Jackson Spielvogel's Western Civilization is your standard world history textbook, except that it's not at all your standard world history textbook. A brief glance reveals typical textbook features: lots of maps, important periods and ideas broken into easily digested units, short excerpts from historical documents and classic literature, chronologies, lots of full-color photographs and classic art, comprehension questions, etc.
What's significantly different is that Spielvogel is an engaging writer, and isn't interested in simply recording facts to be memorized in outline form. He's also astoundingly well-versed in all aspects of history, incorporating biography, historical narrative, philosophical and religious analysis, cultural history (daily life, clothing, food, etc.), and the history of science in an effort to present the broad panorama of Western civilization.
As the name implies, the weakness of the volume is its blindness to Eastern or Southern Hemisphere history and culture. Spielvogel is a Western civilization expert, so that isn't the problem; the problem is that this is a very long book, and students will come away with a fairly comprehensive knowledge of the West without understanding how it relates to Africa, Asia, Oceania, and South America, and the bulk of the world's population.
That said, if you're looking for an excellent one-stop crash course on the philosophical, cultural, military, and religious history of the West, this is one of the best options. Used as a core text throughout the Omnibus program from Veritas Press, Spielvogel's Western Civilization presents frequently drab content in an interesting way that will stimulate further pursuit of learning, a hallmark of Western culture since its ancient world inception.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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