WATERSHEDS OF WORLD HISTORY is the story of the amazing path taken by the human race from monarchies to democracy and from mythology to reason. This is a kaleidoscope of human events to be enjoyed by everyone but especially by those who have little or no background in the world history and would like to appreciate and understand how the fragments of major events form a unified whole.
(Story synopsis from book cover.)
In February I was contacted by the author, John L. Taylor to write an honest review of his book, Watersheds of World History: From Monarchies to Democracy and From Myth to Reason. This was the first time that I was contacted directly by an author to write a review of a book for them, so I wanted to make sure that I did my very best in writing an honest review, looking at all aspects of the book. Being a high school teacher, I especially wanted to focus on how Watersheds of World History could work in the hands of students and how it could function as a resource in the classroom.
Overall, I believe that Taylor has put together an interesting book that invites readers to learn more about the history of the human race, taking them through time and learning about how our society has developed into what we have come to know today. Watersheds of World History is well-written, and takes on a conversational tone that is easy to understand. In fact, if the reader does come across information that evokes more questions, the reader is invited, by Taylor himself, to take to the internet to find out more information about the topic.
As an educational resource, Watersheds of World History does have some potential. The book is set up in short, easy-to-read sections. This alone would appeal to students who may be using this book as a resource. In general, activities in the classroom are becoming shorter and shorter to hold the attention of the students. The format of this book allows for teachers to pull passages and create activities based around a particular time in history.
The format of Watersheds of World History could give students the opportunity to be “experts” on a particular time period or events in history. As a reference for students, Watersheds of World History could be easily divided up into sections for groups to research and present in a classroom. Teachers could find that this book could be used to supplement a text or textbook already being used in the classroom.
However, there are a few things that I think could make this book better. (I was told ahead of time that there were some typographical errors, so I won’t be discussing those here.) One thing that I noticed right away was that Watersheds of World History does not contain a Table of Contents. I believe that if this book is to be utilized as a resource then this should be included to allow the users to locate information in a more efficient manner. Additionally, the chapters themselves do not have any subheadings to delineate a change in a topic being discussed. Again, if this book is to be used a resource, this might be helpful to the readers and users to show a change or shift in topic to better utilize the information.
At the beginning of Watersheds of World History, Taylor states that there are “…no maps, no references, no images, and no dates to memorize.” (iii) As an secondary educator, I don’t think that this was the best choice. I can get on board with not having any dates to memorize, but not having any images I believe to be a mistake. It has been shown that students become more engaged with the text if there are images, maps and/or pictures to accompany the text. This allows students to preview the information or clarify the content that they are reading. I am not suggesting that Taylor completely rewrite the book to add in pictures/images to every page, but possibly a map at the beginning or end of certain chapters to show students where things are located in ancient history.
I was also a little confused by certain parts of chapters being written in a bold print. I could not figure out if this was purposely done to mark important passages or was one of the errors mentioned before. I think this could be where subheadings could be useful if Taylor is trying to point out particular passages.
Overall, I do think that Taylor’s Watersheds of World History could be useful as a resource in the classroom or as a supplement to a person’s own knowledge of our history around the world. Much of the information I read in the book I was reading for the first time and I found it fascinating. (I even conducted some of my own Google searches to go along with what was being presented.) If you teach a History class, a class that talks about World information (such as my World Literature class), or are simply interested in expanding what you know of our own history, Watersheds of World History could be a great place to start.
(Disclaimer: While I was contacted by the author to write a review, the only compensation I received was a copy of the book.)