An irreverent survey in comics spanning world history from the birth of Islam to the Byzantine Empire to the Italian Renaissance. Larry Gonick's celebrated series The Cartoon History of the Universe is a unique fusion of world history and the comics medium, a work of serious scholarship and a masterpiece of popular literature. Praised by Jonathan Spence in the New York Times Book Review as "a curious hybrid, at once flippant and scholarly, witty and politically correct, zany and traditionalist," Gonick's clever illustrations deliver important information with a deceptively light tone, teaching us about the people and events that have shaped our world. This long-awaited new volume covers the Middle Ages around the globe, including the multicultural Middle East, West Africa and the cross-Saharan trade, Central Asia and the Byzantine Empire, the European Dark Ages and the Crusades, the Mongol conquests, the Black Death, the Ottoman Empire, the Italian Renaissance, and the rise of Spain, leading up to Columbus's departure for the new world. Gonick offers an historical survey that is at once multicultural, humanistic, skeptical, and laugh-out-loud funny.