This is a review of The Story of the World series, a five volume set of textbooks written at middle school reading level. The series cover all the major events in the history of western civilization, from the time when records began to the end of the 19th century.
The series comprises of five volumes each focusing on a different timescale. The five timescales are as follows; (B.C. 1000 to 0 A.D.), (0 to 1535 A.D.), (1535 to 1750 A.D.), (1750 to 1815 A.D.), (1815 to 1900 A.D.). These separate and distinct timescales makes the series readily accessible and easy to use as a reference book.
The author M. B Synge attempts to give a narrative history of the world by joining these great eras in time and place through stories of great individuals who shaped their times. Statesmen and military commanders understandably figure greatly in the narrative but histories of explorers, artists, scientists and religious figures are also given relevant coverage. Style
Synge is an engaging narrator who frequently brings scenes to life or the reader through dialogue and descriptive passages. She often attempts to set events in their historical context by juxtaposing one action against another remote event, thus, giving the series a continuous narrative flow. There are often broad brush strokes that link events and times but this is unavoidable when dealing with such a large subject matter.
An historical western perspective
Synge writes from a western perspective only relating the histories of other regions as and when they become relevant to western civilisation. The series was originally written at the height of the British Empire so exhibits some historical views that have since been reassessed by modern scholars. For example; Synge treats the colonization of indigenous countries as a practical necessity rather than a forceful denial of liberties. This said these views do not impinge on the series validity as an historical work. These views are part of history and thus add another dimension to the histories in the text.
The series is a good introduction to the history of the western world for children and adult readers alike. When reading one must bear in mind the time in which the series was first published and the mindset of the society in which it arose. If one can take this on board the series is an informative and enjoyable study of a fascinating period of history of the world. You can find information on ordering the series and prices on the worldwide web, just search for Story of The World series.