What on Earth Happened?, By Christopher Lloyd

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The Independent Culture

This snappy history of our planet tells you something new on virtually every page. On page 70, we learn that our forebears' descent from the trees and the brain development required to utilise their free hands explains the difference between us and the genetically all-but-identical chimpanzees.

A hundred pages on, we discover that the reason for the eminently sensible abolition of the Olympic Games in 393AD – they were seen as a relic of the pagan past. On page 217, we're informed that the name of Greenland was a sales pitch by Erik the Red to attract settlers. Russia was another Viking invention– from a Norse term for "men who row". Lloyd packs a lot in but an advert inside the back cover urges readers to buy "the unabridged edition" for £25.