The Story of the World Series

by M. B. Synge

If V. M. Hillyer's Child's History of the World and Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World series don't appeal to you, you may want to take a look at the series of books written by M. B. Synge for grammar school children, but equally interesting to older students and adults looking for a broader view of history.

[Illustration] The Story of the World series comprises a set of five volumes, written at a middle school reading level, that cover all major events in the history of Western Civilization, from our earliest recorded history to the close of the nineteenth century. With fifty or so short chapters in each volume, the series links the great eras in time and place together by a chain of stories of individuals who played principal parts in the events related. While statesmen and military commanders figure heavily in the narrative, stories of explorers, scientists, artists, authors, and religious figures are also presented.

M. B Synge writes in an engaging fashion, using dialog frequently to bring scenes to life. She juxtaposes events happening at the same time in different parts of the world in a style reminiscent of the books of Genevieve Foster. This series is an excellent introduction to world history for adult readers as well as for children.

[Illustration] Writing from a traditional western perspective, the author tells the story of the world from a European viewpoint, relating the history of other regions as they became known to Western Explorers. Originally published at the height of the British Empire, the series treats colonization as a matter of practical reality, rather than a controversial imposition. The author seems, in fact, to consider Britain’s western style of government as relatively enlightened, and an improvement over the mostly despotic indigenous forms. In other words, the Story of the World series does not reflect the contemporary sensibilities of some modern scholars. This, however, is not a weakness, since appreciating the traditional mindset of our forefathers, and understanding how it differs from modern thought, is one of the benefits of studying history.

[Illustration] On the Shores of the Great Sea: Volume I of the Story of the World series (B.C. 1000 to 0 A.D.) focuses on the civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean from the time of Abraham to the birth of Christ. Brief histories of the Ancient Israelites, Phśnicians, Egyptians, Scythians, Persians, Greeks and Romans are given, concluding with the conquest of the entire Mediterranean by Rome. Important myths and legends that preceded recorded history are also covered.

The Discovery of New Worlds: Volume II of the Story of the World series (0 to 1535 A.D.) covers the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the middle ages in Europe, the rise of Islam and the Crusades, and finally the age of exploration, and the establishment of trade with the Far East. The book concludes with the Discoveries of Columbus and the Spanish settlements in the New World.

[Illustration] The Awakening of Europe: Volume III of the Story of the World series (1535 to 1750 A.D.) covers the reformation in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and England, as well as the settlement of colonies in America. The rise of England and the Netherlands as sea powers, and the corresponding fall of Spain, as well as the rise of Russia, Austria, and the German states are also covered.

The Struggle for Sea Power: Volume IV of the Story of the World series (1750 to 1815 A.D.) focuses on the age of empire and world colonization. The histories of European colonies in America, Australia, South Africa, and India are related. Also covered are the Revolution in America, the French Revolution, and campaigns of Napoleon.

[Illustration] Growth of the British Empire: Volume V of the Story of the World series (1815 to 1900 A.D.) treats the revolutions in South America and Mexico, the Boer War in South Africa, and the exploration of Central Africa, the Greek and Italian wars for Independence, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the opening of trade with Japan and China, and the rebellion in India.