Thursday, September 13, 2012

British History: Observations and Assessments from Early Cultures to Today

A while back I reviewed Master Books’ World History textbook by James P. Stobaugh. My critique of that book was pretty harsh because Stobaugh based most of his book on Internet research rather than scholarly sources.  There were frequent and glaring grammatical errors as well as problems in his timeline.

Unfortunately Stobaugh’s British History textbook is little better. 

While there was a larger reference section in the back of the book, the inline citations where overwhelmingly from, which isn’t quite as bad as or the History of the World for Dummies like the previous book, but it certainly isn’t considered a scholarly or even an authoritative resource.  Again it was something a teacher would expect a high school student to turn in, copy and pasted from the Internet.

There were also some glaring errors.  For example on page 51, Stobaugh tells us that Christopher Columbus was “born in Genoa, Italy, in 145”.  Which would make him over a thousand years old when he sailed the ocean blue in 1492.  I’m assuming that’s a typo, but that’s why it’s vital that textbook companies edit their material before publishing it.

One of the main purposes that Stobaugh sets out to accomplish with this series is to present history in a way that glorifies God, so a lot of time is spent on looking at the reformation and its affects on Britain, but I’m surprised that a lot of the British precursors of the reformation were left out.  One huge example is John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible into English in 1382 and started the Lollard movement, which heavily influenced Martin Luther.  After his death Wycliffe was declared a heretic, and his body was exhumed, dismembered, and burned. In terms of Britain’s Protestant Christian heritage, he’s a biggy, but he’s missing from this Christian textbook.

Again I think Stobaugh’s intentions were noble, but Masterbooks should have hired an editor and a more competent historian.  I’ll repeat my earlier evaluation of World History, this sort of lackadaisical scholarship is why secularists think of Christians as country bumpkins with no education. 

What’s somewhat humorous about it all is that in the time period that Stobaugh is writing about, Christian scholars were the cream of the academic crop. 

Once again, I cannot recommend this series to anyone, much less its intended high school audience.

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