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An Excellent Ancillary Text for AP Modern European History
on December 4, 2003
I am writing this review to call this book (and its companion, The Penguin Atlas of Modern History by the same author) to the attention of all the teachers and students of Advanced Placement Modern European History. Its conciseness, the entertaining nature of its narrative, and the lucidity of its well-conceived maps make it a wonderful supplement for whatever textbook you use for teaching and learning this subject matter. It can be used effectively throughout the year to make the bewildering detail of the successive epochs of European development more understandable by its clear pinpointing of the strategic objectives the various European states were aiming at. Its discussions are also so compact that they make excellent reviews before tests -- and before the big exam at the end of the year, especially. I can't recommend another work available in this field more highly. Criticism of the military and political emphases of McEvedy's narrative seem beside the point as these were instrumental in acquiring wealth and were, whether we like it or not, the basis of policy decisions for all European rulers. The introduction to this volume is particularly valuable as it challenges the universally accepted notion that Scientific and Industrial Revolutions occurred within an encapsulated time periods as a result of immediate causative factors. Here, McEvedy clearly states that the advantages European states enjoyed were not military, but cultural and administrative. These advantages were accumulated gradually. McEvedy's military/political emphasis is merely the result of his recognition that the acquisition of financial power is the objective of the modern state and that history is the resulting record of the means that shaped these ends. Lastly, one reason I find this work so useful because it is written by a British author with all the advantages that perspective entails for a view of Eurocentric history. Use this work for your APMEH courses!