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Ancient history from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline
Reviews Index

Ancient history from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline

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Publisher: Trivium Pursuit
Author: Harvey Bluedorn
Laurie Bluedorn

List Price: Text + 2 CDs: $59.00

Ages: 12-14 Years

Reviewed By: Deborah Deggs Cariker

Your first reaction to Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn's work Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline will likely be, "Wow!" Mine was. The 223-page softcover includes 51 small and five full-page illustrations plus five full-page, antique maps. The cover art is from an oil painting carefully researched and created by their talented daughter, Johannah. The book is neither a history curriculum nor a textbook, but will enthusiastically complement curriculum or act as a resource. The two CDs included with the purchase price provide full-text, English translations of most of the classical literature to which the book refers: more than 1,200 individual works from 80 different authors, from A-to-Z - that is, from Aeschines to Xenophon. The CD also includes all permissions to make from it personal copies, printed and digital.

Thoughtfully, the writing team begins the book with a chapter on "How to Use This Book," and a subsequent, very helpful chapter on "Using Primary Sources to Study History." I appreciated the paragraph contained in the latter of these two, captioned "The Biased Nature of the Historical Record." The Bluedorns accurately tell us, "We must sharply distinguish historical fact, "what indeed actually happened," from historical record, "what someone believes happened from his own narrow perspective." From there, the team points their reader to the Bible and Biblical principles for studying history.

Why bother with primary sources? Why not just take a textbook's word for history, and move on? You could, but then you would miss so much and you may be subject to a one-sided view of the event under study. However, delving into ancient texts may seem daunting for parents who are seeing these texts for the first time themselves. Which are safe for students? Which are questionable or graphic? Thankfully, the Bluedorns address all of these questions, pointing out which are suitable and at what age, and which may make you "take a thorough shower after you're finished."

The Bluedorns' extensive research is amazing. The timeline itself will likely become indispensable. You'll learn about the Bible as a history book, the original order of the book and letters within the Scriptures, background on the Apocryphal books and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Literature of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and, the most extensive group of sources, the Literature of Greece and Rome, including early Christian writings. I strongly suggest that you read the "How To" chapters in the beginning of the book and then the Appendices before jumping into the amazing world this work opens. The authors are correct: The next best thing to observing the events of antiquity is to "experience these events through those who were actually there - seeing what they saw, and hearing what they heard. We can read the original accounts as they have been preserved for us. This book is a guide to doing just that." The book's offerings are rated for adults and children, ages 12 and up.
More Information
Available From: Trivium Pursuit
Address: PMB 168, 429 Lake Park Blvd., Muscatine, Iowa 52761
Phone: 309.537.3641
Other Notes:

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Deborah Deggs Cariker
A Houston-area veteran journalist, Deborah Deggs Cariker is a ninth-year homeschooling mother of two, and Assistant Editor of the EHO Product Reviews Department. Cariker and fireman husband, Bill, make their home near Montgomery, Texas.
Copyright © 2005 Eclectic Homeschool Association


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