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Book Review


Riley, Philip F., Frank Gerome, Robert L. Lembright, Henry Myers, and Chong-Kun Yoon, editors. The Global Experience: Readings in World History to 1550, 5th e. Volume 1 (New York: Prentice Hall, 2006). 416 pp. $43.00.

     The wonderful thing about history is that there are so many sources from which teachers (and pupils) can cull information: primary/secondary document readers and textbooks, ancillary materials, and internet sites. A resource that can be appealing for both teachers and students is The Global Experience: Readings in World History, Vol. 1. The book is divided into periods and themes that closely align with AP World History Themes and Habits of Mind. However, the readings included are suitable for advanced/honors as well as general education (non-AP) students. In fact, most of the questions at the end of each reading fall into two of three AP essay categories: compare/contrast and continuity/change over time. However, the level of questions is inconsistent. Some of the questions challenge students to evaluate ancient ideas, terms, rulers or governments and compare them to the same terms or governments today and account for the differences. Other questions simply ask why. These types of questions are useful for general education, or can be reworked to make them more challenging, which makes Readings a great asset to teachers of different levels.

     The sections of the book are divided in much the same fashion as many other readers. Part 1 is concerned with Early Civilizations and includes the usual-Creation stories and laws. However, the law section has a reading on Hittite laws, not usually found in readers. While most readers have a section on ancient writing, Readings centers this section on West Asia and describes it as the "Scribal Profession," placing importance on this newly created job and the effect that it had on society. The final section in Part 1 is Military Strategy and Tactics: Assyria and China, containing an interesting choice of readings including Sun Tzu's The Art of War, as well as Assyrian War Tactics.

     The next section on Classical Civilizations is fairly typical of readers as well, and it follows the traditional civilizations: Hindu, Buddhist, the Golden Age of China, and Classical Greece and Rome. The Greece and Rome readings are devoted to government and law, and along with China, include science. These sections align themselves beautifully with AP Themes and allow students to see simultaneous developments among societies. Part III centers on religion, specifically Christianity to Islam, and again, the readings are fairly typical readings found in other readers.

     It is in Part IV—Medieval Europe, Africa and The East—that Readings becomes atypical. The second section on Feudalism and Chivalry West and East includes The Nibelingenlied, which tells the story of an Amazonian woman (Brunhilde) whose hand is promised in marriage to any man who attempted to defeat her in sports. This story is from Iceland and the Netherlands and was passed on by the Germans, and concerns a topic not frequently covered in other readers. There is also a section on the Black Death which gives both Muslim and Christian views.

     The final section—A World in Change—has a reading by Greek historian Kritovoulos on Mehmed the Conqueror, as well as a reading titled "The Impaler": The Real Dracula or How the Enemy of the Ottomans Became a Legend, describing the historical Vlad Dracul and the folktales that were created about the fictional Dracula. Neither of these is found in many of the other readers. The reading in the sections on the Renaissance and Reformation, as well as the Age of Exploration and Expansion are typical, and include sections on Erasmus, Martin Luther, Machiavelli and Zheng He. The final two sections focus on Spain and Portugal, as well as Asia and America.

     In sum, The Global Experience: Volume One, Readings in World History to 1550, is a comprehensive reader which covers periods aligned with AP Themes. Additionally, the reading can be used in general education and honors level classes.


Adele Dalesandro-Haug
Oswego East High School


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