A History Of The Modern World

1186 Words5 Pages
A History of the Modern World, published by McGraw Hill, has a clear narrative rooted more in mythology than in historiography. The three authors; R.R Palmer, Joel Colton, and Lloyd Kramer, all French historians — and it shows in their work. The text runs from the Middle Ages through the beginning of the 21st century all the while weaving another in the long line of narratives arguing (or rather asserting) the rise of the West. The first chapter plainly states the narrative structure of the text, “The Rise of Europe.” McGraw Hill’s textbook is not suited to be a primary teaching tool in any World History class and places undo importance on Western Europe, and France in particular, at the expense of not only other areas of the globe but also the Wests reliance on imperial exploitation for growth. The text also offers a culture centered narrative, seeing the Occidental people as having a superior culture that allowed them to rise above the other peoples of the globe and assert their dominion. Nearly a third of the book is dedicated exclusively to French History. This make sense, given the authors’ backgrounds though bringing in an author with a different area of specialization may have been one way to curtail this problem. For example, the chapter on the Enlightenment focuses primarily on the Philosophes of France. Following the enlightenment there is a full chapter dedicated to the French Revolution, another for Napoleon and a few sections later another chapter on Paris and social revolution. In hundreds of pages dedicated exclusively to France there is no mention of their imperial conquests in North Africa, West Africa, or Indochina. The authors conception of European superiority is in no part of their text more evident than ... ... middle of paper ... ...hen reading what can be a dry topic. If only the content presented was as pleasant as the writing and layout of the textbook. The real strength of the tome is its use of images. The work includes well over a hundred pieces of artwork, as well as dozens of tables, graphs and maps. The visual component is an invaluable teaching tool, as is the books collection of over a dozen full color paintings. That is the best use of this book, not as a textbook for students to read, but as a source of images teachers can incorporate into their lectures and hand-outs. The full color painting are organized by theme in their own sections, while the charts, maps, and simpler images are littered through the text. The visuals are a great tool and an excellent component to any lesson, and finding well curated images can always prove a challenge when relying on internet searches alone.
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