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Stephanie Hanson
Ancient History: A Secular Exploration of the World

Middle Grade; History & Military; (Market)

Explore the ancient world on a tour of the most beautiful, vibrant, and fascinating places people have called home. History Unboxed takes you outside the box of a traditional history curriculum, exploring cultures around the globe on a journey across six continents. Get to know the Jomon people of Japan, the African empire of Ghana, and the Olmecs of Mesoamerica, alongside history heavyweights such as the Greeks and Sumerians. Take a look at the past through a secular lens and go beyond dates and battles for an engaging, approachable, relatable journey into a story that belongs to all of us -- the history of peoples all over the world. We want every child to love history, so we made this book with over 125 gorgeous photos, maps, and original art. A high interest, engaging view of the past will draw your student in, while our expertly curated book lists and resources make it easy to explore farther in areas where you and your student want to know more. Make your student's history book something they want to get their hands on.
The mission of this lavishly illustrated tour of the ancient world is to inspire a love of learning about history by presenting the lives of Phoenicians, Sumerians, Olmecs and more as a series of vivid stories rather than dry dates and names. Eschewing Eurocentrism, Hanson and Hauris explore ancient civilizations from around the world, digging into Egypt, Rome, and Greece as you might expect but also devoting equal attention to Ghana, the Americas, and ancient Aboriginal cultures as well. To suggest the flavor of each culture, the authors highlight objects, crafts, beliefs, and technological breakthroughs, while retelling the myths or stories that have survived, like the Sumerians’ 4,000 year old "Descent Of Inanna" or the tale of Anansi the Spider from the Ghana Empire.

The key to this inviting, highly browsable book's success is getting the reader to relate to ancient civilizations. By discussing technology like soap and cuneiform, pyramid building in Kush and Egypt, and the Olmec discovery of rubber, readers can gain a better understanding of what daily life was like instead of simply reading history as a series of battles. The authors take pains, as they focus on one civilization at a time, to offer context as to what else was happening in the world, so a discussion about the rise of ancient Greek society notes the decline of the Olmec empire as well as happenings in China, Japan, and Persia.

Written with an engaging and enthusiastic voice, Ancient History also takes the welcome step of delving into the methodology of historians, examining crucial questions like why historians don't know more about ancient Africa. The authors answer bluntly, discussing archeological issues, privileging written history over oral, but also racial biases. This kind of frankness goes a long way to instilling not just curiosity about history but also critical thinking regarding how and why we study history.

Takeaway: This inviting, spectacularly illustrated history text explores ancient civilizations, including those frequently ignored by most history texts.

Great for fans of: Allison Lassieur’s Ancient Mesopatamia, Honest History Magazine.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B