Title: Streams of Civilization Volume One
Author: Mary Stanton & Albert Hyma
Major Themes: History
Synopsis: A history textbook covering world history from the beginning to the exploration of the Americas.
I’ve always loved history. It was my favorite subject in school, despite the fact that history textbooks tend to be, shall we say, boring. I still love reading history, and recently set myself the task of reading through a number of history textbooks and writing reviews of them. Streams of Civilization Volume One is the first of these.
This volume begins at the beginning of the world. Chapter One explores the two opposing views of how the world began. Both secular and religious points of view are explained in some detail. I noticed that the word “beliefs” is used, rather than “theories”, which makes sense, as a theory is a guess that has been confirmed by experiments. Guesses about the origin of life cannot be confirmed by experiments, therefore they cannot be glorified with the word “theory”. The authors of Streams of Civilization allow you to make up your mind about what you believe about the origin of life by presenting problems and strengths from both points of view.
As you proceed through the book, each chapter tells about a number of civilizations that all existed at the same time. Chapter 2 covers Sumer/Akkad, the Indus Valley, and Egypt; chapter 3 discusses Egypt, the Old Babylonian Kingdom, Crete and the Myceneans, and the earliest known American cultures. I found it interesting that Moses was associated with Hatshepsut, the woman pharaoh of Egypt. (However, Unwrapping the Pharaohs tells a different story.) All through this textbook, new discoveries from archaeology are quoted to give new insights into the ancient world.
I appreciated the way the authors showed the cycle all civilization have gone through. A civilization rises and is powerful, then becomes rich, gets fat and lazy, and then falls. This cycle has been repeated over and over and over again all through history. Some civilizations take longer than others to complete the cycle, but all have done it.
Streams of Civilization Volume One follows history through the ancient world, the empires I mentioned above, followed by Greece and Rome, along with Chinese, Indian and African civilizations. We explore the rise of Christianity and Islam, and study feudalism, chivalry and the crusades. Then, after a chapter exploring what was happening in the Americas before Columbus, we learn about the Renaissance and Reformation and the beginnings of the exploration of the Americas.
If you want an overview of history, written from a Christian perspective but not pushing that perspective, for upper middle school or high school students, Streams of Civilization will be a good choice. If you want something written as a story, it is not a good choice. I can’t see very many children being interested in the writing style of this book. I really appreciated the research that was included; I learned several things about the ancient world, from archaeology, that I hadn’t known before. If this could have been written a little more as a story, it would have been much improved.
At the beginning of each chapter is a list of vocabulary words to study and 8-9 research projects to do to go along with the topic of the chapter. These projects seem to me to be most suited to high school students.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above