Timelines: The Events That Shaped history
John Haywood
Thames & Hudson
256pp, 40 illustrations, 8 colour maps
Hardback, £19.95

This is the sort of book that can be used by a serious researcher or a serial dipper-into. Written and compiled by John Haywood, an honorary research fellow of the department of History at Lancaster University, Timelines not only gives you what it says in the title but much more. It is useful and interesting to know what's going on in other parts of the world at any one time. With stories of global events from every quarter bombarding us instantly, this is almost too easy for us now but, in the past, news travelled slowly and often failed to reach its destination. Rumour, propaganda, false news and blatant lies have always coloured and distorted reports of events but, in this book, refreshingly, Haywood deals with the hard facts – as far as they are known.

Covering all bases, from prehistory to the present day, he divides his 50 timelines into four categories: Politics & Economy; Religion & Philosophy; Science & Technology; Arts & Architecture. Thus he takes in artistic revolutions and coups d'état, scientific inventions and natural disasters, religious movements and brutal warfare. It is interesting to discover, for example, that around 200 BC, paper was invented in China, the Nazca drew their mysterious massive geoglyphs, and the Rosetta Stone was created in Egypt. Timelines is a massive undertaking and we should be grateful to John Haywood for producing this intriguing, useful book.

Lindsay Fulcher