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The Story of the World, Volume 4 Review by Nancy Wagner

Susan Wise Bauer
Peace Hill Press
18101 The Glebe Lane
Charles City, VA 23030

This is a wonderful addition to the previous three editions of The Story of the World. Publication date August of 2005. This edition weaves world history from 1850 to 2000 into a storybook format,which increases comprehension and retention over using a standard history textbook. I find this presumption to be quite true for both myself and my child, so this style is right up our alley.

I somehow had missed knowing about this series, so I did a little reading up. One source stated Volume 1, which covers the ancient times, is geared for grades 1-4, Volume 2 covers the Middle Ages and is geared for grades 2-5, Volume 3 covers early modern times and is geared for grades 3-6, and Volume 4 is written for grades 4 through junior high. Note, however, that the Peace Hill Press site does not acknowledge recommended grade levels. The earlier volumes, especially, were reportedly written with the idea that the parent would read to the child, or if older, the children could read the stories by themselves.

Volume 4, however, covers a more violent era with thousands and millions of people killed with the advent of modern warfare and is written is a slightly more advanced style than the earlier volumes, which partly accounts for its higher grade recommendation as well. I found Volume 4 to be a very good coverage of history. Most of the events I had never heard or had no recollection of them other than a vague name from my own public school education. For instance, the Taiping Rebellion, The Second Reich, and the original countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that I had not known existed until after the Soviet Union dissolved. Details of the Potato Famine in Ireland, the origin of the modern country of South Africa, and many, many more events seem brand new or at least much clearer in my mind after reading this book. These events are all woven into each other chronologically, so about the time one thing was happening, across the world this other thing was also happening and how they were related with maps and illustrations complementing and clarifying events.

I read through The Story of the World, Volume 4 searching for how Ms. Bauer would handle the many massacres such as the Holocaust, while still writing for elementary age students. I was not disappointed. She fully acknowledged the horrible treatment and systematic death of Jewish people as well as other people deemed "undesirable" by German standards, but she does not go into any detail about just how horrible that treatment and deaths were. An older elementary child will be able to read this book without being traumatized, yet still understanding it was a horrible time in history.

Each event gives enough details to be easily researched for further details as the child and parent desire, but manage to high the most important points. Another point that I found quite refreshing regarding the Holocaust was that allied countries were all aware of the death camps a full two years before it was acknowledged and challenged, including the United States. There is no patriotism blind to facts, yet blame is not dwelt upon unduly. I highly recommend these books; in fact I went out and bought her entire series for use in our own home school.

-- Product Review by: Nancy Wagner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine