


    This is a really interesting idea, and the authors have done a terrific job with it. It makes one wonder what future historians, if we have much of a future, would choose to place in a description of the year we are in now… Look at the “daily life” column of each year, while you leaf through this. A lot of the most unexpected surprises are in that column… Also, it is quite an experience to choose some period of history about which you might be relatively poorly informed, and just leaf through the appropriate pages. I chose the 7th century A.D., as a time that, to my mind at least, was a virtually total blank. Before I knew it, I found myself going to the library, reading up on the precursors to the Merovingians in France; the kings of Wessex in England; the origins of Islam; the re-settlement of Britanny by Celtic peoples; the early medieval popes… and not only that, it really is a pretty global book. There is a lot of stuff, throughout the book, on the African empires of Songhay and Mali; the various Chinese dynasties; the bloody adventures of Timurlaine; the flowering and eventual decay of the Mayans… I suspect that this might have some value to a PhD candidate in history, or a writer of historical fiction, but its real value lies in its ability to just open the eyes of the average person to the sheer wealth and breadth of history. Two thumbs up, and I’m trying to make my big toes go “up” too, just for emphasis.

  10. magellan
    November 10th, 2010 at 00:36 | #10


    This is one of those books that is just great to browse through to get a perspective on a particular period in history and the sequence of important events during that time. The timeline goes from earliest history, 5,000 B.C., up to modern times. One nice feature is that it displays parallel timelines for several different topics, not just history and politics, but also Literature and Theater; Visual Arts; Music; Religion, Philosophy, and Learning; Science, Technology, and Growth; and Daily Life. This makes it useful and convenient for getting a broader picture of the overal cultural context in addition to the usual events such as which king was ruling, which wars were being fought, and so on.

    One interesting use for this book would be along with one of those big historical atlases of the world, such as the ones from Hammond, National Geographic, Oxford, Time, and so on. Some of them include their own timelines, but usually they’re not as detailed as the ones in this book. The combination of the two resources would make for an even more effective learning tool. If you’re interested in buying one of these, out of the big 5 or 6 offerings out there, I like the Historical Atlas of the World, by John Haywood. It’s not the biggest, or most complete, or the fanciest graphically, but it’s one of the best written, visually appealing, and easiest to use. Also, I think it does the best of job of integrating the graphics and maps with the textual presentation. It’s also the most reasonably priced and is anywhere from 40% to 80% cheaper than some of the others.

    If you like timelines, another thing I noticed is that there are now several good websites devoted to this subject. You could also check some of these out if you’re interested. I still find it’s easier and more convenient to just have a book like this rather than having to download a lot of web pages (unless perhaps you have faster network connection than I do).

    Overall, a very well done and very useful book on historical chronology, and at a very reasonable price. The price is less than many of the standard histories out there, despite its being a pretty big and thick book itself.

  11. Irene Suver
    November 10th, 2010 at 14:26 | #11


    If this book has a vice, it is simply you might forget what you came to find, as your eye catches some fascinating confluence of events hitherto missing from your understanding of the past. I have frequently beeen distracted for long periods wandering the endlessy intriguing pages of this indispensable reference.

    Have a child who is bored by history, and asking why does it matter? Are you puzzled by a historical event that is often quoted as important but seems irrelevant to you? Are you a writer? Editor? Teacher? A reader who loves to understand the setting and times of a novel or novelist or other writer? This book is for all of you. Like any comprehensive work, there are omissions; gaps and small shortcomings. But if you only have three reference books, they should be a dictionary, a thesaurus and The Timetables of History.

  12. Harold McFarland
    November 11th, 2010 at 16:58 | #12


    Timetables of History is an encyclopedic style text that organizes information on a year by year basis. Each item is organized into one of seven categories: 1) History and Politics, 2) Literature and Theatre, 3) Religion, Philosophy and Learning, 4) Visual Arts, 5) Music, 6) Science, Technology and Growth and 7) Daily Life. Starting from 5000 BC and continuing to 1991, each area is shown in a parallel fashion so that you know which items were occurring at the same time in history. For example, in the year 1838 in politics, Osceola, the Indian leader died and Queen Victoria was coronated, in Literature Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were top sellers, in Visual Arts the London National Gallery was opened, in Science John Muir was born and in Daily Life the first traveling post office was opened.

    If you have ever tried to fix an event in history in terms of what else was happening at the same time then this book is extremely useful. If you are into genealogy then it can help understand what was going on in the lives of your ancestors. If you are into science you can follow which scientists were contemporaries and what items were influencing them.

    If you have any interest in history and want to get an overall picture of what was happening around the world at a particular time then this book can be a useful addition to your studies. A recommended resource for those who are interested in such things I value it for it’s ability to let me know what was going on during the time of my ancestors for my genealogy hobby.

  13. Yosemite Sam
    November 11th, 2010 at 18:03 | #13


    I have an older edition of this book that chronicles world history from -5000 to 1978. This book is fascinating and hard to put down as it cross-links History and Politics, Literature and Theater, Religion and Philosophy, Visual Arts, Music, Science, and Daily Life. This helps spread out information across the book’s grid so if you’re interested simply, say, in the historic flow of architecture the book parses this out for you.

    My only complaint, and thus the four stars instead of five, is that the book is inconsistent in how it uses dates. You also have to rein in your desire for more information. The book just gives you the bare minimum and serves more as a launch pad. If you want to dig deep you’ll need to go elsewhere. It is also somewhat Euro-centric.

    Still, the book conveys the sweep of history and human achievement in a way that is remarkable. It’s all there at your fingertips and is a reference must for any reader with an interest history and world affairs.

  14. Happy 2B in Tennessee!
    November 13th, 2010 at 13:28 | #14


    I found this timetable difficult to use. When the description called it encyclopedic they must have been talking about its size and weight. One might find it informative to just thumb thru and see what was happening in different areas of the world at different time. But to use the book to trace a particular development (like “movable type,” or “domesticated dairy animals,”) or to compare progressive periods of history between civilizations (like Central and South America, China, or Egypt) is awkward with lots of bookmarks and notes.

  15. Michael P. Nolan
    November 14th, 2010 at 15:19 | #15


    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this book for my studies. Not only is the book crammed with interesting dates, but also it’s organized in a manner that makes it easy to find any item.

    First of all, the general structure of the book is like a giant Excel program with the years listed on the side. Each square is separated into different categories such as Politics, literature, art, science and so on. For example, if you want to know the winner of the 1965 World Series, you just find the page for 1965, and look under the appropriate category. The index is also helpful. For each entry, it lists each year the item is mentioned and which category.

    I find this book helpful in that it gives one a perspective on historical events. For example, for a history project involving the years 1900- 1910, I noticed that there were a great deal of scientific, social, and artistic events that radically changed our way of life that all happened in this short period of time. I was able to make connections very easily with the aid of this book.

    I would recommend this book for literary and theatre students who need to research a time period as well as fans of movies who wish to have a better understand of the era in which their film is set.

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