Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The history of the entire world in 20 minutes

Screenshot: History Of The Entire World, I Guess

In terms of length of internet videos, 20 minutes is an eternity. Any viral marketing guru will tell you that, if a video is going to be popular, it better be under 90 seconds and be mostly text graphics so people can watch it on the train without the sound on. But in the grand scheme of the entire universe, from the first seconds after the Big Bang to the moment you clicked on this article, 20 minutes is nothing. It’s a fraction of a blink. That’s probably the best attitude to take when sitting down to watch Bill Wurtz’ newest YouTube video, which manages to cover the whole of human history in impressive detail. More than that, it somehow tricks you into sitting still long enough to actually absorb all the information.

In what’s essentially the spiritual sequel to his successful “History Of Japan” video from last year, Wurtz keeps his consistently nonchalant delivery as he speeds from the nothingness of preexistence to the first agricultural civilizations in just the first five minutes. From there, things only get more complicated as empires rise and fall, religions and trade routes are established, and technology gets way more technological. And just when you think the information is going too quickly for you to follow, you’re treated to one of the earworm-ready jingles Bill Wurtz spends most of his time creating, except these are about photosynthesis and Chandragupta attempting to conquer all of India. It may take a couple watches to really catch everything that’s going on, but if you’re sweating about your AP world-history test coming up, it’s probably worth your time.


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