Summer Assignment and Reading List for AP World History
Welcome to APWH and to your first assignment which is due the first day of school.
For class you will need to read a total of 6 books, three due on the first day that we meet and the other three for second semester (date to be determined later).
For the summer readings you need to read two books about the time periods up to 1750, one non-fiction book (any book from NF-1, NF-2, NF-3, NF-6, or NF-7) and one book from the fiction list (any book from F-1, F-2 or F-3). Your third book can be either fiction or non-fiction (you pick) from the period up to 1750. You must write a book review on each. An approved reading list is attached. If you want to read something not on this list, you will need my permission first, received via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will need to know the author, title, topic and dates (era; 1200, 1300, etc...)
In AP World History we will be covering world history, broken into the following time periods:
- Foundations 8000 BCE to 600 CE
- 600 CE –1450 CE
- 1450 CE –1750 CE
- 1750 CE –1914 CE
- 1914 to present
We will be emphasizing the following themes:
¨ Relationship of change/continuity across the world history periods above.
¨ Patterns and effects of interaction among major societies and regions (via trade, war, diplomacy, and international organizations).
¨ The effect/impact of technology, economics and demography on people and the environment (e.g., population growth and decline, disease, manufacturing, migrations, agriculture, weaponry).
¨ Systems of social and gender structure (comparing major features within and among societies, and assessing change and continuity).
¨ Cultural, intellectual, and religious developments, including interactions among and within societies.
¨ Changes in functions and structures of states and in attitudes toward states and political identities, including the emergence of the nation-state (political organization).
You should spread your reading around, geographically, chronologically, and thematically. If you are familiar with medieval Europe, I suggest not reading a book about that topic, but rather trying to expand your horizons and knowledge--you need to gather as much information as you can to prepare for the AP test! I have not included many books whose sole focus is United States history and fewer on just Europe as I assume your coursework has already covered that material.
I know that this will be your summer vacation, so don’t force yourself to suffer through a hard or tedious read. There are many enjoyable books on this list, both fiction and non-fiction, and even some that may be characterized as “popcorn” or “beach” reads, but will still provide you with valuable information. That said, it might be easier to get through some of the longer texts in the summer than during the school year and these will probably be more beneficial for the exam. Also, you might choose to start your second semester books during the summer, too. Your second semester reading must be one fiction, one non-fiction, and one that you can choose, but you will be limited by time period: only after 1750 CE (so any book from NF-4, NF-5, NF-6, or NF-7) and/or any fiction (any book from F-4, or F-5).
You are required to do a book review on any book you read for credit in the class.
These book reviews are intended to serve two purposes:
1. To show me that you have indeed read the book and understood its message.
2. To evaluate your writing and analytical skills. I will be grading the summer assignment more leniently than I will the semester assignments. The summer assignments will help me get a sense of the level of your writing skills; improving these skills will be a major focus of our class.
Any good book review (both fiction and nonfiction) should be written as though the reader had not read the book in question. Hence, the reviewer must, as efficiently as possible, inform the readers about the general contents of the work:
Ø its time period,
Ø general organization of the material,
Ø Structure of the argument, and so on.
I am not particular about the exact format (essay, summary, etc.) you use to do the fiction book reviews. Do try to form paragraphs around ideas, and have a general organizing principle to your review, i.e. a thesis, introduction and conclusion. Your fiction review piece must include answers to the following questions:
· What are some interesting/significant historical/cultural things you learned from this book? Be specific! This should be the focus of your paper. You need to discuss the story line, but only minimally. In some novels the historical information is like part of the scenery so do not tune it out but focus on it.
· What questions were raised for you about this topic? If you had none raised, be sure to say so.
· How did you like the book overall? Would you recommend this book for next year’s summer reading list? Why or why not? Be specific.
Please note: students lost points when not focusing enough on the historical information in their fiction readings.
These should be written in a more formal manner, i.e. a basic essay (but not necessarily 5-paragraph) format with a thesis, introduction and some sort of conclusion. This essay should answer (with explanations as appropriate) the following questions.
· What question is the author(s) trying to answer?
· Do they establish the importance of the question? How?
· What is the author’s thesis (that is, the answer to their question)?
· What kind of evidence do they provide in trying to answer the question? Summarize as much as possible, but do not omit important evidence.
· How convincing do you think they are in defending their thesis? Why do you think so?
· Did the author have a specific audience in mind when writing? If so, did this affect their presentation?
· What point of view does the author hold towards this subject? Is it helpful or harmful to his or her purpose?
· Are there other questions that you wish the author had answered? If so, what are they? If you had none raised say so.
· Are there questions that were raised by this reading that you would like answered in the course? If so, what are they? What in the book inspired these questions? If you had none raised say so.
· How did you like the book overall? Would you recommend this book for next year’s summer reading list? Why or why not?
Note: I do not appreciate poorly written work and will return to you, for resubmission, with penalties for lateness, any work that I deem to be poorly executed. Therefore I suggest that you form coherent and well thought-out paragraphs, type your book reviews (please use at least 12 point font and double-space them with at least 1 inch margins on all sides), and proofread them for grammatical and spelling errors. This will be my first impression of you and it should be a good one! No title page is necessary, but a name (yours) is. Please note that just using a word processor’s spelling and grammar check is not sufficient in most cases. I advise having someone else check your book review for spelling, grammar and coherence. Finally, write your review yourself. It will not help you on the AP exam to have someone else write this first assignment, and it could make me think your skills are worsening during the school year, since most essays will be written in class. Quotes from your actual book are not really necessary unless you feel it would really help you make a point. That said if you do get ideas from somewhere else, give credit to their ideas instead of getting a ‘0’ for plagiarism. Use parenthetical citations (see Noodletools.com) for your quotes or just to give credit for ideas.
Recommended and Approved Reading List for AP World History
This is not a definitive list, but one that I feel has the best and most readable world history texts. I might add some books if I come across any over the summer, look at the MLHS website to find out. Feel free to check with me if there is a book that you would like to read that is not on the list. My school email address is email@example.com. Please note I will be away for some of the summer, so I will not be able to check my email daily. Do not leave your questions until the end of the summer.
Most of the books in this list are available through your local library or bookstores (used or new). If you can afford to buy them, by all means do so, and if you want, share the book with classmates. Some of these books are very informative books worth having in your personal libraries. That said I am aware of the financial burden of buying books. Be sure to check with the library to see if they have any books on the list that may interest you. Don’t leave it up to the last minute to find these books; in some cases the one you want to read will require a wait.
Note: Many of these books deal with adult content, and in some have sexual scenes. I have attempted to identify the most egregious ones, but all are not appropriately flagged. Please be sure to clear all readings with your parents beforehand.
The list below is a compiled list from various APWH teachers that I have worked with. I have not read all of these books, however, that does not mean that they are not all interesting. Be sure to look at what the book is about before you begin reading it. It would be a painful experience to read a book that you end up being bored with. A useful tool would be to use the internet to look at opinions of books that interest you online.
The books are listed in chronological order by the time period covered and by alphabetical order by author in the non-fiction sections and by title in the fiction sections. Specific translations or editions are only recommendations; you can use other ones as long as they are not abridged versions. For some of the older historical novels, try to get an edition with good notes. Also the introduction is often a section that can really help you understand the material.
F-1 Fiction - Foundations 8000 BCE to 600 CE
Day of the False King: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Babylon by Brad Geagley. Sequel to Year of the Hyenas set in ancient Babylon.
The Gardens of Light by Amin Maalouf, Dorothy S. Blair. Recreates the life of Mani, Persian mystic who founded the Manichaean religion and was eventually executed on the grounds of heresy.
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Unique reexamination of early history. Really makes you think. ***
Mahabharata; R. K. Narayan, trans. Story of the “cousin’s war” of Prince Arjuna. Sanskrit tale that illustrates the principle beliefs of most Hindus.
Monkey (part of a longer piece called Journey to the West), Arthur Waley trans.; Chinese folk tale that covers some of the basic principles of Taoism and Buddhism.
The Ramayana; R. K. Narayan, trans. Story of prince Rama. A principle literary work of India and most Hindus.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant re-creation of the life of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, from her birth and happy childhood in Mesopotamia through her years in Canaan and death in Egypt. Sexual content. ***
Roman Blood – by Steven Saylor. First in a series of mysteries set in Ancient Rome, chronicling real life events in Rome’s tumultuous period from Republic to Empire. Followed by: Arms of Nemesis, Catalina’s Riddle, The Venus Throw, A Murder on the Appian Way, Rubicon: A Novel of Ancient Rome, Last Seen in Massilia, A Mist of Prophecies, The Judgment of Caesar. Any and all can be read for the summer project.
Sarum - Edward Rutherfurd - traces the entire turbulent course of English history. Covering a period of 10,000 years, this compelling saga tells of five families who preserve their particular characteristics over successive generations that reflect the changing face of Britain.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Introduction to Buddhism and life of Siddhartha (later known as the Buddha).
Three Kingdoms: Chinese Classics (Classic Novel in 4-Volumes) by Luo Guanzhong, Moss Roberts (Translator), martial epic with an astonishing fidelity to history
Year of the Hyenas: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Egypt by Brad Geagley. A mystery set in Ancient Egypt.
F-2 Fiction - 600 CE –1450
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights by A.S. Byatt (Introduction), Richard Burton (Translator)
The Arabian Nights II: Sindbad and Other Popular Stories by Husain Haddawy. Collection of Arabian Nights’ tales.
The Book of Saladin: A Novel by Tariq Ali A fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem. ***
The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, The Chinese Nail Murders, or any of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee novels.
Classical Chinese detective stories; reveal ancient Chinese society, culture and government. ***
Dante's Daughter by Kimberley Burton Heuston. Story of Dante, his daughter and their times.
Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Mystery novel about Richard III and the deaths of his two nephews. An excellent look at how history is written.
In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh. An Indian student does research on a mysterious slave of a Jewish merchant working the Indian Ocean trade routes. Is also an examination of postcolonial Egypt.
Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice translated by Dennis Tedlock. A Mayan drama about a war between city-states and the religion of the Maya before the arrival of the Spanish.
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf. Story of Omar Khayyam, a poet, mathematician, and astronomer; and fanatical cult leader Hassan, who commands an invincible army of assassins. ***
A Sultan in Palermo by Tariq Ali. Story of Muhammed al-Idrisi’s (Muslim cartographer) in 12th C Sicily where Arab, Norman and Christian culture clash. Some adult content.
Sundiata, an Epic of Old Mali translated by D.T. Niane. Oral epic of the founder of the kingdom of Mali.
Tusk and Stone by Malcolm Bosse. A young Brahmin book in 7th C India is kidnapped, sold, becomes a soldier, then a mahout and then a stone carver.
The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour. A young man’s travel throughout Christian & Islamic Europe & Western Asia. Not a great literature, its attitudes towards gender are troubling, but is good on cross-cultural exchanges. ***
F-3 Fiction - 1450 CE –1750 CE
Aztec by Gary Jennings. Gripping tale of Mexico before and during the arrival of the Spanish. Long but good, a lot of adult content.***
The Examination by Malcolm Bosse. Two brothers in 16th C China travel to the capital for an examination while the younger brother navigates various challenges to get him there.
Feast of Roses by Indu Sundaresan - follow up to Twentieth Wife, The love story of Emperor Jahangir and Mehrunnisa
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Story of a Dutch protestant girl who works for Vermeer. Please note, this is a popular choice, but many students do not do well on this one as they ignore a lot of the historical information present.
Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. Tells the story of how tapestries were created in 15th C Europe.
Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf. The adventures of real-life Hassan al-Wazzan from his birth in Spain, to North Africa, Timbuktu, Cairo and finally the Rome of Pope Leo X. ***
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk; contemporary writer about 16th century Istanbul.
The Samurai by Shusaku Endo. A samurai goes with a Spanish Jesuit to the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, Rome & back.
Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali. Tells the story of a family targeted by the late 15th C Catholic Church that spawned the Inquisition, as its members decide to either flee, fight, or are brutally slain.
The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan – love story about Mughal India
Year of Wonders-A novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks. The story of a young woman and village when the plague arrives in 1666. Sexual content.
F-4 Fiction - 1750 CE –1914 CE
All Souls’ Rising by Madison Smartt Bell. Part of a trilogy on the Haitian Revolution, 1791-1804. A very violent read.
Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres. Tells the story of the decline of the Ottoman Empire from the perspective of a small Anatolian town of Eskibahce and the life and career of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka. Gripping fictional of Japanese contact with the West. ***
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. Tells the story of a Chilean woman traveling to California during the gold rush with a Chinese friend. Some adult content.
The Dawning: A Novel by Milkwa Bajic-Poderegin, translated by Nadja Poderegin. Follows four generations of a family in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Focuses on nationalism, religion, class and gender issues facing the family.
Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade by Assia Djebar. Story of a girl, Algeria, its past and occupation by the French.
The Glassblowers by Daphne DuMaurier--French revolution told by a family split by the revolution.
Grandfather’s Tale by Ulfat Idlibi, translated by Peter Clark. Follows a Dagestani family into Syria and back into the soon to be Russian territory.
Hadji Murat by Leo Tolstoy It is 1852, and Hadji Murat, one of the most feared Muslim mountain chiefs, is the scourge of the Russian army. Tells of Russia encounter with its Muslim neighbors and then inhabitants.
Land: A Novel by Pak Kyong-Ni. Tells the story of Korea from the late 18th to the present.
Lutchmee and Dilloo: A Study of West Indian Life by Edward Jenkins. Novel about Indians working as indentured laborers on a sugar estate in Guyana.
Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy. A Russian landowner and serf must each confront each other during a storm.
Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli Roy Edwards (Translator) describes the Dutch atrocities in colonial Indonesia.
Middle Passage by Charles Johnson; Life of a freed African American slave in New Orleans who ends up on a slave clipper and helps the slaves stage a revolt.
Morenga by Uwe Timm. A historical novel set in the early 20th Century, about a black African leader and a bloody civil war in German-occupied Southwest Africa.
No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe Describes colonial rule in Nigeria. ***
Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom by Katherine Patterson; About the Taiping Rebellion in China.
Red Earth and Pouring Rain: A Novel by Vikram Chandra Various stories from India including 18th and 19th C Mogul India, but also earlier and later.
The Rock of Tanios by Amin Maalouf, Depiction of social and political turmoil in Lebanon during the 1880s.
Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth; Exploration of the British slave trade from 1752-1765.
The Saddlebag: A Fable for Doubters and Seekers by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. Fabulous story for focusing on point of view and religions. Set in mid-19th C Arabian desert, follow the lives of travelers linked with a saddlebag.
Segu by Maryse Conde. Chronicles a family near present-day Mali in the 18th C as their traditions are challenged by the slave trade and Islam.***
Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport. Follows the women of a matriarchal Hawaiian family through multiple generations, starting in the 1800s and going until the present. Explicit sexual content.
The Stone Woman by Tariq Ali Story of a family and the decay of the Ottoman Empire.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Describes Nigerian tribal life before and after British colonialism. Recent Heinemann edition comes with additional essays on Ibo culture and African history. ***
The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi, by Arthur Japin. Novel based on the true story of two cousins, Ashante princes, who are sent to Holland in 1837. Their travels expose them to the horrors of the slave trade, life in Holland and in Indonesia where one of the characters spent the last years of his life.
This Earth of Mankind by Parmoedya Ananta Toer. Based in Dutch Java it is a great novel on colonialism and modernity. The novel was dictated by Toer while in prison to others who passed it out for transcription.
F-5 Fiction - 1914 to present
Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje; A book about the recent past in Sri Lanka. It concerns a young forensic anthropologist returning to the land of her birth as an investigator for a human rights organization. ***
Beasts of No Nation: A Novel by Uzodinma Iweala. Follows a pre-teen West African boy through his violent life and participation in a civil war. Some explicit sexual scenes, and also graphic violence.
Beneath a Sky of Porphyry by Aïcha Lemsine. Describes life in an Algerian village before, during & after the war of liberation against French.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks; WWI love story shows both lives of men and women and trench combat.
Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta; Forbidden love story of a young Ibo girl and her teacher. ***
Broad and Alien is the World by Ciro Alegria. Struggle of Peruvian Andean Indians’ fight against the government.
Brothers and Sisters by John Henry Ballard; African Americans traveling to Africa. Second in a series.
Burmese Days by George Orwell; White man’s rule in Upper Burma and India before WWII.
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street (You only need to read one, probably the first is a better read) by Najib Mahfuz (or Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize winner) Story of a family living in Cairo during the early 20th C, when Egypt was under British rule. Palace Walk introduces us to Al-Sayyid Ahmad, his oppressed wife, cloistered daughters, and his three sons. In Palace of Desire Al-Sayyid Ahmad's children struggle, as the world around them opens to modernity and political and domestic turmoil. Sugar Street - the aging patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician.
Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks; WWII story of a British woman taking part in the French Resistance
The Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai. Present day Indian family and their experiences since the death of Gandhi.
Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa; Young girl in Lahore, India during the time of partitioning.
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler; Man interrogated during the Soviet Union’s treason trials of the 1930s.
Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka. (Nobel Prize winner) tragic story of traditional African culture in Oyo, an ancient Yoruba city of Nigeria, in 1946, when the king dies.
Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa. Start of the Sendero Luminoso Movement (Shining Path) in Peru. ***
Desination Biafra by Buchi Emecheta. Tells the story of Nigeria during the Biafran war.
Devil on a Cross by Ngugi Wa'Thiongo. Describes post-colonial Kenya.
The End Play by Indira Mahindra. Indian woman caught between imperial chauvinism & a democratic state.
Endings by Abd al-Rahman Munif. Saudi Arabian town facing challenges of modernity and its traditions.
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa. Final days of General Rafael Trujillo’s regime in the Dominican Republic – some explicit sexual material. ***
Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagasarian. Armenian boy during the genocide of WWI
Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj. Looks at the reigns of four Thai kings, and the social and political changes in Bangkok from the end of the 19th C to WWII
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. Describes life in Burma and for Burmese Indians during the British conquest, WWII and up to the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi.
God's Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembene. 1947 strike on the Dakar-Niger railway in colonial Senegal
Grain of Wheat by Ngugi W. Thiong'o; Independence struggle in Kenya against British rule during the 50s
House of Spirits – Isabel Allende. Chile leading up to the military overthrow of President Allende.***
House of the Winds by Mia Yun. Family affected by Japanese occupation and the Korean War
Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton. Argentina when thousands disappeared in the late 1970s.
In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. Story of four Dominican sisters' struggle against Trujillo. ***
The Journey of Tao Kim Nam by Malcolm Bosse. The travels of man from North Vietnam to South Vietnam.
Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta. Nigerian girl dealing with the transition from girl to mother and from village girl to city woman. Some sexual content.
The Marines of Autumn by James Brady. Disastrous Chosin Reservoir campaign in North Korea in 1950.
Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende. Describes life under the Chilean dictator Pinochet.
Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff; A couple battle entrenched poverty, racism and other ills that overwhelm their traditional Maori culture and children in a Maori ghetto of urban New Zealand.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. A brutal depiction of life in a Stalinist camp.
Paradise of the Blind – Duong Thu Huong. Effects of the Vietnamese revolution on a particular family.
F-5 Fiction - 1914 to present (continued)
Pillars of Salt by Fadia Faqir. Stories exchanged by two wives in a mental hospital whose experiences typify Jordanian experience during the British Mandate.
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. A US missionary family in turbulent times of 20th Congo/Zaire ***
The River Between, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Colonial splits among Kenyans and the issue of female circumcision.
Sabriya: A Novel by Ulfat Idlibi. The story of Sabriya, a Damascan woman’s beleaguered life from her country’s revolt against the French in the 1920s in an oppressively patriarchal society.
Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh; Recent Indian political history especially partition and violence in Bengal.
So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba. Widow’s letter during her period of mourning after her husband’s death about her life and the double standards for men and women.
Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, Story a little village on the frontier between India and Pakistan in the summer of 1947, and of love and loyalty between the Muslims and the Sikhs.
Tree of Red Stars by Tessa Bridal. Set in Uruguay in the 1960's, charts the toll of political events on a young upper class woman and those close to her, as their democracy is gradually taken over by a military dictatorship.***
The Underdogs (Los de Abajo) by Mariano Azuela. Tells the story of the Mexican Revolution.
War in the Land of Egypt by Yusuf al Qa’id. Events in the 1973 war with Israel in Egypt from various perspectives.
War of the Rats by David Robbins. Stalingrad snipers during WWII.
Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong'o; Story of a young boy, as he grows up amidst the Mau Mau war and the conflict between the African natives and the British colonial rulers and the Indian merchants.
When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head. Botswana in the 1960s during independence from Britain versus South Africa’s oppression of its black population.
Women of Algiers in Their Apartment by Assia Djebar. Collection of stories (denounced in Algeria) about urban Algerian women freed from colonialism only to face a regime that subjugates them as it celebrates the liberation of men.
NF-1 NONFICTION - Foundations 8000 BCE to 600 CE
Armstrong, Karen. The Great Transformation. Fascinating look at the changes in major belief systems in India, China and the Middle East from 900 BCE to 200 BCE.
Bentley, Jerry. Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts & Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times. A look at early societies trading patterns and the exchanges that occurred culturally as well.
Borg, Marcus ed. Jesus and Buddha the Parallel Sayings. Comparison of Christianity and Buddhism. Do not skip the introduction or forward.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies. One theory for European dominance, skip Part 4.
Freedman, David Noel ed. The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus and Muhammad As Religious Founders. About the founders of Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam.
Harris, Marvin. Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures. Shows how cultures adopt their characteristic forms in response to changing ecological modes.
Lerner, Gerda. Creation of Patriarchy. Multi-causal theory to explain the development of the patriarchal system.
Pomeroy, Sarah. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves : Women in Classical Antiquity. Male-female relationships in Greek and Roman times.
Teresi, Dick. Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya, Traces the theme of technology and science in Foundations period (and a little beyond). Math and science heavy.
Zoll, Amy. Gladiatrix: The True Story of History's Unknown Woman Warrior. On not only gladiators, but also a nice job on gender and society in the Roman Empire.
NF-2 NONFICTION - 600 CE –1450 CE
Abu-Lughod, Janet L. Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350. On world trading system.
Bovill, Edward W., and Hallett, Robin. The Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century. Looks at the gold and salt trade of the Islamic Kingdoms of West Africa.
Chambers, James. The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe. Excellent. ***
Chaudhuri, K.N. Asia before Europe: Economy and Civilization of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750. Explores the interactions in the regions around and beyond the Indian Ocean.
Coe, Michael. Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. Great source from the premier researcher on this region.
Dunn, Ross E. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century. an excellent review of the world up to 1400, especially Dar al Islam. Can also read Ibn Battuta in Black Africa for a shorter version.
Gabrieli, Francesco. Arab Historians of the Crusades. Arab sources without filters.
Gies, Frances and Joseph. Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention in the Middle Ages. Discusses Europe's rise to technological leadership and their non-European sources of many of their inventions.
Levathes, Louise, When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne 1405-1433 The tale of Chinese emperor and his admiral’s seven major naval expeditions to India, Indonesia, and Africa.
Polo, Marco, The Travels of Marco Polo. The mostly true story of Polo’s visit to Kublai Khan’s court.
Weatherford, Jack. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. A new look at the Mongols and their legacies.
NF-3 NONFICTION - 1450 CE –1750 CE
Barendse, Rene J. The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century. Indian Ocean trading system.
Braudel, Fernand. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Fascinating tour of the Mediterranean in the 1500s, explaining the environment’s role in rise of the Ottomans, how Egyptians made iced drinks, etc.
Butler Greenfield, Amy. A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage and the Quest for the Color of Desire. An interesting look at how artists and tailors got red, including a look at cochineal and its impact on the world.
Chaudhuri, K.N. The Trading World of Asia and the English East Asia India Company, 1660 - 1760. Perhaps the best study of any of the early modern trading companies.
Corn, Charles. The Scents of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade. Story of the entrance of Europeans into the spice trade.
Crosby, Alfred. The Colombian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Ultimate work on this event. Discusses the exchange of foods, diseases and ideas between the Americas and Europe. ***
Curtin, Philip D. The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census. Seminal work on the Atlantic slave trade.
The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex. Pioneering study of plantation societies in the Americas.
Frank, Andre Gunder. ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age. Argues for an early modern world system centered on China.
Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Examines social factors in the history of science
Leon-Portillo, Miguel. Broken Spears. Short and plainly written account of the Aztec view of the conquest.
Manchester, William. A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance Portrait of an Age. Vivid popular history humanizes the tumultuous span from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance. ***
Mann, Charles. 1491. Great read on new findings about pre-Colombian America. ***
Massie, Robert. Peter the Great. Great perspective on 17th and 18th C Europe and Russia, as well as Peter.
Milton, Giles. Nathaniel's Nutmeg. Race between England and Holland for possession of the spice islands.
Samurai William A man embraces Japanese culture, learns the language and rises to prominence in the court of the reigning Shogun, Ieyasu.
Northrup, David. Africa's Discovery of Europe 1450-1850. Describes the African side of encounters between Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans - during the 15th century.
Pagden, Anthony. Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France C.1500-C. 1800. Compares theories of empire of the great colonial powers. Describes different ways and arguments these countries used to legitimate the seizure and subjugation of aboriginal lands and peoples.
Perrin, Noel. Giving up the Gun: Japan's Revision to the Sword 1543-1879 Interesting account of Japan not becoming slaves to the new technology.
Sobel, Dava Galileo's Daughter. Gives a female perspective on life in a monastery, the plague and Galileo.
Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400 - 1800. Offers an Afrocentric perspective on the Atlantic world and the slave trade.
Weatherford, Jack. Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. Compelling read on the heritage of the Native Americans.
Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. A classic work anticipating the creation of the dependency analysis theory of world history.
Willis, John. 1688. Entertaining read about this time period around the world. ***
NF- 4 NONFICTION - 1750 CE –1914 CE
Brown, L. Carl ed. Imperial Legacy: The Ottoman Imprint on the Balkans and the Middle East. Best book on Ottomans.
Chaudhuri, Nupur and Margaret Strobel. Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance. Examines the role of women in imperialism.
Cocker, Mark. Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold: Europe's Conquest of Indigenous Peoples. Impact of imperialism in Mexico, Tasmania, the land of the Apaches, and the tribes of southwest Africa.
Curtin, Philip D. The World and the West: The European Challenge and the Overseas Response in the Age of Empire. Case studies of the interaction of the Western societies of Europe and America with others around the world.
Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade. Slave trade from a non-European perspective.
Davis, Michael. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World – Sad tale of the connection between El Niño, famines and imperialism. ***
Headrick, Daniel R. The Tools of Empire: Technology & European Imperialism in the 19th Century; An examination of the technologies that made imperialism possible and how those technologies came about.
Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism. Impact of technology transfer.
Hochschild, Adam. Bury the Chains, Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves. British struggle for abolition.
King Leopold's Ghost. Account of megalomaniac King of Belgium, his cruelty and those who fought him after unexpectedly finding themselves witnesses to a holocaust.
Hopkirk, Peter. The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia 19th Century imperial struggle between Victorian British agents and Tsarist Russian agents over supremacy over present day Afghanistan.
Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. Only
read this one if US history is vague for you. Discusses revisionism.
Meyer, Karl E. The Race for Mastery in the Asian Heartland Political history of Central Asia
Moorhead, Alan. The White Nile or The Blue Nile or African Nights. Describes Africa from 1856-1899 – European exploration and exploitation and then Moslem revolts and Christian victories.
Orwell, George. The Road to Wigan Pier. Shows the hard life of English workers in the 1930s.
Pomeranz, Kenneth The Great Divergence: Europe, China and the Making of the Modern World. Original perspectives on the origin of the world market and the industrial revolution.
Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. Excellent account of medicine and life in New England for women and in general.
NF-5 NONFICTION - 1914 to present
Alvarado, Elvia. Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart. Shows the poverty of Honduras and the ineffectualness of short mission projects to help solve the roots of the problems.
Barber, Benjamin Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World, A look at globalization.
Chang, Jung Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. Story of 3 generations of women in China. Fabulous long read! ***
Follain, John. Zoya's Story: An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom. Tells of a woman’s clandestine resistance against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Friedman, Tom, "The World is Flat." Shows how interconnected the world has become with new technology and digital advances, led often not by corporations, but also individuals.
Gourevitch, Philip. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. Tales of genocide in Rwanda. Is incredibly depressing and moving.
Heng, Liang and Shapiro, Judith. Son of the Revolution. Cultural Revolution years through the eyes of teenage boys.
Hersey, John. Hiroshima Events of August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima told through memoirs of survivors of first atomic bomb.
Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer. Nature of mass movements -- obviously a key aspect of the 20th century, and of the 21st.
Huntington, Samuel The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Discusses increasing threat of violence from renewed conflicts between cultures that base traditions on religious faith and dogma.
Jesus, Carolina Maria de. Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria De Jesus. Written between 1955 and 1960, journal of a single mother who supports her three young children by picking through garbage in a Brazilian slum.
Keylor, William. The Twentieth-Century World. The past century and its big structures of diplomacy, alliances, and trade.
Kim, Richard E. Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood. Korean family’s experiences during Japanese occupation.
Kurlansky, Mark. 1968: The Year That Changed the World. An engaging look at life in 1968 and how events around the world, as far apart as the US and Poland, were interconnected
Lazreg, Marnia. The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question. Looks at women's place in Algerian history in general, sections dealing with the War of Independence are absolutely fascinating.
Mernissi, Fatima. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society. Muslim women’s lives in Morocco.
McNeill, John. Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th Century. Prize winning book about the dramatic changes in the world’s environment in the last century.
Roberts, J.M. Twentieth Century. One of the best one-volume accounts on the past century.
Satrapi, Marjane Persepolis. A memoir in pictures (cartoon) about growing up in 1980s Tehran.
Tuchman, Barbara. The Guns of August. Readable history of the first month of the war.
Wolff, Eric. Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century. Notes parallels in the Chinese, Russian, and other revolutions.
Wong, Jan. Red China Blues. Canadian-Chinese student at end of Cultural Revolution. Good account of Tiananmen Square.
NF-6 NONFICTION - Cross Era Histories (Generally focused on one region or theme)
Ahmed, Leila. Women and Gender in Islam. Thorough treatment of women in Islam throughout history. ***
Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. An interesting look at the development of Islam and the societies and governments that adopted it.
Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. An interesting view of Latin American history from Conquest to the present.
Crosby, Alfred. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Examines world history during this time period from an environmental perspective, trying to explain why Europe dominated the world. ***
The Measure of Reality: Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600. Another theory as to why Europe dominated the world, focusing on measurement of time, distance and number.
Curtin, Philip, et al. African History: From Earliest Times to Independence. Standard survey of African history.
Davies, Norman. Europe: A History. History of the continent from pre-history to the end of the Soviet Union.
Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Theory (often environmental) on why societies fail.
Ehret, Christopher. The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800. Pre-colonial history of Africa.
Figes, Orlando. Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia. A look at Russia’s culture and influences, including political and social factors.
Grove, Richard. Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860. Origins of environmentalism in European colonial policy & practice to expand control over the nonwestern world; shows how famine is largely man-made.
Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire. Debunks the classic Western view of the “isolated” Chinese system by showing examples of the open border from the time of the Shang dynasty to 1600.
Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. Hard reading but very insightful history of Islamic civilization.
Keay, John. India: A History. History of India from 3000 BCE to 1998.
Lewis, Bernard. The Muslim Discovery of Europe. Covers 700 years of contact between Europe and the Muslim world.
What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response. Survey of how Islamic civilization fell from worldwide leadership to its condition today. Muslim scholars do not agree with his interpretations.
Lovejoy, Paul E. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. Discusses the often-ignored Islamic African slave trade, as well as other slavery within and without Africa.
Pearson, Michael. Port Cities and Intruders: The Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era. A thorough study of the interactions of these areas and peoples.
Reader, John. Africa: A Biography of the Continent. A great survey that uses vignettes about Africa!
Segal, Ronald. Islam's Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora. Tells of the African slave trade with Asians.
Shi, David Emory. America: A Narrative History. Textbooky, but good source for US history and US AP too.
Shillington, Kevin. History of Africa. Basic source, with maps on the spread of iron and trade networks which illustrate connections across the continent.
Topik, Steven, and William Clarence-Smith, The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 1500-1989. Study of coffee markets & societies on four continents, emphasizes the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Waley-Cohen, Joanna. Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History. An enjoyable and accessible, book that puts to rest the myth that China was unchanging and cut off from the rest of the world. ***
Wallerstein, Immanuel M. Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of European World-Economy in the 16th Century. Some say a hard read on the history of capitalism.
Walvin, James, Fruits of Empire. Tracing consumption, material culture, and empire.
Watson, Andrew. Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World. Discusses the “Islamic Exchange” across Eurasia and the Americas, including citrus fruits, rice, cotton, sugar and improved irrigation.
Wilson, Samuel M. The Emperor's Giraffe and Other Stories of Cultures in Contact. Stories of cultural contact in history.
Wolff , Eric Europe and the People without History Different perspective on history, an approach favored by AP. ***
NF-7 NONFICTION - World Histories
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism - a bit boring but useful information on nationalism and its spread.
Armstrong, Karen. A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The history of how people have perceived and experienced God from the time of Abraham to the present.
Benton, Lauren. Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 Discusses how legal regimes shaped modern imperialism and the international order.
Blaut, James M. The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History) Challenges notion of "Eurocentric diffusionism": Western culture has flowed outward, modernizing rest of world.
NF-7 NONFICTION - World Histories (continued)
Boorstin, Daniel. The Discoverers and The Creators. Big books with lots of little anecdotes.
Braudel, Fernand. A History of Civilizations. Good overview but begins earlier than our chronology.
Bray, R. S. Armies of Pestilence: The Effects of Pandemics on History. Looks at many pandemics and their impact.
Crosby, Alfred. Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology through History Look at hard, accurate throwing and the manipulation of fire as unique human capabilities.
Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite for Energy. A look at society’s use of energy and how dwindling resource should give us pause, but also hope with our adaptability.
Curtin, Philip. Cross-Cultural trade in World History A single theme is pursued in this book - the trade between peoples of differing cultures through world history
Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature. Explaining success & failure in environmental adaptation.
Millennium History of the world from the 10th century to the present. Examines the West's domination of global affairs, its inevitability and future.
Findley, Carter. Turks. Looks at the Turkic peoples of Central Asia and their impact on world history.
Hoerder, Dick. Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium. History of migrations.
Keegan, John. A History of Warfare. World history of warfare including technology
Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: A History of a Fish that Changed the World History of cod. ***
Salt: A World History. History of salt and its by-products. You’ll get hungry!***
Landes, David. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Analysis of wealth distribution in the world, focuses on. causes of industrial revolution.
Marks, Robert. The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative. A less Eurocentric and shorter look at world history, alternative argument to Diamond.
McClellan, James and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History. Good world wide examination.
McNeill, William. Plagues and Peoples Study of the role of disease in world history.***
The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community Examines the West’s status across time.
A World History; The Pursuit of Power; et. al. One of the first world historians!
McNeill, William and McNeill J. R. (Father and son). The Human Web: A Bird’s Eye View of World History. Exploration of the connections that have drawn humans together since earliest times by two leading historians.
Mintz, Sidney. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. -Can learn much but a hard read.
Pacey, Arnold. Technology in World Civilization. Excellent source on technology.
Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed the World – interesting account of coffee, linking it to many dictatorships around the world.
Pomeranz, Kenneth and Topik, Steven. The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture, & the World Economy Great short stories about economics, trade, and history. ***
Ponting, Clive. A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations. Discusses world history through an environmental lens.
Reynolds, Jonathan and Gilbert, Erik. Africa in World History. Looks at world history from an African lens.
Sowell, Thomas Conquests and Cultures. Examines the role of cultural differences in shaping the economic and social fates of peoples, specifically the British, Africans, Slavs, and indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
Stearns, Peter. Cultures in Motion. Examination of cross-cultural interactions and exchanges in world history, including major religions, migrations, nationalism, imperialism and consumerism. Neat maps.
Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne. The History of Food. Comprehensive look at the history of gathering, hunting, meat, dairy products, sugar, chocolate, sugar, coffee, tea, etc. Each major food has its own chapter.
Worster, Donald. The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History Looks at history with an environmental lens.
Wright, Donald. The World and a Very Small Place in Africa. Engaging study of the expanding global economy as it affects one town and surrounding villages in West Africa. Excellent for APWH. ***
Yergin, Daniel. Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, And Power. Traces the history of oil.