A Picture History of Great Discoveries by Clarke Hutton

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A Picture History of Great Discoveries by Clarke Hutton

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A nostalgic re-issue of a book first published in 1954. The pictures are exquisite but the text is not in line with current attitudes in a multicultural society. Cautiously recommended.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: June 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0199118359

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As soon as I opened this book I was taken back in time by about half a century. In a frieze around my classroom walls were lithographs by Clarke Hutton and they're all to be founds here in this book first published in 1954. Unusually it's the illustrator who is given credit for the book with Mabel George's text only being acknowledged on the title page of the book.

For me this book was pure nostalgia, but it did make me realise quite how much times and attitudes have changed. Early exploration was limited because of the belief that the earth was flat but the possibility of trade encouraged sailors to be more adventurous. Unfortunately exploration for trade was quickly followed by exploration as a by-product of conquest as empires – first Greek then Roman – rose and fell.

The pictures are exquisite and evocative. You feel the heat of the tropics and the icy cold of the Poles. The maps show current understanding of geography and how the world was perceived at the time. There's a real feel for the courage that must have been needed – or the lure of the riches. The colours are easy on the eye and tempt you to keep turning the pages.

Text is necessary to flesh out the detail though and Mabel George does a good job of condensing over two thousand years of exploration into commendably few words. She knows what catches a child's imagination and there's an unhurried progression through the expansion of our understanding of the world.

Times have changed though. George sees history from an insular perspective which isn't appropriate in today's multicultural society: … Christian Knights all over Europe began to rise against the Arabs who crushed the Holy Land under a heathen heel. There is an acknowledgement that other countries might have been more advanced than the West – China in the thirteenth century for example – but generally I was left with a feeling that the West had a natural superiority. Even Portugal's part in the slave trade, the capture of men to bring back to Europe as 'presents' and exploitation of natives are passed over without condemnation.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Outstanding Olympics by Clive Gifford gives a good history of the Olympic movement both in ancient and modern times.

Buy A Picture History of Great Discoveries by Clarke Hutton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Picture History of Great Discoveries by Clarke Hutton at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Picture History of Great Discoveries by Clarke Hutton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Picture History of Great Discoveries by Clarke Hutton at Amazon.com.


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