Well, not everything, but a lot. And I actually didn’t read it; I listened to the audio book. So yes, this picture is a lie. But after three books on my Kindle, I wanted something on my shelf. And I will get around to actually reading it.
Just a note: The audio book is narrated by a British man. British pronunciations are different from American pronunciations, and more than once I thought I was hearing of a brand new figure in history (to me), only to realize he was saying it wrong, er. . . differently than I had learned it.
Title: The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
Authors: Susan Wise Bauer
What’s it about: The history of the ancient world, from the earliest accounts to the fall of Rome. Pretty straightforward. History being that which is written, it covers earliest written record, starting with various flood myths. Many times “ancient history” is interpreted to mean the history of Western Civilization: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Bauer covers all areas with written records, and thus includes India and China. She does use more ink on the Western World, but that may be because more records have survived. The book has five parts: “The Edge of History”, “Firsts”, “Struggle”, “Empires”, and “Identity.” She covers a lot of territory, both in time and space, and these parts help to tie the far-flung civilizations together.
Why did I read it: I read this for a couple of reasons. First, I love history, but my ancient history education is sadly lacking. Too often our history education comes in bits and pieces, with names and dates given without context. We’ll get Gilgamesh, Egypt, some Greek mythology and the Romans. But generally, there is no attempt in most educational settings to give a big picture view of history. While this book is one person’s view and thus prone to the weaknesses that entails, it is a well-written narrative that gives you an idea of the whole scope of ancient history. Bauer handles the difficulties of switching from Egypt to India to China and back again as well as can be expected. That might be easier to follow in written form than with the audio book. Her narrative is compelling and she includes plenty of primary source material to give you not only a historian’s perspective but the perspective of those she writes about.
The second reason I read this is to preview it for my daughters’ ancient history studies next year. Peace Hill Press offers a Study and Teaching Guide as a companion to the book. I haven’t decided yet, but it would be (mostly) fine for my then 9th-grade student (certain Macedonian conquerors are going to be edited *cough* Alexander *cough*), but I’m not sure about my 7th grader. I’ll probably have to think of something else for her. I’ll either use this parts of this book as a supplement to other material, or. . . something. I’m not sure. I’ll be using Bauer’s Story of the World (af) with the boys at the same time. That’s too easy for Sprite (and she’s already done that), but this may be too advanced. The idea of using three resources? Bleh. But even just having this book as a resource among to use with others would be helpful. Maybe they’ll listen to the audio book to supplement another curriculum. Who knows. I’ve got time! Stop pressuring me! (Sorry, homeschool mom freak out. It happens.)
Favorite idea: I’m not sure you’d call it a favorite idea, but two things stood out: there is nothing new under the sun, and nothing lasts forever. Reading (hearing) the story of all of ancient history, in various times and places, it’s easier to see the repeating patterns: civilizations rise and fall, virtuous rulers may occasionally come and right wrongs, but their successors fall into corruption and abuse, and lots and lots of conquering. It also helps to put our own history into perspective. While the American experiment is certainly something new in history, we are still only the latest in a long series of civilizations, many of whom were also something new at the time. I think it’s human nature to think, “We’re special; this moment in time is unique; we will not fall to the same mistakes our predecessors did.” But even though life now is drastically different from that of our ancient forebearers, humans are still humans, and some things never change.
Where can I buy it: Here! (af)
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