The Cartoon History of the Modern World : From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution Part 1, Paperback

The Cartoon History of the Modern World : From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution Part 1 Paperback

Part of the Cartoon Guide Series series

4 out of 5 (6 ratings)


"Cartoon History of the Modern World" is a wickedly funny take on modern history.

In two volumes of engaging and witty graphics, Larry Gonick covers the history, personalities, and big topics that have shaped our universe over the past five centuries.

Volume I of the "Carton History of the Modern World" picks up where Gonick's bestselling "Cartoon History of the Universe" left off with Christopher Columbus about to set sail on his fateful voyage to the New World.

The book also opens with the history of Aztec and Inca, the empires in Asia, and the formation of the first fully global system of trade and ideas.

Next comes the Protestant Reformation, the reorientation of Europe and the birth of modern political philosophy and science.

The final section covers the competition between France and Britain in North America and culminates with the American Revolution and U.S.



  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages, Cartoon illustrations
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780060760045



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Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

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Review by

Pretty easy reading, but informative. I think he's somewhat more bitter here than in the previous volumes of the series, but for easy, broad history in an accessible form, it's hard to beat.

Review by

The latest entry in Larry Gonick’s “Cartoon History of the Universe” series, this book starts where “Cartoon History of the Universe Part III” left off, with the arrival of Columbus in the Americas in 1492. As with the other books in the series, Gonick covers the history of the whole world with his own brand of humor, cynicism, and respect for under-appreciated cultures. By telling history with cartoons, Gonick brings the past alive, turning a usually dry subject into an exciting narrative.“The Cartoon History of the Modern World,” as with his previous books, is split into parts. Volume 1 covers the discovery of America by colonial powers. Volume 2 covers their subsequent expansion into and dominance of the rest of the world. Volumes 3 and 4 changes focus to the growing influence of Protestantism and threats to the power structure of the Catholic Church. Finally, Volume 5 refocuses on colonial America, and the antagonism between England and France that led to the American revolution.Gonick doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to revealing the flaws of such beloved historical figures as Columbus, Newton, and Martin Luther. The pitfalls and human foibles behind some of the world’s greatest leaders and thinkers are brought to light, demonstrating the tragic flaws and hypocrisies that led to wars, intolerance, and destruction. Throughout the book, the narrator (a time-traveling professor) bemoans the death of reasonable discourse and the wholesale destruction of native peoples.This bias is present in all of Gonick’s work, which gives him an arguably non-objective and judgmental storytelling role, rather than a merely descriptive role. Gonick sometimes focuses more on his own views than on the history involved, such as when he devotes a whole page to criticizing Locke’s political philosophy.Another minor criticism is that Gonick tends to jump back and forth in time more than in previous works. Previous books in the series would run linearly in time, jumping around to different cultures. I prefer this presentation style, because it reduces confusion and reveals the interrelatedness of all the cultures in the world.Gonick’s irreverent views may anger some, but open-minded readers will find an amusing, entertaining, and balanced (i.e. not Euro-centric) view of history presented in a very accessible format.

Review by

Larry Gonick is one of comics' unsung heroes as far as I'm concerned. His Cartoon History of the Universe, and associated books, is one of the triumphs of just what the comics medium is capable of. If you've not come across him before, Gonick narrates the history of the world in a conversational style, darting from civilisation to civilisation across the world, illuminating the various perspectives history offers, and shining lights on societies that you may find more unfamiliar. While his narrator is - like Gonick - a Western man, he attempts to break out of the mold of more standard histories to offer a wider view than many of us will have been taught in school.After a bit of a break, he returns to the Cartoon History with The Cartoon History of the Modern World volume 1 pretty much picking up where the Cartoon History of the Universe Vol 3 left off a few years ago, with Christopher Columbus sailing to the New World, and finishing with the US Declaration of Independence.Gonick's strength as ever is his ability to shift perspectives and show history from all angles, concisely covering all the major touchpoints - and many of the minor - all written and drawn in a wry, off-hand style that never fails to raise a smile.If you've not read Gonick's books before, then I think the Cartoon Histories are volumes that everyone interested in comics should have a look at.

Review by

Despite the change of title (due to a change in publishers), this is actually Volume 4 of Gonick's celebrated <i>Cartoon History of the Universe</i>; Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis championed the collection of the early comic books into book form, and Gonick has been publishing his historical comic books as trade paperbacks ever since. This volume (which, in keeping with the new title, has its individual parts, or "volumes," renumbered; Vols. 1-5 are featured here) is not quite as compelling or as funny as the previous volumes. Part of the reason for this is due to the narrowed scope and shorter length: Western Europe and <i>some</i> of the conquering/colonization of the Americas are featured, with a brief sidetrip to the Asian parts of the Portuguese Empire and the Mughal Empire of India up to Aurangzeb (latter half of the 17th century); frustratingly truncated or wholly absent are developments in the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Persia, China and Japan; the Spanish and Portuguese colonization of the Americas; European encroachment into India and Africa (whither the Boers..?); and events among the indigenous polities of Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. If that seems like an unduly heavy laundry list of quibbles, Gonick has only himself to thank for raising his readers' expectations to such levels in his previous globe-trotting <i>Histories</i>. One hopes that his current publisher won't force him to stick to a Eurocentric (and Americo-centric...) perspective.That said, Gonick still manages to produce a few laugh-out-loud gags (one of the main charms of his work) -- such as the dig against J. Edgar Hoover in a footnote on p. 245; perhaps more disturbing to some readers will be his editorializing on current subjects, primarily the U.S. war in Iraq and the administration and rhetoric of George W. Bush (see pages 87, 107, 109, 148, 161, 173, 182, 200 and 243), but also a sly dig at the Bush and Big Oil-sponsored "debate" over global warming (p. 160). NB: even though Gonick's drawings often look like a cartoon aimed at "tweeners" and young adolescents, the <i>Cartoon Histories</i> are decidedly <i>not</i> "kid's stuff," as they deal frankly with violence on both a personal and mass level and slip in the occasional sex joke to liven things up. Gonick doesn't "work blue" <i>per se</i>, but parents may wish to read the book first before allowing their kids under the age of, say, 15 or 16, to read it. OTOH, Gonick's books are precisely the treatment that might get reluctant students of history of all ages interested in the subject; like the previous three volumes, <i>TCHotMW</i> has a bibliography, salted with the occasional opinion as to the merits of the book, which may point the way to further reading. (New to this volume: an admission to a reliance on Wikipedia, which Gonick declares to be a "good source of images as well as articles," may also put off some readers.)

Review by

The Cartoon History of the Universe continues in a new series, the Cartoon History of the Modern World. As always, Gonick brings both knowledge and humor to illuminate and enliven the subject of history. Like his other work, this is a valuable index and overview to a huge body of information, and should not be cited as a primary source; Gonick lists his references in back.

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