The Modern Europe Library does not yet have a complete curriculum
associated with it. The following recommendations promote some of our
comprehensive histories for beginning, intermediate, and
advanced students, as well as a few biographies and episodic histories
that focus on especially important events.
There are five major topics that are covered in the Modern Europe Library.
These topics are 1) The French Revolution and the political turmoil
in France which followed it, 2) The Rise of Prussia as the leading
power in Europe and the formation of the German Empire, 3) The
Unification of Italy and the loss of influence of the Roman Church,
4) The Rise of the Russian Empire and the Bolshevik Revolution, and
5) The "Great War" (WWI), whose scope and destructiveness outstripped
any previous conflict in the realm of Christendom. Books pertaining
to all five topics are not available at every reading level, but
the major themes of the period—that is, the rise of secular
governments and the corresponding decline of Christian culture—are
common to all topics.
Young Readers' Core Selections
The Modern Europe collection has a limited selection of books that are appropriate
for younger students.
Because the events of this period are both disturbing and difficult for younger
students to understand, we recommend Modern Europe as a subject for
students who are at a middle school reading level and above. Nevertheless,
the following selections provide a
good initial introduction to the period suitable for grade school students.
Two of our "core" selections, Famous Men of Modern Times and
The Struggle for Sea Power, cover events and characters in Britain
and America as well as continental Europe, but both have many chapters
dedicated to European heroes and events. Most of the remaining books deal with
events in France because the events in that country are most easily
understood by younger students. The Little Dauphin
tells the story of the French Revolution from the point of view of the
a young child, and although it deals with many disturbing events, they are
presented in a manner suitable for children. The Story of Napoleon
is also very accessible to young readers, and When I was
a Boy in Russia provides great insights into Russian life in the
years before the Bolshevik revolution.
Famous Men of Modern Times by John Haaren
Biographical sketches of thirty-three of the most famous characters from the
age of the Renaissance in Europe to the late nineteenth century. Included are
well-known greats such as Charles V, Solyman the Magnificent, Drake, Raleigh,
Richelieu, Louis XIV, Newton, Peter the Great, Washington, Pitt, and Napoleon as
well as many others.
The Story of Napoleon by H. E. Marshall
This book tells the story of Napoleon, one of the most outstanding characters
in European history, in a manner appropriate for grammar and middle school
students. Napoleon was a young Corsican officer at the time of the French
Revolution. He distinguished himself first in the French Revolutionary Wars
(1792-1798) and by 1804 had established himself as the undisputed head of France
and crowned himself emperor. During the following decade he brought all of
Europe under his power before losing everything after his disastrous march on
Russia. He remains one of the most controversial characters of history.
The Little Dauphin by George P. Upton
This book tells the story of the French revolution from the point of view of the crown prince of France, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. After the execution of his parents, the seven-year-old boy was taken from his family and kept prisoner for three years, during which time he was tortured, beaten and abused. His story, told with enough discretion to make it suitable for young people, provides a dramatic and pathetic insight into the cruelties and viciousness of the French revolution.
The Struggle for Sea Power by M. B. Synge
Book IV of the Story of the World series focuses on the age of world
colonization, particularly during 18th century. The histories of European
colonies in America, Australia, South Africa, and India are related, along with
the ongoing wars between Britain and France for domination in Asia and North
America. Also covered are the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and
the campaigns of Napoleon.
When I was a Boy in Russia by Vladimir De Bogory Mokrievitch
This book tells the fascinating story of how a young nobleman of great
promise, growing up in 19th century Russia, became attracted to the
revolutionary ideas popular among the upper classes of Old Russia. He tells of
his involvement in early revolutionary movements, and of his disillusionment,
arrest, imprisonment and escape to the west. This book was written shortly
before the communist takeover, so give a wonderful portrayal of
pre-revolutionary Russia. It is written at a very easy-to-read level, but very
absorbing for older students as well.
Intermediate Readers' Core Selections
Most Middle School students are ready to start learning about modern
European history in some detail. Guerber's Modern France
and Montgomery's Stories of the French Revolution cover the
most important periods of French History, including France's
involvement in the Independence of Italy. There is no good comprehensive
history of modern Germany, but the important pre-war periods of
Prussian history are covered in the biographies of Maria Theresa,
Frederick the Great, and Emperor William First. Finally,
the last half of Van Bergen's Story of Russia covers the
rise of the Russian Empire from age of Peter the Great until the
years immediately preceding the Bolshevik revolution.
The Story of Modern France by Helene Guerber
This comprehensive history of France from the years leading up to the French
Revolution to the years immediately before World War I give an excellent
overview of one of the most dramatic and turbulent centuries in European
history. Beginning with the corrupt and extravagant reign of Louis XV, much of
the book focuses on the turbulent period from the events leading up to the
French Revolution to Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. The final third of the book
covers the Restoration, the second Empire under Napoleon III, and the Third
Republic formed after the devastating Franco-Prussian war.
Stories of the French Revolution by Walter Montgomery
This beautifully illustrated book, published on the anniversary of the reign
of Terror in France, is an excellent middle school introduction to the drama of
the French Revolution. The story is told in enough depth to be of abiding
interest, but focus is mostly on the dramatic events of the era, without too
much reflection on the confusing politics of the situation.
Maria Theresa of Austria by George P. Upton
Maria Theresa was Archduchess of Austria for forty years, spanning much of
the 18th century. The Austrian Empire was large and diverse, and Austria was
surrounded on all sides by dangerous foes, most significantly Frederick the
Great of Prussia who spent much of his career expanding the borders of Prussia
at the expense of Austria. This book draws a sympathetic portrait of one of the
most interesting and powerful women in European history.
Emperor William First by George P. Upton
This biography of William the First, the first Kaiser of Germany was written
before the First World War, and in retrospect appears fawning toward its
subject. At the time it was written however, Prussia was greatly admired
throughout much of the west for its technical achievements and its progressive,
secular government, and the Emperor was highly regarded.
The Story of Russia by Robert Van Bergen
This book gives the history of the Russian Slavs from the time of Rurik the Viking
to the years immediately before the Russian Revolution.
The first half of the book tells the early history of the Slavs who inhabited
trading villages along the Volga and Don rivers, as they converted to Christianity and
formed the kingdom of Russia.
The second half focuses on modern Russia, from the age of Peter the Great
to the last of the Tsars. After Peter and his successors brought Russia into the
modern world it become a great world power, but by the end of the 19th
century, she was on the brink of revolution.
Advanced Readers' Core Selections
Older students who need a review of the state of
European politics during the 19th century should start with Charles
Morris's Nations of Europe and the Great War. It is concerned
with events leading up to the war, rather than the war itself.
Most of the other books in the collection provide detailed histories
of specific episodes. Especially notable is I Speak for the Silent:
Prisoners of the Soviets. It does an outstanding job of presenting
life under the early Soviet regime in Russia, including the administration
of soviet labor camps and the treatment of political prisoners. Roland
Usher's The Story of the Great War covers both the political
context of the Great War and a clear year-by-year chronicle of events.
It is not possible for an advanced student to understand the events
of 19th century Europe without at least some introduction to 19th century
philosophy, especially German Aryanism, Darwinism, anti-Semitism,
This type of material is out of the scope of the Heritage Classical
Libraries at this time, but should be part of a high-school level study
of the modern era.
Nations of Europe and the Great War by Charles Morris
This book covers all the major developments 19th century European history
with the intention of explaining how international conflicts set the stage for
the Great European War of 1914-1918. Beginning with the Napoleonic wars of the
early 1800's and ending with the Balkan wars of the early 1900's, the books
covers all major developments in international relations of Europe with a
particular emphasis on England, Prussia, and France. The final chapters are
dedicated to a description of how the continent fell into war and how modern
methods of warfare have dramatically changed to course of current conflicts.
[Note: This book is written from an anti-clerical perspective, but is
nevertheless helpful in providing a sound overview of major events of the time]
The Story of the Great War by Roland Usher
This book is written for the General reader and gives a very complete
overview of the Great War It briefly explains the causes and sentiments of the
war, along with a comprehensive overview of the battle strategies. The author
observes that the vast scale of the war, and the fact that simultaneous battles
occurred on various fronts makes a full comprehension of the war difficult, but
then proceeds to provide an engaging, but thorough review.
I Speak for the Silent Prisoners of the Soviets by Vladimir Tchernavin
This deeply moving, and frightfully truthful book about the horrors of Soviet
communism was written by one of the early victims of Stalin's Reign of Terror.
The author was a Russian scientist who escaped from a labor-prison in Northern
Russia and lived to tell the truth about the Soviet system. His story provides a
horrifying portrait of a totalitarian state with no regard for human rights or
dignity, but it was dismissed as "anti-Soviet propaganda" by many western
apologists for socialism when it was first published in 1934. [Note: This was
one of the first exposés published about the crimes of the Soviet Union.
It influenced Whittaker Chambers to renounce Communism
and become an outspoken opponent of the Soviet Union.]
The History of Prussia by John S. C. Abbott
Fascinating account of the Rise of the Prussian Empire. The first part of the
book examines the early years of Prussia— from its rise from a minor duchy to a
major European power under Frederick the Great, to its struggles with France
during the Napoleonic era. Most of the book however, is dedicated to the
formation of the German Empire under Bismarck which made Prussia the predominant
power in Europe. It ends with a detailed description of the Franco-Prussian war
and the calamity of the Paris Commune, which occurred only a year before the
book was written.
Garibaldi and his Red Shirts by F. J. Snell
Garibaldi is one of the most interesting of the characters involved in the
wars of Italian Unification. He was an extreme radical and violently
anti-Catholic, but idealistic and selfless in his efforts; always willing to
risk his own life and property while accepting no reward or position for his
services . He was a warrior rather than a statesman, and this biography follows
his military career in detail. The politics involved in the unification of Italy
were exceedingly complicated so the episodes of treachery, shifting alliances,
secret missions, and geo-political struggles may be difficult to follow without
a previous introduction to the period, but the military campaigns in and of
themselves, are of great interest.
Supplemental Reading Selections
We recommend that students who are studying the European Middle Ages and
Reformation Era read five or more selections from our supplemental
reading list in addition to their core material.
The selections should be age and interest appropriate, but students can select their
supplemental reading from any difficulty level.
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