Sources of strife;Secondary;Reviews;History;Books

10th April 1998 at 01:00
ADVANCED HISTORY SOURCEBOOKS. THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION. Barry Coward and Chris Durston. John Murray. pound;9.99.

LONGMAN HISTORY IN DEPTH SERIES. Charles I. Angela Anderson. THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION. Graham Darby. STALIN AND THE SOVIET UNION. Jim Grant. HITLER AND NAZISM. Jane Jenkins. CAUSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. Alan Monger. Longman pound;5.99 each.

The A-level history market is getting crowded. Students have a wide array of good topic and course books to choose from, and new titles need to be up to scratch.

There are no worries about The English Revolution.

Combining academic authors with teacher editors allows for an authoritative text presented in manageable sections. The style is engagingly direct: Puritans are "the hotter type of Protestant", the divine right of kings "like some other ideas held by people at this time might seem strange to you". Its different historical approaches will make it invaluable in the classroom: there is a good historiographical discussion of the causes of the war, a case study approach to its social impact, even details of every member of the Barebones Parliament and the ship money assessment of every county.

Longman's Seminar Studies pioneered the topic book approach to A-level. The new History in Depth series, edited by Chris Culpin and written by practising teachers, has some very good features: an access-ible style, a "picture gallery" of major figures and good essay and document advice. But the quality is uneven.

The Russian Revolution is well written, and has helpful conclusions to each chapter, as has Charles I, but not the others. Causes of the Second World War does not really go into more detail on the 1919 Treaties than can be found in most textbooks. Stalin and the Soviet Union and Hitler and Nazism both stop before the war, as does (different war) Charles I. The picture galleries highlight figures who do not then necessarily feature much in the text. These are good introductory books, but they are not really substantial enough to warrant their title History in Depth.

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