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Rachel Udin
02-07-2011, 11:44 PM
So I was talking to my friend who said he didn't know any non-eurocentric history because his school never taught such a thing. (Cue the face palm...) (He didn't know that East Asia had kings).

So I've been looking for an overview of history that doesn't concentrate on Europe, something like everything but Europe, or a good overview. I'm having a lot of trouble finding a book that is a good overview, and accurate AND doesn't stay eurocentric.

Any history buffs have recommendations? I'd also like to have a book like that for other purposes as well... like writing books that aren't eurocentric, where I can pick up interesting bits of history that break the mold and be able to write about them.

Or am I looking at a hopeless pit of nothing....

HistoryLvr
02-08-2011, 09:01 AM
What time period are you looking for? Ancient? Because I took a World Civ class (2 actually, as required for my major) and they were very interesting. Check out World Civilizations the Global Experience. It is a textbook, so not the most exciting read, but it's very popular at colleges. I believe, though I'm not sure, that there is a part I and a part II, one for the world to 1600 (or so) and one past that.

Medievalist
02-08-2011, 09:02 AM
Look for college level undergrad history survey texts.

There are loads.

There are also "readers," that is, collections of primary resources for particular eras.

Kitti
02-08-2011, 07:23 PM
Any sort of world history survey is going to be naturally skewed towards different times and places because of limited space and waaaay too much history to cover. For example, no college professor is going to assign a world history textbook that skips the Reformation to instead concentrate on China. That said, I do recommend Maps of Time by David Christian and The World by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.

You'd be much better off just getting a survey book for a specific location. One I've used for the Far East is Conrad Schirokauer's A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations and Inga Clendinnen has two fantastic books on Aztecs (called Aztecs) and Mayans (Ambivalent Conquests).

Alternatively, try to pick up one of the old Time Life Books series. They had some good historical ones (What Life Was Like and Lost Worlds are two that I remember) that would give you a good starting point to more research on an era.

WriteKnight
02-08-2011, 09:47 PM
The Old TIME LIFE series did focus on region specific or cultural specific histories. It was nice in that way. Not particularly deep books - but taken one by one - a good general primer for the uninitiated.

HistoryLvr
02-08-2011, 11:26 PM
Any sort of world history survey is going to be naturally skewed towards different times and places because of limited space and waaaay too much history to cover.
You'd be much better off just getting a survey book for a specific location.

I second this. A good way to learn about specific places without buying a book on every single culture, though it's not a bad idea if you have unlimited financial resources, is to look them up online. Get a few broad history books that cover the whole world for a specific time, then look up those that you are interested in or feel weren't covered enough online. The web can be a very useful tool. You can read just the major points or pages and pages. I recommend encyclopedia britannica, though there are many, many others.

Rachel Udin
02-09-2011, 03:35 AM
Thanks for the recommendations--any suggestions for a High School level textbook that's less Eurocentric?

Also, is there such an animal as everything but Europe/US History textbook/ general book?

I'm not looking for a specific time period, but more of a perusal to get a good "feel" for the new initiate, though I'm aware that's subjective as well.

Kitti
02-09-2011, 06:24 PM
Also, is there such an animal as everything but Europe/US History textbook/ general book?

Never heard of it. Anyone who's trying to write a world history book would do their best to include all parts of the world in a coherent narrative; excluding Europe/US History would make no sense.


any suggestions for a High School level textbook that's less Eurocentric

I've used Armesto with first-year undergrads, so it ought to be accessible to a high schooler. But if you're looking for a world history survey book marketed for high schoolers, no matter what you find, it's going to 1) have a high percentage of European history 2) be a very cursory overview of history and probably several decades behind the cutting edge of historical analysis - you could get just as good an overview from Wikipedia, honestly

Rachel Udin
02-10-2011, 11:59 PM
Never heard of it. Anyone who's trying to write a world history book would do their best to include all parts of the world in a coherent narrative; excluding Europe/US History would make no sense.

Less emphasis on those countries then?



I've used Armesto with first-year undergrads, so it ought to be accessible to a high schooler. But if you're looking for a world history survey book marketed for high schoolers, no matter what you find, it's going to 1) have a high percentage of European history 2) be a very cursory overview of history and probably several decades behind the cutting edge of historical analysis - you could get just as good an overview from Wikipedia, honestly
Thanks.

LaceWing
03-19-2011, 08:38 AM
http://www.youtube.com/user/columbiauniversity#g/c/49C7AA14331CFEF3

Rachel, Richard Bulliet's World History course is online. Seems he has much to say about teaching high school teachers about world history. You might want to watch at least the first video in which he talks about the transition from Western to World history, the making of text books, and all that.


http://www.learner.org/courses/worldhistory/units.html

Annenberg has videos, reading lists, etc., all geared to high school level.

jenelcc
03-21-2011, 07:17 AM
I think part of the problem is that I'm assuming you need this book to be in English, in which case, they are going to naturally emphasize either North America or Europe.



As mentioned previously there are great specific books on specific regions. The area I'm most familiar with is Latin America, and so books like John Chasteen's Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America come to mind. It's a pretty easy read in my opinion and undergrads don't seem to have a problem with it. Sorry, I'm a historian so I'm biased toward reading more books rather than less, but I think it's probably more worth it to find a great book on each area instead of trying to come up with one that's going to cover everything.

DrZoidberg
03-21-2011, 12:53 PM
There's a truckload of history books written from an Islamic world perspective. Both old and new. I can't think of any specific to recomend off the top of my head. There are many good ones depending on your need. Same goes for Chinese history.

Sort of on topic is Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel". It answers the question why the Europeans ended up conquiring the world. It starts off with the assumption that whatever racial or cultural differences there may be, none of them are big enough to give an edge when it comes to dominating the world.

http://www.amazon.com/Guns-Germs-Steel-Fates-Societies/dp/0393317552

Even though it isn't specifically what you're asking for I suspect it will answer a lot of your questions.

AmericaMadeMe
03-21-2011, 09:27 PM
So I was talking to my friend who said he didn't know any non-eurocentric history because his school never taught such a thing. (Cue the face palm...) (He didn't know that East Asia had kings).

To be blunt, world history has been "Euro-centric" since the 16th century. Before the European lead age of global navigation, civilizations tended to isolated from one another, and even trade involved intermediates. China was aware of Europe 2,000 years ago, and perhaps there was even the occasion individual who made the long, impractical voyage, but the cultures were widely separated by distance and there was limited interaction. While luxury goods might have made their way from China to Europe for the last 3,000 years, it wasn't until the 16th century that a single ship made the voyage.
East Asian history isn't well known in the English speaking world, and truth be known, it isn't terribly relevant, either. Moreover, the non-European sources aren't terribly informative. For instance, there is no clear writen history of the settlement of Japan by immigrants from the Korean peninsula. To be sure, the early Japanese had a literate culture, but there just isn't a clear record. Many cultures lacked the motivation to write definitive histories, and in any case, many Asian cultures were inward looking, with limited contact with the outside world. China wasn't always isolated, but Chinese influence, and contact with other cultures, varied with the influence of and power of various dynasties. Then there are other Asian civilizations that collapse before European contact, leaving only archaeology and inscriptions. Angor Wat comes to mind.

So I've been looking for an overview of history that doesn't concentrate on Europe, something like everything but Europe, or a good overview. I'm having a lot of trouble finding a book that is a good overview, and accurate AND doesn't stay eurocentric.

Any history buffs have recommendations? I'd also like to have a book like that for other purposes as well... like writing books that aren't eurocentric, where I can pick up interesting bits of history that break the mold and be able to write about them.

Or am I looking at a hopeless pit of nothing....

You'd be better off researching specific Asian cultures, especially in the period before direct European contact.

AmericaMadeMe
03-21-2011, 09:31 PM
I think part of the problem is that I'm assuming you need this book to be in English, in which case, they are going to naturally emphasize either North America or Europe.



As mentioned previously there are great specific books on specific regions. The area I'm most familiar with is Latin America, and so books like John Chasteen's Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America come to mind. It's a pretty easy read in my opinion and undergrads don't seem to have a problem with it. Sorry, I'm a historian so I'm biased toward reading more books rather than less, but I think it's probably more worth it to find a great book on each area instead of trying to come up with one that's going to cover everything.

The history of the conquest of Latin American is entirely Euro-centric. Several Catholic priests recorded aspects of pre-European culture and history, but it is primarily a story told by Europeans. Of course, in all fairness, some of the most impressive pre-Colombian civilization were actually empires, and the Europeans found many willing allies among the unhappy subjects of those empires.

Kitti
03-21-2011, 10:09 PM
The history of the conquest of Latin American is entirely Euro-centric.

The primary literature, sure, but not the secondary literature. There's been some good work done on this in the Atlantic historiography (esp. the south Atlantic). Inga Clendinnen springs to mind, for her works on Mayans and Aztecs, but there are others too. It's not my primary field, so I can't think of them off the top of my head.

Medievalist
03-21-2011, 10:16 PM
The primary literature, sure, but not the secondary literature. There's been some good work done on this in the Atlantic historiography (esp. the south Atlantic). Inga Clendinnen springs to mind, for her works on Mayans and Aztecs, but there are others too. It's not my primary field, so I can't think of them off the top of my head.

The archaeology tells a tale very different from that of the colonizers, as well, and of course, now we can read most of the Mayan glyphs--which tell their own tales as well.

Rachel Udin
03-22-2011, 08:31 PM
So, I think at this point it's just not been done... and no one has had real motivation to try to sort through it...

I disagree, though, with the point that history outside of Europe isn't terribly relevant though--there were many movements and thoughts that have influenced the European world. A European History class would be remiss if it missed out on Genghis Khan as much as the Bubonic Plague. There was history record keeping in Asia circa 600 CE, I believe, the problem, though was that though there were records kept in large part--many of them decayed and went missing. Some also filled in mythology which makes it harder to track. I think it's also due to some of the limiting factors towards archaeology.

Egypt, last I checked, wasn't in Europe... and then you also have other African nations.

There is also Africa, South America, North America--whole other places. I was more interested in a book because a friend of mine said he didn't know anything about anything outside of Europe. That's kind of large fail there. ("Asia had kings?" he asked.)

AmericaMadeMe
03-23-2011, 11:55 PM
So, I think at this point it's just not been done... and no one has had real motivation to try to sort through it...

I disagree, though, with the point that history outside of Europe isn't terribly relevant though--there were many movements and thoughts that have influenced the European world. A European History class would be remiss if it missed out on Genghis Khan as much as the Bubonic Plague. There was history record keeping in Asia circa 600 CE, I believe, the problem, though was that though there were records kept in large part--many of them decayed and went missing. Some also filled in mythology which makes it harder to track. I think it's also due to some of the limiting factors towards archaeology.

Egypt, last I checked, wasn't in Europe... and then you also have other African nations.

There is also Africa, South America, North America--whole other places. I was more interested in a book because a friend of mine said he didn't know anything about anything outside of Europe. That's kind of large fail there. ("Asia had kings?" he asked.)

Simply put, European history, as boring as it might be, is relevant to modern global culture. After all, which society borrowed and developed the technology for global navigation from the 16th century onward. Look around the globe, and you see European derived and inspired political institutions, manners and customs. Various East Asian culture might have long and distinguished histories, but those histories just aren't terribly relevant to the modern world. For instance, you have seen just about every country adopting elements of medieval English parliamentary proceedure, even China, but you don't see many elements of even the Manchu dynasty in modern global culture, even in China. Unless you're willing to ignore the last 600 years, you can't recount world history without taking into account the impact of Europe, and by extension, the European derived cultures.