Norris McWhirter's Book of Historical Records, by Norris McWhirter (Sterling Publishing Company, 288 pages, 24.95).
From the originator and author of The Guinness Book of World Records comes this lavishly illustrated and designed addition to any coffee table or to the smallest room in the house. Beginning 680,000 years ago ("Homo erectus migrates to Europe."), it is divided by general subjects -- "Everyday Life," "The Arts," "Sports." Neither scholarly nor daunting, it is full of provocations and entertainments. But absolutely anybody will learn something as well -- and can learning ever not be useful? Did you know that "Mickey Mouse first saw the light of day in 1928 and the first cartoon with synchronized sound featured Mickey Mouse in the short movie Steamboat Willie in 1928"? There's lots, lots more.