This started off super-slow for me for the same reason any overview of history does: it starts with ancient history. I know it's important. I know it influences just about everything today, but it's, forgive me, a bit dull.
Once we got through The Classical World and the Middle Ages though, things picked up. For each age, Tearle selects a few texts that can, or should, be considered significant. Some of them are the no-brainers we've all heard of (Shakespeare) and some are names or titles that have unjustly fallen into oblivion (Mary Elizabeth Braddon, whom he argues might be the author of the first English detective novel. Trail of the Serpent). Whether widely known or not, Tearle tries to focus on thoughts, ideas, or facts that aren't widely known so that there's something new here for likely anyone, no matter how well read.
Informative, readable, and once past the Middle ages, very enjoyable.