3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

One of the things that differentiate us from the majority of the animal kingdom is our use and development of tools that aid us in doing all manner of things. Just on my desk are a plethora of items that have been invented by someone at some point in history. Just take the pencil, it first came about in 1564 in the UK as a piece of graphite. Then the Italians wrapped that in wood to stop getting their hands dirty. Two hundred years after that, the Austrians added clay to the graphite and came up with what we would recognise today.

Ross has split these human achievements into seven sections, In the Beginning, At Home, Health and Medicine, Getting About, Science and Engineering, Peace and War and Culture. The first section is the shortest, more of a marking of time until carbon-based bipeds became the human beings of today. Each section that follows has reams of facts and dates of items and subjects as diverse as door locks, blood groups, kites, bridges and diplomacy and evening the space hopper (remember those?).

I did like this, but in essence, this is a great big list that is full of facts and dates. Sadly there is very little context as to how the thing was first begun or invented and how the subsequent inventions were derived from previous items. That said, that is not the point of this book, if you need that extra depth of information then consult an encyclopaedia of original source of material for more detail. It would be a great source for those doing quizzes.

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