Story of Mankind

Story of Mankind Revisions Since 1921

Original Edition:

  1. The Setting of the Stage
  2. Our Earliest Ancestors
  3. Prehistoric Man Begins to Make Things for Himself
  4. Hieroglyphics: The Egyptians Invent the Art of Writing and the Record of History Begins 
  5. The Nile Valley: The Beginnings of Civilisation in the Valley of the Nile
  6. The Story of Egypt: The Rise and Fall of Egypt
  7. Mesopotamia, The Second Centre of Eastern Civilisation
  8. The Sumerians: The Sumerian Nail Writers, Whose Clay Tablets Tell Us the Story of Assyria and Babylonia, the Great Semitic Melting Pot
  9. The Story of Moses, The Leader of the Jewish People
  10. The Phoenicians, Who Gave Us Our Alphabet
  11. The Indo-European Persians Conquer the Semitic and the Egyptian World
  12. The People of the Aegean Sea Carried the Civilisation of Old Asia Into the Wilderness of Europe
  13. The Greeks: Meanwhile The Indo-European Tribe of the Hellenen War Taking Possession of Greece
  14. The Greek Cities That Were Really States
  15. The Greeks Were the First People to Try the Difficult Experiment of Self-Government
  16. How the Greeks Lived
  17. The Origins of the Theatre, the First Form of of Public Amusement
  18. The Persian Wars: How the Greeks Defended Europe Against an Asiatic Invasian and Drove the Persians Back Across the Aegean Sea
  19. How Athens and Sparta Fought a Long and Disastrous War for the Leadership of Greece
  20. Alexander the Great: Alexander the Macedonian Establishes a Greek World-Empire, and What Became of This High Ambition
  21. A Short Summary of Chapters 1-20
  22. Rome and Carthage: The Semitic Colony of Carthage on the Northern Coast of Africa and the Indo-European City of Rome on the West Coast of Italy Fought Each Other for the Possession of the Western Mediterranean and Carthage was Destroyed
  23. How Rome Happened
  24. How the Republic of Rome, After Centuries of Unrest and Revolution, Became an Empire
  25. The Story of Joshua of Nazareth, Whom the Greeks Called Jesus
  26. The Twilight of Rome
  27. How Rome Became the Center of the Christian World
  28. Mohammed: Ahmed the Camel Driver, Who Became the Prophet of the Arabian Desert, and Whose Followers Almost Conquered the Entire Known World for the Greater Glory of Allah, the "Only True God"
  29. How Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, Came to Bear the Title of Emperor and Tried to Revive the Old Ideal of World Empire
  30. Why the People of the Tenth Century Prayed the Lord to Protect Them from the Fury of The Norsemen
  31. Feudalism: How Central Europe, Attacked from Three Sides, Became an Armed Camp and Why Europe Would Have Perished Without Those Professional Soldiers and Administrators Who Were Part of the Feudal System
  32. Chivalry
  33. The Strange Double Loyalty of the People of the Middle Ages, and How it Led to Endless Quarrels Between the Popes and the Holy Roman Emperors:
  34. The Crusades: But All These Different Quarrels Were Forgotten When the Turks Took the Holy Land, Desecrated the Holy Places and Interfered Seriously with the Trade from East to West. Europe Went Crusading
  35. The Mediaeval City: Why the People of the Middle Ages Said That "City Air is Free Air"
  36. Mediaeval Self-Government: How the People of the Cities Asserted Their Right to Be Heard in the Royal Councils of Their Country
  37. The Mediaeval World: What the People of the Middle Ages Thought of the World in Which They Happened to Live
  38. Mediaeval Trade: How the Crusades Once More Made the Mediterranean a Busy Centre of Trade and How the Cities of the Italian Peninsula Became the Great Distributing Centre for the Commerce with Asia and Africa
  39. The Renaissance: People Once More Dared to Be Happy Just Because They Were Alive. They Tried to Save the Remains of the Older and More Agreeable Civilisation of Rome and Greece and They Were So Proud of Their Achievements That They Spoke of a "Renaissance" or Re-birth of Civilisation 
  40. The Age of Expression: The People Began to Feel the Need of Giving Expression to Their Newly Discovered Joy of Living. They Expressed Their Happiness in Poetry and in Sculpture and in Architecture and Painting, and in the Books They Printed
  41. The Great Discoveries: But Now That People Had Broken Through the Bonds of Their Narrow Mediaeval Limitations, They Had to Have More Room for Their Wanderings. The European World Had Grown Too Small for Their Ambitions. It Was the Time of the Great Voyages of Discovery
  42. Concerning Buddha and Confucius
  43. The Reformation: The Progress of the Human Race Is Best Compared to a Gigantic Pendulum Which Forever Swings Forward and Backward. The Religious Indifference and the Artistic and Literary Enthusiasm of the Renaissance Were Followed by the Artistic and Literary Indifference and the Religious Enthusiasm of the Reformation
  44. Religious Warfare: The Age of the Great Religious Controversies
  45. The English Revolution: How the Struggle between the "Divine Right" of Kings and the Less Divine But More Reasonable "Right of Parliament" Ended Disastrously for King Charles II
  46. The Balance of Power: In France on the Other Hand the "Divine Right of Kings" Continued with Greater Pomp and Splendour Than Ever Before and the Ambition of the Ruler Was Only Tempered by the Newly Invented Law of the "Balance of Power"
  47. The Rise of Russia: The Story of the Mysterious Moscovite Empire Which Suddenly Burst Upon the Grand Political Stage of Europe
  48. Russia vs. Sweden: Russia and Sweden Fight Many Wars to Decide Who Shall Be the Leading Power of North-Eastern Europe
  49. The Rise of Prussia: The Extraordinary Rise of a Little State in a Dreary Part of Northern Germany, Called Prussia
  50. The Mercantile System: How the Newly Founded National or Dynastic States of Europe Tried to Make Themselves Rich and What Was Meant by the Mercantile System
  51. The American Revolution: At the End of the Eighteenth Century Europe Heard Strange Reports of Something Which Had Happened in the Wilderness of the North American Continent. The Descendants of the Men Who Had Punished King Charles for His Insistence upon His "Divine Rights" Added a New Chapter to the Old Story of the Struggle for Self-Government
  52. The French Revolution: The Great French Revolution Proclaims the Principles of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality unto All the People of the Earth
  53. Napoleon
  54. The Holy Alliance: As Soon as Napoleon Had Been Sent to St. Helena the Rulers Who So Often Had Been Defeated by the Hated "Corsican" Met at Vienna and Tried to Undo the Many Changes That Had Been Brought About by the French Revolution
  55. The Great Reaction: They Tried to Assure the World an Era of Undisturbed Peace by Suppressing All New Ideas. They Made the Police-Spy the Highest Functionary in the State and Soon the Prisons of All Countries Were Filled with Those Who Claimed That People Have the Right to Govern Themselves As They See Fit
  56. National Independence: The Love of National Independence, However Was Too Strong to Be Destroyed in This Way. The South Americans Were the First to Rebel against the Reactionary Measures of the Congress of Vienna, Greece and Belgium and Spain and a Large Number of Other Countries of the European Continent Followed Suit and the Nineteenth Century Was Filled with the Rumour of Many Wars of Independence
  57. The Age of the Engine: But While the People of Europe Were Fighting for Their National Independence, the World in Which They Lived Had Been Entirely Changed by a Series of Inventions, Which Had Made the Clumsy Old Steam Engine of the 18th Century the Most Faithful and Efficient Slave of Man
  58. The Social Revolution: But the New Engines Were Very Expensive and Only People of Wealth Could Afford Them. The Old Carpenter or Shoemaker Who Had Been His Own Master in His Little Workshop Was Obliged to Hire Himself Out to the Owners of the Big Mechanical Tools, and While He Made More Money Than Before, He Lost His Former Independence and He Did Not Like That
  59. Emancipation: The General Introduction of Machinery Did Not Bring About the Era of Happiness and Prosperity Which Had Been Predicted by the Generation Which Saw the Stage Coach Replaced by the Railroad. Several Remedies Were Suggested But None of These Quite Solved the Problem
  60. The Age of Science: But the World Had Undergone Another Change Which Was of Greater Importance Than Either the Political or the Industrial Revolutions. After Generations of Oppression and Persecution, the Scientist Had at Last Gained Liberty of Action and He Was Now Trying to Discover the Fundamental Laws Which Govern the Universe
  61. A Chapter of Art
  62. Colonial Expansion and War: A Chapter Which Ought to Give You a Great Deal of Political Information about the Last Fifty Years, But Which Really Contains Several Explanations and a Few Apologies
  63. A New World: The Great War, Which Was Really the Struggle for a New and Better World

    (End of original edition, school editions included a reading list and a section of questions and exercises. The following chapters were added in 1926 printing) 
  64. As It Ever Shall Be
  65. After Seven Years
  66. An Animated Chronology
  67. Index
  68. Historical Reading Lists

    (The 1938 printing adds a fascinating epilogue, in which Van Loon actually talks about Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini before WWII had even happened. This epilogue is absent in later printings,)
  1. Epilogue—A Final Chapter Which Came in the Form of a Personal Letter From the Author to His Publishers
  2. An Animated Chronology
  3. Index
  4. Historical Reading Lists

    (1941 edition removes chapters 64-66, adds a two-page chapter after the Animated Chronology, called "Concerning the Pictures," explaining why the text prefers drawings to photographs and maps. Van Loon passed away in 1944.) 

    (Following added in 1951 by Van Loon's son, Gerard Willem)
  1. The United States Comes of Age—Being the First of Several Chapters on Current History Written by Their Uncle Willem for Piet, Jan, Dirk and Jane Van Loon and Their Contemporaries
  2. The "Axis" Partners—The "Crash That Was Felt Around the World" Hastens the Collapse of a Peace That Was Built on Medieval Foundations
  3. Isolationism and Appeasement—How the Axis Partners Began to Divide the World Among Themselves and Why They Got as Far as They Did
  4. The Atlantic Charter—How the "War of Nerves" Gave Way to "Total War" and How Hitler Made Some Serious Miscalculations
  5. Global War—How the Axis Was Defeated in the "Battle of Production" But Final Victory Was Scored By American and British Scientists and a New Era Dawned for All Mankind
  6. The United Nations—How the United States Fell Heir to World Leadership and Played Host to the Participants in a Great Experiment in International Relations

    (Following added in 1972 by Dr. Edward C. Prehn, Professor Paul Sears of Yale University, and Professor Edwin C. Broome of New York University)
  7. A Turbulent Peace—How the Cold War Has Developed in Europe as Open Conflict Erupts in Other Lands
  8. An Old Order Gives Way—As Memories of the Wars of the First Half of the Twentieth Century Fade Away, New Generations Strive "to Tame the Savageness of Man and Make Gentle the Life of the World"
  9. Spaceship Earth—We Must Maintain the Earth's Life Support Systems or Pay the Penalty
  10. The Earth as a Global Village—How the Marvels of Science and Technology Have Made Our Planet a Shrinking World and All Men Brothers
  11. Approaching the Year 2000—The Perils and Hopes of Our Age
  12. Animated Chronology
  13. Index

    (Updated in 1984 and again in 1999 by Professor John Merriman of Yale University, with new illustrations by Adam Simon, with the following new chapters)
  1. Entering the High-Tech Age—Technology Advances and New Wars Erupt
  2. A New Millennium—New Freedoms and Global Connections
    An Animated Chronology

    (Updated in 2014 by Robert Sullivan: new introduction and several new chapters)
  1. A Line—How a Line That We Thought We Saw at the Very Beginning of a New Millennium Turned Out to Be a Kind of Distraction
  2. Close Call—The Election That Almost Wasn't: George Bush vs. Al Gore and the Saga of the Crazy-Sounding Hanging Chad
  3. A Sad Day—A Small Group of Terrorists Attack New York City and Change the World
  4. Striking Back—The U.S. Gets Sympathy But Vows Revenge
  5. A New Coin—Let's Just Look for a Second at What a New Coin Can Mean, the Past Achievements it Represents and the Future Difficulties
  6. War in the Middle East, Again—How the United States Decided to Go to War to Prevent a War and Ended Up Starting One Anyway
  7. A New Look at Big Cities—Cities Flooded with People, and We Realized That They Were a Natural Place for People to Be, Which Means We Have a Lot of Work to Do
  8. A Black Man Becomes the American President—A Century and a Half After the American Civil War, Barack Obama, a Senator from Illinois, Wins a Historic Election
  9. Apologizing—A Very Brief Note on Something That Was Happening More and More Around the World, as Governments Looked Closer at Their Own Histories
  10. Downturn—In Which We Look at a Time When a Lot of People Lost Their Jobs Around the World All at Once, and Think About Why That Happens and What it Says About Us
  11. China is Back—Not That It Ever Went Away
  12. Spring—Revolutions in the Middle East and the Rights of People Everywhere
  13. Friends—The Ways in Which We Changed How We Communicate with Each Other
    An Animated Chronology