History lover that I am, I was thrilled to get a review copy of Susan Wise Bauer’s The History of the Medieval World.
Diving right in, I went out-of-order, not having read The History of the Ancient World; however, they definitely stand alone, and since I was reading about more Medieval-ly topics at the time, this one just neatly slid in next to the others. You never out-grow unit studies!
Like her Story of the World series for elementary grades, history is approached in linear blocks, but with a global scope. I rejoice at this. History didn’t and doesn’t occur in a single-country-vacuum, even before the invention of the internet and pony express, and I like that this interaction is emphasized here. While reading the history of a single country helps you catch a full flavor of the internal developments (vastly important!), it often ignores the larger context, all the ideas that trickle in through war and trade.
I think of this as a sort of “spine,” reading it alongside lots of biographies to deepen the scope. As various figures were mentioned that sparked my interest, I enjoyed picking up a couple books that focused narrowly on those people/eras—this is an overview, and as such, focuses primarily on the political, “big picture” aspects of history–perfect as an interest-sparking jumping off point.
Moving at a fast clip, each sentence is packed full of information you’ll want (and need) to remember. Her tight phrasing doesn’t allow for any superfluous prose; however, her tone is engagingly-casual, with italic-emphasized words and wry humor–you will NOT get bored.
And my favorite part? We all have our pets in history; I’ve read a bajillion books on Persia and England, fewer on France and the Netherlands, fewer still on India and Germany, and China. You aren’t allowed to sneak around important parts of history with this! Finish it, and you’ll actually be able to remember Old World history in order–with names and dates and events –and know why they’re important.
Late High School-Adult.