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Story of the World, Vol. 2: History for the Classical Child: The Middle Ages Hardcover – Illustrated, April 17, 2007
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― Cafi Cohen, author of Homeschooling The Teen Years
"This may well be the best multi-age read aloud narrative of world history yet to have been written."
― Homeschooling in Japan
- Publisher : The Well-Trained Mind Press; Second Revised edition (April 17, 2007)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1933339101
- ISBN-13 : 978-1933339108
- Reading age : 8 - 12 years
- Item Weight : 1.26 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #66,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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CONS: Def. Western-centric (though less than some of its competitors), and def. focused more on wars/politicians/history of power, and not much at all on history of ideas, art, philosophy, etc. Due to the breadth of the survey, there's little material connecting what happens in one place and time to any other.
Western-centric: Bauer includes lots of material on other cultures, it's true, but most of this is through the lens of Western history. Which is fair. And she does a much better job than most other material for this age group. If you use the book as a backbone rather than a sole resource, it should mostly work out anyway. I found it necessary to also buy a) a more completist survey that I use to supplement or contextualize when random non-Western countries show up in SOTW and b) a full-on history of China. Because Bauer has the kids so engaged with text, I found sources that were comics for these things: Cartoon History of the Universe Volumes 1-7 Gonick's History of the Universe/Modern World series and Jin Lui's Understanding China through Comics series https://www.amazon.com/Foundations-Chinese-Civilization-Emperor-Understanding/dp/1611720273/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510679206&sr=1-1&keywords=jing+liu&dpID=61JZ4KwqoaL&preST=_SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch
China has always been a tremendous power and has influenced much of history in that part of the world, so the terse coverage it receives in SOTW makes for some problems in giving children a more coherent idea of what happened almost anywhere East of Turkey.
History of Ideas: I would love to see the author in future editions make a list of resources at the end of each chapter... suggested art, music, important thinkers, scientists, etc. These are things you see in other courses of course, but as the history series tends to be the backbone for the classical education, it would simplify teaching greatly to find a short list of suggested related topics right in the text. I'm getting pretty good at balancing multiple history book (music, art, philosophy) on my desk at the same time, but I would have love to see these things more incorporated. Or, maybe a secondary textbook on history of ideas and culture? I appreciate the trickiness of organizing such a tremendous amount of information, so perhaps that would be the way to go.
Christian history is white-washed, with the church fighting slavery, promoting education and with members choosing to follow out of love rather than coercion. Muslims command their followers and are presented as violent with their story altered and the Quran misquoted. Their fighters are one-dimensional, with their only desire being to violently spread Islam. She emphasizes the connection between religion and violence of Muslim conquerors and judges them based on events that happened hundreds of years ago. For Christian conquerors, she emphasizes glory and the resulting peace and stability or ignores their religion altogether, making it seem Christians were never bad and Muslims were never good. She uses scare tactics to justify the crusades (what would happen to Christianity if Islam spread?) which echo the scare tactics we hear today against Muslims.
As I was reading the book with my son, I kept having to correct what he was reading; no, Muslims don't believe in stealing to satisfy their hunger, no, Muslims didn't attack Mecca unprovoked, no Mohammad didn't go around killing all non-Muslims in Mecca and just because his book teaches it doesn't mean it is true. I worry a parent who was less aware of history would not catch all the misinformation.
She favors Catholics throughout the book until the Protestant revolution, which she explains by comparing Catholics to an abusive aunt and Protestants to a loving aunt.
I understand that there are people who want an Evangelical-based history book (this series certainly merges Bible stories with history), but I think you can do that without attacking other people, and you certainly shouldn't change the history in order to do so. Even Jesus taught you should love your enemies and bless those who curse you.
Jesus would not approve of this book.
I do history with all of my children at the same time, so my current students are 5, 7, 10, and 15. They all enjoy these stories, and are able to see how history is not a disconnected, unrelated jumble of names and dates, but a fascinating story that continues to this day.
We use this book as one of our "spines" and supplement with lots of other books to expand the narrative (as suggested in the Activity Guide in this series). I read aloud from this book (and series) almost daily. Highly recommended!