A College-level textbook for world history. Published by Oxford University Press (2014)
This is a book that rethinks global history in provocative ways. It asks big questions and provides big answers. Professor Guido Ruggiero, University of Miami.
The Thinking Past delves into the deeper questions of the human condition that make the study of history important. Professor Eric F. Johnson, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.
…This imaginative approach revives an ancient teaching technique: the Socratic method of asking provocative questions and exploring possible answers. Prof. Richard Eaton, University of Arizona.
The Thinking Past: Questions and Problems in World History to 1750
This book is the culmination of multiple years of research and teaching. We present a questions-based approach which allows students to focus on analysis rather than data. Every chapter is based around a question:
- What is an Empire?
- Why Are Humans Dominant?
- What Does Trade Do? etc.
While these may seem like anthropological/sociological questions, we use them in a historical context. But we are not, however, afraid to use plenty of sociology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, or whatever other discipline we need to round out our understanding of the past.
Questioning is a key component of the book because it provides a real mechanisms for students to overcome the one-darn-thing-after-another style of history that has dominated the field for so long. In a subject such as World History it really makes no sense for a book to doggedly progress through history just covering all the “content” in a comprehensive way. No one needs all that information!
Instead we allow our student readers to absorb the big ideas and movements of historical periods, globally, without getting too hung up on knowing everything that ever happened, everywhere.
If the structure and content is new, so is the tone. Textbooks evoke fear and boredom for good reasons. Often written by committee, they usually lack a voice, and usually have a deficit of liveliness. We believe that we have avoided these particular pitfalls, and hope that students will find the text lively and engaging. History, after all, is anything but boring; if it is, it is the fault of the historian.