Go on a literal journey through the ages of our world with What on Earth Books and Christopher Lloyd’s Absolutely Everything. Educational? Yes, but there’s fun to be had here too.
This book, for cutting as wide of a swath across “knowledge” as it does, is stunningly complete. Absolutely Everything just about includes exactly that- everything. Written and assembled by Christoper Lloyd (not that Christopher Lloyd), AE isn’t happy to focus on the history of humanity, or the world of the dinosaurs, or anything that specific.
Instead, it goes on a trip across the Earth in its entirety, looking at our planet from every angle. So yes, you do get the dinosaurs, but you also get that history of man I mentioned, as well as what came before all of it, and hints at what might be next.
Breaking down a planet
Chapters in Absolutely Everything are broken down by periods of time. And when I say that we start at the beginning, I really mean we start at the beginning. Chapter 1 is titled “Nothing to Something”, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
Picking up 13 billion (with a ‘b’) years ago, the book talks about the start of time itself. Our universe forming, our star system being birthed, and finally our planet itself being formed are all parts of this opening salvo of knowledge. Lloyd doesn’t stop there though, as he goes right up to some 540 million years ago, when the first explosion of life was taking place here on Earth.
Right on the opening pages of the chapter, we get a look at what’s included. The book does a phenomenal job of laying out what’s in each and every chapter with a timeline. To give you another example, here’s what chapter 5, “You and Me”, looks like:
- 200,000 years ago: Homo sapiens emerges in Africa as a new human species
- 120,000 years ago: Modern humans begin to trek out of Africa as the glaciers recede
- 65,000 years ago: Modern humans reach Australia after rafting over shadow seas
- 40,000 years ago: Neanderthals go extinct
- 21,000 years ago: The last glacial maximum reaches its peak
I don’t want to give away everything that’s in the chapter, but you get the idea. All of the major events, as they’re understood by our current science, is laid out for you in easy to understand sections. And all of those are punctuated by some great looking illustrations too.
No, I don’t mean that literally, but this book is beautifully illustrated at every turn of the page. We’re not just talking about comic book style art either, as cool as it looks. There are also actual historical pieces included, like the palace at Nineveh by architect James Fregusson, located in the Sumerian section of the chapter titled “Civilization Begins”.
This mix of historical imagery, comic-style stuff, and shots of actual relics combines to form a window into the past that feels fresh and is interesting to look at. I want to stress too though, that while the book does entertain visually, I think it’s fair to say that you’ll probably learn a thing or two… too.
Did you know that the point of gladiatorial combat wasn’t for one fighter to be killed? Actually, it was to entertain with performances. There was man versus man (among other things) with a winner and a loser, but neither of them had to end up as a corpse. Not exactly the way that Hollywood depicts the Roman games, huh?
There are all kinds of little facts like that sprinkled throughout. They punctuate ideas and sections, and also add in flavor here and there. It’s cool stuff that takes the book even deeper into whatever subject that it happens to be covering at the time.
All in all, a complete look at the past
Again, I feel like I have to reiterate what a shockingly complete look at history this book is. It covers everything, and manages to do so with a very solid amount of concentration on each subject. Christopher Lloyd’s tome could easily be broken up into 15 different hardcover books instead of 15 chapters in one. That it is though, and that it manages to be as complete as it is, is fantastic.
I really enjoyed my time with this one, and actually feel like I learned a few things too. As an adult, that’s cool, but if for a child I have to imagine that’d be phenomenal. Yes, I’m happy to have this volume in my collection, but just as a book that I might thumb through now that I’ve read through it.
A child though, I could easily see pulling this down regularly to explore eons gone by. Not to mention, maybe to pick up a few things that they could use in school.
Sample provided by publisher for review
Release date: Available now
Written by: Christopher Lloyd