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Risto_Saarelma comments on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject - Less Wrong

167 Post author: lukeprog 16 January 2011 08:30AM

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Comment author: Dahlen 28 September 2015 12:59:52AM *  2 points [-]

Does anyone have a recommendation for a comprehensive history textbook, covering ancient as well as modern history, and several geographical regions? Just something to teach me about major events and dates, wars, rulers & dynasties, interactions between civilisations, etc., without neglecting the non-geopolitical aspects of history. College-level, please. (A dumbed-down alternative to what I'm asking would be to start looking for my old high school textbooks, but obviously that wouldn't be very satisfactory.) Comprehensive accounts of single civilisations in a single period could work as well, but I'm looking for a book that is mainly didactic in purpose and with a broad subject matter.

Also: should I supplant whatever I'm studying with Wikipedia, so that I have the option of going in as much depth as I like? Or is it too unreliable even for basic learning purposes?

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 28 September 2015 12:34:30PM *  1 point [-]

Can't recommend a book I've read, but I've had J.M. Roberts' The New Penguin History of the World on my reading list for a while now. It's more big picture than facts.

If you're after rulers, dates and the like, just diving into wikipedia, starting from high-level articles and taking your own notes might not be a terribly bad approach.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 September 2015 04:04:15PM 1 point [-]

If you're after rulers, dates and the like, just diving into wikipedia, starting from high-level articles and taking your own notes might not be a terribly bad approach.

I actually expect that this is a very good way to approach learning world history.

Comment author: gjm 29 September 2015 11:39:06AM 0 points [-]

Is the fact that it's been on your reading list for some time but you haven't read it a strike against it? E.g., does it indicate that it's intimidating rather than engaging?

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 30 September 2015 11:10:55AM 0 points [-]

No, it's just indicating that I haven't made any sort of concentrated effort at clearing my reading list or maintaining some sort of FIFO discipline on it. The Complete History of the World in Impeccable Engaging Detail tends to not do very well against a Warren Ellis comic book about shooting aliens wearing human skin suits in the head with flesh-eating bullets when picking random media to consume during idle time.

Comment author: gjm 30 September 2015 11:32:24AM 0 points [-]

Yup, understood. (My own to-be-read shelves have maybe 350 books on them, and I have the same failure mode where mind candy gets consumed faster than meatier fare. If it actually is a failure mode, which maybe it isn't.)