Even if you are not covering the ancient world in your homeschool this year, and even if you had absolutely zero interest in ancient history prior to reading this post, I’m about to tell you why you really ought to read Susan Wise Bauer’s excellent book The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.
- The book is highly readable, even funny. Susan Wise Bauer, the author of the children’s history The Story of the World, is an excellent author, maintaining a very engaging voice and humor without dragging into dry academic prose. This is a book for actual people to read, not just something that will appeal to academics.
- The book is well researched and comprehensive, and keeps a quick pace. I have a pretty thorough background in history, but I learned a lot from this book. I especially enjoyed how Bauer wove in what was happening at different parts of the globe, rather than focusing on just one geographic area. For a 777 page book, and one on history no less, this one never dragged and always kept my interest.
- You can wow people at cocktail parties and maybe even your kids. I think it’s handy to have a bunch of historical anecdotes handy to use for examples in meetings and other conversations, such as what calling someone a “nimrod” has to do with Bugs Bunny and the ancient Assyrians. Also, if your kids are listening to The Story of the World, it will be so helpful for you to have an adult version as background so you can have conversations with them and know what they are talking about.
- Understanding history helps us understand the present. I don’t want to belabor this, but I really feel like if we don’t understand history, we can’t possibly understand our present with any degree of perspective or context. A book like this one, that is readable and not too down-in-the-weeds, is a really awesome reference for general edification.
Convinced? I really think that The History of the Ancient World is a fantastic book, and a keeper. In fact, I am asking for a copy of my own for my anniversary present (don’t laugh, I’m serious!). Since we’re studying the ancient world this year in school, I’ve viewed this book as my own continuing education/teacher training, and I can see how it would be a great history spine text for older kids as well. I highly, highly recommend it!
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