Friday, August 24, 2007

Discovering the Global Past, Vol. 2, 3rd edition

On the off chance that some of the students in the upcoming Modern World History course, HIST 1505, may already be reading this, and for other teachers of world history who might be interested, I thought I'd say a few words about the document reader we will be using in that class: Merry Wiesner et al. (= and others), Discovering the Global Past, Vol. II: Since 1400, 3rd edition.

Mark Crane, HIST 1505's seminar leader, located this volume a couple of years ago and we are in his debt for finding it. It is a reader in which original documents are organized not only by theme ("Constitutional Responses to European Expansion") but in a clearly comparative way ("Constitutional Responses" compares the Gold Coast (Ghana) to Hawaii). As I am not only lecturing in HIST 1505, but leading one of the seminars, I looked much more closely at this book
than I had before, and it made fascinating reading when taken all together.

Here's what I liked:

  • Fabulous selection of themes and individual sources.
  • Very good editorial discussion of themes and documents (if not quite as fabulous as the selection).
  • Taught me a number of things I did not know.
  • Made me look forward to discussing them with students.
Will students like this book and learn from it? Who knows? Students, years, and classes are all different. But at least I won't be working with second-rate material.

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