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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: World History by James P. Stobaugh (High School History Curriculum)


World History: Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today by James P. Stobaugh, High School Level, Student book
ISBN: 978-0-89051-648-5
Publisher: Master Books
Retails: $24.99

From the back cover:
A new series from respected educator Dr. James Stobaugh that takes you on a journey through history without the filters of revisionist or anti-Christian perspectives. This book is designed for a year’s worth of study; 34 powerful weeks of historical viewpoints. A summary sets the stage for learning so the student can enjoy a daily lesson with thought-provoking questions, and an exam that takes place every fifth day. With clear objectives and challenging assignments, students investigate ancient and modern source material, all provided.

Historical content covered in this volume includes the following: Mesopotamia, the Jewish Exile, Egyptian Life, Greece, Life in Athens, Roman Life, Early Church History, Japanese History, Indian (South Asian) History, Persian History, Chinese History, the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the Renaissance, the Reformation, German History, the World Wars, and South Africa.

A history curriculum that is easy to implement, compact and designed for independent study- that’s what you will find in this book. It would work well for those who are not attempting to do an extremely in depth World History course in high school. Also it will fit nicely those students who prefer to do their work on their own.  I don’t think it would be well received for those who are looking for an intensive World History course in high school. Nor would it be a good fit for those who appreciate living books for their education.

Each chapter has 5 lessons that follows the format of read, answer critical thinking questions (most are open-ended, only a couple are T/F or multiple choice/matching), and then take an exam (as the ‘5th lesson’). It also contains the following components (from the book): narrative background, concepts/generalizations, a bit on a person who made a difference in history (called History Maker), historiographies or historical debate (presents theories surrounding a period or topic), world view formation, and history and world view overviews throughout the book.

It is suggested as a 12th grade book. The book can be purchased from New Leaf Publishing Group. Other books in the series include American History (10th grade) and British History (11th grade).

Here are the pros I found with this book:

  • Short lessons that would take about 20-30 minutes, perhaps a little longer for answering the questions in depth
  • Many open-ended questions (it says that they are critical thinking based roughly on Bloom’s Taxonomy) that help students think ‘outside the box’
  • Interesting presentation of some information/worldviews (such as book review for Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety)
  • Includes quite a few religions and views from other cultures (without giving up it's Christian perspective)
  • It is a year long course (it has 34 weekly lessons)
  • Affordable
  • Compact and light book (not like a heavy textbook)
  • Christian viewpoint (but it doesn’t shelter needlessly –presents overviews and some insight into worldviews)

The cons for our family are as follows:

  • There really are no primary source documents (it does have quotes and excerpts from some but it doesn’t really direct the learner to more than just what is in the textbook)
  • It is too textbook –it isn’t terribly engaging until the questions are asked.
  • It seems very basic and just skims the surface (not to say that it should be college level work but a little more would have been nice). Some of the information isn’t any more in depth than my current 7th grader is already learning.
  • The exams are only included in the teachers book (I don’t have it and the preview I found does not show the format of the exams). If it were truly ‘independent’ I would like it to include them in the student book with the answers in the teachers book.
  • If we were to use this as a World History text we would need to supplement it with other books. There are websites included (referenced in the paragraphs) where the information was obtained but very few authors and books. That may not bother some people especially since our world is becoming immersed in the internet but *I* would prefer a book.
  • And finally, which doesn’t really take much away from it, it is all in black and white. Keeping the cost down, I am sure, is part of the reason for printing in black and white but it’s just not as ‘pleasing’. My kids and I read lots of books on the Kindle –which is gray scale –so the black and white isn’t new, I just didn’t expect it in a textbook.

Bottom line:

I expected it to be more in depth and complete than it is - since it is designed for independent learning. It states at the beginning the students are responsible for reading and following through with assignments –the teacher obviously is expected to give insight as well and to correct/discuss the questions and exams- that’s the impression I got. It is ‘comprehensive’ as in it includes a lot of historical content in terms of quantity. I would like to have seen more references and resources suggested for further reading (if the student –or parent –so desired). I think this might work for a spine with other books and resources integrated to further study the times, places, events and/or people. I don’t think it is all that is needed for a really good World History high school course. Of course, if one isn’t really that into history then this may be perfect for them. If they need to just get the credit this might be just the thing. For us, we need more.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to those who are in need of a World History curriculum that ‘gets the job done’ while presenting it with a Christian perspective. But I wouldn’t really recommend it to those who want serious study into history (or those who aren’t interested in it having a Christian perspective).


***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NLPG in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required. See Disclosure/Policies.***


  1. Nice! I requested this to review but haven't gotten it yet. I am looking for something that will give a decent overview without adding a lot of study time for my son. This sounds about right although I wish it were more interesting.

    1. If you want something that will do the job- this definitely will :) You and your son may find it interesting enough (did you get to see the sample pages? I forgot to include a link- oopsie)- but I could see my kids' eyes glaze over with it. It's difficult to find interesting school books sometimes. Well, for me it is! Hope you like it and it works great for y'all :)


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