From The Guardian:
It is The New Penguin History of the World by JM Roberts and it’s the history book that has everything. It is an amazing synthesis of knowledge and interpretation that carries you along not with stylistic bravura but a lucid presentation of themes other writers
struggle to explain. It’s so restrained in language, so measured in argument it might be mistaken for a textbook except it’s shot through by strong untextbooklike opinions such as the confident assertion that Cordoba’s Great Mosque is the most beautiful building in the world.
The author JM Roberts was an eminent British historian who died in 2003, and this is the final edition of a book he first published in 1976. By hideous good luck, Roberts was finalising the 2002 edition when the planes struck the Twin Towers, so it is a book of our era that deals with September 11 and the reaction it provoked. It’s worth reading this great book now, because when the current edition goes “out of date” there will be presumably be no other.