AN AWE-INSPIRING WORK, The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events by Bernard Grun is one of those books that have to be seen, and leafed through, to believe. (My own copy, of the 591-page edition First Touchstone Edition which begins at 5000-4001 BCE, only goes up to 1978 CE; revised editions are available through your local independent bookstore.) As the title states, Timetables proffers to the curious what happened in each year (or, in the book’s early parts, each date1-to-date2 era) in seven categories: History and Politics, Literature and Theater, Religion and Philosophy, Visual Arts, Music, Science and Technology, and Daily Life. The entries are limited to what went on in the West –it’s based on Werner Stein’s 1946 work Kulturfahrplan (The Cultural Timetables) — but I suppose a line had to be drawn somewhere. That said, it’s the perfect book for the history and culture nerd on your holiday shopping list. As it’s literally a graphic work, in the sense that it’s one big graph, I have taken the First Graf from the Foreword by Daniel J. Boorstin:
“Time,” wrote the famous American philosopher-idler Henry David Thoreau, “is but the stream I go fishing in.” Each of us — with the help of parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, historians, and others — goes fishing in that stream. And we usually come up with what we knew, or strongly suspected, was already there. One of the purposes of this book is to make it possible for us to go fishing and come up with some surprises.