There are plenty of reference books devoted to animation history—some of which I value highly—but what hasn’t existed is an authoritative textbook that charts the art form’s entire history in a cohesive and organized fashion.
That void in animation literature appears to have been filled now with Maureen Furniss’ A New History of Animation, recently released by Thames & Hudson. The book is based on the animation history courses that Furniss teaches at CalArts, where she is the director of the experimental animation department.
I’m still awaiting my copy, but I can think of few historians more qualified to write this book. Furniss has a broad knowledge of the art form, having been the editor of Animation Journal, a founding member of the Society for Animation Studies, and the author of numerous overview books like Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics and The Animation Bible.