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Larry Gonick
b. 1946

Larry Gonick's "The Cartoon History of the Universe", New York, USA, 2001


vol.1- from the Big Bang to the evolution of humans from apes

  • In the beginning - a Big Bang. Here, we deal with a theory of cosmology , or of the origin of the Universe.
  • Gases cooled to form galaxies, (mostly) spiral in shape and motion.
  • In one of the galaxies, a star was formed, which flattened out into "a Solar system", a system with a star and a number of planets circling around it.
  • On the third planet from the sun, at first there were active volcanoes, then rain started to fall, as a result of which the oceans were formed.
  • In the oceans, life emerged from nutrient-rich "organic soup".
  • Chemicals developed a genetic equipment and develop into cells.
  • Around 3 billion years ago, chlorophyll was developed. "When explosed to the sun, this green stuff enabled cells to get energy from the simplest food: carbon dioxide and water".These became the first plants living in the water.
  • The result of the plant's energy production was oxygen. Oxygen reacted with other chemicals, such as metals, ammonia, methane and nitrogen, to produce cells which breathed oxygen and ate plants for energy. These became the first animals.
  • For self-protection, both plan and animal cells clustered together in colonies, and hence produced first complex organisms consisting of many cells.
  • Some cells began to specialize. Some became brains, others eyes, etc.
  • Initially, life reproduced itself asexually, simply by cells dividing in two. Problem: no evolution. This is a problem in the survival struggle.
  • Hence, cells developed sexual reproduction. Sex is good for developing different individuals, which is good for survival and development. This is a primary reason why sex feels good.
  • Periods in development of life: 1. cambrian, 2. ordovician, 3. silurian, 4. devonian, 5. carboniferous, 6. permian, 7. triassic, 8. jurassic, 9. cretaceous, 10. tertiary, 11. quaternary.
  • The cambrian period began with the first ice age. This caused an increase of competition for food, as a result of which some animals develop shells as a kind of armor, or protection.
  • The ordovician period developed fish with cord running along their central nerve. This developed into a system of cartilage, which protected the central nervous system without any armor.
  • The devonian period is known as "the age of fishes". Fish develped brains, backbones, ribs, skulls, jaws, all of which allowed for a fierce struggle of survival. The big fish ate the smaller fish.
  • The competition became so stiff, that some fish went on land, to escape the predators. But first on land were plants. This was in the ordovician and silurian periods.
  • In the devonian period, plants covered the land, and animals followed. First came bugs, then fish.
  • Fins gradually evolved into legs (the transition phase we see today in the seals).
  • Carboneferous period is named for coal which was formed as a result of forests in this period
  • Sexual habits kept the amphibians in water. To protect the future babies, a shell was developed around an egg. 
  • In the permian period, mammals developed solar collectors, for regulating body heat. These however were a problem when it was raining or very windy.
  • Some animals learned to generate heat internally by burning food faster.
  • This meants a need for more food. Hence, some animals developed a habit of walking on two legs, to run faster. Also, their teeth specialized into cutters and grinders.
  • Hair was first used to extend the sense of touch. Later, it was used for protection and to keep warm.
  • Triassic period – origin of dinosaurs.
  • Jurassic period – small dinosaurs evolve into birds. Also, cousins of dinosaurs go into sea. In this period – around 200 million years ago – continental drift started.
  • Cretaceous period – height of dinosaur period. Modern plants develop. 70 million years ago – sudden cooling. One theory – a giant asteroid hit the planet, as a result of which a giant cloud of dust was raised, and the climate cooled. Many kinds of sea life die. Dinosaurs die out in favor of small mammals. Apes are a kind of “primates”. We developed out of apes.


Vol.2 - humans making use of sticks and stone (the "stone age")

(Also, see "nomads " in Wikipedia for numerous photos)

  • Monkeys venture out of the trees on fields. These monkeys ran on two legs, which left the hands free. The free hands were used for a variety of uses, the main ones being making use of sticks and stones, as tools and weapons.
  • The edge was given to us by cooperation. Males went out hunting, females stayed with children and gathering vegetables. Males learned to work stone with stone – making of stone tools. Women made softer things which did not survive, such as baskets for gathering herbs.
  • An ice age began (peaked around 20,000 years ago). Humans survived by making use of fire. Also, fire was used to harden the spears, to cook, to warm.
  • Some early humans were vegetarians and some – cannibals. The first people were nomads, carrying very little with them. Then, they started to carry their houses with them, e.g. wigwam.
  • The fist houses were made of sticks (or bones), surrounded by stones (or larger bones). Also, caves.
  • Around 200,000 years ago there appeared people with large-headed humans. These were the Neanderthal people. They ate meat of mammoths and had rituals.
  • Then appeared people with a large forehead. These were Cro-magnons. They exterminated the Neanderthals. Their stone tools were far more sophisticated.
  • Music started to appear in this period. They developed cave art, probably for rituals like hunting. Some wolfs, in exchange for food, became domesticated dogs. Women learn to make baskets, ropes from straw. These could be used for making snares, a string for a bow, a line for fish.
  • Around 12,000 years ago the climate began to warm. Famine followed.
  • Civilization as we know it today started to appear in Western Asia - today's Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Arabia, Egypt. There, people learned to domesticate the sheep. People (probably women) invented bread. They learn the use of different seeds. And so agriculture began. To store the grain, people invented pottery. To use the wool from the sheep, they invented weaving on a loom.
  • To work the fields, people needed big families.
  • One of the first cities was the trading post of Jericho, on the route from Asia to Egypt (Africa). There, people were protected by walls, provided with "hotels", etc.
  • In the Neolitihic Age (new stone age, around 9500 B.C. in the Middle East, last part of the Stone age, polished stone tools), trade began, as people could produce more food than they needed for their immediate needs.
  • Smelting of copper begins, it is used for making tools and weapons. Also, the wheels was invented, probably first for making pottery.
  • Initially, the chiefs of clans and tribes. All goods were in common, no private property. With development of agriculture (sheep raising, grain planting, etc.), private property started to appear. Also, social structure changed - family organization became dominant. (Today, with the break-down of private property, we see a break-down of family. In other words, break down of private property leads to liberation of women and break down of a family as an institution.) Woman became a prisoner in man's house.
  • Also, with development of private property, wars started - to seize the fields, the domesticated animals, and mainly - to make the other people slaves, who would work the fields.
  • One of the first centers of civilization was Sumer, around 3300 B.C. The people built irrigation canals, and carried trade with India and Egypt. These people developed clay tablets to write on. Their writing developed from pictures.


vol.3 - the river realms of Sumer, Egypt, Babylon, etc.

  • Another cradle of civilization was between the rivers Tigers and Euphrates. There people began to make bricks out of mud. From these, they built the city of Eridu, but problem with the bricks was that they melted in the rain.
  • Agriculture yields surpluses, hence trade. Foreigners start to notice the spot.
  • People in Sumer ate mostly bread and onions. They drank beer which was brewed and served only by women. (Picture on the right: a ruler, Sargon of Akkad. Notice the delicate lips, self-possession of the man, and mastery of the sculptor). 
  • The first hero of the age was Gilgamesh (Sumer's heroic age, around 2700 B.C.). It is said that he was 2/3 a god. He rebelled against the priests (and thus gods), and against some kings. He killed some monsters
  • Sumerians worshipped fertility and sexuality. In spring, a priested enacted "sacred marriage" with the king in a temple. Below, a general orgy followed, Thus, many babies came in winter, which was a relatively free time.
  • They developed magical methods for understanding the world, including the astrology - pre-cursor of astronomy.
  • 2500 B.C. - fighting erupts between the cities of Umma and Lagash.
  • Tax system developed. Taxes were collected - for marriage, divorce, for shearing a sheep, for burial, for fighting. People of Lagash were unhappy with such heavey taxes, and so they threw out the old king and chose a new one, Urukagina, who reformed the tax code.
  • The role of a woman declined, a saying was invented: "If a wife contradicts her husband, her teeth should be bashed with bricks"
  • Another group of people who lived in Sumer were Semites, the ancestors of modern Arabs and Jews. Their king was Sargon of Agade who led the revolt against the king of Ksh. Eventually, Sargon's empire collapsed, around 2230 B.C.
  • Then, Sumer was invaded by the people called Martu, also semites. Martu did not live in houses, did not know grain (no agriculture), ate raw meat and some herbs.
  • Then Sumer was attacked by a mountain people, Elamites. Around 2000 B.C. these people stormed the capial of Sumer, the city Ur, and ended the power of Sumer.
  • Their language was Akkadian. They absorbed entirely the culture of Sumer.
  • Fighting among the Martuwas stopped by a new empire-builder, Hamurabi of Babylon, around 1790 B.C. He is also famous for his "code", or laws.
  • Women were veiled so other men would not see them. This was portrayed as a privilege.
  • One of Martu was Abraham. He led his family out of the city of Babylon. Abraham had a son, Isaac. The young man was rebellious, so Abraham wanted to sacrifice him, but then spared him at the last minute.
  • The tribe of Abraham becomes many tribes. One of these was the tribe of Israel.
  • In parallel with Sumer, the Egyptian civilization developed. Nile flooded the valeys every spring.
  • The Egyptians learned to make sheer linen (compare to sheepskin of Sumerians). Instead of writing in the mud, they invented a papyrus. They also developed a graceful language out of pictures. They were famous for cosmetics, wigs, etc. They developed nice statues and mummy. The dead were buried in special houses, which developed into pyramids.
  • Around 1780 B.C. Egypt was invented by people called Hyksos on horses and chariots (which were like battle tanks in those days).
  • The Hyksos were attacked by "a baron" of Thebes, also on chariots.
  • Egypt develops an army and becomes an empire.
  • Egypt built nice sail ships which traded with Africa and Arabia. They built nice temples, still preserved today.
  • Around 1500 B.C. bronze is invented (an alloy of copper and tin). This metal is harder than any known before. This gives an advantage in fighting and working.
  • An army of slaves escaped Egypt, and these were the Hebrews.


Vol. 4. "the old Testament", the tribes of Israel

  • The stretch of land between Egypt and the Euphrates river - very violent history. Invaded by many people.
  • The origins of the Jewish people go back to Abraham and his wife Sarah, who emerged from the Sumerian city of Ur.
  • Lot was their nephew. He lost his wife, so he had sex with his daughters. Abraham and Lot fathered many tribes.
  • Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, who changed his name to Israel. This Israel begot 12 sons of Israel. One of them - Joseph - went to Egypt and got a good government position. He offered his kin some land in Egypt, and they accepted. Later, after Joseph's death, they were enslaved.
  • Moses - a half-Egyptian - stood up for the slaves. Once, he killed a slave overseer for abusing slaves. He escaped. (Picture on the right: Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments, painting by Rembrandt, 1659)
  • Moses had a vision that he must go back and free the slaves. And so he led the Jewish people out of Egypt.
  • And they wondered in the desert, and needed laws to resolve their disputes. So, Moses went up to a mountain, where he got a tablet. By the time he arrived back, he noticed that the people were worshipping a golden calf. So his party killed the calf-worshippers.
  • Israel was fighting the philistines, a tribe equipped with chariots and iron. They were defeated.
  • Hannah had a son called Samuel. She vowed not to cut his hair. Samuel became a leader of Israel, travelling around to judge the people. Thus, kings came from judges of people in civil strife.
  • Saul was a big, powerful man whom Samuel appointed to be a king.
  • Saul had a singer named David. This David fought the biggest man of the philistines, Goliath.
  • David became a king of Israel.
  • He noticed a woman named Bathsheba, and took her from her husband, who was killed in a battle later. Their child was called Solomon. Solomon became king.
  • Solomon was known for his judgement, as for example when two women claimed one and the same child as their, he ordered to cut it in 2, and one woman refused.
  • After Solomon's death, there followed a civil war among the Jews.
  • Assyrian empire started to be built around this time. They inherited the knowledge of Sumer and Babylon. Efficient administrators, goods roads, messengers. They perfected armored battering rams and siege towers for conquests of walled cities.
  • (All civilization is really a history of civil wars.)
  • The Assyrians finished the kingdom of Israel and deported some people, which became known as the "ten lost tribes of Israel".
  • Another stake on the kingdom of Israel - Babylon. These people took Jerusalem in 597 B.C.


vol. 5 - Greeks in the bronze age

  • First, the land around the Aegean Sea belonged to the Pelasgians. They had stone tools and animals, like pigs, brought from the mainland
  • The civilization was born on the island of Crete. The greatest city was Mykenae. This was conquered by the Greeks, the nomadic Indo-European tribe with horses.
  • From native they learned the arts of cultivation of olives and grapes.
  • The myth of Oedipus
  • The myth of Argonauts (cartoon )
  • The myth of Heracles (who originally was one of the argonauts)
  • Struggle among sons of Oedipus for the throne of Thebes - the story of "Seven against Thebes"
  • The story of the Trojan war (cartoon)
  • "In the second millennium BC Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilization, a military stronghold which dominated much of southern Greece. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae".
  • 1200 B.C. - Greece invaded by dorians. At this time - only bronze tools.
  • Gradually, Greeks learn to work the iron.
  • The Spartan culture, e.g. women trained naked in wrestling, running, etc. Constitution made by Lykurgos.
  • Love affairs between men and boys.
  • 600 B.C. - Greeks spread out in colonies. In the course of travelling they pick up culture, e.g. writing from Phoenicians, architecture from Egyptians, etc.
  • Worship of Dionysos in ecstasy
  • Philosophers start to appear. First - Thales of Miletos, 640-546 B.C. Famous for falling into a well, as he was lookin up to the stars. Thales said that everything was made of water.
  • His student, Anaximander, suggested that all life evolved out of fish. Anaximander brought a sun dial from Babylonia.
  • Pythagoras and his secret brotherhood. Idea that "number is all"


vol. 6 - Greeks fighting the Persians

  • Croesos - a rich king of Lydia. Asks the gods of Delphi if he should attack Persians. Given an equivocal answer.
  • Persians defeat the Lydians. The king of Persians - Cyrus.
  • Persians next seized the Babylon.
  • The tomb of Cyrus still stands in Iran.
  • The son of Cyrus - Cambyses.
  • Then Darius, through a trick, became a king of Persia. Darius divided his king into 20 satrapies, each one rule by a Persian Satrap. He established a post service on good roads. Engaged in trade with China.
  • Ionians (on the Asian coast) rebelled from the Persians. So, they asked for help from Athens.
  • Athenians had their own share of a civil strife between the rich and the poor. Solon tried to reconcile their interests (read Diogenes on Solon and Plutarch on Solon).
  • The representative of the poor was Pisistratos. He fought the aristocras, gave land to the poor, enforced Solon's laws.
  • The aristocrats called in the Spartans. The Athenians rose against the aristocrats and the Spartans.
  • Athens fought many of its neighbors - Corinth, Thebes, etc. - and became a great power.
  • Darius attempted to sail to Greece, but his ships were broken up on the rocks of Aegean sea.
  • Athens sent a runner to Sparta for help. He made 150 miles in 2 days.
  • The Spartans didn't come on time, but 5000 Athenian hoplites defeated a much greater number of Persians at Marathon.
  • The leader of Athens became Themistocles, a son of a vegetable vendor (a shopkeeper). He had some extra silver, and with this he built a great navy.
  • Xerxes with a great army marched on Greece. Attempted to build a bridge from Asia to Europe.
  • The Greeks sent a small force to make a first line defense at Thermopylae. Spartan king Leonides with 300 spartans and 900 servants made their last stand there. They were defeated through a betrayal.
  • Athens was evacuated and torched by the Persians. Greeks were not united, but Themistocles forced them to fight on sea (Salamis), by passing a message to the Persians.
  • Xerxes went home, but left behind 80000 troops, which were defeated next year, 479 B.C., at Platea.


vol.7 - Athens

(I think it is wrong to devote 100 pages to ancient Greece, and only 50, even less, to the period after WWII)

  • After the Persian war, Athenians were asked by Sparta not to put up a wall again, but they refused.
  • Athens built an empire based on ships.
  • The leader of the democrats - Pericles. He made Athens beautiful through public works.
  • The Peloponnesian war
  • (What is history? 1. Story of kings, 2. story of war and peace between natinos, 3. story of class struggles, 4. story of development of knowledge)
  • Athens surrender to Spartans, next: 30 tyrants.
  • The trial of Socrates.
  • Pupil of Socrates - Plato, pupil of Plato - Aristotle.
  • Aristotle teacher Alexander the Great. He conquered the Persian empire. Picture above: Alexander vs. Darius during the battle of Issus. After defeating the Persians, Alexander went all the way to India. Further his troops refused to go.


vol.8 - ancient India

  • Indian sub-continent used to be a part of Africa. 100 million year ago the drift from Africa started, and it arrived at its present location 60 million years ago. Result of the merging were the Himalays.
  • Dravidian people who built the first civilization must have visited the Sumer to learn about the city planning.
  • Then India was invaded by Aryans ("the pure", i.e. white people).
  • The biggest treasure was the cow. It was a source of many goods. Hence, worship of the cow in India. (In ancient Greece, there was a worship of a bull.)
  • Class division of the Indian society: sudra (the workers), vaisya (the merchants), kshatriya (warriors-aristocrats), brahmin (priests)
  • Mahabharata - an epic poem of brothers who, with help of god Krishna, defeat the enemies (in a civil war).
  • Indian religion - there is a soul to the Universe, called "Brahman", which is equivalent to the individual soul within each and every one, "Atman". The idea of Karma (good vs. bad deeds) and re-incartation, according to the merit. Main gods: Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu. Worship of phallic symbol.
  • Prince Gautama - future Buddha. Born 567 B.C.Lifetime of search for enlightenment. The idea of moderation, or the Middle Way.
  • Jainism - founded by Vardhamana, another seeker. Reverence for life, in all forms.
  • There were also materialists, but they didn't get much support from the rich.
  • Festivals every 4 years at the junction of India's main rivers - all sects. "KumbhMela"
  • A caste system in India - pre-cursor to class system. Different laws for different castes.
  • Prejudices against women.
  • Sex manual - the Kama Sutra - composed at this time.
  • The poem of Bhagavad Gita (song of God) - Krishna's explanation what is reality.


vol. 9 - ancient China

  • "by comparing human genes from around the world, scientists have reached a startling result: everyone on earth is descended from one woman
    who lived in Africa not more than 200,000 years ago!"
  • Civilization came to China through inventions of a few sages.
  • Chinese women learned to make silk from caterpillar cocoons. This is credited to a sage-queen Lei-Zu.
  • Her husband, the yellow emperor Huang-Ti, invented the court ceremony and warfare
  • Another sage, Fu Hsi, could see the future by looking at a tortoise.
  • Other sages invented irrigation and fire.
  • Yu organized China to build dams and dikes to control the floods.
  • Yu also surveyed China and divided it up politically
  • Chinese family - very strong bonds of reverence and obedience, hierarchy
  • Chinese writing was pictographic, which later became stylized.
  • China was periodically invaded by northern barbarians.
  • China broke into a number of small kingdoms which were constantly fighting each other.
  • At this time, Sun Wu (sun tzu) came up with his book "The Art of War".
  • The philosophy of Daoismwas invented. Lao Tzu was China's first philosopher.
  • Confucius - 551-479 B.C., a political philosopher
  • Mu Tzu preached the doctrine of universal love, in 400 B.C.


vol. 10 - ancient China continued

  • battle of different dynasties for power in China
  • "sword dance"
  • The feudal government attempted to control the capitalist tendencies, by requiring traders to have permits, stamps, etc.
  • There was central control of grain - gov't buying surplus grain from peasants in times of plenty, and selling to people when the harvests were poor


vol. 11 - the republican Rome - 509-27 B.C.

  • IV century B.C. - Alexander attempted to unite the world and create a unified Greco-Persian culture
  • After Alexander's death, his empire is broken into 3 parts: Egypt, Syria and Macedonia. Hellenistic Age begins - "Hellenistic Greece corresponds to the period between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the annexation of the classical Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC." (Wikipedia)
  • The "wanders of the world" were created at this time: the Colossus of Rhodes, the lighhouse of Alexandria, etc.
  • Meanwhile, two twin brothers were abandoned by their parents, around 800 B.C. They were raised by a she-wolf, or a prostitute (same word in Latin). Photo on the right: The Capitoline she-wolf with the boys Romulus and Remus. MuseoNuovo in the Palazzo deiConservatori, Rome. The figure of the wolf - 13 century. Romulus and Remus - 15th century.
  • They founded the city of Rome. In a fight, Romulus killed Remus.
  • Romans obtained their women from a neighboring Sabine tribe.
  • Romans kicked out their kings because a son of Tarquin the Proud raped one of their women. The revolt against the kings was led by Brutus.
  • Constant class struggles between the patricians and the plebs (as in the U.S. - between the WASPs, the "old American families", and the immigrants)
  • In 387 B.C. the Gauls came to Rome and burned down the city
  • The Romans started their conquests: in 290 B.C. they moved against the Samnites
  • 280's - the Greek Pyrrhus invades Italy and obtains "Pyrrhic victories"
  • The Romans were good at war and construction: military roads (the Appian way), aqueducts, circuses, etc.
  • Interests of two imperial cities - Rome and Carthage collided over Sicily. Hence, the Punic wars. 
  • Hannibal crossed the Alps with his army and obtained a victory over Romans in the battle of Cannae, 216 B.C. (surrounding the Romans)
  • Hannibal made a strategic mistake: instead of going directly on Rome, he spent 14 years in other places.
  • Meanwhile, the Romans took Syracuse, in Sicily, killing the Greek mathematician Archimedes (287-212 B.C.)
  • Scipio defeated Hannibal in the battle of Zama, 202 B.C. Carthage surrendered.
  • Romans started using slaves from nations they conquered for their agriculture, etc. 136 B.C. - the slaves of Sicily revolted.
  • A radical tribune, Tiberius Grachus, proposed to give a land to the landless. The Senate killed him, and later his brother.
  • A newly elected consul Gaius Marius creates his own army to fight against the senators. A civil war follows between Sulla and Marius.
  • 74 B.C. - a revolt of the slaves led by Spartacus.
  • Caesar - a nephew of Marius. Borrows money from Crassus and others to win the favor of the plebs.
  • Caesar claims he needs only one thing: his own dignity.
  • He raised an army and invaded Gaul. He wrote a history of the campaign. "Venu, vidi, vici"
  • A civil war between Caesar and Pompey. In 46 B.C. Caesar comes triumphant to Rome.
  • A plot is hatched against him by the senators and they kill him, 44 B.C.
  • A war follows between Antony and Octavian (a nephew of Caesar)
  • Rome becomes an empire, with "Augustus Caesar" as the emperor


vol. 12 - the Roman Empire - 27 B.C. - 476 A.D. (the end of the Byzantine Emprie in 1453 A.D.)

  • Augustus degraded the Senate, encouraged patriotic writers, such as Livy and Vergil, but banished poet Ovid to a desert island
  • Fighting for inheritance of Judea
  • Israel is awaiting for "messiah", or "the savior"
  • John teaches that sins can be washed away by a bath in the Jordan river - and there is evidence that water does take away stress and headaches.
  • One such "free-lance preacher" was Joshua, son of Joseph. And he had 12 assistants.
  • Another one was Mary Magdalene, who gave "special services" to Joshua. She appears to have been the girlfriend of Jesus, as he often kissed her on the mouth, and some of his followers were jealous for that.
  • Joshua went to Jerusalem where he offended authorities (e.g. by interfering with moneychangers in the temple). They arrested him and Judas identified him with a kiss.
  • So, he was crucified and Mary saw that his body was stolen from a cave and said that he has risen from the dead.
  • The desciples started preaching "the way"
  • Caligula - a demented emperor: thirst for blood, sex with wives of his dinner guests, etc.
  • Praetorian guard plays a role in appointing a new emperor - Claudius.
  • One of the early christians - Stephen - insulted the high priests by saying "You wouldn't know the truth if it bit you", for which he was stoned.
  • Judea - an example of a rebelious province: "Roman luxury meant provincial poverty! In Judea, high taxes created unrest, arrests, and executions". Thus, the story of Jesus and Christianity is really the enslaved, exploited provinces against the "educated" capital of empire, a center of exploitation and oppression of humanity.
  • Josephus describes the rebellion of Judea against Rome, the Massada defense, the destruction of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Jewish nation.
  • Nero was another of crazy emperors - maries his male slave, kills his mother


vol. 13 - the end of Roman Empire

  • First, Christians were persecuted. Their religion was outlawed. They were "thrown to the lions" (listen to "American Caesar" by Iggy Pop.)
  • In 110's, this switched to "don't ask, don't tell" policy
  • In China at this time - dynasties struggle for power. The battle of red bluff, 208 A.D. - mind overcomes a superior number of ships.
  • Three religions at this time in China: Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism.
  • Romans invent a totally armored knight - a forerunner of middle-ages knight
  • The chinese invent the stir-ups.
  • The emperor Diocletian invents serfdom, to ensure tax payments from depopulated countryside: "no tenant farmer could move from landlord's farm".
  • Constantine - the first Christian emperor. Persecutions of Christians stop. Founded a new city - Constantinople, modern Istanbul.
  • Various sects start to appear among Christians. To settle the question of creed, Constantine holds a meeting of 300 bishops in Nicaea, in Asia Minor. They specify "orthodoxy", held by the Catholic church today. Other beliefs are "heresy".
  • German soldiers serving in the Roman army rebel ("hunger turned to anger"). The Goths defeat the Roman army in 378 B.C. The Romans execute their own Gothic units.
  • Alaric, king of the Goths, sacked Rome. 410 A.D.
  • In 453 the Vandals sacked the Rome.
  • But the Eastern part of the Empire remained. It fell in 1453.


vol. 14 - the origin of Islam

  • Islam appears to originate as the religion of the poor: Muhhamed was an orphan, raised by his uncle. He taught that Muslism should be modest, sober, frugal, charitable towards widows and orphans. They should treat each other as brothers and sisters.
  • He also taught that women should cover their heads - to avoid cheating on their husbands (hence, we understand this to be a period of the beginning of private property).
  • After death of M. - numerous battles to be his successor.
  • In 751 the Arabs collided with the Chinese, fighting. After the battle, the Arabs brought home one Chinese who knew the secret of making paper.
  • The Arabs start developing high culture: astronomy, mathematics
  • Charlemange sent diplomats to Baghdad. The caliph sent Charlemagne a clock, a chess set, and an elephant, as presents.
  • Swedes wake up at the time. They sail their boats through Russia, and shipped amber and slaves to Baghdad.
  • African slaves in the south of Iraq rebel.
  • He (Muhhamed) also did and preached things that went against the traditions of the times, e.g. muslims pooling their resoures to start businesses outside their families' control
  • So, some Arabs wanted to kill him.
  • Muslims killed some Jewish tribes in Medina vol. 15 - Africa
  • Sahara used to be a plain with grass, with cows grazing. but gradually, it dried up. The process of drying started around 4000 B.C., last giraffe in the area - 2500 B.C.
  • Africans started farming and smelting iron
  • Malayans - double hulled boats. Travel 4000 miles to Madagascar, then to Africa. Bantu picked up vegetables from them.
  • Struggle between kingdoms of Ethiopia, Nubia and Ethiopia
  • Ethiopian queen Sheba went to visit king Solomon, who made advances to her, and she went home pregnant
  • Timbaktu - a university town, Islam


vol.16 - the Middle Ages in the East

  • tells the legend about the origin - ancestry - of Jenghis Khan
  • female skeletons buried with weapons were found in Ukraine
  • a buddhist monk in China invented the first mechanical clock in 723 A.D.
  • the origin of civilization in Japan - around 500 A.D., Korean religious cult
  • Chinese invented the first gun firing a ball in early 1200's
  • Persian culture of this century:
  1. polymath Al-Biruni (950-1050 A.D.)
  2. philosopher (Avicenna)
  3. poet Firdausi
  • In India the classical age was during the Gupta dynasty - Delhi's iron pillar, no rust after 1600 years.
  • Indians also invented chess, a game of battle strategy
  • Hinduism came up with the idea that sex runs the universe, it was a way of overcoming a division of society into castes. See the temple of Khajuraho.


vol.17 - the dark ages

  • the period is dominated by the Byzantium. They invented the Greek fire in VII century
  • Frankish chief Clovis switches to Christianity around 550 A.D. He gave a rise to the line of Louis kings in France.
  • Spain converted to Christianity around 586
  • A civil war in Spain resulted in an invitation of Arabs, who conquer all of Spain
  • The Arabs cross the mountains into France. At the battle of Tours they are defeated.
  • Charlemagne - the son of Pippin - constantly at war in Europe
  • His friend was count Roland, who was killed by the Basques. Hence, "The Song of Roland".
  • After death of Charles, invasions of Europe by the Vikings start
  • Nobles built up castles, and hence gain independence
  • Vikings also follow down the Volga river, and around 850 a new nation is born - Russia (picture on the right: Nicholas Roerich, "Guests from overseas").
  • 866 - the first naval assault by the Russians on Constantinople
  • The Byzantine empire was at war with the Bulgars 
  • The slave trade was dominated mostly by the Slavs, hence the name
  • Split between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Church was over the control of the slave market in Bari
  • William conquers England, defeating king Harold, 1066
  • Landlords swear loyalty to William
  • Robert Weasel fell in love with Sichelaita, who followed him in battle. 


vol.18 - the crusaders

  • the idea of crusades came from Peter the Hermit, who suggested this to the Pope, around the end of XI century. (Photo on the right: A medieval image of Peter the Hermit, leading knights, soldiers and women toward Jerusalem during the First Crusade)
  • Culture was much higher among the Arabs at the time than in Europe. E.g. medicine, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy.
  • Peter Abelard (1079-1142) and Heloise
  • the women around this time wore a "chastity belt"
  • educated women appear - Hildegard von Bingen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Heloise
  • Richard the Lion Heart, son of Eleanor
  • 1162 - a Turkish sultan boasts of a man who can fly
  • A horse collar was invented, which allows horse to be used in agriculture
  • 1202 - Leonardo Fibonacci puts out his math book. He introduces the arabic numerals
  • 1212 - children's crusades
  • 1227 - the Pope sets up an Inquisition
  • Around the same time, Ginghis Khan starts to set up his empire. This reaches its height in the middle of the XIII century


vol. 19 - "the pest and the West"

  • Vikings die out in Greenland, replaced by Inuit, who make living by kayaking and seal-hunting
  • Chinese build and send out a navy to explore the world - XIV-XV centuries, the court mandarins spoke against the program, so it was cut
  • Plagueis introduced from Asia. 
  • The French fought the English in a Hundred Years' War - XIV-XV centuries
  • Sects spring up - "some danced wildly... others preach against preasts... others paraded from town to town, moaning and flogging themselves"
  • Poland was formed from pagans who converted to Christianity and rebelled against the Teutonic knights - 1300's. Kind Casimir the Great (reigned 1333-1370)
  • Serfs become unprofitable, so the feudal lords start freeing their serfs and introduce the sheep
  • "All across Europe, the commoners rose in revolt in 1370's and 80's" - the John Ball rebellion. "Matters cannot go well in England until all things are held in common, when there shall be neither vassals nor lords, when the lords shall be no more masters than ourselves" - John Ball. Also, a workers' rebellion in Italy. Also, revolt in France.
  • Timur the Lame clashes with the Turks
  • As the English were defeating the French, Joan of Arc, a 19-year girl, came to the rescue of the French. She fell into the English hands and was burned.
  • A civil war in Florence, Dante Alighieriis exiled. Also at this time: Petrarch, Boccaccio.
  • Modern European painting starts with Cimbue (1240-1302), who is the teacher of Giotto (1276-1337)
  • Brunelleschi invents a perspective (XIV century) - designs the dome of Florence's cathedral
  • Donatello makes "David", 1436, patronized by Cosimo de Medici, the richest banker in Florence, they are all "humanists"
  • the Turks get a German engineer to design them a big gun which they use to pound the wall of Constantinople, which falls in 1453
  • 1452 - Leonardo da Vinci is born. Leonardo doesn't like to be hurried in his work, goes from Florence to Milan to make a living
  • In Florence at this time: Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli (like to draw nude women)
  • Savanarola speaks against the Medici
  • Portugal's prince - Henry the Navigator, make money through tuna fishing monopoly. Sends out ships around Africa. Trade with African slaves starts - XV century.
  • Columbus travels from Portugal to Spain, in search of a sponsor to go on ships west. Finally he gets the Spanish king to sponsor him, with money taken from Jews who were expelled from Spain. He, with a crew of 88, sets out on August 12, 1492.


Cartoon History of the Modern World

vol. 1 - events in ancient America

  • Quetzalcoatl spoke against human sacrifice among the Indians of Mexico. He was chased out of the society by a coalition of priests and butchers.
  • Mexican indians have hereditary nobility and a king, Moctezuma II.
  • Columbus, on his 4th voyage to America, was shipwrecked, and managed to swim to Jamaica.
  • Hernan Cortes explores and conquers Mexico
  • Moctrezuma was killed by his own people, for collaborating with Spaniards, but his son leads a resistance and dies


vol. 2 - in search of the Indies

  • 1493 - Pope splits the world between Portugal and Spain
  • The story of the ancient Andean empire - Spaniards obtained a lot of gold. The silver mines of Potosi (Photo on the right: Machu Picchu)
  • 1497 - Vasco de Gamma makes it to India. Clashes between the Portugese and Indians.
  • Magellan's expedition - the first to make it around the world. Goal: a search for the Indies.
  • (Just as the idea of one god was revolutionary for its times, so is today the idea of one knowledge)


vol. 3 - Protestants in Europe

  • church practices simony, to raise money
  • wars take place in Italy, as the "center" of the world
  • Machiavelli writes a book on politics, "The Prince"
  • Martin Luther speaks against indulgences
  • Germany explodes with a peasant revolt against the masters - 1524
  • Other priests speak against the church - e.g. Zwingli
  • In England, Henry VIII has a child with Anne Boleyn. It's Elizabeth. Pope pronounces her a bastard.
  • Francis Drake - the second circumnavigation of the globe, 1577-1580
  • Thomas More write an "Utopia" - setting goals for the future
  • Anabaptists (in Germany) practice "communal farms"
  • Calvin preaches in Geneve
  • Counter-Reformation movement led by Jesuits


vol. 4 - the rebellion of the Netherlands

  • The Spanish Habsburgs ruled over Spain and Netherlands
  • The French protestants, called "Huguenots" conspired with the protestants in the low countries (Netherlands) against the Spanish king
  • At the time, capitalist system was developing rapidly in the Netherlands: taxes on the port of Antwerp equalled the Spanish king's take from the mines of Potosi. Revolutionary artists appeared, such as Bosch and Brueghel (picture on the right: Pieter Bruegel, "The Blind Leading the Blind", 1568)
  • Spanish king tried to rule Netherlands in a centralist way, by sending in the inquisition. But the country had local centers of power.
  • Inquisition infuriated the people of the Netherlands. Spanish king sends in the army under the Duke of Alva. The resistance of the Dutch was led by William of Orange.
  • Along the way, some industrious protestants escaped from Holland to England. Tought the English somethings about potter, weaving, art, business.
  • 1572 - Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris.
  • In Holland the resistance breaks down the dikes to let the sea in and thus defeated the Spanish army. University of Leyden was founded to commemorate the victory.
  • The Spanish army disintegrates, as it was not paid.
  • 1581 - theUnited Provinces of Netherlands declared their independence from Spain.
  • The English practice piracy, especially against the Spanish ships and ports - John Hawkins, Francis Drake. Allies of the UPN.
  • The Spanish put together an Armada to invade England. A poorly thought-out plan leads to a disaster of the Armada.
  • At this time in England, there are excellent poets and playwrites: Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare.
  • In France, a protestant king (Henry IV) converts to Catholicism, and this brings peace to France. "Paris is worth a mass!"
  • The UPN prosper - become a global power, outcompete the Portugese.
  • In Spain, Cervantes writes "Don Quixote"
  • The Dutch practice religious and philosophical tolerance. They are home to persecuted sects and philosophers (Spinoza).
  • Art finds its high point in the Netherlands in the work of Rembrandt.
  • In 1608, a telescope is invented in UPN. In 1609, Galileo in Italy uses it to start observations of the sky. Sees satelites of Jupiter. Practices experiments to overturn Aristotle. Faces inquisition of Urban III, who used to be his friend. Reason: offends the pope in one of his books as a fool. Inquisition forces the scientist to take back his view on the world, 1633. Placed under house arrest. Visited by some deep-thinking people: Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Robert Boyle, John Milton.
  • In 1543 Copernicus proposed the theory that the Earth rotates around the sun.
  • Tycho Brahe takes up astronomy after losing his nose in a duel. He hires Kepler. The guy, basing himself on observations of Brahe, works out the idea that Mars goes in an eliptical orbit. Publishes the results in 1609.
  • 30-years' war starts in Europe between Catholics and Protestants. Fought in Germany. Peace signed in 1648.


vol. 5 - the English revolution and the revolution of the American colonies

  • religious fighting between Catholics and Protestants is carried to the American soil.
  • English king asks the parliament for money, but refuses to listen to their "advice". Hence, a rebellion starts
  • The Parliament army is headed by Cromwell
  • The king is defeated, then beheaded
  • English political theorist of the times - Thomas Hobbes. He is inspired by Rene Descartes, who leaves France for Netherlands to escape persecution.
  • English poet of the times - John Milton
  • Once Cromwell dies, there is a Restoration, with king Charles II returning from France: "other than executing his dad's killers with ghastly tortures, Charles II mostly let Puritans be". If A. Tarasov lived in the times, he would deny this was a restoration!
  • English scientists started an "invisible college", which later became a "royal society". Some people of the society: John Wallis, a mathematician, Robert Boyle, a chemist, Robert Hooke, an experimenter, Isaac Newton, a polymath
  • Parliament growls against a Catholic king. The ideologist of the party is John Locke. Criticisms of Locke:
  1. a mind is no blank slate but "hardwired"
  2. perception is not a simple image of reality but a complext physical and mental act, essent ially work
  3. the English lords were engaged in fencing of common property, which was essentially its theft (that's what's happening now in the ex-"socialist" countries)
  • The Whigs invite a Dutch invasion, in 1688, and the king James II flees England
  • The American revolution - Washington has led an expedition against the French, 1754. Later known for his strict discipline. Benj. Franklin urges the American colonies to join, or face death. Sent to France as an American ambassador.
  • First constitution - "Articles of Confederation", no central government. Too weak. Informed political debate follows, which throws a negative light on the present level of U.S. political discourse, signifying a decay of the U.S. society.
  • Having defeated the French, the American colinists turned to the British administration: "no taxation without representation", i.e. want a share of power. A Boston Tea Party (pidture above). vol.6 - the French revolution
  • (It's not a good idea to tell all stories - all countries - simultaneously. It's better to tell one story, then pass on to another. This way, causality can be established.)
  • Enlightenment in Europe. Voltaire - "Let's hang the last king with the guts of the last priest!"
  • David Hume was possibly influenced by Budhist philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Feudal France runs bankrupt, so the king calls an assembly of the "Estates General", i.e. the three basic classes in France: nobility, clergy and the "Third Estate" (before: mostly peasants, but now - bourgeoisie)
  • Confrontation develops between the Third Estate + liberal deputies of the other two estates and the king's power. As a result - 14th July, 1789, Bastille is razed.
  • Peasants start arming themselves and forming armed mobs. They attack nobility homes. Breakdown of government.
  • Women invade Versaille, and bring the king back to Paris.
  • Money is issued against church property
  • King attempts to run away together with other aristocrats, cought and returned back under guard.
  • In Haiti (a French colony) a slave revolt develops. Finally triumphs in independence of the country - France too busy with England and other enemies.
  • A movement against counter-revolution develops, resulting in September prison massacres. King Louis XVI loses his head in January 1793. Then follows his wife.
  • French are busy fighting monarchist armed intervention, led by Austria and Prussia. A new type of army develops - "levee en masse"
  • France develops many able officers and among them - Bonaparte. He is known for "quick grasp of battlefields, thorough preparation, amazing energy, rapid movement, self-assurance and coolness under fire"
  • 1794: a reaction develops against the revolutionaries - Danton, then Robespierre and his men are guillotined.
  • 1798 - Napoleon takes his army to Egypt, loses to the English navy. Abandons army and flees to France.
  • In Egypt, his team finds the Roseta stone, that allows us to read hieroglyphics. vol. 7 - end of slavery, complete colonization of Africa
  • Abilitionist movement in Britain
  • British fleet defeats the French off cape Trafalgar, rules the seas unopposed
  • Napoleon defeats the Austrians, Russians and Prussians at Austerlitz
  • In 1812, he invades Russia, Borodino, and then retreats.
  • Canned food is invented for the French army
  • Finally, Napoleon is captured and put on the island of Elba.
  • He escapes, and is defeated again - at Waterloo. Put on the island of St. Helena.
  • In the U.S. a civil war is brooding over the slavery question
  • In Latin America, an independence movement against the Spanish rule - Miranda, Jose De San Martin, Bolivar
  • Bolivar aimed at the states of Latin America uniting like the states of North America into the U.S.
  • In Europe - the industrial revolution
  • The Luddites - break up the machines
  • 1833 - British parliament abolishes slavery
  • 1838 - chartist movement in Britain to end all property qualifications for voting.
  • Britain "opens up" China to opium trade through war
  • Taiping rebellion in China, led by Hong Xuquan, a civil war until 1864, cost 60 million lives, Britain sides with the government, as the Taipings were opposed to opium
  • U.S. sails in to "open up" Japan with its gun boats
  • U.S. gobbles up new territories - Louisiana from France, Florida from Spain, New Mexico, Arizona and California from Mexico.
  • Africa switches from slave trade to export of palm oil.
  • Wars erupt in Africa, and Britain moves in to rule directly (instead of through its companies and agents)
  • Colonial race starts among the European nations, 1884 - a congress in Berlin to resolve "the Africa question", i.e. who gets what? vol. 8 - second half of XIX century
  • Japanese government sends 50 officials on a voyage around the world, to learn about different governments.
  • Socialism develops as a theoretical system
  • 1848 revolutions in Europe
  • Garibaldi, his wife Anita Ribeiro
  • Bismark attempts to unite Germany, conducts a Franco-Prussian war, leading to a Paris Commune
  • The Dreyfus case in France
  • Mendelsohn vs. Wagner (anti-Semite)
  • Jews start a Zionist campaign, headed by Theodor Herzl
  • 1894 - Japan attacks China and defeats it
  • The Boxer rebellion in China
  • Japan attacks and defeats Russia - 1904-5


vol.9 - scientific revolution, first half of XX century

  • 1820 - Hans Christian Oersted notes that an electric current in a wire deflects a compass needle, hence, the wire with a current acts as a magnet
  • Later, Michael Faraday discovered that a moving magnet will cause an electric current to run in a wire.
  • Hence: 1) a moving electric field generates a magnetic field, and 2) a moving magnetic field creates an electric current. Hence, magnetism is akin to electricity.
  • James Maxwell discovers equations that describe electro-magnetic fields.
  • Dynamo machine for generating electricity is invented, and also: city lights, tram cars, telegraph, telephone, phonograph, etc.
  • Albert Einstein discovers the theory of relativity
  • Darwin formulates the theory of evolution
  • Marx formulates the theory of surplus-value
  • Eugenics appear
  • Freud formulates "psychoanalysis" based on sexual and unconscious desires
  • In art, we see impressionism and cubism (Picasso)
  • In Vienna, Ignaz Semmelweis discovers the secret of clean hands, sterility, but thrown out of the hospital
  • In Germany, new Kaiser throws out Bismarck and continues military build upan a faster rate. Germany plans for a railroad linking Constantinople to Baghdad. (And a railroad from Berlin to Constantinople). Britain, France and Russia feel threatened.
  • The U.S. takes Philippines in a war against Spain, also Puerto-Rico and Cuba.
  • Fighting over Balkans: 1908 - Austria takes Bosnia
  • WWI starts - 1914. Use of tanks, poison gases, airplanes
  • A revolution breaks out in Russia, and its waves spread to other countries: Germany, Hungary.
  • In China, a democratic revolution starts, led by Sun Yat-Sen.
  • Chiang Kai-Shek takes over the Nationalist party, and a civil war starts in China between the communists and the nationalists.
  • Antagonisms between right and left in Europe give rise to fascism and nazism. 
  • Stalin banishes Trotsky and his supporters, later kills Trotsky, etc.
  • Hitler comes to power in Germany, represses all opposition
  • A civil war in Spain
  • WWII starts. The war ends with a nuclear bombing of Japan.


vol.10

  • post WWII world is characterized by the antagonism between the USSR and the USA - the Cold war
  • In China, a victory of Mao's communists
  • Robert Oppenheimer leads the U.S. atomic project. Igor Kurchatov leads the USSR atomic project.
  • Civil war in Korea - China for communists, U.S. (under the U.N. flag) - for capitalists
  • Dutch East Indies declare independence and become Indonesia, under Sukarno. Rich in nutmeg and petroleum. Western capital (the Netherlands) continues to rule.
  • In India, an independence movement led by Gandhi. Antagonisms between Muslims and Hindus lead to a creation of 2 states: Pakistan (under protectorate of the U.S.) and India (friendly to the USSR)
  • Zionist movement leads to a re-creation of Israel after 2000 years.
  • Arabs squabble with each other, and as a result can not defeat Israel.
  • 1951 - Guatemala elects a president, Arbenz, who wants to nationalize U.S. plantations, in 1954 -  he is "removed".
  • 1956 - a hungarian attempt to liberalize leads to Soviet invasion
  • 1959-60 - Congo wins independence from Belgium. Leftist president Patrice Lumumba is shot and replaced by a U.S. backed dictator Mobutu Sese-Seko.
  • 1957 - first artificial satellite, by the USSR
  • 1959 - a revolution in Cuba.
  • 1962 - the missiles crisis
  • 1963 - war escalates in Vietnam
  • 1963 - Kennedy is shot by Lee Harvey Oswald (?)
  • 1968 - leftist students take over universitites in France, other countries.
  • In China - "red guard" movement
  • 1968 - Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia
  • Next in importance to class conflict between capitalism and communism is the conflict within communism. E.g. USSR vs. China.
  • 1979 - anti-colonial revolution in Iran, leftists are shot and repressed.
  • 1979 - USSR invades Afghanistan
  • Gorbachev becomes the chief of the USSR, glasnost and perestroika, the Warsaw pact is dissolved
  • War between Iraq and Iran - over in 1988
  • 1991 - Iraq invades Kuwait, and U.S. led invasion against Iraq
  • 2001 - bombing of WTC and Pentagon

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