A sample of some of the reviews written on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com for both Spinning World History and its first edition Our World's Story.
ByThe Great Ronon June 2, 2017
Teachers – Here is the high-interest reader you’ve been looking for to engage your students in World History or World Geography. My 9th and 10th grade students love this alternative textbook. Well researched and full of anecdotes, “Spinning World History” gives students a cohesive narrative history of the world from the beginnings of civilization to the present. The contemporary studies explain regional challenges within a historical context helping students to appreciate how or why those struggles came to be. Mr. Burnett, who is himself a classroom teacher, walks in the stylistic footsteps of Henrick van Loon’s “Story of Mankind,” with a friendly, welcoming, and occasionally humorous voice that makes you want to keep reading. No dull history book here. Because the text is 2/3 history and 1/3 contemporary regional studies it has been easy to use parts of the book in both my World History and World Cultural Geography classes. Mr. Burnett has taken a balanced approach to western/non-western topics, each of which is presented in a self-sufficient chapter of very manageable length for classroom consumption, making it easy to emphasize your particular content standards and to match your own scope-and-sequence. A helpful supplementary website archives videos and other materials making it easier to supplement the reading or flip your instruction. If you want your students to reach beyond a “textbook understanding” of the world, if you want them to be engaged and self-motivated to read, if you are looking for a tool which will give students the content knowledge they need generate authentic, meaningful discussion in the classroom, then “The Spinning World” is for you.
ByNason June 20, 2017
Burnett has constructed one of the best books I have ever used as an educator. As an administrator at a high performing high school in the north shore of Milwaukee, WI, I worked with our 9th grade teachers to begin incorporating chapters from the first edition into the curriculum. Over the course of the last 3 years, this book has now become our primary text. Students love the language in which it is written--a true credit to Burnett's writing style that is friendly, humorous, inviting, yet quite informative! You have to check out this text!
For students who would rather not spend
For students who would rather not spend their hours excruciatingly devoted toward the bland, dry content of a school-issued textbook, Mr. Burnett provides a more lucid and witty alternative without completely disrupting the propriety of learning. Unlike the superfluous and stoic content of most textbooks, Our World's Story caused my weekly reading assignments to be seen with less disdain since it emphasized key ideas as opposed to overwhelming me with every convoluted detail of history. Mr. Burnett maintained an obvious zeal toward each and every chapter, and I daresay that his methods were comparable, if not remindful, to that of the beloved John Green from the auspicious CrashCourse Series. He constantly engaged his readers and was mindful of the fact that the people reading this were not necessarily deep-rooted fanatics of history, and rather, he appealed to a wider audience by incorporating his personal commentary and even humor into the book, humanizing himself to further engage me. In my opinion, his beliefs do not abate the information to which he presents- in fact, the candor that he showed throughout the chapters were what kept me on track and focused. Ultimately, this book allowed for a breath of fresh air and a novel way to help aid me in preparation for my AP World History exam. Thank you, Mr Burnett for a more than tolerable textbook read.
June 11, 2017
What an amazing book! If you are looking for a book that your students will actually want to read, you found it. Mr. Burnett writes in a style that keeps you entertained while being highly informative. I used the previous edition as a supplement for my AP World class. The powerpoints on his website that go along with the text provide excellent images to accompany each chapter. I have my students take notes next to the images as they read. I love how the book includes the Regional Challenges section to provide the students with a clear way to see the changes and continuities that have taken place over time. I'm so happy that Mr. Burnett updated the book to include the current events that have been taking place over the last few years. I highly recommend this book!
ByBig Al APWHon June 2, 2017
I'm thrilled that Mr. Burnett's updated version of "Our World's Story" is finally here! I was fortunate enough to discover the original last year and used it as a supplement to our AP World History text, which the students hate and generally do not read. Now that "Spinning World History", which has brought the content into more contemporary times is available, I have decided to use it as a summer reading assignment for my incoming 10th grade APWH students. Additionally, because of its easy, conversational style and tone, I have decided to 'flip' my books this year and use my textbook as a supplement to Mr. Burnett's volume. Aditionally, teachers who purchase classroom licenses are also given access to his website of extensive additional materials for classroom use.
Well done, Mr. Burnett! Keep up the good work.
Removed from 20th century textbooks standard ( causes and effects), Burnett does a great job at storytelling, comparing and analyzing why history matters.
Matter of fact, SPINNING WORLD HISTORY is rather profound not-traditional history text; starting from the Alien intro to the fecal burning Mongols to the effortless mention of Industrial Revolution, "this is one of the biggies." Burnett's style and prose is not your ordinary textbook, but allows teachers and students, alike to enjoy a good story. In addition, Burnett allows for anyone to follow the story vis a vis social media.
His website (http://spinningworldhistory.com/) looks to break a new boundary. Merging his text to social media (from Youtube to Twitter). You can click on a video link that connects directly to what you are reading in a chapter or follow him on twitter. In our world of 21st century multi-tasking students, this may just be what every big textbook company will have to do to compete.
Finally, for the cost of this text is 1/10 of MY current traditional text book (http://www.amazon.com/Voyages-World-History-Volume-1/dp/0618077235).
There is no doubt for the cost, insight and storytelling this is a very impressive classroom 21st century textbook.
This year I was assigned to teach a 12th grade level World History course. I was so nervous and a bit overwhelmed because there is so much history to cover-4.5 billion years. I stumbled upon this book and am so glad I did. It is designed for high school students, but it reads like a wonderful story. Burnett makes history come alive through his humorous take on history. I would definitely recommend this book for any student of history, or anyone just needing a refresher in our world. Unlike other history texts, he does not end with the Cold War,rather, the last section of this book is dedicated to various regions of the world and the challenges they face. I will definitely refer to this book for years to come. The best part of this book is that it is available online for all students for a one-time license fee. I think that both adults and teens will enjoy Burnett's humorous perspective, so much so, that the reader almost forgets the book is educational!!
This year, as a freshman taking AP World, I read OUR WORLD's STORY almost daily. We are assigned, by my teacher, to read the book, and after reading a chapter or two, to answer some questions about what we learned from the chapters. Usually when I hear a teacher assign textbook reading, I roll my eyes, and scrunch up my nose in disgust, but when my teacher assigns us to read OUR WORLD's STORY, I am excited. The Author of this modern text, Eric Burnett wrote a new, fresh book that students will enjoy reading. There is a lot of information throughout the book that is easy to remember and obtain because it is related to everyday things, and experiences we as students can understand. I love how the book is put into chapters with the different names and titles at the beginning like a real chapter book. It makes it more enjoyable to read because you no longer feel like you are reading a history textbook, but just a regular chapter book. When I first received the book, it was long. It was a lot of chapters and it seemed liked it would take an eternity to read. I read it so fast, and enjoyed reading the book. OUR WORLD's STORY was an extremely informative book with many different stories and lessons wrapped up throughout the chapters. I think this book is a really good way to learn the fundamentals of our world's history, and enjoy doing so at the same time. (less)
As an AP world history teacher I LOVE this book. These stories give a more "personal" look at the information we're studying. The author brings it down to a teenage level and the students really understand it.
GREAT read for teachers or students!
This is one of the best books I have ever read about World History. It fits my style of teaching and is a fantastic addendum to our chosen World History textbook. In fact, it is actually better than our textbook, which makes it so compatible to the World History curriculum. I highly recommend it as a text for any AP World History course, or as an addendum to any World History course.
As a high school world history teacher I have so many different resources to use with my students: a 1000+ page college-level text, countless primary documents, dozens of online databases and educator-created web sites. Despite this, sometimes it is difficult to convey the “big picture.” This text does just that. It is a great companion piece to the teaching materials listed above and it is an effective way to begin a new unit. This text gives students the overview, helps them make connections, and opens the door for many discussions. It is not “just the facts,” as the author definitely tries to lead the reader to pay more attention to non-Western accomplishments and question some of the traditional historical interpretations. Some of his claims could be debated but they are all useful in a classroom environment to spur discussion. My students have responded positively to this text and I will continue to use it.
A very good overview of world history. The content of each chapter could be expanded into a thousand-page tome but for those of us who have neither the time nor inclination to go into such detail, this brisk romp through 4000+ years of human history works very well. It appears to be aimed at American teenagers but despite that (I am a middle-aged non-American) I very much enjoyed reading the book. The final section is not so much history as an insightful analysis of the current state of the world, region by region.
At one point the author seems to have allowed a bit of humanist propaganda to leak in, and had a little rant about anyone who doesn't wholly embrace the theory of evolution being a mental dwarf, but we soon got past that and the style settled back down.
Although the text deserves 5* I am only giving it 4* since it (at least the Kindle version) was let down by a lack of proof-reading and too many typos, missing words and misspellings (e.g. confusing there, their and they're).
Nice encapsulation of the history of the world. Uses humor, but I like the format, the way he breaks down segments into both geographical and time periods, making it easy to read and comprehend. Would be a great resource for high school, but is a fun read in general.
I loved this concise history of the world. It is very well organized, and ties in concurrent events from all over, which are often glossed over or omitted altogether. It was very interesting to read about the global effects of empire expansion and contraction. He has a barely camoflauged leftist opinion about current events, but very insightful.
Interesting one book world history. It bogs down at times so it took a while to get through. It has a lot of contemporary references so I think it will seem rather dated in just a few years. But overall it was pretty informative and gave a different slant to some events.
I am transformed with my new knowledge of history.
Wonderfully interesting--just flows right along with tons of details I should have known but didn't. Now I want to read Burnett's History of America.
A fantastic book tor the layperson. Starts at the beginning, literally caveman days, and marches through time in a light and easy to read fashion.
I have always loved history, but I generally find history textbooks to be mind-numbingingly boring. As a high school student, reading a history textbook in the past has always seemed to be a daunting task as the authors seem to have taken all of the exciting, funny, shocking, and odd information out of them in an attempt to avoid upsetting anyone or challenging long-held beliefs, even if they turn out not to be wholly true. Eric Burnett's Our World's Story includes the information students need in order to do well on their exams, but he also imbeds a healthy dose of wit and humor along with little known facts that bring the events to life. He also makes connects between people, places, and events that makes the facts more meaningful. Even when assigned for homework, I often got lost in Mesopotamia or Ancient Egypt and read past the assigned pages. Our World's Story has proven to be an eye opening and thought provoking read that I recommend to everyone; whether you're a student, teacher, or someone who wants to become a little less ignorant about the world you live in and how we got here.
This book was an easy read because it read like a teacher telling the story of world history to his students. I read all 600+ pages within a few days. I also think his companion website [...] will be very useful as a quick way to find resources on the world history topics I teach.
Let's all be honest here. Most history books are a drag. And to be frank, I thought this book would be the same the moment I read the words "The Tales, Traditions, and Turning Points of the Past and Regional Challenges of Today". Great points on the alliteration scale, not so great on the interesting scale. But after reading all the awesome comments this book received I decided to muster through to see if Our World's Story would surprise me. The further I dived into this book, the more fascinated I was. Eric Burnett seriously has a knack for the impossible -- making a usually boring topic funny. Whether he's actually cracking a joke or slipping in some sarcasm Burnett's voice in the story is extremely present and by far not the voice of a stolid British narrator. All in all, I was able to make it the whole way through this book completely hooked. I would definitely recommend it, especially for those who want history but in an enticing and captivating manner.
As a student, I find that history tends to be a boring and dull subject. Not only is it hard to comprehend the overly-sophisticated writing style of textbook authors, but also the writing is, for lack of a better word, not intriguing to the mind of a student. Many times I find that history is all but a memory game, testing me to see how many dates, events and specific facts I can memorize. Few times I can make connections and actually learn from the text and work.
Burnett's book may be a solution to this problem for many students and can help them not only understand and comprehend history, but also help to learn and connect historical events to one another as well as to the present world. His writing is much easier to understand, and would benefit students who are struggling to grasp the concepts of historical events. It also offers a better option for students to make connections to the material they are reading. I think that his inclusion of humor and a strong voice is key to keeping readers interested and attentive, allowing them to move through history effortlessly. Furthermore, Burnett has opened up the book and its chapters by creating a website that can help guide readers through history.
Overall, while this book may not be for someone looking for in depth details on specific historical events, it would be absolutely beneficial to those studying the basics of history. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a history-made-easy book or even for those looking for an interesting read.
Eric Burnett has successfully made a history textbook appealing to students. With unique blends of sarcastic humor and insightful connections to present day events, this book is a must have for any student, and I would highly recommend teachers to incorporate it into their curriculum. As a student myself, I can honestly say that this is the first history book where I've wanted to continue reading and not put the book down.
Not only does Eric Burnett accurately depict significant events from the past, he also manages to cover present day issues and events. Burnett is able to thoroughly engage the reader, as the book feels more like an intriguing and well connected story, than a history textbook broken up in to chapters.
Regardless of your background knowledge on the history of the world, Our World's Story is sure to entertain, educate, and appeal to all ages.
There's always a tradeoff when it comes to world history texts because so much information needs to be covered that books come in one of two categories: long and in-depth, but unreadable outside of a purely academic context, or short and digestible, but lacking large chunks of history. No book can claim to straddle this balance perfectly, but Burnett's book probably comes pretty close. It's less structured than an average textbook which makes it slightly more difficult for students to write notes on, but the more college-esque style of the book means that it could serve as a good lead up for students on the way to more realistic readings in higher education.
The book is catered towards the average American with little prior knowledge of history for the most part, but Burnett's explanations are occasionally either too detailed or too complex for my own liking. While the attempts to make the book interesting for the layman is clear, Our World's Story is dry at parts, with chapters that seem to go on and on mixed in with the short, crisp style of other sections. The main body of the work, however, is pretty much as promised - interesting, understandable, and yet still in-depth.
The bias towards developed societies and the West is sometimes palpable; only a slight mention is made of North American tribes, countries like Canada or Australia, or even Central America (which is all too often treated like a chunk with only a few case studies highlighted). On the plus side, the fact that he discusses Western history for about 50% of the book means that Burnett can build on areas that the average student/teacher/reader is more comfortable with, making the book more accessible because it contains the more interesting and relevant bits of history for his target audience.
Other reviewers have already touched on the services provided on Burnett's parallel website, but in this one area I find myself wholly impressed by the progress. He has started to create Powerpoints that connect chapters from the book to Youtube documentaries or pictures from the web that can help explain the concepts. While switching back and forth between electronic and print media is a pet peeve of mine, I see that the applications of these slideshows (especially for teachers) are immense. I think there's a lot more he can do with his push to integrate the services of the web with the printed book to help engage students, but his creation of a Twitter feed (ourworldzstory) is one step in the right direction if we really want to get kids engaged in their learning. I'm envisioning a Facebook page where students can begin posting links to articles or snippets they find parallels to in world history... but I assume such web services will be boosted over time.
The other distinguishing feature of his book is the 'Regional Challenges of Today' section. I like the way he's divided the world into regions and tried to address the main political, economic, and social issues in each, but there are still a few ways it can be improved: I'd like to see stronger connections to the sources of these issues in history, and I'd like to see this section be updated periodically (either through purchasable addendums or through updated versions of the book). I for one would be happy to buy additional editions of this section in particular - I think Burnett can take this unique idea far.
Overall, I like the direction Burnett is going with this book. Would wholeheartedly recommend it, but I think readers should know what they're going to get - an interesting, readable book with useful and unique aspects but with a few flaws here and there.
Burnett's book is an amazing overview of world history. Unlike most dry, droning textbooks, Burnett's book is funny and informative, capturing readers with a snarky and familiar tone. What recommends the book most, however, is the comprehensive coverage of world history. Instead of focusing only on the West and mentioning the rest of the world as a hurried footnote, Burnett dedicates equal time to each of the world's most important civilizations across the globe, recognizing the achievements and downfalls of each.
Most importantly, Burnett's book captures the significance of each event and civilization throughout history, showing how each era developed from the past and influenced the future. The final chapters highlight the most important regional challenges and current events to create a full picture of our world today.
Overall, an excellent and informative book for students and adults alike!
The worst thing for any student learning history is to have to memorize. Instead of devoting energy to the actually story, the way everything ties together and how we got where we are, we're forced to memorize dates and names that, frankly, in the larger scope of things aren't as important. That's why I love history; it's just one giant story, just without an ending. That's also, why I love this book: It is in essence, a giant story. A story of how we "Started from the bottom now we're here". A story that not only provides facts and the "what" of history; additionally, it provides commentary and insight giving the "how" and "why" of history.
Then again, not everyone is a history freak like me and reading about history is often a chore, EVEN if it's in the form of a story. Burnett, with an extremely apt sense of his audience recognizes this. While appealing to both the young and old with his vast knowledge of the various time periods, he infuses voice and most importantly sarcasm, which is what had me flipping pages. Sections about Socrates discussing late night curfews, chapters cleverly titled like "Alexander the Very Good", and questions like "Which famous dictator first thought of the Volkswagen?" make the book more of a pleasure read than the chore that history reading often becomes.
Then of course, my favorite part of the book: the ending. Part II revolves around "Regional Challenges of Today". History has no point, unless we learn from the mistakes of the past to solve the problems of today. Excuse my cliché-esque statement, but that's simply the truth. Burnett's book first provides THOUSANDS of years of history, then ends with the problems we face today. By doing this, the reader considers the previous happenings of history and subconsciously uses this history to try to rectify today's problems.
To be completely honest, as a high school student, I had many late nights with just me my history book, a bag of gummy worms, and a can of red bull. Reading history books were more like reading bed stories; they put me to sleep instantly. When I picked up Burnett's book, it was the exact opposite. Everytime the words "But that is for another chapter" came up, some force would compel me to read on, because I WANTED to continue and know what was next.
History teachers have a natural appreciation for the subject. However, not all students do. Burnett's book, "Our World's Story", regardless of your stance on history makes history interesting. As a student, I strongly advise teachers to embed this novel into their curriculum instead of current textbooks. By doing so, their students will gain a higher appreciation for history, not just as a bunch of dates and numbers, but as a never-ending story.
When was the last time you read a chapter of your history textbook and felt as if the conquests of Alexander the Great, the musings of Voltaire, and the adventures of Marco Polo were as real and current as the news broadcasted at prime time or featured on the front page?
Not many students of World History can claim that their textbooks are as vibrant and compelling as "Our World's Story." Burnett's book achieves the impossible - a factually sound history text made appealing to the high school audience through accessible language, humor, and witticisms modern students will appreciate.
Unlike the burdensome textbooks many of us are familiar with that portray history through a 'year-person-event' formula, Burnett's "Our World's Story" breaks the mold and allows history to be taught in a thoughtful, engaging, and almost story-like manner. Finally history is no longer portrayed as a series of separate events, as Burnett masterfully connects the dots for students, weaving the complex history of the world through eras and regions in a comprehensive manner that just makes sense.
Additionally, "Our World's Story" concludes with nine notable chapters detailing the "Regional Challenges of Today," an unprecedented asset to this world history text that makes other history textbooks seem archaic.
Simply put, "Our World's Story" allows world history and our recent past to come alive, a book that is capable of capturing a high school student's interest while still delivering the academic content of an excellent world history course.
I've read several history textbooks throughout the course of my high school career. It's very easy to get bored when a thick, heavy book constantly throws a load of information at you. Many teenagers wonder why we have to study events that occurred centuries ago, the reason being most history textbooks that students use are solely focused on those specific time periods.
What makes Eric Burnett's book, Our World's Story, so appealing to all ages alike is the fact that he constantly incorporates things that connect history to our world today. In addition, the style in which information is presented is very intriguing. Instead of the conventional ways of how textbooks convey their facts, Burnett does so in a different way. For example, instead of telling directly stating how humanity has progressed since the beginning of time, he switches perspectives to that of "aliens" who hypothetically have seen us since our primitive years to where we are today. "They'd see there are a lot of us...they'd see that we no longer live in empires...they'd see we have found different ways of keeping people under control..."etc. Burnett's sarcastic and relatable voice is evident throughout the entire book, which keeps readers engaged and interested in reading on.
There is absolutely no way one can get tired while reading this 21st century history book. Personally, I'm glad I finally found a book on history that is both relatable and entertaining, while teaching me a copious amount of knowledge of our world's history.