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A.P. European History

Reading OptionsThroughout the Year

Expand your knowledge and interests by reading books and viewing films for extra credit. It is possible to receive up to 20 extra credit points in the second semester, but you will have to earn them.

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Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel (scientist looks at history, 30 points: I can?t recommend it enough)
W. W. Norton and Company
ISBN 0-393-31755-2
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this book is more than just European history. It attempts, on a grand scale, to understand the impact that environment and biological factors had on history. Why did some people fail to domesticate animals? Why did food production spread at different rates on different continents? Perhaps the most compelling section of the book is part 3, "From Food to Guns, Germs, and Steel," in which the author discusses the evolution of germs, writing, technology, government, and religion. This is not the easiest read, but students who have read it give it the highest rating.

Votaire, Candide 10 pts
As you read think about the view WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT and analyze how Voltaire bitterly attacks and ridicules philosophical optimism. ?In a world where we constantly experience cruelty, injustice, superstition, intolerance, and a host of other evils, how can it be said that this is the best of all possible worlds? Voltaire believes that through reason human beings can improve society.

Dante?s Inferno is one part of his Divine Comedy,(20 points) an epic poem that details Dante?s trip through hell, purgatory and heaven. The epic is divided into 100 cantos (songs, or shorter individual poems). read the following cantos:
Cantos 1-5
Canto 26
Cantos 32-34
As you read the poem, consider Dante as a representative of medieval thought. Consider his relationship to the classical figures he includes in hell (including his guide, Virgil).

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (10 pts)
Machiavelli did not seek to construct an ideal Christian community but to discover how politics was really conducted. In The Prince, written in 1513 and published posthumously in 1532, he studied politics in the cold light of reason.

Stringfellow Barr, The Pilgrimage of Western Man(20 Points)
Greenwood Press
ISBN 0-8371-6152-5 (Currently out of print)
With chapter titles like "The Paragon of Animals," "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Money," and "Men Like Beasts," this book, more like a set of historical essays, runs the gamut of European history from the Middle Ages to the cold war.

Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man (10 pts)
Little, Brown
ISBN 0-316-10930-4
A volume on the history of science in Europe, derived from the 1973 BBC television series of the same name (see below).

James Burke, The Day the Universe Changed (20 pts)
Back Bay Books
ISBN 0-316-11704-8
This extraordinary book shows the impact that events both large and small had on the history of Western Europe and the world.

George Fasel, Modern Europe in the Making (20 pts)
Dodd, Mead
ISBN 0-396-06895-2
This book begins with the French Revolution and ends with the common market.

Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World (philosophy, 30 points,)
Berkley Books
ISBN 0-425-15225-1
Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: "Who are you?" and "Where does this world come from?" Soon she is enrolled in a correspondence course covering Socrates to Sartre. But who is Hilde? To solve the riddle, Sophie has to use every aspect of philosophy she is learning. But the truth is far more unnerving than she expected. This is a book that takes time to digest. Don't plan on reading it quickly.

Mark Kurlansky, Cod: Biography of a Fish That Changed the World (20 pts)
Penguin Books
ISBN: 0-140-27501-0
Simply put, it's an unbelievable book. The codfish really did have an extraordinary impact, and its history affects many other aspects of human endeavor.

Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (20 Pts) Penguin Books
ISBN: 0-142-00161-9
Homer called salt a divine substance. Today, we take it for granted. Without it, we would not be alive. Drilling for salt led to drilling for oil, and the money made from salt funded the building of the Great Wall of China as well as the Erie Canal! I personally like authors and teachers who can tie many things together and make sense of otherwise disparate and unconnected information. James Burke is another author in this category.

Garry Wills, Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit
Doubleday (20 pts)
ISBN 0-385-49411-4
Popes in the Roman Catholic church were not always very saintly. Although a little difficult to get into at first, this book is historically more accurate and compelling than the Manchester book, which tends to be sensationalistic and reports some rumors as fact.

Fiction and Historical Fiction

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (10 points)
Anchor Books
ISBN 0-385-47454-7

No Longer at Ease (10 points)
Anchor Books
ISBN 0-385-47455-5

A Man of the People (10 points)
Anchor Books
ISBN 0-385-08616-4
This famous trilogy from a Nigerian (Ibo) author is about Western civilization and its effect on the native peoples of Africa. Set in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it chronicles the effects of Western civilization on the society and culture of native African peoples. It was written around the time that Biafra attempted to achieve independence from the rest of Nigeria. Biafrans starved while the rest of the world watched in horror.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (10 points)
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . . it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us." This story is set in the context of the French Revolution. I enjoyed reading only parts of it.

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (10 points, ***)
"Please, sir, may I have some more?" The great English novelist shows the evils of the Industrial Revolution and exposes the plight of children. It's worth reading.

Thomas More, Utopia
How would you know a perfect society if you saw one? The word utopia comes from this book. Do you think that the New World society he envisions is what the United States has become, or what it was before the U.S. came to be? Or is it just a dream More had? This is a challenging book to read. Approach with caution.

George Orwell, 1984 (10 points)
Another novel about a future society, this is a twentieth-century horror story of Nazi terror and Soviet brainwashing. I find myself often making reference to this book in teaching AP Euro. Some students don't care for it, however, while others agree with me that it is one of the best books they have ever read. It is not happy.

George Orwell, Animal Farm (10 points)
A brilliant fable about fascism and communism -- If you have never read it, read it.

Erich Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (20 points)
This is the most famous antiwar novel to come out of World War I and perhaps the most powerful antiwar book ever written.

Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country (10 points)
While it is a great story about the human impact of apartheid in South Africa.

B. F. Skinner, Walden Two (10 points)
This clever novel by a famous behavioral psychologist depicts a utopian society in the United States. Everything seems perfect. And everyone is so happy. Or are they? What a great book this is, and it will keep you hanging on until the very end.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (20 points, *)
This gruesome and tedious novel is about life in the Soviet gulags.

T.R. Reid, the United States of Europe (15 points)
This book explores modern European issues in regards to Hegemonic rivalry. It is a great read that you will enjoy.

Films and Television Documentaries

Have your parents verify that you watched the film. Each film is worth 5 points unless otherwise noted.

Amadeus (5 points)
Amusing, irreverent, and controversial portrait of one of the greatest composers of Western music -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- includes clips of some of his greatest works. Fun to watch.

Gandhi (10 points)
Powerful story of India's struggle for independence. I admit that there were tears in my eyes on more than one occasion when I watched this move. It is a great film.

Life Is Beautiful (5 points)
Deals with Italian fascism and its impact on the lives of people. It is very moving.

Becket (5 points)
A depiction of Thomas Becket's struggle with the king of England while remaining true to his own principles. The dialogue is great, and the acting is exceptional.

A Man for All Seasons (5 points)
Focuses on Thomas More's conflict with Henry VIII.

Jacob Bronowski's "Ascent of Man" (Each episode is worth 5 points)
A television series (which inspired the book of the same name, above) on the history of science discussing the intellectual, social, cultural, and political history of the centuries of European history that we study.

James Burke, The Day the Universe Changed (Each episode is worth 5 points)
Wonderful episodes show the impact that events both large and small had on the history of Western Europe and the world. Sample titles: "Printing Transforms Knowledge," "Just What the Doctor Ordered."

Sister Wendy's Story of Painting (Each episode is worth 5 points)
Lively, informative, and somewhat controversial, Sister Wendy has a lot to say about art and artists that is worth seeing. Each episode will make the beginner aware and more appreciative of great works in art history.

Motion Picture Report Format

Please follow the instructions carefully! The better you write, the more analysis you give, the more points you get.

Heading: At the top of the page, list the title of the film and the date of its first issuance. Place your name, date, and period in the upper right hand corner of page 1.

In concise paragraphs summarize the following points. Number each paragraph. Type using 12pt font and standard margins.

1. Describe the topic and scope of the film. If it is a historical film, what is the historical era in which the plot is set, but also, what is the year in which the film was released? In other words, was there something going on when the film was made to prompt its production? What are the major artistic, political, and other goals of the film?

2. Identify the director, author of the work upon which it is based (novel, biography, etc.), the major actors/actresses, and if applicable, the most prominent supporting cast.

3. Identify the central theme of the work. What message—political, cultural, social, or other—does it seek to convey? What is the historical context within which the film is produced? (Theme is NOT the same as topic!)

4. Describe the effectiveness of the narrative, music, and other sound effects. Describe the visual impact, such as setting, location, cinematography, editing, and other special effects.

5. Describe the total impact of the film—its historical context (is it a groundbreaking film), the narrative, the use of traditional or experimental motion picture conventions (conventions in this manner refers to things that all movies have regardless of genre or topic). What did the critics say about the film? What do you say about the film?

Finally, in a series of paragraphs, provide a cogent (effective, meaningful, convincing) summary of the motion picture, blending a description of the plot with an amplification of the major points you have made in the first part of the film. Someone who reads your paper should be able to get a really good sense of plot, structure, production value, major features of the film, and the film’s role as a piece of cultural text—and whether they might enjoy the film themselves. Also, make sure to include a narrative as to how this film augmented or detracted from your study of the actual historical time period in which the film is set. PRINT this page and attach to the top of your work.

NOTE: Reading current film reviews may help you in this endeavor.

Last modified: Tuesday, 6 June 2017, 03:02 PM

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