From the dawn of civilization to the first decade of the 21st century, this straightforwardly written, superbly accessible reference distills the concentrated essence of world history into a single compact, 544-page volume that fits in the palm of your hand. Featuring more than 1,000 illustrations, it's a book as vivid as it is definitive, with an innovative design that invites readers to envision the human epic from a wide variety of revealing perspectives. Here are history's greatest moments presented in self-contained, interactive spreads organized by epochal themes and cross-referenced to offer an in-depth and multi-dimensional view of major world events. The book is organized into eight fundamental eras from prehistory to the present day, with a timeline detailing each section and fascinating sidebars throughout which explore the full scope of the human experience. The illustrations offer a constant, vibrant counterpoint, carefully selected not only to complement the text and depict its important events and personalities, but also to provide the visual excitement that helps turn a wealth of informative facts into an irresistibly fascinating adventure. A casual browser's delight yet authoritative and wide-ranging enough to engage lifelong history buffs or enlighten students in search of a panoramic overview, this amazingly affordable book is truly what its title describes: essential.