Western Civilization: A Concise History Volume 3
Copyright Year: 2019
Last Update: 2020
Publisher: Portland Community College
Conditions of Use
The book does an excellent job providing a general survey of the 19th and 20th century. Nothing seemed overly detailed, and nothing important was left out. This is just the right level of details for a survey course. Current textbooks tend to... read more
The book does an excellent job providing a general survey of the 19th and 20th century. Nothing seemed overly detailed, and nothing important was left out. This is just the right level of details for a survey course. Current textbooks tend to bloat and cover details or topics that aren't necessary in a 100 level class. Instead, this book provides pages on major items, paragraphs on minor items, and sentences on details that allow the student to be alerted to the existence of the concept and research it further on their own. The only reason it doesn't get a 5/5 is because there is no index or glossary, though a simple "Ctrl-F" can substitute for an index and an online dictionary can substitute for a glossary.
A particularly useful portion of the book is the intro, which introduces the question of "What is the West" and include a brief summary of how the concept developed over the time periods covered in the first 2 volumes. That is an excellent tool for students who may not have taken those classes and are literally jumping into Western Civ in the 19th century without any kind of broader historical context.
Both the areas with which I'm generally familiar, and the areas I'm more familiar, the text was accurate and error free. It was also laudably unbiased, especially when discussing events and concepts that tend to lend themselves to polarization (such the as the use of the Bomb and political/social movements). Other OER history textbooks I've reviewed have been so slanted one would think they were endorsed by particular political parties.
The general content of the book ends a little past the turn of the millennium, which I think is a wise choice. That's when history and current events begin to blend together, and the primary sources necessary for historical analysis aren't always available (government documents being classified, for example). However, major events like Brexit are still covered, so the book isn't immediately dated. The book thus avoids the shift from history to journalism that other textbooks, which carry to the present day risk.
The language is clear and concise. There is even a bit of humor running through the book that makes it read more like a conversation and less like a formal lecture. Formally, the reading level of the text hovers around "college level" with the occasional passages reaching "graduate level." Some instructors may find this a detraction given that many of the book produced by big publishers hover between high school and college rather than college and grad school.
With only one author, the books style and organization are consistent throughout the book.
Each chapter is neatly divided and subdivided based on major concepts and events. Faculty wanting to use only portion of the book in their classes will have no trouble doing so.
In general the book swell organized. Some of the choices of chapter titles could have been better. The biggest example of this is the chapter between the world wars being titled "Fascism." While Fascism is certainly central to the period, and possible even THE most important theme, but such a title seems to focus rather than "Interwar Period" or something that acknowledges other factors shaping the period than just Fascism.
The book is presented as a Google Doc is and is easily navigated. All images used are also linked to the source.
No major errors encountered.
The book does an excellent job covering all of the topics and concepts required by a history class without making any unsubstantiated judgement calls.
While each chapter is officially hovers between 15-20 pages, once spacing and size are accounted for the chapter are much smaller. This is an excellent bare bones textbook that won't overwhelm students with details and topics that shouldn't be included in a survey text. The book provides a skeleton that instructor can add to, rather than the current trend of 30 page textbooks that instructors have to trim. With this book as a foundation, faculty could add video clips, primary sources, and other materials of their own to make the course "theirs" while still covering the bases and ensuring that formal objectives and outcomes are still covered.
I will be using this textbook for my Western Civilizations II course and I am very grateful to the author for writing it and making it available as an OER. It covers well all of the topics and concepts I will discuss in this broad course and it... read more
I will be using this textbook for my Western Civilizations II course and I am very grateful to the author for writing it and making it available as an OER. It covers well all of the topics and concepts I will discuss in this broad course and it will provide my students with the background they need. There are a few exceptions; there is very little on the UN and NATO in the postwar period, for example. The discussions are not always nuanced, but this is necessary to keep the chapters short and the level is pitched well for an introductory undergraduate course. In general, the author does a good job of explaining important historical debates in an understandable way, such as what did and did not make the Holocaust distinct.
The author states explicitly his focus on political history and his intention to provide the basic “what happened and why.” This leaves instructors to fill in the rest with images and primary sources (which this instructor would want to do anyway). Despite the focus on political history, important concepts from other approaches are not missing (such as race and gender). Some of the politics sections seem unnecessary and too detailed (they especially stand out in relation to more general treatments of other topics). It seems to this instructor that they are unlikely to be assigned. This detail also tends to have been covered more briefly in another section. However, some of the repetition and overlap will help instructors to extract sections and chapters for separate use (no explanation is missing because it was in a previous section).
Starting with an interrogation of the concept of “the West” is useful, as is the overview that sets up the big picture of the relationship of Europe with the rest of the world.
The text does not include an index or glossary, but subject headings are available.
In general, the text is quite accurate, especially for the 19th and preceding centuries. In the 20th-century material, there are a few factual or interpretive errors.
In the first section of Chapter 10 (WWII), the author states that “by 1939 [Hitler] felt confident that the German war machine was ready for a full-scale effort to seize the space he imagined for the new Reich.” In 1939, the German assessment of their military capacity was that the war machine wouldn’t be running at full strength until 1942. This is why in 1939 Germany signed a pact with the USSR, ensuring that Germany didn’t have to worry about the Eastern Front until ready to invade and capture the intended Lebensraum (this assault came in 1941). When this invasion is first discussed, the author gives the impression that the Germans lost in Russia only because they weren’t prepared for winter. The Germans lost because the Russians mounted an incredible defense (this is discussed well later in the chapter).
Also in this chapter, the author writes that Vichy was in “a state of war with Britain.” Pétain brought France out of the war, and in fact bringing peace was one of the primary reasons for his popularity in France. Vichy was certainly anti-British but France was not actively at war with Britain.
In Chapter 12 (the Soviet Union) the author writes that “the only thing that benefited from Stalin’s oversight was the military.” However, we learned in the WWII chapter how Stalin had interfered with the military to its detriment. It would make more sense to talk about his success in industrializing and enabling social mobility for workers (which are mentioned later in the chapter). Universal education and literacy were also successes. (The question of course is whether these achievements were worth the tremendous human cost.)
The author also errs in describing Europe as “almost all-white” before postwar immigration in the final chapter. There were many immigrants from the colonies and Armenia in the 1930s, for example, in cities such as Marseille and Paris. This also begs the question of how the author and Europeans at the time defined white in the context of Europe. He writes that “for the first time, many European societies grew ethnically and racially diverse.” European societies had always been ethnically diverse, though they had become less so as a result of WWII. For examples, many Poles immigrated to France in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Finally, the author writes that “one of the most difficult legacies of the postwar years has been immigration.” Immigration itself is not a difficult legacy; rather, persistent xenophobia is a difficult legacy.
There are a few instances where a personal bias comes through the writing.
The author could use more objective language when discussing Rasputin. He writes in Chapter 8 (Early 20th century) that “his philosophy was that one was closest to God after engaging in sexual orgies and other forms of debauchery.” Debauchery carries an implicit judgment. His religion may not have been mainstream, but it should be treated objectively none-the-less.
When discussing the Vietnam War, the author writes of “American soldiers sent against their will to fight in jungles thousands of miles from home.” Not all of them went unwillingly, and this characterization over-generalizes the American experience of Vietnam.
The content is up-to-date, generally representing current historical consensus. For this reason, it seems likely to remain relevant for some time, requiring updates only as historical consensus changes.
The text is well-written, and the language is engaging for undergraduates. It serves its purpose well as a short text that students might actually read. Explanations are mostly clear and easy to understand. For example, the author does a good job interweaving descriptions of ideologies with political events that can be confusing to students, such as the 19th-century liberal revolutions involving many countries. This makes it easier to get a handle on 19th-century politics.
There are some explanations of 20th-century ideologies that seem likely to cause confusion, however. Though the author correctly describes fascism as an emanation of the right, conservatism is not a useful term, given that fascism was a radical rightwing movement. It is confusing to discuss the similarities of fascism and communism without pointing out that the fascists considered communism to be their primary enemy, especially given the fact that opposing communists was how fascists gained a mainstream following (this is pointed out later). It also plays into students’ tendency to accept the totalitarianism thesis uncritically. The author himself relies on the concept of totalitarianism in this chapter, which undermines students’ ability to understand the differences between these movements/ideologies/regimes. This concept had more weight in contemporary debates than it does as an analytical tool for historians.
Describing Hitler, Stalin, and Mao as the “three ‘greatest’ murders of the twentieth century” sounds like a Buzzfeed article, again playing into a superficial student understanding. The point of studying history is for students to learn to be more analytical in their understanding of the past, not to reinforce pop culture versions of it.
Some chapters are stronger than others and this is linked to the fact that not all chapters set out their central question at the beginning. In most chapters, the driving question or argument is present implicitly if not explicitly, but it is helpful to students to point it out explicitly. The chapters that have a clearly stated central question tend to be those that hold together best as a unit with clear conclusions for student readers.
The treatment of gender is woven in well, but the sections describing border areas of Europe, such as Persia, feel tacked on.
The section describing “What Went Wrong with the USSR” stands out as odd and unlike treatments of other regimes. Obviously, it was a murderous regime, but it lasted almost a century. It would be a better, more consistent approach to discuss the reasons for its collapse, or to phrase the question differently. For example, why did a regime founded on utopian ideas prove so murderous?
Instructors will very easily be able to extract the sections that they want to use. Subject headings are clear, accurate, and useful. Sections are of a good length and are internally consistent so can be read on their own.
The organization makes sense and flows well, with a couple of exceptions.
The Russian Revolution seems out of place (and lacks a subject heading in the Google Doc), unless more explanation is provided for what unites the chapter on “The Early Twentieth Century.” An introductory section is needed, entitled something like “The Old Order Shaken,” that makes the points of the “Summing Up” conclusion section.
The brief discussion of collaboration in the “Fascism” chapter instead of the “WWII” chapter is odd. It is important to point out the presence of “home-grown” fascist movements in all European countries, but the WWII narrative seems out of place in a chapter on the 1920s and 1930s. Also, in most cases, these fascist (or semi-fascist) regimes or leaders would not have come to power if not for the German defeat and occupation of their country.
The interface is straightforward and easy to navigate.
The text lacks some of the trappings of costly textbooks (there are few pictures, for example), but as a narrative on which to base a course it works well. It is worth the tradeoff for concise, to the point, accessible descriptions of historical developments, which the text provides well.
There are a handful of spelling errors, especially with French words, for example “Actione Française” instead of Action Française and “pieds-noires” instead of pieds-noirs.
The text is sensitive to pertinent social issues. It includes many examples from disenfranchised social groups, such as the poor, workers, and women. Examples have a good geographic spread. My hunch is that many of the anecdotes come from John Merriman’s History of Modern Europe. It could be more inclusive of examples from multiple racial or ethnic groups.
Every major topic is covered with great attention paid to a select number of examples that help connect the narrative to the previous chapter and provide strong context to the following chapters. There is enough detail to be thorough, without... read more
Every major topic is covered with great attention paid to a select number of examples that help connect the narrative to the previous chapter and provide strong context to the following chapters. There is enough detail to be thorough, without bogging down in details that are not relevant to a survey level course. The author uses the political perspective to explain historical events, supplementing with many social and economic aspects, as well as cultural geography. There is equitable balance content-wise between England, France, and Germany, with careful consideration given to Russia, Austria, and other countries when relevant. The 19th century is rich in events and "isms"; this textbook does a sound job of making sense of a very long and complicated century.
The author did not err in too much attention to the two world wars. Yet, I did not feel as I read these chapters that anything significant was missing. The author takes complex topics like the world wars, the Cold War, and decolonization and provides context and detail to give an accurate and relatively concise overview. I teach AP European History, World History to 9th graders, and the Western Civ sequence at a community college. I honestly think this textbook (all or in parts) meets the needs of 9th graders through college students. It leaves a lot of room for the instructor to supplement with primary sources, films, and lecture/discussion.
This author has provided well-sourced material. There IS a bias and the author makes it clear from the beginning. As I review this (June 2020), this textbook looks to offer a perspective that will be refreshing to students. The author focuses on events that connect directly to the history being made right now. The author covers the more modern contributing causes of systemic racism and the BLM with strong historical detail. The details builds, each chapter.
As I mentioned regarding accuracy, this is a textbook that exists quite well in a modern, progressive, critical environment. It is clearly told with relevant, accurate details that help the reader see that modern events has a history that goes back to the 18th and 19th centuries . . . and before. The author does not use the most immediate examples throughout the book, but the book is written with a clear understanding of the underlying -- primarily political -- issues in the US and globally today, without ignoring major social trends and economic policies.
The textbook meets the criteria for this category, but I would find it useful if the author included a glossary of content-specific vocabulary. This could be embedded in the document via hyperlinks.
There are no complaints here.
Subheads would be helpful for some readers. The table of contents is hyperlinked for ease of use.
I find that I prefer more images, especially maps. I also find that my students appreciate questions embedded in the text to help guide their reading. This could be accomplished with an essential question at each subhead.
The organization is logical and follows the order most textbooks use.
The writing is clear, concise, and using a vocabulary level that should be accessible to 100-level students. The sentence length is varied, with longer sentences clearly written. This writing is easy to read and absorb because of the absence of excessively academic writing and the power of unadorned, dynamic sentences.
The author begins with a clear statement of purpose. He begins with a commentary on the "Idea of Western Civilization" and presents a strong argument for a study of Mesopotamia and North Africa as a foundation for understanding "western civilization" (instead of beginning with the Greeks and the Romans). The author capitalizes on connections beyond Europe and the Americas whenever possible and is fair in his treatment of figures from colonial territories like India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Any instructor using this textbook could develop additional resources that give greater voice to voices often absent from a Western Civilization textbook. As this is a "concise" re-telling, the author has included relevant details, updated as recently as February 2020.
I like it! There is very little chance that one (concise) textbook can cover every topic thoroughly . . . and that's why so many textbooks fail. They offer TOO MUCH info that doesn't stick with students. This author states one perspective (political) and does an effective job of staying true to that objective. I plan to use this book, supplementing with in-depth case studies over certain topics like the the Orthodox Church in Russia, the birth of feminism, imperialism, and post-war Europe (all well covered in this book).
Brooks does an excellent job in comprehesiveness, delicately walking the fine line between too much and too little content. Some texts try to be more comprehensive, and thus lose any sense of orientation of the text. Students in particular seem... read more
Brooks does an excellent job in comprehesiveness, delicately walking the fine line between too much and too little content. Some texts try to be more comprehensive, and thus lose any sense of orientation of the text. Students in particular seem already oriented to the concept of history as "just more stuff". More stuff is not significant, unless the content can be contextualized with explanation. Thus, Brooks treads well between attention to detail and putting the detail in context. One can quibble with the choices made to include or exclude, but readability and volume matter to students. Textbooks, as all books, should be written for the reader, who in this case is predominantly college students.
While mostly narrative and chronological, the text is mostly analytical in orientation, which readers will find attractive. Students want to know not just what, but why and how.
Brooks suffers here perhaps from too much "balance" in comprehensiveness. I can't find any coherent theme or thesis, which might better serve as an organizational and learning focus. Brooks should not be held to a standard not claimed, however. The Introduction clearly states the author's intent to be as inclusive as possible, without losing too many readers to excessive content.
I could not find an index or glossary, and either or both would have definitely benefitted the author's purpose.
Brooks gets the facts mostly right, and mostly contextualized quite well. Again, a readable text can only include so much, and contradictory evidence exists for nearly everything.
This reviewer must take exception to his relentlessly gradgrindian and Marxist description of industrialization. Surely Brooks loses his balance here a bit, siding with Marx in characterizing industrialization as a zero-sum outcome - more products only come with the exploitation of workers. But this is fundamentally incorrect - industrialization only occurs in market-oriented societies when producers and consumers both benefit. This chapter needs a hefty dose of economic liberalism of the Ricardian and Bastiat variety, as well as a non-Marxist analysis. I would also recommend less emphasis on technology, and more on what actually occurred to humans. Technology is not separate from the human context, and that is what needs emphasizing. A similarly Marxist tone, overemphasis on technology, and zero-sum thinking comes through in Brooks' analysis of 19th-Century Imperialism, to the detriment of the topic. The Great Depression section is also far too limited, failing to explain clearly the multi-faceted role of governments (nothing about tariffs or agricultural depression) in the international catastrophe.
Brooks deserves credit here. The text, both chronology and analysis, are most current and mainstream (wrongly in some cases). History as a discipline is perhaps less prone to fashionable interpretive alterations, but not immune either. Indeed, I would caution Brooks, and readers, that all of history is interpretive from the perspective of the author. That is why i argued above that the text would benefit from an overarching theme or thesis, which would tie the text, both omissions and comissions, together more clearly to the reader. I would caution about "updating" texts by simply expanding or adding "more stuff" (content), or muddying the analysis with too many clarification or qualifications. Brooks already handles these aspects very well.
The prose is very good. I found no use of jargon or other non-common terminology. It's important to realize that students suffer from a much weakened vocabulary, and need incentives to look-up terms and words (much easier today). Useful inter-textual clarification of terms occurs parenthetically. A glossary would perhaps serve the purpose better. I would object to some of the value-laden descriptors found in certain places, such as noted above concerning industrialization.
Brooks is very consistent with a relentless focus on a balanced approach to the highlights of Western Civilization. Brooks states that clearly as the objective, and delivers. As noted above, the Marxist bent of some aspects of the text are rather striking to this reviewer, but not surprising given the current state of the discipline.
Good use of the ToC hyperlinking, which creates modules easy to access by the reader. Again, an index would be even more helpful.
Brooks does at least as good in organization as commercial textbooks do. The Chapters and Sections make sense to the reader, as like topics are grouped together. One could criticize the loss of chronology, as the Chapters are overwhelmingly topical in orientation. Since all commercial texts do the same, I see no reason to single Brooks out. Perhaps a chronology of some kind would mitigate this aspect.
[I looked at the pdf-version of this text.]
The text is a very basic textual presentation. That's not a criticism - history is an overwhelmingly textual discipline. Contemporary students would doubtless find this presentation less attractive, but learning to read effectively should be a required outcome for all college students.
The text is broken with a few images, perhaps 5 per chapter. They seem more gratuitous than useful, and there's no context provided for the images chosen. Perhaps a paragraph that directly addresses the use of an image would be helpful.
The scrolled hyperlinks to Chapters and Sections are very valuable. A hyperlinked index would be most valuable here, as would a glossary (either in-text or hyperlinked).
I could not find any grammar or spelling errors. Congratulations to the author and/or editors.
Brooks achieves the goal of creating a mostly balanced and fact-based approach to Western Civ. There's nothing in here to "trigger" anyone of sound and open mind, even in the craze of political correctness. I might disagree, even strongly, with some of the author's characterizations and analyses and inclusions or exclusions, but I would never impede the author's ability to write the text. Frankly, I'm not impressed that this topic is even included in a review. History cannot spare the sensitivities of hyper-emotive readers at the cost of effectively telling the truth (as the author understands it). The inclusivity mentioned above is a trap for anyone trying to write a coherent and cohesive text of any kind.
Brooks deserves kudos for this effort.
I would ask why a three-volume split, instead of a more traditional undergraduate two-semester?
As noted above, inclusion of an index and glossary would be helpful. Also, providing textual context for images would be an improvement. And, since wishing is the order of the day, how about one documentary analysis per chapter? For good or ill, our students are already being exposed to document analysis in the middle grades, so students may be surprised to find that aspect missing in a collegiate text.
As a concise 270 page history of Western Civilization, there are expected limitations to this work but overall it provides a relatively complete history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Later chapters, especially the ones dealing with the Cold War... read more
As a concise 270 page history of Western Civilization, there are expected limitations to this work but overall it provides a relatively complete history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Later chapters, especially the ones dealing with the Cold War era, cover information broadly and the final chapter of the text, “Toward The Present”, leaves open questions for an uncertain future. The lack of an index is one major complaint with the text as it limits the ability to reference information quickly. This may make the book less effective for some students to use but the overall structure of the chapters is fairly straightforward and topics should generally be able to be found through the table of contents.
Generally, the book is free of any errors and there was no apparent bias in presenting an agenda through the information in the work.
The content of this work is very readable and should work well for a wide audience. The information within the book is generally broad as to be expected with a suitable text for a Western Civilization course, but it is also structured in a way that future updates and edits would be easy to implement.
The clarity of the writing is one of the strongest attributes of this work. There is a wit and humor in certain sections that was enjoyable. The directness of the the subject matter in some of the darker parts of history was also an asset in this work. The book doesn’t shy away from the horrors and flaws of western states in the 19th and 20th centuries and it presents the information in a way that, although concise, is well organized and thoughtful.
The text has a clear framework that is present throughout. The author provides a solid introduction at the beginning of the text to lay out a clear range for the work, explaining the approach of the text, provide caveats where necessary, and provides a clear path forward that the text follows consistently.
The chapters are structured in a way that would make it easy to pull sections for various reading assignments or to assign a chapter in its entirety. Each subsection is short enough to not overwhelm a reader unfamiliar with the information but there is also sufficient depth to the information.
Organizationally, the text follows more of a thematic approach and less of a clear chronology at times. This would make the text feel as if it was shifting topics out of order in some chapters. This presented some minor issues when dealing with the World War I and II eras as some of the information
The work is free of any interface issues and works well on a variety of devices.
The work contains no major grammatical errors.
Western Civilization: A Concise History, Volume 3 is written in a way that is respectful of the cultures that are presented within. When dealing with issues like imperialism and the holocaust, the work doesn’t shy away from addressing some of the horrors of the western world. This is one of the strengths of the work. Addressing the brutality of King Leopold’s efforts in Africa or explaining the Protocols of Zion to students in a way that is sensitive but also not watered down is critical. Overall the work is culturally sensitive when addressing issues of race and religion and provides broad examples across a variety of topics.
This book would work very well as either a main text in a class with additional outside readings to provide additional topical depth or as a supplemental text to a course with a focus on primary source information. It is a very readable text that will work for a variety of learning types. The book uses clear illustrations, artwork, diagrams, and maps that work very well with the information presented and they don’t interfere with the written information that is present. For a Western Civilization II course, this text would be a sufficient source of information to introduce students to thematic events of the 19th and 20th centuries and can serve as a bridge to encourage students to explore topics in more depth on their own.
There is no denying that this is a short treatment of Western Civilization from Napoleon to the present. At only 269 pages, it means a lot gets left out. However, this could be a boon to teachers as well. With no cost for this text, it means they... read more
There is no denying that this is a short treatment of Western Civilization from Napoleon to the present. At only 269 pages, it means a lot gets left out. However, this could be a boon to teachers as well. With no cost for this text, it means they could utilize other books to supplement the narrative found here. I find this particularly refreshing from the standard treatment, which seems to always teeter between overrunning the reader in depth and breadth or cutting dramatically in one area so that more discussion can be given over to another. That WWI is only given 17 pages here might be off-putting to some instructors, but to me it means flexibility during lecture and in the use of additional reading and multimedia tools, in ways that I find the most compelling, to enrich the classroom learning experience. Unfortunately, there is no index or glossary here. This is an undoubted loss for students—and professors—who find those things invaluable. Given the real and unavoidable cost in time to produce both, however, I don’t blame Brooks at all for not including them.
Western Civilization is the epitome of unbiased, frank, and even-handed histories of the modern era. It gives equal weight to the range of voices. It includes fair discussion about, for instance, the atrocities and failures of Napoleon, while admitting the contributions his programs and frameworks made to France. it acknowledges the true motivations behind the United States’ interference in developing countries during the Cold War while also recognizing the painful strides towards equality and social welfare reform in the Western World during the second half of the twentieth century.
I have no doubt this this text will remain relevant for many years to come. As a Western Civilization survey text which outlines the broad strokes in a concise and clear way, it leaves valuable space for instructors to acknowledge a culturally, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse set of voices in accordance with the practices of the field. While the emphasis on political and military history may be off-putting to some, there is no doubt that: 1) this provides a compelling gateway to the study of history for a subset of students, and 2) it does not presuppose to include all of the myriad, important and ever-changing approaches that current scholarship offers. As a survey textbook, this is understandable, and no one should in any case rely on a single text for students in the classroom.
This text is written clearly, cohesively, and with an eye towards student comprehension. It doesn't talk down to students or sacrifice nuance or complexity, and yet remains accessible in wonderful ways. I can imagine using this text as the foundation for an introductory level course on Western Civ but also as a supplementary text for upper division courses.
I saw no instances throughout where dates, time frames, events, movements, or terms were antithetical to one another or the era within. This is great news, since even small inconsistencies can often cause problems for students who lose their footing when textual inconsistencies arise.
One of the most wonderful things about Brooks' textbook is how easily extracted not only the chapters are, but the subchapters as well. Each of the latter are just about the perfect length--shorter subsections aren't overly long, but the ones that require heavier treatment don't cut themselves short in the name of forced brevity. This makes this textbook equally useful as the basis for a course, or in sections for relevant lectures or discussions at any point throughout the semester. As an instructor who enjoys the freedom and flexibility this provides, I will certainly be making use of it.
With a survey-level introductory course, this is a task that remains a bit easier than a thematic textbook, or another one not bound so much by chronology. Brooks’ focus, as well, on political history makes this attribute especially worthwhile. Students will appreciate the ease of use which this confers upon the text
There were no inconsistences or distortions that would be distracting to the reader, interface-wise. My only criticism is that the images are just copy/pasted in the center of the page when they are there, which looks a little “cheap.” This could be easily rectified by including some additional design elements, like colored boxes or other features which serve to offset the pictures from the text. The lack of distracting extras is welcome in many places, but on the whole this is most where this book feels like an open-access option.
I saw no grammatical errors throughout; further, Brooks has a clear writing style that doesn’t employ complicated dependent clauses or any other syntactical quirk which would make reading this book jarring to students.
Another of the unfortunate and unavoidable consequences of survey texts like this—open access or not—is that because they require a top-level, quick-moving narrative of events, inclusivity of viewpoints and experiences from a wide range of ethncities, backgrounds, and voices can be difficult to include. However, Brooks manages in bring them in, where appropriate, more than most. For instance, his discussion of the Industrial Revolution, of social science and pseudo-science during the 1880s onward, and of the youth movements of the 1960s and 1970s are welcome additions to the history of Western Civ that are too often quickly glossed over. His discussion of the Holocaust is centered on those who experienced the horror of the camps, and this framing of the discussion helps redress what is often an imbalance.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Napoleon
- Chapter 2: The Industrial Revolution
- Chapter 3: Political Ideologies and Movements
- Chapter 4: The Politics of the Nineteenth Century
- Chapter 5: Culture, Science, and Pseudo-Science
- Chapter 6: Imperialism
- Chapter 7: World War I
- Chapter 8: The Early Twentieth Century
- Chapter 9: Fascism
- Chapter 10: World War II
- Chapter 11: The Holocaust
- Chapter 12: The Soviet Union and the Cold War
- Chapter 13: Postwar Conflict
- Chapter 14: Postwar Society
- Chapter 15: Toward the Present
About the Book
Western Civilization: A Concise History is an Open Educational Resource textbook covering the history of Western Civilization from approximately 8,000 BCE to 2017 CE. It is available in three volumes covering the following time periods and topics:
- Volume 1: from the origins of civilization in Mesopotamia c. 8,000 BCE through the early Middle Ages in Europe c. 1,000 CE. Volume 1 covers topics including Mesopotamia,Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, the Islamic caliphates, and the early European Middle Ages.
- Volume 2: from the early Middle Ages to the French Revolution in 1789 CE. Volume 2covers topics including the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the European conquest of the Americas, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment.
- Volume 3: from the Napoleonic era to the recent past. Volume 3 covers topics including the Industrial Revolution, the politics of Europe in the nineteenth century, modern European imperialism, the world wars, fascism, Nazism, and the Holocaust, the postwar era, the Cold War, and recent developments in economics and politics.
About the Contributors
Dr. Christopher Brooks