Modern Europe Classical Library — Heritage History — Revision 2
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Recommended Reading

    Young Readers     Intermediate Readers     Advanced Readers     Supplemental Reading

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, and pessimism. 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.

TitleGenreHistorical Era
Belgian Twins   by L. F. Perkins Fiction France
French Twins   by L. F. Perkins Fiction France
Stories of Wagner   by C. E. Smith Adapted Lit Germany
The Story of the French Revolution   by Alice Birkhead Episodic France
Marie Antoinette   by Alice Birkhead Biography France
Lafayette for Young Americans   by Rupert Holland Biography France
Eugenie - Empress of France   by George P. Upton Biography France
Frederick the Great   by George P. Upton Biography Germany
Louise - Queen of Prussia   by George P. Upton Biography Germany
Emperor William First   by George P. Upton Biography Germany
Maria Theresa of Austria   by George P. Upton Biography Austria
Elizabeth - Empress of Austria   by George P. Upton Biography Austria
Mozart's Youth   by George P. Upton Biography Austria
Heroes of Modern Europe   by Alice Birkhead Episodic All Europe
Church History: Later Modern Times   by Notre Dame Comprehensive All Europe
The Boys' Book of Battles   by Eric Wood Military All Europe
Story Lives of the Great Scientists   by F. J. Rowbotham Episodic All Europe
Children's Stories of the Great Scientists   by Henrietta Wright Episodic All Europe
War Inventions   by Charles Gibson Military Great War
Boys' Book of Battles   by Chelsea Fraser Military Great War
Heroic Deeds of the Great War   by Donald Mackenzie Military Great War
Historical Tales - French   by Charles Morris Comprehensive France
Story of Napoleon   by H. F. B. Wheeler Biography France
Madame Roland   by J. S. C. Abbott Biography France
Josephine   by J. S. C. Abbott Biography France
Louis Philippe   by J. S. C. Abbott Biography France
Historical Tales - German   by Charles Morris Comprehensive Germany
Bismarck and the German Empire   by J. W. Headlam Biography Germany
Garibaldi and His Red-Shirts   by F. J. Snell Military Italy
When the Prussians Came to Poland   by Laura de Gozdawa Episodic Russia
Historical Tales - Russian   by Charles Morris Comprehensive Russia
Peter the Great   by Jacob Abbott Biography Russia
Escape from the Soviets   by Tatiana Tchernavin Episodic Russia

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