I’m so glad that you will be taking AP World History next year! In preparation for our course, please choose ONE of the following books to incorporate into your summer reading plans. All of the following books have been selected due to their relevance to the AP World History curriculum and the appropriateness of the reading level.

When you finish, you will write a book report on the book you read. This is due the first day of class in September. I know you have been told not to trust anything with the word “wiki” in it, but a good guide to writing a book report is available at http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Book-Report.

“Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond

This is the definitive work of environmental determinism, the idea that scientific and environmental factors can best explain the course of history. Although a challenging read, it is also the most helpful. Recommended for science aficionados.

“The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia – and How it Died” by John Philip Jenkins

This revisionist history reexamines previously held notions of the dominance of Western Catholicism and the spread of Islam. The focus on non-Western history is consistent with the curricular standards of the AP.

“Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford

This important scholarly work is where the AP draws most of their information about the Mongols. Not only extremely relevant to our class, it is also an exciting story and a well-written narrative that reads less like a history and more like a novel.

“The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture, and the World Economy” by Kenneth Pomeranz and Steven Topik*

This book is a collection of essays that examine some of the more fascinating vignettes featuring global trade in the modern era. I am told that it is relatively fascinating for an economics book, and definitely relevant to the AP World curriculum.

“When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433” by Louise Levathes*

This book focuses in on an important era in Chinese history when they were interested in overseas trade and exploration. This subject frequently appears on AP exams.

“1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann*

This popular bestseller revised modern notions of life in the Americas before European colonization. Recommended for those interested in Native American civilizations.

“King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa” by Adam Hochschild
This is an excellent book on the Belgian Congo that provides numerous insights into the era of imperialism. Aside from the author’s occasional sermonizing, it is a fascinating and important piece of historical detective work.

“Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America” by John Charles Chasteen

This book is an excellent summary of Latin America in the modern era. This book would not only be helpful to incoming AP World students, but would provide some historical context for those sophomores taking AP Spanish.

“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” by Margaret MacMillan

This book examines the global impact of the peace treaties that ended World War I. This story is critical for understanding the 20th century, and makes for a fascinating read.

“The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair” by Martin Meredith*

This book catalogues the struggles of the African continent since independence. Recommended for students with a greater interest in African history.

“The Middle East” by Bernard Lewis*

A sweeping summary of the region throughout all of world history by the most respected Middle Eastern scholar in America. The discussion of change over time in a single region is a key component of the AP curriculum.

“The Adventures of Ibn Battuta” by Ross E. Dunn*

Details the life and extensive travels of Ibn Battuta, an Islamic scholar of the fourteenth century, interpreting his career as a diplomatic envoy within the cultural and social context of Islamic society.

“Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment” by Deepak Chopra*

An account of the life of the Buddha, written for western readers, traces his spiritual journey while explaining how his experiences and teachings have changed the world and continue to influence every facet of life.

“Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” by Jared Diamond

A study of the downfall of some of history's greatest civilizations discusses the Anasazi, the Maya, and the Viking colony on Greenland, tracing patterns of environmental damage, poor political choices, and other factors in their demise.

“Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, and Pyrotechnics” by Jack Kelly*

Traces the history of the explosive mixture created by Chinese alchemists in the tenth century, a critical invention that has fueled innovations and shaped the technology of warfare and the evolution of modern history.

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