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Hendrik van Loon

WE live under the shadow of a gigantic question mark.

Who are we?

Where do we come from?

Whither are we bound?

Slowly, but with persistent courage, we have been pushing this question mark further and further towards that distant line, beyond the horizon, where we hope to find our answer.

We have not gone very far.

We still know very little but we have reached the point where (with a fair degree of accuracy) we can guess at many things.

THE ORIGINS OF THE THEATRE, THE FIRST FORM OF PUBLIC AMUSEMENT

THE STRANGE DOUBLE LOYALTY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE MIDDLE AGES AND HOW IT LED TO ENDLESS QUARRELS BETWEEN THE POPES AND THE HOLY ROMAN EMPERORS

IT is very difficult to understand the people of by-gone ages. Your own grandfather, whom you see every day, is a mysterious being who lives in a different world of ideas and clothes and manners. I am now telling you the story of some of your grandfathers who are twenty-five generations removed, and I do not expect you to catch the meaning of what I write without re-reading this chapter a number of times.

HOW THE NEWLY FOUNDED NATIONAL OR DYNASTIC STATES OF EUROPE TRIED TO MAKE THEMSELVES RICH AND WHAT WAS MEANT BY THE MERCANTILE SYSTEM

WE know very little about the first ``true'' men. We have never seen their pictures. In the deepest layer of clay of an ancient soil we have sometimes found pieces of their bones. These lay buried amidst the broken skeletons of other animals that have long since disappeared from the face of the earth. Anthropologists (learned scientists who devote their lives to the study of man as a member of the animal kingdom) have taken these bones and they have been able to reconstruct our earliest ancestors with a fair degree of accuracy.

HOW THE GREEKS DEFENDED EUROPE AGAINST ASIATIC INVASION AND DROVE THE PERSIANS BACK ACROSS THE AEGEAN SEA

BUT ALL THESE DIFFERENT QUARRELS WERE FORGOTTEN WHEN THE TURKS TOOK THE HOLY LAND, DESECRATED THE HOLY PLACES AND INTERFERED SERIOUSLY WITH THE TRADE FROM EAST TO WEST. EUROPE WENT CRUSADING

AT THE END OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EUROPE HEARD STRANGE REPORTS OF SOMETHING WHICH HAD HAPPENED IN THE WILDERNESS; OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT. THE DESCENDANTS OF THE MEN WHO HAD PUNISHED KING CHARLES FOR HIS INSISTENCE UPON HIS ``DIVINE RIGHTS'' ADDED A NEW CHAPTER TO THE OLD STORY OF THE STRUGGLE FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT

FOR the sake of convenience, we ought to go back a few centuries and repeat the early history of the great struggle for colonial possessions.

PREHISTORIC MAN BEGINS TO MAKE THINGS FOR HIMSELF.

HOW ATHENS AND SPARTA FOUGHT A LONG AND DISASTROUS WAR FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF GREECE

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