How the wars were won;Secondary;Reviews;Subject of the week;History;Books

5th November 1999 at 00:00
QUESTIONS AND ANALYSIS IN HISTORY SERIES:. Hitler and Nazi Germany. Imperial Germany: 1871 to 1918. Stalin and the Soviet Union. By Stephen J Lee.

PARLIAMENTARY REFORM: 1785 to 1928. By Sean Lang.

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. By Jocelyn Hunt. The Cold War. By Bradley Lightbody.

THE ENGLISH WARS AND REPUBLIC: 1636 to 1660. By G E Seel. Routledge pound;6.99 each.

The books in this new A-level series are not just historical interpretations or historiographies, neither are they anthologies of sources nor guidance for exam technique. They attempt to do everything at once, and to a large degree, they succeed.

Each chapter follows a clear sequence. First, there is a narrative account of the issue in question. So that this narrative might not become swamped by the interpretation, it is treated separately from the two analyses which follow, in which the author discusses relevant historical questions and then poses the students a few questions of his own.

In these analyses, all the authors (although somewhat inconsistently) make reference to the historiography of the subject. The reader who is not an expert on these topics usually relies on the authors to be up-to-date in their scholarship, and the bibliographies and notes and sources include recent references.

After the analyses, each chapter contains two sections of primary sources, each with an appropriate set of questions.

In order to demonstrate the techniques required, one question from each of thesehas been done by the author - although teachers mightdoubt whether including a worked answer will necessarily improve their students' answering technique.

These books are not light reading. They are functional worktools for A-level students, and the issues are driven by the kind of questions found in A-level exam papers.

The series is therefore anup-to-date rival to Longman's Seminar Studies - students are given a background overview and access to the opinions of leading historians as a basis for an informed debate and a subsequentessay.

But Questions and Analysis offers more than guidance for the students on how to questionthe presented materials. The books give them an authoritative in-depth overview of their subjects and it might equally form further reading for particularly bright GCSE pupils.

John D Clare is head of history at Greenfield comprehensive school, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

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