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BOOK REVIEW: Doctor Who – A History of Humankind – The Doctor’s Official Guide by Justin Richards, illustrated by Dan Green

| 23 December 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Doctor Who – A History of Humankind – The Doctor’s Official Guide by Justin Richards, illustrated by Dan Green

Penguin UK
October 2016
Hardcover, $19.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Doctor Who / Alternate History



Robin Hood was just made up. Queen Elizabeth I never married. And nobody knows what happened to Jack the Ripper. Right?

Wrong. If you want to know the real story of human history, then this is the book for you!

The Doctor has corrected this Coal Hill School history textbook with his own notes and illustrations. Now packed full of real history (i.e. the kind with Daleks and Silurians and time travel), it tells you everything you need to know about our very special planet.

It’s history, but perhaps not quite as you know it . . .


The Doctor’s Official Guide to the History of Humankind would make a great addition to the collection of many Doctor Who fans, but for the younger crew especially. 

This is one of the latest in a recent surge of books with an original text presented as a foundation, over the top of which other passages have been “taped” (complete with the sticky-tape image around the edge of the added notes), comments have been added in the margins, and images have been “enhanced” with additional drawings added by The Doctor. 

When reading, one can’t help but hear the latest incarnation’s brogue while reading this book, especially with regard to his snarky or sarcastic comments about just how wrong this Coal Hill history book is, though this does cover adventures all of his incarnations embarked on.

Coal Hill is the school at which Clara taught, but also the location of Patrick Ness’s new Doctor Who spin-off show, Class. This book, as such, is bound to be of interest to newer, younger fans, who might make their first steps into the Whoniverse through this new show. 

My one criticism is that the book occasionally deviates from the theme. For example, between The SS Bernice and The Wall Street Crash and its Consequences is nestled the topic of Agatha Christie; Charles Dickens is between Life in Victorian London – The Workhouse (which makes a certain amount of sense) and The American Wild West (which doesn’t); and between The Age of Railway and Vincent Van Gogh, we are given Jack the Ripper.

Admittedly, it has been a while since I’ve gone through a school history text book, but having Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, and Jack the Ripper mixed in with The Roman EmpireThe VikingsThe Decline of English Nobility, and The French Revolution and the Reign of Terror seems to this reader to offer something of a mishmash, with themes starting to gather here and there before running off in the other direction.

It doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the read, but does bring up some questions upon closer inspection.

All in all a highly enjoyable read with some laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of fond memories, this can serve as something of a refresher course if it’s been a while since you saw the episodes in question, or open the world of Who up wider for those youngins who might not have the patience to sit through the older episodes.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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