If books...continue to increase as they have done for fifty years past,
I am in some concern for future ages how any man will be learned...
— Jonathon Swift

The Big Idea

Consider a tourist who opens Google Maps to navigate downtown London. At first, the map loads at a low elevation, making it difficult to comprehend the city's layout. The tourist therefore zooms out to an appropriate elevation.

Now consider a scholar in pursuit of a basic awareness of world history. A specialized history work (e.g. a book that concentrates on a single nation or period) would be no more helpful to the scholar than the overly detailed map would be for the tourist. The scholar, like the tourist, must "zoom out".

Swift's concern (whether anyone can be "learned" in an age of overwhelming scholarly material) may therefore be assuaged. It matters not how great a mountain of books are produced, just as it matters not how vast an area a mapmaker must chart. It is simply a matter of rising to the appropriate elevation.

Too often, amateur scholars seeking a basic overview of history or art history become mired in excessive detail. Essential Humanities seeks to help remedy this, by providing a "map" of history and art composed at an appropriate elevation for the amateur scholar.


Throughout Essential Humanities, sources are indicated by superscript text. In most cases, sources are identified by numbers and listed at the bottom of the article. These are mainly encyclopedia entries.

A few book sources are identified by a letter/number combination; the letter indicates the book, while the number cites the page. This short bibliography is listed here:

Reproducing Content (Short Version)

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Reproducing Content (Long Version)

I, the author of this website, hold the copyright on the entire contents of this website, with two exceptions:

Regarding the material on this website on which I hold the copyright:

Looking for a Charity to Support?

Why not consider the Kibaale Children's Centre (KCC), which helps disadvantaged children in Uganda? I became aware of the KCC via the advocacy of Bram Moolenaar, author of Vim, one of the most popular text editors among programmers/power users; Essential Humanities is composed with Vim. You can sponsor a child for a modest monthly fee, or make a one-time donation. See Bram's appeal for more information, or go straight to the Kibaale sponsorship page.


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