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Teacher Review

Editors' note: This feature is meant to provide practical, although not unbiased, reviews of textbooks based on experience in the classroom. Readers will note that the teachers who wrote these reviews differ widely in terms of what they seek in a textbook. Moreover, these reviews are not meant to advocate or discourage the adoption of any one  text. Rather, they seek to begin a dialogue about textbook use that we hope will continue long past the posting of this issue. Indeed, we would like to encourage other teachers—both at the secondary and at the university-level— to send us comparable reviews of texts for inclusion in later issues of World History Connected.  

Jerry Bentley and Herb Ziegler, Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, 3rd edition, Volumes I and II (McGraw-Hill, 2006).
     Advanced Placement World History is about connections, conjunctures and comparisons.   Jerry Bentley's and Herb Ziegler's Traditions and Encounters does an excellent job at presenting these themes in a way that can be mastered by high school students.  The book tells a story that catches a student's attention and makes the material manageable by personalizing the history through introductory anecdotes, historical figures, visuals and primary sources. Although the foundation section is still too extensive, the text provides an excellent narrative and analytical presentation.  Traditions develops the connections and patterns of world history through a series of chapters that focus on networks, interactions and movements. Another strength of the book is its comparative perspective: for example, one chapter explores similarities in the Atlantic Revolutions, and another focuses on the reactions of the Ottoman, Qing, and Russians to westernization. That said, our students found that this comparative organization was confusing when used in chapters dealing with the Chinese dynasties and the Islamic empires. Nevertheless, Bentley and Ziegler present a truly global perspective (i.e. the treatment of the industrial revolution, World War I and other 20th century topics.)  Most importantly, the scope and sequence of the book is compatible with that of the AP curriculum. 1
     We have used this book successfully at the sophomore and junior level. Students will need strong reading and cognitive skills to master the text.  The book has an inviting layout, with a single column design, sub-sections and notes in the margins to guide students to the main ideas. Unfamiliar terms are italicized, and there is a glossary and pronunciation guide at the back of the book.  Colorful illustrations and maps add to the appeal of the book, although the placement of the title and dates on the maps is often missed by the students since it is not prominent.   The book also includes timelines, chapter introductions, and resources for further reading. 2
     The book is accompanied with standard ancillary materials. Support for the students includes a CD-ROM and an Online Learning Center with interactive maps, outlines, study questions and the like.  Students can access writing tips, comprehensive and recall questions, primary sources, glossaries and more.  The teacher supports include a computerized test bank, instructor's manual, online help, transparencies, and correlations to state objectives.  We hope, however, that the 3rd edition test generator is easy to edit, and most importantly includes multiple choice questions that focus on the comparisons and connections over major themes instead of the details of individual chapters. Despite this flaw, over all we find that Traditions and Encounters effectively meets the content and habits of mind of the AP World curriculum. 3
Ellen Bell and Angela Sperotto
Bellaire Senior High School
Houston, TX

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