I have been wanting to read a general overview of world history, so without any other ideas I picked up Cracking the AP World History Exam 2012, a general review book for high school students produced by The Princeton Review. I read about 200 pages of world history summaries, timelines, and key terms.
As was my goal, I feel I have received a reminder of the course of history over the past 8,000 years, with a general picture of how world history fits together: the themes of history, the progress of various developments, and the ways technology changed the way of life throughout history. The book is written “to the test,” so in some respects it misses the point of learning history for the sake of learning history. But on the other hand, it helped me recognize my own strengths and weaknesses, and it gave me ideas of what subjects I’d like to study in more depth, such as the following:
- Alexander the Great and Hellenism
- Ancient Chinese and Indian history and the Silk Road
- Ancient African civilizations
- Europe during the years before the Renaissance
- The Renaissance
- History of the Russian Czars
- Very early American colonies
- Napoleon and Waterloo
- Wiemar Republic and the Rise of the Third Reich
- WWI and WWII, especially Japanese Imperialism
- The Cold War (in general)
Cracking the AP World History Exam also has sample tests, practice questions, and descriptions of the AP Exam. I skipped those portions. I’m not learning to pass a test (I’m awful at those) but rather, I’m learning for the sake of knowing. At any rate, I’m sure this book would help those interested in preparing for the tests: it provides a great overview of history and the ways it ties together.
For my part, however I’m interested in any books you can recommend that cover World History in general and/or any of the subjects I mention above. I am certainly interested in continuing to increase my understanding of the history of the world. I’ve only just begun.