Category Archives: School in a Book

School in a Book: Human Body and Medical Science

We love our bodies, don’t we? It’s just so nice to understand what’s going on inside of all of this skin.

Basic Human Body Science

The eleven systems of the human body: Skeletal system, respiratory system, muscular system, nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, circulatory system, endocrine system, lymphatic/immune system, integumentary system, urinary system

Skeletal system: The framework of bones and cartilage that supports the body and provides hard surfaces for the muscles to contract on

The four types of bones: Flat (example: ribs), long (example: legs), irregular (example: spine), short (example: fingers)

Important bones: Cranium (skull), mandible (jawbone), scapula (shoulder blades), clavicle (collar bone), sternum (breastbone), humerus (upper arm), rib, vertebral column (spine, made of vertebrae), radius (lower arm on top), ulna (lower arm underneath), carpals (wrist bones), metacarpals (finger bones), pelvis (hip bones, including the pelvis), coccyx (butt bone), femur (high leg bone), patella (kneecap), tibia (top shinbone), fibula (bone under fibia) metatarsals (foot bones), tarsals (ankle bones), phelanges (finger and toe/digit bones)

Joint: The places where bones meet. Most joints are movable.

Bone marrow: The store of fat inside the bone cavity

Cartilage: The alternative to bone that’s more flexible. Most baby bones are actually cartilage and slowly turn into bone later.

Muscular system: The system that enables the body to move using muscles

Muscles: Stretchy tissues all over the body that allow for movement. Some pairs work together with one contracting as the other relaxes. They can only contract and relax, not push.

Muscle contraction: The movement that occurs when muscles become shorter and harder and may bulge

Muscle relaxation: The movement that occurs when muscles become longer and softer

Types of muscles: Muscles are either voluntary (requiring conscious movement, such as the quads) or involuntary (such as the heart). They are also either skeletal (located on the skeletal system), cardiac (the heart and related muscles) or visceral (the intestines).

Nervous system: The system that collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain and tells the muscles to contract to cause physical actions. It is made up of the sensory organs, the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves. The nervous system coordinates both voluntary and involuntary body movements.

Peripheral nervous system: The whole network of nerves throughout the body

Neurons: Nerve cells. They include sensory, association and motor nerves cells.

Nerves: Cords that contain bundles of nerve fibers. Can be sensory, motor and mixed (both).

Spinal cord: The thick bundle of nerves that joins the brain to the rest of the body. It is located inside a tunnel in the backbone.

Nerve impulse: An action of a neuron

Neurotransmitters: Various chemicals such as serotonin and epinephrin that allow neurons to communicate with each other. These are sometimes called “chemical messengers.”

Neurotransmission: The communication that takes place between neural networks

Reflex action/reflex: An involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus

Brain: The organ under the skull that is made up of millions of neurons and cerebrospinal fluid. There are electrical impulses going on between nerve cells in brain all the time. Brain waves (patterns of impulses) can be measured.

Left brain hemisphere:

Right brain hemisphere:

The three main parts of the brain:

Brain stem: Controls automatic functions like heartbeat and breathing. It contains two hemispheres: right and left.

Cerebrum: (for physical activities and thinking),

Cerebellum: (for muscle movement and balance)

Corpus collosum:

Diencephalon: (with thalamus, which sorts and directs incoming impulses) and hypothalamus

Hypothalamus: (which controls hunger, thirst, body temperature, release of hormones from pituitary gland).


The lymbic system:

REM sleep: Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep, REMS) is a unique phase of sleep in mammals and birds, distinguishable by random/rapid movement of the eyes, accompanied with low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly.

Sensory organs: Organs that send nerve impulses (signals) to the brain along nerves

Motor nerves: Nerves that receive signals from the brain to the muscles to move

How eyes work: Light enters the pupil through the clear cornea and lens. These bend the light rays so they form an image on the retina and back of eye. (Turns image upside down.) Rods and cones convert the image to nerve impulses which take the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets and turns the image right side up.

Stereoscopic vision: Perception of depth and 3-dimensional structure obtained on the basis of visual information deriving from two eyes

Ear: The hearing organ. It contains an outer, middle and inner part.

How ears work: The ear flap funnels sound waves to the ear canal, then to the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates. These vibrations pass through bones and holes to the cochlea, then to fluid chambers. Tiny nerve cells in the fluid convert vibrations into nerve impulses, which go along the auditory nerve to the brain. Ears also help keep you balanced through the vestibular system. This works by sensing movement of fluid in ducts and sending that info to the brain. Since you have two ears you can tell which direction sound is coming from.

Chemoreceptors: Small organs in the nose and tongue that detect smells and tastes, which are chemicals, and send this information to the brain.

Nasal cavity: The large air filled space above and behind the nose in the middle of the face

Digestive system: The system responsible for the mechanical and chemical processes that provide nutrients via the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines and eliminates waste from the body.

Liver: The organ that allows us to go between meals without eating by storing food energy. It is the largest organ by mass. Extra energy beyond the liver capacity is stored as fat. The liver also processes waste materials we encounter in our environment.

Circulatory system: The system that circulates blood around the body via the heart, arteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells and carrying their waste products away. It also equalizes the temperature in the body. It includes blood, blood vessels and the heart.

Parts of the heart: Four chambers (two atria and two ventricles), valves to keep blood moving the right direction through the heart (each time one snaps shut there’s a heartbeat), veins and arteries that carry blood from heart to lungs, upper body and lower body and others for the opposite direction.

Arteries: Move blood away from the heart

Integumentary system: Skin, hair, nails, sweat and other exocrine glands

Skin: The soft outer tissue covering of vertebrates. It contains the epidermis, the dermis and subcutaneous tissues (fat cells).

Melanin: Natural pigments found in most organisms

Pores: Tube-shaped sweat glands

Keratin: What skin and nails are made of

Hair follicle: The opening at the base of a hair. Its shape determines whether the hair is curly, wavy or straight.

Respiratory system: The lungs and the passages that lead to them and allow for breathing of oxygen and breathing out of CO2.

Windpipe/trachea: A tube that connects the pharynx and larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air

Primary bronchus: The tubes between the trachea and each lung. After passing through the bronchus, air goes into the lungs. Then oxygen goes into secondary and tertiary bronchi, bronchioles, air sacs and capillaries and from there is distributed throughout the body.

Lung: A large air sack containing many tubes

Diaphragm: A flat sheet of muscle lying under the lungs. When you breathe in, your ribs move up and out and the diaphragm flattens. When you breathe out, your ribs move down and in and the diaphragm rises.

Voice box/larynx: Top part of the trachea

Vocal cords: Two bands of muscle that open to let air past when you breathe. When you speak muscles pull the cords together and air makes them vibrate. Shorter, faster cords, as in females, make higher pitched sounds.

Internal respiration: The movement of oxygen from the outside environment to the cells within tissues, and the transport of carbon dioxide in the opposite direction.

Metabolism: The set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms

Aerobic respiration: Internal respiration that uses oxygen

Anaerobic respiration: Doesn’t use oxygen

Enzymes: Macromolecular biological catalysts. Enzymes accelerate chemical reactions.

Thermogenesis: The process of heat production in organisms

ATP: Adenosine triphosphate, an organic chemical that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells, e.g. muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, and chemical synthesis.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR): The rate of energy expenditure per unit time by an animal at rest

Calorie/kilocalorie: A unit of energy. A calorie is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere, and the kilocalorie is the heat energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram (rather than a gram) of water by one degree Celsius.

Lactic acid: An important body acid

Endocrine system: The system that provides chemical communications within the body using hormones

Endocrine glands: Groups of cells that make hormones.

Hormones: Any member of a class of signaling molecules produced by glands in multicellular organisms that are transported by the circulatory system to target distant organs to regulate physiology and behaviour. The body makes over 20 types of hormones.

Pituitary gland: Makes growth hormone, prolactine, which control other endocrine glands, growth, mother’s milk production

Thyroid gland:

Parathyroids gland: Makes parathormone which controls calcium levels in blood and bones.

Adrenals: The twin glands that make adrenalin and aldosterone which control blood glucose level, heart rate, body’s salt level

The thyroid gland: Makes thyroxin which controls metabolism

The ovaries:

The testes:

The pancreas: Makes insulin and glucagon which control the use of glucose by the body

Urinary/renal system: The system that controls the amount of water in your body and filters blood. It includes two kidneys, a balloon-like sac called the bladder and the tubes connected to them.

Urethra: The tube that connects the bladder to the urinary meatus for the removal of urine from the body

Kidneys: The two bean-shaped organs on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space. They are about 11 centimetres in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.

Lymphatic/immune system: The system comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph. It defends the body against pathogenic viruses that may endanger the body. The lymph contains the leftover interstitial fluid resulting from blood filtration.

Lymph: Lymph is the fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system

Lymph node: A kidney-shaped organ of the lymphatic system, and of the adaptive immune system, that is widely present throughout the body. Lymph nodes are major sites of white blood cells and important for the immune system.

Reproductive system: The sex organs required for the production of offspring

Reproduction: The process of creating offspring

Male reproductive system parts: Penis, testicles, sperm, prostate gland, and scrotum

Penis: The primary sexual organ that male animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates

Glans: A vascular structure located at the tip of the penis in males or a genital structure of the clitoris in females

Foreskin: The the double-layered fold of smooth muscle tissue, blood vessels, neurons, skin, and mucous membrane part of the penis that covers and protects the glans penis and the urinary meatus

Sperm/spermatoza: The male reproductive cell

Semen: The fluid made in the testicles that may contain sperm

Testicle: The testicle or testis (plural testes) is the male reproductive gland in all animals, including humans. It produces sperm and semen.

Prostate gland: A gland of the male reproductive system

Scrotum: The suspended dual-chambered sack of skin and smooth muscle that holds the two testacles

Female reproductive system parts: The uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries

Ovulation: The release of eggs from the ovaries

Ovum: The egg cell. (The plural form of the word is “ova”.)

Menstruation/having a period: The (approximately) monthly discharge of blood and mucosal tissue (known as menses) from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina

Menopause: The time in women’s lives when menstrual periods stop permanently, and they are no longer able to bear children

Vagina: The elastic, muscular canal leading to the uterus in which sex takes place

Cervix: The lower part of the uterus that contracts and opens during childbirth

Fallopian tubes: The tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus

Womb/uterus: The organ in which fetal development takes place.

Labia: The major externally visible portions of the vulva. It has two layers.

Sexual intercourse: The insertion and thrusting of the penis, usually when erect, into the vagina for sexual pleasure, reproduction, or both. This is also known as vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. Other forms of penetrative sexual intercourse include anal sex (penetration of the anus by the penis), oral sex (penetration of the mouth by the penis or oral penetration of the female genitalia), fingering (sexual penetration by the fingers), and penetration by use of a dildo.

Ejaculation: The discharge of semen (normally containing sperm) from the male reproductory tract, usually accompanied by orgasm

Fertilization/conception: The union of a human egg (ovum) and sperm, usually occurring in the fallopian tube of the mother after sex

Embryo: The newly conceived form of life between the fertilized egg (zygote) stage and the fetus stage

Fetus: The unborn baby who is past the embryonic stage (about nine weeks into the pregnancy)

Placenta: The temporary organ that connects the developing fetus via the umbilical cord to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, thermo-regulation, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother’s blood supply; to fight against internal infection; and to produce hormones which support pregnancy

Umbilical cord: The conduit between the developing fetus and the placenta inside a pregnant woman

Puberty: The process of physical changes through which a child’s body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction

Adolescence: The phase of life after puberty and between childhood and adulthood; the teen years

Basic Medical Science

Disease: Anything that stops all or part of your body from working properly (other than injury)

Infection: The invasion of an organism’s body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce

Immunity: The balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate biological defenses to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases

Drug: A drug is any substance (other than food that provides nutritional support) that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue causes a temporary physiological (and often psychological) change in the body

Nutrients: The vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are used to make body parts, either by facilitating a chemical reaction or by being used as actual material (like calcium an amino acids from protein breakdown), and the carbs and fats that are burned for fuel.

Preventive medicine: Measures taken for disease prevention, as opposed to disease treatment

Diagnosis: The identification of the nature and cause of a certain phenomenon

Bacteria: A type of biological cell. Among the first life forms to appear on Earth, and are present in most of its habitats. Most have not been discovered or studied.

Virus: A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms

White blood cell: The cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders

Vaccination: The administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to stimulate an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a pathogen

Antibiotics: A substance that kills bacterial. Not antiviral.

Pathogen: A germ, usually a microorganism like a bacteria or virus that can cause illness or disease

Tumor: An abnormal and excessive growth of tissue that starts as a neoplasm, then forms a mass

In vitro fertilization (IVF): A process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the womb, in vitro.

Contraception: Birth control

Senescence: The gradual deterioration of functional characteristics due to age

Medical imaging: Creating images of the internal organs to help diagnose and treat disease

CT scan: Computed tomography scan. Formerly CAT scan. Uses computer-processed combinations of many X-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images of internal organs.

MRI scan: Magnetic resonance imaging. Uses magnets and radio waves (not X-rays, as CT scans do) to create images of the internal organs.

Surgery: The use of knives, lasers and other instruments to explore inside the body or change or remove something in the body

Laser surgery: Laser surgery is a type of surgery that uses a laser (in contrast to using a scalpel) to cut tissue.

Alternative medicine: Unproven or disproven medical techniques and substances

Acupuncture: An unproven traditional Chinese alternative medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body.

School in a Book: Geology, Ecology and Meteorology

As humans, we experience the effects of chemistry, biology and physics every day, but not always knowingly. For this reason, geology and ecology are to me the most visual–even the most sensual–of the hard sciences, the ones that allows us to better understand our immediate environment.

Geology isn’t theory and microscopes; it’s what we see around us every day.

Sometimes, it’s hard to mentally separate geology and ecology. Here’s the short version: geology is the study of all the stuff on the earth, and ecology is the study of the way living things interact with it.

Add: The elements of the earth’s crust (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium). The parts of the earth (crust—oceanic and continental; mantle—litho-sphere and asthenosphere; outer core; inner core). Types of clouds.

Basic Geology

Layers of the earth: Outer crust, mantle (viscous), outer core (liquid metal), inner core (solid metal)

Earth’s crust: The surface of the earth that is made of various rocks and minerals with soil on top. The five main elements found in the Earth’s crust are oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium.

Rock: Collections of minerals formed together into a stone. A compound.

Mineral: A single material of uniform color, texture, luster and structure. Usually made up of two or more elements.

Crystal: A piece of mineral that has a characteristic shape (box or cube). Ex: table salt. Each grain of salt is cube-shaped. Each molecule, too.

Dirt: A mixture of minerals and organic substances that have been broken down through weathering, animal digestion and more

Soil: Dirt that is fit to grow plants in

Ore: Any natural, earth material that is mined and processed to obtain a desired metal. Ex: iron ore is rock containing iron.

Metal: The chemical particles, often found in minerals, that are pure metallic elements such as iron, copper, gold and aluminum. They share these properties: 1. shiny; 2. conduct heat and electricity; 3. solid at room temp (except mercury); 4. some are magnetic (iron and nickel).

Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals

Steel: An alloy of iron, carbon and traces of other metals

Sediment: The dirt and sand that is carried away with water and wind and add layers to other places. The layers separate according to the size and density of the materials and eventually harden into rock under the sea and elsewhere.

Fossil: The structure that results when organisms are buried under layers of sediment and pressed on, then cemented into the soil

Clay: A kind of dirt with the smallest particles. Makes a very uniform, soft sdimentary rock, like shale … unlike sandstone. Clay soil holds water well.

The three types of rocks: Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic

Sedimentary rock: Rock formed when other rocks break down into sediment, then gradually reform other rocks due to pressure and layering. The Grand canyon is an example of sedimentary rocks. Its layers are visible. It was once under the ocean.

Igneous rock: Rock formed from magma erupting from a volcano. It forms in an irregular, crystalline pattern combining two or more distinct materials, with less mixing. Come from cooling magma, so form quickly and doesn’t contain fossils.

Metamorphic rock: Igneous, sedimentary or other metamorphic rock that changes due to heat

Geological time: A division of the history of the earth into periods based on the types of fossils found in the layers of the earth’s crust

Radiometric/carbon dating: A way to determine the age of a rock by the amount of carbon it contains

Corrosion: The damaging chemical reaction that occurs when metal is in contact with oxygen. The damage happens because oxide forms on the metal.

Weathering/erosion: The process of the breakdown of minerals, rocks and organic materials through freezing, thawing, melting, abrasion, wind, acids, etc.

Water: A chemical compound that is the most common liquid on earth. It is a solvent that is formed when hydrogen burns in air (oxygen).

The water cycle: The process by which water is continuously recycled between the earth, the atmosphere and living things through heat and evaporation and clouds and rain

Dissolve: To mix something into a liquid

Solution: The result of dissolving something in a liquid

Soluble: Able to dissolve in liquid

Insoluble: Unable to dissolve in liquid

Tides: The rise and fall of sea levels caused by the gravity of the moon and the rotation of the earth

Ocean currents: The movement of the water of the world’s oceans due to wind, the rotation of the earth and more

Groundwater: Water under the Earth’s surface. Most groundwater is found in porous rocks.

The water table: The depth at which groundwater is found, which is affected by rainfall or lack thereof

Spring: A place where groundwater emerges from a hillside

Air: The gas that we breathe. Air is oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. It helps people breathe oxygen, which they need in their blood. It helps plants make food. It protects people from sun’s UV rays. Nitrogen: 78%, Oxygen – 21%, Other – 1%. Molecules/particles in air are constantly moving and there’s lots of empty space between them. Like water always flows downhill, air always flows toward lower pressure. To separate out the gases in air, just cool and compress it. Each gas liquifies at a different temperature.

Earth’s atmosphere: All of the air that surrounds the Earth. It is held near the earth due to gravity. There is no distinct starting point, but instead a gradual decline; the further up into the atmosphere you get, the less air is held down. Also, the higher air is thinner, with less oxygen, and unbreathable. (Side note: the moon’s gravitational pull isn’t strong enough to hold air down, so there is no air on the moon.)

Air compression: What happens when air particles are pushed closer together (as in a small space). Compressed air is more highly pressurized.

Air pressure: The condition created when air is pushed. When you push more air into a small space, air particles move closer together but try to escape by pushing on the inside walls (of the tire or balloon or whatever). The place on the body we notice air pressure changes is the ear since the eardrum must have equal air pressure on both sides, but air has to go through a bottleneck, and can move unevenly, resulting in popping.

Vacuum: When we suck or otherwise remove air from a container, we create a vacuum. By removing air, air pressure decreases. And since air always flows toward lower pressure, sucking occurs and air and materials from the outside get pulled in. (It’s not the motion of pulling out the air that causes sucking. It’s the higher pressure on the outside wanting to get in!) Outer space has no air, so it is a vaccum. If you went to space without a spacesuit you’d explode because all the air in your body would push outward toward the vaccum at once. Spacesuits provide air pressure.

The magnetic field of the earth: The field of magnetism in the earth with poles near the North Pole and the South Pole that are tilted at a slight angle. The field may be caused by moving metal in the Earth’s outer core. From time to time, these reverse, with north becoming south.

Magnetosphere: The area that stretches into space in which the Earth’s magnetic field can be felt.

Basic Ecology

Ecology: The study of the way living things interact with their environments

Ecosystem: A group of plants and animals that interact with each other and their surroundings

Biome: A unique climate and soil type

The eleven biomes of Earth: Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, mountains, coniferous forests, scrub lands, temperate grasslands/prairies, tundra, tropical grasslands, deserts, polar areas, oceans

Habitat: The natural environment in which a species lives

Biodiversity: The huge variety of living things in a particular area. Biodiversity is lost with selective breeding.

Pollution: The unneeded junk (particularly the human-made chemical particles) that gets into the air and water. Water pollution happens both due to poisons in water killing life and to the oxygen in the water being used up by the bacteria (or even plant) overgrowth as they feed on waste materials. When there is inadequate oxygen for fish and animals, the water becomes lifeless.

The Ozone Layer: The layer of ozone (O3) that exists in the upper atomosphere of earth. It is poisonous to humans but protects us from UV rays.

The Greenhouse Effect: The result of an overabundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which traps heat and causes a greenhouse-like effect on earth which then results in major climate change

Global warming: The result of the Greenhouse Effect

Sewage treatment: The process by which a city’s waste water is filtered for large particles, then left in tanks where the organic solids sink to the bottom and are broken down by bacteria

Carbon cycle: The process by which carbon cycles in an through plants, animals, minerals and the atmosphere. This happens mostly due to the respiration of carbon dioxide by animals, the incorporation of carbon dioxide by plants during photosynthesis, decomposition and the burning of fossil fuels.

Nitrogen cycle: When the nitrogen cycle is not in balance, global warming and ozone depletion can occur.
Intensive farming: Farming with use of chemicals, machinery, etc.

Fossil fuels: Coal, oil, and gas, which are called fossil fuels because they were formed from the remains of animals and plants that were buried by layers of sediment millions of years ago. They are non-renewable.

Biodegradable: A substance that can be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms

Sea level change: The change in sea levels caused by temperature changes. During ice ages, sea levels are low due to the great amount of frozen water. Today, sea levels have risen due to global warming.

Basic Meteorology

Weather: The atmospheric conditions caused by changing air pressure and heat from sun

Climate: The long-term weather conditions of a particular area

The four basic climate types: Tropical (hot all year); polar (cold all year); temperate (moderate, seasonal change); deserts (dry all year).

Wind: The movement of air that happens when higher pressure air is moving toward lower pressure air. If there’s no pressure difference, there is no wind.

Storm: Any disruption in the atmosphere producing severe weather, including strong wind, tornadoes, hail, rain, snow (blizzard), lightning (thunderstorm), clouds of dust or sand carried by wind (a dust or sand storm)

Lightning: The visible and audible flow of electricity that occurs during a thunderstorm. It can occur inside a single cloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. It produces an audible booming sound called thunder. Since the speed of light is greater than the speed of sound, we hear thunder after we see lightning.

Tornado: A funnel-shaped column of wind, evaporated water, dust and debris that moves rapidly, sweeping up objects in its path. It is formed when a thunderstorm occurs in areas of both cold and warm air.

Hurricane/typhoon/tropical cyclone/tropical storm: A spiral-shaped group of thunderstorms formed over the ocean that forms a cyclone (a circular movement of wind with a low-pressure center)

Earthquake: A sudden shaking of the surface of the earth due to shifts in tectonic plates

Seismic activity: The sum of all of the tremors and earthquakes in a region

Plate tectonics: The movement of the plates that make up Earth’s crust. It is driven by movements deep in the Earth.

Fault line: The deep cracks in Earth’s crust that make those areas vulnerable to extreme movement when earthquakes strike.

Subduction zone: An area where two plates collide and one slides below the other

Volcano: Vents (openings) in the ground from which magma (molten rock), ash, gas, and rock fragments surge upwards, in an event called an eruption. They are often found at boundaries between the plates in Earth’s crust.

Tsunami: A series of huge, destructive waves formed due to major events like hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite crashes and earthquakes. Tsunamis are sometimes mistakenly known by the misnomer tidal wave.

Evaporation: Water vapor that is breaking free from the rest of the liquid

Condensation: The water vapor that collects back into drops on a solid. It comes from the air.

Water vapor: The gas that forms when water evaporates

Dew: The water vapor that forms as the sun rises and begins to warm cold air and humidity into condensation

Humidity: The water vapor in the air

Atmospheric particle/particulate: Microscopic solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Some are organic and others are human-made.

Thermometer: A tool to measure temperature

Barometer: A tool to measure air pressure

School in a Book: Psychology

For me, the fascinating parts of psychology are the specific anecdotes and examples. What happened when that married couple showed early signs of apathy? Did they separate? How did that executive miss that seemingly obvious right move? Was he misled by his confirmation bias? How come that addict recovered while his friend did not?

That said, a few basics on the history of this field are nice, as they’re definitely part of our ongoing cultural conversation. For more in-depth, practical stuff, I highly recommend reading books on positive psychology and marriage books by John Gottman.

Basic Psychology

Psychology: The study of emotions and behavior and emotions. Psychologists attempt to identify normal, healthy behaviors and distinguish them from abnormal or unhealthy behaviors; to explain why these behaviors occur; and to alter undesired behaviors

Psychotherapy: Counseling with a counselor or psychologist. It usually takes place one-to-one in the therapist’s office (though group therapy is also common). The counselor and client work together to identify problems and goals related to the client’s emotional, mental, relational, vocational or spiritual well-being.

Psychologist: A counselor with a PhD

Mental health counselor or therapist: A counselor with a Master’s degree

Life coach: A counselor without an industry-specific degree

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in mood disorders and drug treatments for these disorders

Clinical psychologist: A psychologist who diagnoses and treats mental disorders

Forensic psychologist: A psychologist who studies criminal behavior

Developmental psychologist: A psychologist who studies behavior over the lifespan

Cognitive psychologist or neuropsychologist: A psychologist who studies how the brain (neuroscience) affects behavior

Evolutionary psychologist: A psychologist who studies how human behavior has evolved over time

Other types of counselors and psychologists: Career counselor, school psychologist, occupational psychologist, marriage and family therapist, marriage counselor,industrial-organizational psychologist

Psychiatric disorders: Substance abuse disorders; psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; mood disorders like depression; anxiety disorders; dissociative disorders such as dissociative amnesia; phobias; sexual- and gender-related disorders; eating disorders; sleep disorders; impulse control disorders; adjustment disorders; personality disorders; disorders due to a medical condition; physical-seeming conditions that are not diagnosed, such as hypochondria; and falsely reported disorders by people seeking attention. (There are also some less common categories.)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM): The basic text used by mental health professionals for diagnosis of psychiatric disorders

Common treatments for mental disorders: Talk therapy, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, dialectical therapy, existential therapy, psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy, hypnosis, meditation, medication, EMDR

Psychoanalysis: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to bring unconscious knowledge into conscious knowledge through dream interpretation, Rorschach tests, free association and more. It was developed by Sigmund Freud and rests on the idea that early experiences shape personality.

Rorschach test: A psychological test that present ambiguous stimuli in the expectation that people will interpret it in ways that reveal their concerns, desires, feelings and possible mental disorders

Behaviorism: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s behavior through behavioral conditioning. This includes the use of negative and positive reinforcements. In classical conditioning, two stimuli are learned to be associated, such as Pavlov’s dogs and their dinner bell. Salivation, here, is the conditioned response. In operant conditioning, someone must perform some sort of task for their reward.

Extinction: Through behavioral conditioning, a lack of reinforcement leads to a weaker response that eventually leads to the ceasing of the response altogether (for example, not giving into a child’s tantrum until the tantrums cease to occur)

Desensitization: A behavioral conditioning technique for weakening a strong, undesirable response (such as anxiety about airplane flying) by repeated exposure to the stimulus (airplane flying)

Cognitive therapy: A method of psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s negative or unhelpful beliefs by analyzing and questioning them. First, the counselor discovers the person’s schema, their belief system through which they interpret the world. Then the counselor and client identify automatic thoughts, fleeting thoughts that, if negative, need to be questioned in order to change one’s beliefs. Finally, those negative thoughts are disputed, logically questioned with the goal of finding more helpful thoughts to replace them.

The ten most well-known psychologists: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow; Ivan Pavlov; Carl Rogers, Martin Seligman, Aaron Beck

Sigmund Freud: The founder of psychoanalysis, which seeks to make the subconscious, conscious, primarily through free association, dream analysis and talk therapy. He is most known for his psychosexual theory of development; his id/ego/superego theory; and his theory of the unconscious.

Free association: A technique for uncovering a person’s subconscious beliefs by having them respond quickly to questions or prompts, without much thought

Freudian slip: An act or spoken thing that is close to the intended, but different, and reflects unconscious beliefs or anxieties

Freud’s theory of the unconscious: Most of what ails us psychologically resides in the unconscious or subconscious and must be coaxed out through various therapies.

Freud’s theory of the id, ego and superego: Freud believed that in our unconscious there is an id, a childlike mind who has little impulse control; a superego, a parent-like mind who tries to direct our behavior rightly; and an ego, the more rational self that balances the other two.

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development: A theory that explains human psychological development through human sexual development. Freud coined the term “anal retentive” to describe people who are too perfectionistic and controlled. He also believed boys become sexually attracted to their mothers, which he called the Oedipus complex, and that all women have “penis envy.”

Freud’s ego defense mechanisms: Denial; displacement (making an unrelated party the object of your anger or blame); intellectualization (to avoid emotion); avoidance; rationalization; projection (placing your own quality or desire onto someone else); regression; repression, sublimation (acting out impulses in a socially acceptable way); reaction formation (taking the opposite stance); suppression.

Carl Jung: A friend of Freud’s and also a psychoanalyst who focused on the unconscious and rejected Freud’s sexual focus. There are still many Jungian analysts today.

Jean Piaget: A developmental theorist who created a popular theory of cognitive development. According to this theory, children progress through the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage and the concrete operations stage before they arrive at the formal operations stage, at which they have an abstract and nuanced view of the world.

Erik Erikson: A developmental theorist who focused on the social development of children on their way to maturity. According to him, babies are in the “trust versus mistrust” stage; toddlers are in the “autonomy versus shame and doubt” stage; preschoolers are in the “initiative versus guilt” stage; children are in the “industry versus inferiority” stage, adolescents are in the “identity versus role confusion” stage, young adults are in the “intimacy versus isolation” stage, middle adults are in the “generativity versus stagnation” stage, and older adults are in the “integrity versus despair” stage. The names of these stages reflect the dominant goal of each and the positive and negative results if the goal is achieved or not achieved.

Abraham Maslow: A humanistic psychologist who created a hierarchy of needs, with warmth, rest, food, oxygen and water at the bottom; security and safety one step up; belongingness and love after that; prestige and the feeling of accomplishment after that; and self-actualization at the top. (Self-actualization is the realization of one’s full potential.)

Ivan Pavlov: A behaviorist who studied conditioned reflexes in the body, such as saliva secretions in dogs after hearing a bell stimulus.

B.F. Skinner: The most well-known behaviorist, who performed experiments on people that showed how their behavior could be modified through learning

Carl Rogers: The founder of person-centered therapy who believed that the therapist should not offer advice, but instead guide the internal processes of the client. He emphasized the importance of forming a strong client-therapist bond and the therapist having sincere positive regard for their client.

Martin Seligman: An early proponent of positive psychology, the study of what makes people happy.

Aaron Beck: The founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of cognitive therapy that also includes behavioral elements

John Gottman: A couples therapist and researcher who studies and writes about couples he observes in real time. He is possibly the most well-known couples therapist.

Theories of intelligence: Some researchers believe that there is a general intelligence factor (the “g factor”) which underlies all intellectual processes. Others believe there are many types of intelligence, such as componential intelligence, experiential intelligence, contextual intelligence and emotional intelligence. One researcher proposed the idea of eight types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical; musical; spacial; bodily-kinesthetic; interpersonal; intrapersonal; and nature.

Crystallized intelligence: Collected skills and knowledge acquired over time. Increases with age.

Fluid intelligence: Ability to deal with totally new problems. Decreases with age.

Type A personality: A high-energy personality type characterized by competitiveness, impatience, and an achievement orientation.

Type B personality: A lower-energy personality type characterized by relaxed and easygoing behavior.

Attachment theory: The idea that securely attached babies develop better physically and emotionally, while others do not.

Dialectical reasoning: A therapeutic process involving identifying and analyzing opposing points of view in order to find the most helpful and rational perspective.

Existential therapies: Therapies that help clients find meaning and purpose in their lives, even in the absence of strong religious faith.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): An evidence-based therapeutic technique in which a client makes rapid back-and-forth eye movements while their counselor guides recollection of traumatic memories.

Systematic desensitization: A therapeutic technique in which the client is suddenly, rather than gradually, exposed to their fear in order to become desensitized to it.

Neurotransmitter: A specialized nerve cell in the brain that receives, processes and transmits information to other cells in the body. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin and endorphins are involved in creating emotions and other states of mind, like appetite and alertness.

Amygdala: A part of the limbic system of the brain that is involved in regulating aggression and emotions, particularly fear

Parasympathetic nervous system: Part of the autonomic nervous system that helps the body maintain calm

Etiology: The cause or origin of a disorder

Histrionic personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by attention-seeking behavior

Narcissistic personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by a desire to be admired

Antisocial personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy

Avoidant personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by social withdrawal

Borderline personality disorder: A disorder characterized primarily by impulsiveness, emotional extremes and low self-esteem

Agoraphobia: The fear of crowds

Catharsis: The release of tension that results when repressed thoughts or memories become conscious

Cognitive dissonance: A tension inside someone who has two seemingly conflicting beliefs that they are trying to resolve

Compensation or overcompensation: A striving to rid onesself of feelings of inferiority in one area by striving harder in another

Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors that are used to relieve anxiety

Confirmation bias: The tendency to accept evidence that supports one’s pre-existing beliefs and to reject evidence that refutes those beliefs.

Egocentrism: The tendency to ignore others’ points of view in favor of one’s own

Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to attribute other people’s behavior to their (flawed) personalities though similar behavior in onesself is often attributed to circumstance.

Learned helplessness: The tendency to give up too easily, often due to a past pattern of failure

Placebo effect: The improvement of a physical or mental condition in people who believe they’ve received a treatment, but have not

Self-concept: The sum of the beliefs and feelings one has about onesself

Self-serving bias: The tendency to attribute one’s successes to internal factors and one’s failures to circumstance

Inferiority complex: A condition in which a person becomes angry or withdrawn because of feelings of insecurity. This concept was identified by Alfred Adler.

School in a Book: Philosophy

Whether or not you’ve studied philosophy, you’re probably already a philosopher. You think about the meaning of life, absolute and relative moral precepts, political ideals and the indelible qualities of human nature. For this reason, the formal study of philosophy isn’t so much about defining or comparing philosophical ideas–something you’re already quite capable of doing–but about the thinkers of the past who famously argued different sides of these questions. Basically, philosophy is history.

Here, I do briefly introduce some of the major questions of philosophical debate, with the caveat that the list is not comprehensive. There is philosophy in everything—every subject. Every … thing. But these are the questions that have so far seemed most fundamental (such as the meaning of life), most practical (such as political ideas) and have been most famously discussed (such as the empiricism versus rationalism debate). Then I introduce you to many of the major philosophers of history and their most notable contributions, which will hopefully give your philosophical discussions and debates more texture, context and depth.

Basic Philosophy

Philosophy: The study of the meaning and nature of life, consciousness and more. Every subject can be philosophically analyzed to determine the subject’s inherent qualities, purpose and right functioning. For example, the study of medicine has benefited from people asking what the ultimate goal of doctors should be, and then arriving at the Hippocratic Oath (“first, do no harm …”) The word “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom.”

Some major questions of philosophy: What is the meaning of life? What qualities are fundamental to human nature? How can we know what we know (empiricism versus rationalism)? What is truth? How do we arrive at morality and values? What political structures are most beneficial? How does language shape our beliefs? What is the best way to live? Do humans have free will? What is the nature of existence? What is beauty?

Sub-fields of academic philosophy: Metaphysics (the study of ultimate, nonphysical reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), ethics, ontology (study of what exists, i.e. God), cosmology (study of the cosmos), aesthetics (the study of beauty), political philosophy, logic and more

Eastern philosophy: The philosophical tradition of China, Japan, India and other eastern countries. Important contributions include Daoism (The Tao Te Ching of approximately 600 BCE), Confucianism (The Analects of Confucius of approximately 500 BCE) and Buddhism (which arose in India around 500 BCE). Eastern philosophy is characterized by an interest in the unknowable, the unspeakable and patterns and cycles.

“The dao that can be told is not the dao.” – Laozi, who taught about the Tao/Dao, also known as The Way, the indescribable ultimate truth which can partly be discovered by acting in harmony with nature and meditating
“Happy is he who has overcome his ego.” – Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha, who prescribed meditation, the middle way (life balance) and letting go of suffering through wanting nothing
“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” – Confucius, who emphasized virtuous living, loyalty and obedience to one’s leaders, sincerity and self-reflection
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.” – Rumi, a Persian who taught about reincarnation and Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam

Western philosophy: The philosophical tradition of the West dating from approximately 500 BCE with the Greeks (Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle), to the Romans (Cicero and Seneca), to medieval Christian philosophers (Aquinas and Augustine) and beyond. Western philosophy is marked by an interest in logic, absolute knowledge and the Christian faith.

Idealism: belief that ultimate reality is non-material (mind, spirit and/or merely essence)

Materialism: belief that ultimate reality is materialism

Determinism: belief that ‘nothing can happen other than what does happen, because every event is the necessary outcome of causes preceding it,’ which were caused by events preceding them (even thoughts and decisions)

Mysticism: knowledge that transcends the physical world
naturalism: belief that reality is explicable without reference to anything mystical

Postmodernism: distrust of unifying answers; relativity

Pragamtism: a theory of truth. Holds that a statement is true if it accurately describes a situation, fits well with past observation, etc. Uninterested in the unknowable, impractical

Utilitarianism: theory of politics, ethics that judges actions on consequences—most pleasure/good for the most people = good

Noumenon: the thing-in-itself; the unknowable reality behind what present itself to human consciousness/ultimate nature of something

Phenomenon: an experience that is immediately present and observable

Numinous: anything regarded as mysterious and awesome and somehow beyond natural world

Phenomenology: study of our experience of things without making assumptions about their essential nature as independent things

Semantics: Study of word usage

Transcendental: outside sense experience; belief in things outside sense experience

Basic History of Philosophy

The ancient period (DATES): During ancient times, philosophy and religion largely overlapped. Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism were of primary signficance.

Daoism: (The Tao Te Ching of approximately 600 BCE), Notable quote: “The dao that can be told is not the dao.” – Laozi, who taught about the Tao/Dao, also known as The Way, the indescribable ultimate truth which can partly be discovered by acting in harmony with nature and meditating

Confucianism: (The Analects of Confucius of approximately 500 BCE) and … Notable quote: “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” – Confucius, who emphasized virtuous living, loyalty and obedience to one’s leaders, sincerity and self-reflection

Buddhism: (which arose in India around 500 BCE). Notable quote: “Happy is he who has overcome his ego.” – Siddhartha Gautama, later the Buddha, who prescribed meditation, the middle way (life balance) and letting go of suffering through wanting nothing

Rumi: A Persian who taught about reincarnation and Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. Notable quote: “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form.”

The Greek Period (approximately 600-300 BCE): Thales influenced Pythagoras. Pythagoras influenced Socrates. Socrates taught Plato. Plato taught Aristotle.

Pythagoras: Pythagoras combined math and philosophy.

Socrates: Socrates developed the Socratic Method in which he asked question after question in order to confound people who believed themselves to be wise, digging for deeper truths in everything. He was condemned to die due to his ideas. He drank hemlock.

“The life which is unexamined is not worth living.” – Socrates
“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Plato: Plato introduced the idea of the world of forms, an imagined place that holds the ideal of each type of real thing. (Example: A table has the essence–the form–of a table, even if it is old and broken. But the real table is a lesser version of the ideal table form.) He used the Allegory of the Cave to show how humans only see a mere shadow of what is ultimately real. Plato disagreed with this idea. He was not a rationalist (a believer in the primacy of reason and ideas in discovering truth) but an empiricist (a believer in the primacy of evidence and material reality in discovering truth). Plato founded a famous school called the Academy in Athens. Notable quote: “Earthly knowledge is but shadow.”

Aristotle: Taught by Plato. Opened his school, the Lyceum, also in Athens. Notable quote: “Truth resides in the world around us.”

Parmenides: Said that matter can’t die, and something can’t come from nothing, so everything that is real is eternal, unchanging, and containing some invisible unity. Protagoras argued for moral relativism. Notable quotes: “All is one.” “Man is the measure of all things.”

The Roman Period (approximately 300 BCE to 350 CE): Stoicism, epicureanism, cynicism

Stoicism: The stoics (stoicism), led by Zeno, taught indifference to pleasure and pain and acceptance of one’s lot in life.

Epicureanism: By contrast, the epicureans (epicureanism), led by Epicurus, believed that the goal of life is pleasure.

Cynicism: The cynics (cynicism) taught that happiness is contentment with little, particularly little material comfort.

The Middle Ages (approximately 350 to 1300 CE): Christian thinkers with conservative ideas

St. Augustine: Wrote extensively about free will. He attempted to explain why both God and evil exist.

Boethius: wrote about God’s foresight but maintained Augustine’s philosophy of free will.

St. Anselm: Attempted an ontological argument for the existence of God, saying that if you can conceive of the greatest thing that could ever exist, it must exit, because the greatest thing has to exist or it wouldn’t be the greatest.

Thomas Aquinas: Wrote extensively about the logical and scientific nature of Christianity.

The Renaissance Period (approximately 1300-1750): Here, philosophy becomes sharply more humanist.

Erasmus: Introduced modern humanism, arguing that religion is folly. Notable quotes: “To know nothing is the happiest life.” “Happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”

Niccolo Machiavelli: Argued that government can’t be bound by morality if it wants to succeed. Notable quote: “The ends justifies the means.”

Francis Bacon: Wrote about the value of the scientific method. Notable quote: “Knowledge is power.”

Thomas Hobbes: wrote that the nature of reality is purely physical, that there is no ultimate meaning to life. He introduced the idea of the social contract, saying that our agreements with each other are what enables a relatively peaceful society to exist. Notable quote: “… The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Rene Descartes: Unlike Bacon and Hobbes, Rene Descartes was a rationalist. He believed that even the existence of physical matter cannot be proven and the only thing we can truly know exists is our own minds. Notable quote: “I think, therefore I am.”

Blaise Pascal: A practical thinker, arguing that it’s safer to bet on God’s existence than to bet against it (“Pascal’s Wager”). Notable quote: “Imagination decides everything.”

Benedictus Spinoza: changed the argument, simply redefining God: everything is one, and everything is God. Notable quote: “God is the cause of all things, which are in him.”

John Locke: Returned us to empiricism, arguing that no truths are universal to all people and all cultures. He came up with the idea of the tabula rasa–the blank slate, which is a metaphor for the unknowing state in which each person is born before they are implanted with cultural ideas. Notable quote: “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

George Berkeley: Foresaw quantum physics, saying that a thing only exists in so far as it perceives or is perceived, and that there is no material substance. Notable quote: “To be is to be perceived.”

The Age of Revolution (approximately 1750-1900):

David Hume: certainty is absurd; custom is the source of knowledge. “Custom is the great guide of human life.”

Immanuel Kant: Sought to prove the existence of the physical world. He tried to marry empiricism and rationalism, saying that both reason and perceptions are needed for knowledge. “There are two worlds: our bodies and the external world.”

Georg Hegel: believed reality is constantly changing and suggested people use dialectic reasoning and avoid assumptions. “Reality is a historical process.”

Arthur Schopenhauer said that we are all limited in our knowledge due to our unique experiences of life.

Jean-Jacques Rosseau: On the political philosophy front, Jean-Jacques Rosseau argued that though man is fundamentally good, laws and government create injustice and oppression. “Man was born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

Adam Smith, an economist, argued that the basis of society is trade. “Man is an animal that makes bargains.”

Edmund Burke said that governmental change should be slow and argued for a free market economy.

Jeremy Bentham tried to calculate pleasure and proposed that laws are created by considering which give the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. “The greatest happiness for the greatest number.”

Mary Wollstonecraft: The founder of feminism. “Mind has no gender.”

John Stuart Mill agreed with Bentham, adding that people should be free to do with their own bodies as they wished, but not harm anyone else. “Over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

Soren Kierkegaard said that as much as we think we want freedom, we really don’t. He is the father of existentialism, the theory that there is no meaning inherent in existence, that existence precedes essence. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Karl Marx said that class struggle is what causes all of the ills of society, arguing for communism, while “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

Henry David Thoreau argued for individual liberty, non-conformism, and conscientious objection through non-cooperation and non-violent resistance. “Must the citizen ever resign his conscience to the legislator?”

William James founded pragmatism, saying that people should just do the best they can in spite of uncertainty. “Act as if what you do makes a difference.”

The Modern World (1900-1950) and the Postmodern World (1950 to the present):

Friedrich Nietsche: an existentialist, wrote about the insufficiency of religion. “God is dead.”

Bertrand Russell: insisted that people attach too much importance to work. “The road to happiness lies in an organized diminution of work.” – Bertrand Russell

Ludwig Wittgenstein: described the limits of language and the limits placed on our thinking by language. “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Martin Heidegger: wrote about finding meaning in a meaningless world and about living authentically. “We are ourselves the entities to be analyzed.” – Martin Heidegger

Jean Paul Sartre: Agreed, saying that we must create our own life purpose. “Existence precedes essence.” – Jean-Paul Sartre – “Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.” – Albert Camus

Simone de Beauvior: wrote about the oppression of women, “Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female.”

Noam Chomsky: argued for adherence to codes of ethics and

Jacques Derrida: was a deconstructionist who believed that knowledge is limited by language and by our ability (or lack of ability) to interpret it. Life is a series of flawed interpretations. “There is nothing outside of the text.” – Jacques Derrida “We are all mediators, translators.” – Jacques Derrida

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Sartayana

School in a Book: History of Africa

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Overview of Africa during ancient times: Ancient Africa is most known for ancient Egypt, the first and one of the greatest civilizations in history. Elsewhere in Africa, the Sahara Desert in the North prevented other African cultures from communicating with the advanced north. Also, due to a lack of mountains, the rainfall was extremely unpredictable in most of Africa. Therefore, most tribes were nomadic and did not have the opportunity for settled towns and civilizations. Still, civilizations began to arise in the coastal areas of Africa such as x, x and x. These included advanced architecture, unique pyramids, and a strong trading market with routes to Asia and across Africa.

The Sahara Desert: The desert located in northern Africa that expands and contracts regularly. In prehistoric times, the desert shrank enough to allow humans to migrate out of Africa. In ancient times, the desert became increasingly dry, preventing communication between Northern and Southern Africans. Egyptians in the North had much more contact with Middle Easterners and Europeans than they did with Africans south of the Sahara.

The Nile River: The deep, gentle river in Egypt with predictable patterns and surrounding deserts. Its independent biosphere causes predictable flood patterns so no irrigation systems were needed. Nile offered transportation and irrigation.

Ancient Egypt: The first civilization in Africa and one of the greatest civilizations in history. It included: farming of wheat and barley for beer and bread, flax for linen and more; advanced medicine, astronomy and engineering; a polytheistic religion; pyramids; hieroglyphics and papyrus paper; cattle for transportation; and more. In the time of Greeks, Egypt was conquered. Then, it became a Roman territory and remained so [how long?]

Egypt’s Upper and Lower Kingdoms:

Pharaoh: The ruler or king of ancient Egypt. He or she was considered a living god.

King Narmer/Menes: 3100 BCE. The first Egyptian king to create a dynasty. He united lower and upper Egypt. Before his reign, Egypt was made up of many separate, small towns dotting the Nile. He made other significant changes as well, including beginning the tradition of having pharaohs instead of kings. With his reign, Egypt began moving through three stages: Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom. … In Egypt, pharaohs began to rule after King Narmer united the Upper and Lower Kingdoms. The country moved through the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom stages. During the Old Kingdom, the Great Pyramid was completed and mummification began.

Egypt’s Old Kingdom: The period in Egyptian history in which the Great Pyramid at Giza was built and the tradition of mummification began.

Egypt’s Middle Kingdom: After a time of decline, Mentuhotep restored Egypt’s greatness. FIne art, literature. Still isolated. Invaded Nubia for gold (and slaves?). Wars with Hyksos ended this period. … 2040 B.C.: Start of Middle Kingdom with Mentuhotep, who restored greatness. Fine art, literature. Not great conquerors. Egypt still isolated from rest of world. Did invade Nubia for gold, though. (insert main egyptian gods) (Another 100-year decline, then new kingdom)

Egypt’s New Kingdom: After another brief decline, NK began. More aggressive Pharaohs. Took Nubian slaves. Start of mummification. Wars with the Hittites and Arameans….1550 B.C.: New Kingdom. Egypt at its largest and wealthiest. Became known abroad. Egypt’s Golden Age. Conquered Palestine. At height during rule of Amenhotep III. This capital at Thebes. (Capital moved regularly.) Farmers still lived simply but nobles were very wealthy, had luxury. By law, men and women were equal. Women owned property. Four professions of women allowed: priestess, midwife, dancer, mourner. Scribes and priests second to nobility in importance.

Mummification: The process of preserving dead bodies into very long-lasting mummies. It involved a great deal of salt and cloth wrapping. Mummies of pharaohs were often buried in pyramids. Took 70 days.

Pyramids: Like social structure: pharaoh and nobles, middle class, merchants/soldiers, peasants/farmers. Pyramids were graves. Sand would blow away from graves and expose bodies so started building mud structures over them. Got bigger and bigger, more elaborate. Replaced mud with stones, got rid of steps. Egypt had a stable social structure and stable religious ideas, possibly due to the predictability of the Nile and the farming way of life.

Great Pyramid at Giza: built (when?) many passageways and chambers. Sought to please gods and make a permanent mark on history. Stones of up to 60 tons each. 2.3 million stones used altogether. Pharaohs. Egypt unified in one kingdom for most of their history. Pharaoh considered a living god. Body mummified when died, buried with treasure for afterlife–even food. Sacred writings on walls for protection. Many cities, all hugging the Nile. Most Egyptians were farmers. Mostly uneducated but all very religious. Then–decline for 100 years. No strong ruler….The Great Pyramid at Giza: 6 million tons of stone. Stone bossibly brought on bamboo sleds/stretchers to the desert. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Valley of the Kings: A large burial site of ancient Egypt with many buried pyramids and housing bodies of pharaohs




Akhenaten: One pharaoh, Akhenaten, tried to change religion to momotheistm (god Aten) but after he died the priests of old gods regained control. Dead king’s name removed from all monuments and records, and his new capital city was abandoned. Many New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings, including King Tutankahamen, whose tomb was rediscovered in 1922.


Ra: The ancient Egyptian sun god,

Osiris: The ancient Egyptian god of the underworld

Isis: The ancient Egyptian god of fertility

Nubia: Modern-day Sudan in northern Africa. It began as Nubia and later became the Kingdom of Kush. It was a source of iron and gold for the surrounding areas and an important trading partner for Egypt.

King Tutenkahamen/King Tut:

Book of the Dead: A collection of manuscripts and spells from Egypt

Hieroglyphics: 3200-2600 BCE. First deciphered by modern-day people in 1822 after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone which had both hieroglyphics and Greek writing

Rosetta Stone:

Kingdom of Kush: 2000 B.C.: Kingdom of Kush grew out of Nubia (Sudan), whichtook after Egypt. Trading partner for Egypt, source of gold….1500 B.C.: Egypt conquered Kush for 750 years…700 B.C.: Kush transitioned from stone working to iron working (no bronze) and flourished, supplying places in Africa and the Middle East. Ehipia was more self-contained but also important culture of this time.

Nok culture: 600: Growth of Nok culture on Niger River, Nigeria and Meroe, [?], Chad, Bantu. Southern Africa shepherds and hunter-gatherers called Khoisan.

Aksum Empire: “An empire located in the Horn of Africa that ruled from 100 ce to 940 ce. “350 B.C.: Meroi collapsed and was replaced by Aksum, which grew rich. Great cities and monoliths. Adopted Christianity. Thrived until AD 1000! … 1000: Collapse of Aksum in East Africa.

Jenne-jeno: 200: Jenne-jeno, the first African city (in West Africa) established. Partly due to introduction of camel to the Sahara, so trade could happen in West Africa.

Carthage: “A powerful city-state in North Africa on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.” For a time, it rivaled Rome.

Phoenicians: The Phoenicians established a colony at Carthage and controlled the western Mediterranean for nearly 600 years.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Berber: “The native peoples of North Africa.”

Boers: “Dutch and French settlers in South Africa.”

Overview of Africa during the Middle Ages:

Mansa Musa: “Emperor of the Mali Empire who made a famous pilgimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He was one of the richest people in history.”

Ghana: The first known empire in western Africa was Ghana (5th–11th century CE). AD 700-1240: Ghana, the first true African state. Center of gold trade. Located inland and more4 north than modern-day Ghana. Successors were Mali and Songhai. Became rich due to Arabs using camels to cross Sahara for the gold, mined further south and west. Brought in sald, European goods came there and slaves were traded out. Fell in 1076, restored, then fell again and in 1240 became part of Mali.

Mali: Mali founed by Sundiata Keita. Well-organized state, fertile farmlands beside the Niger River. Gold trade. Powerful. Many wealthy cities. Great Mosque designed by an Egyptian. City called Timbuktu on Niger. Key destination of caravan routes. 100 schools, a university, mosques, market. Ivory, too. Slaves to Muslim world, Venice and Genoa. Imported salt, cloth, ceramics, glass, horses, luxuries. Became Muslim for a time under a sypathetic ruler.

Songhai: muslim. (c. 1400–1591).

Bantu: AD 500: Bantu-speaking people from Nigeria migrated south, “leaving the rain forests to the Pygmies and the Kalahari Desert to the Khoisan bushmen. Bantu speakers in east started trading with Greeks and Romans.

Ethiopia: 1137: Ethiopia (Abyssinia) founded. Christians. Capital moved from Aksum to Lalibela. 1270-1500s: Ethiopia expanded into mountains of East Africa, taking in many once-isolated tribes. Regarded as a mysterious Christian kingdom. Had an emperor. Built 11 cross-shaped churches carved out of solid rock. 1500s: Declined due to internal discord.Not great warriors and never expanded (or even tried to) by military means.

Benin: 900-1480: Kingdom of Benin in modern-day Nigeria. Benin: West Africa. Forest kingdom. Benin City, capital. Had wide streets, large wooden houses, long surrounding walls. Bronze carvings. Traded in cloth, ivory, metals, palm oil, pepper, poottery and brass art like masks and carvings. King had a rich palace. Ruled at height by Oba Eware the Great, who modernized and didn’t enslave prisoners or engage in slave trade, which protected it from European colonization till 1897.

Zimbabwe: 900-1450: South: Great Zimbabwe. Large reserves of copper, gold. Walled palace city called Great Zimbabwe. Massive stone structures (granite)–how? by whom? A mystery. (A Zimbabwe is a stone-built enclosure and we call Zimbabwes this because of this famous structure….1450: Zimbabwe overtaken. 1500: Conquered by Songhay (lower down the Niger River).

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Overview of Africa during the Early Modern Times:

African colonization: Portuguese explored the western coast in the 15th century. Before the late 19th century, Europe showed little interest in colonizing Africa, but by 1884 European countries had begun a scramble to partition the continent, and by 1920 much of it was under colonial rule. Anticolonial sentiment developed gradually, becoming widespread after 1950, and one by one the colonies became independent, the last in 1990. Political instability, refugee problems, famine, and AIDS are the chief problems facing the continent in the early 21st century….

Between 1878 and 1898, European states partitioned and conquered most of Africa. For 400 years, European nations had mainly limited their involvement to trading stations on the African coast. Few dared venture inland from the coast; those that did, like the Portuguese, often met defeats and had to retreat to the coast. Several technological innovations helped to overcome this 400-year pattern. One was the development of repeating rifles, which were easier and quicker to load than musketsArtillery was being used increasingly. In 1885, Hiram S. Maxim developed the maxim gun, the model of the modern-day machine gun. European states kept these weapons largely among themselves by refusing to sell these weapons to African leaders.[297]

African germs took numerous European lives and deterred permanent settlements. Diseases such as yellow feversleeping sicknessyaws, and leprosy made Africa a very inhospitable place for Europeans. The deadliest disease was malaria, endemic throughout Tropical Africa. In 1854, the discovery of quinine and other medical innovations helped to make conquest and colonization in Africa possible.[298]

Strong motives for conquest of Africa were at play. Raw materials were needed for European factories. Europe in the early part of the 19th century was undergoing its Industrial Revolution. Nationalist rivalries and prestige were at play. Acquiring African colonies would show rivals that a nation was powerful and significant. These factors culminated in the Scramble for Africa.[299]David Livingstone, early European explorer of the interior of Africa, is attacked by a lion.French explorer Paul Du Chaillu confirmed the existence of Pygmy peoples of central Africa … Knowledge of Africa increased. Numerous European explorers began to explore the continent. explorers included Sir David Livingstone …Missionaries attempting to spread Christianity also increased European knowledge of Africa.

Scramble for Africa:

Partitioning of Africa: Between 1884 and 1885, European nations met at the Berlin West Africa Conference to discuss the partitioning of Africa. It was agreed that European claims to parts of Africa would only be recognised if Europeans provided effective occupation. In a series of treaties in 1890–1891, colonial boundaries were completely drawn. All of Sub-Saharan Africa was claimed by European powers, except for Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Liberia

The European powers set up a variety of different administrations in Africa, reflecting different ambitions and degrees of power. In some areas, such as parts of British West Africa, colonial control was tenuous and intended for simple economic extraction, strategic power, or as part of a long-term development plan. In other areas, Europeans were encouraged to settle, creating settler states in which a European minority dominated. Settlers only came to a few colonies in sufficient numbers to have a strong impact. British settler colonies included British East Africa (now Kenya), Northern and Southern Rhodesia, (Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively), and South Africa, which already had a significant population of European settlers, the Boers. France planned to settle Algeria and eventually incorporate it into the French state on an equal basis with the European provinces. Algeria’s proximity across the Mediterranean allowed plans of this scale.[citation needed]

In most areas colonial administrations did not have the manpower or resources to fully administer the territory and had to rely on local power structures to help them. Various factions and groups within the societies exploited this European requirement for their own purposes, attempting to gain positions of power within their own communities by cooperating with Europeans. One aspect of this struggle included what Terence Ranger has termed the “invention of tradition.” In order to legitimize their own claims to power in the eyes of both the colonial administrators and their own people, native elites would essentially manufacture “traditional” claims to power, or ceremonies. As a result, many societies were thrown into disarray by the new order.[citation needed]

Following the Scramble for Africa, an early but secondary focus for most colonial regimes was the suppression of slavery and the slave trade. By the end of the colonial period they were mostly successful in this aim, though slavery is still very active in Africa.

Desmond Tutu:

Portugese in Africa: 1543: Portugese took Ethiopia, set up on coast, drove out raiding Muslims. Increased slave trade.Millions of slaves shipped to the Americas. Many died either during slave wars between African states trying to capture slaves or on voyages across Atlantic (the Middle Passage). A catastrophe for Africa to lose so many people. Tribal security and unity gradually gave way to increased social distrust and control by greedy chiefs.

The Middle Passage:

Sub-saharan Africa:

Horn of Africa:

The Ivory Coast:

The Gold Coast:

Dutch East India Company: 1637: Dutch drove Portugese from the Gold Coast..
1652: Dutch East India Company founded Cape Town.


Nelson Mandela:

The Boer Wars: 1836: Cape Colony at Southern tip ruled by British. Expanded northward. Fought Zulus and the Boers for control of area. Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes, sought to unite all of Africa under British rule. Boer Wars.

Cecil Rhodes:

Suez Canal:

African National Congress (ANC):

Slave trade: 1700s: Africa relatively peaceful despite European settlemtn. 35,000 slaves each year sent to the Americas….1787: British established Sierra Leone as a refugee for freed slaves….1822: Liberia founded for freed slaves from the U.S….Early 1800s: Most European countries stopped trading in slaves, though Portugese continued till 1882.

Zulu warriors: Early 1800s: Zulu trive in Southern Africa fought constantly with neighbors. Major bloodshed. Zulu warriors! “Time of Troubles.” Islam still going strong. Most of Africa still owned by Africans, but not united against Arabs and Europeans, so very vulnerable.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

Swahili: “An ethnic group in East Africa. Also, the language spoken by many East African nations including Kenya and Uganda.

1902: Peace treaty signed making Boer republics part of British empire, though self-governed.

1910: Union of South Africa founded, unifying several African provinces under the British.

1869: Suez Canal opens to shipping.

1875: Britain took advantage of a local financial crisis and bought 50 percent of shares of Suez Canal.

1871: Stanley, an American journalist, met Dr. David Livingstone at Lake Tansanyika (sp?). Livingstone was seeking the source of the Nile.

1876: Belgium took over the Congo.

1882: British occupy Egypt to protect Suez Canal, which cut their time to India hugely. This caused some fighting.

1884: European nations met in Berlin to divide Africa among themselves. Only Liberia and Ethiopia remained independent.

1893: Frech take Timbuktu, Mali, W. Africa.

1899: British-Egyptian rule of Sudan

1912: African National Congress forms in South Africa.

1880-1912: European nations “scramble for Africa.” Led by Britain, France, plus Germany, Belgium and Italy.

Late 1800s: Britain had modern-day Ghana, Nigeria and controlled Sierra Leone, Egypt and the Gambia. Belgium had the Congo in Central Africa. [see map p362]. French were in West Africa, Britain in w, ne, south; belgium in center and other spred-out colonies. New forms of gov3ernment brought to Africa, but most Africans couldn’t vote and tribes were broken up in the “cake-cutting” process. European colonists often took best farmland for themselves. Profits all went to Europe.(here ins: how african nations gained independence)

1967-2000: Famine in Africa widespread. Drought. Civil war, which made sending aid very dangerous.

1960s: Most states gained independence.

1990-2000: South Africa and Apartheid. S. Af was the last country without self-rule. Still imperialist till Nelson Mandella ended apartheid. Apartheid: separation ofr people according to color or race. Started by the Boers in s. af. in early 1900s. Different laws if you were white, black or “colored” (mixed). Blacks and colored forced to live outside cities and movement restricted. White people in power and resisted opposition from the ANC (African National Congress) in the 60s by harsh laws, including making it illegal to have all-black political parties.

1980s: Colored allowed into government but not blacks. Starting in 1978, several reformers for change, inc President Botha, Desmond Tutu (an Anglican leader), PresidentF.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandella, who was released from prison by Klerk after 28 years. Mandella became the head of the ANC, then president. Free elections that included all people came in 1994 andled to end of apartheird. Argued for peacefrul settlement. Focus turned to need for schooling, poverty, lack of electricity and clean drinking water, unemployment and street crime.

20th century

With the vast majority of the continent under the colonial control of European governments, the World Wars were significant events in the geopolitical history of Africa. Africa was a theater of war and saw fighting in both wars. More important in most regions, the total war footing of colonial powers impacted the governance of African colonies, through resource allocation, conscription, and taxation. 

The decolonization of Africa started with Libya in 1951, although LiberiaSouth AfricaEgypt and Ethiopia were already independent. Many countries followed in the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in 1960 with the Year of Africa, which saw 17 African nations declare independence, including a large part of French West Africa. Most of the remaining countries gained independence throughout the 1960s, although some colonizers (Portugal in particular) were reluctant to relinquish sovereignty, resulting in bitter wars of independence which lasted for a decade or more. The last African countries to gain formal independence were Guinea-Bissau (1974), Mozambique (1975) and Angola (1975) from Portugal; Djibouti from France in 1977; Zimbabwe from the United Kingdom in 1980; and Namibia from South Africa in 1990. Eritrea later split off from Ethiopia in 1993.[322]

School in a Book: History of Russia

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Russian prehistory and ancient history summary: Various peoples occupied the area now known as Russia, but very little is known about any of them. At some point, groups of East Slavs, various peoples who spoke Slavic languages, formed. It is thought that Monguls, Huns and other invaders interfered with them sporadically.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Russian Middle Ages summary: European and Middle Eastern adventurers and merchants traveling through Russia began trading with the leaderless Slavs. In doing so, they significantly affected Slavic culture.
During this time, the East Slavs were joined by various Viking tribes from Scandinavia who came south from the Baltic Sea region. One of these tribes might have been the Rus, the people who, in the late 800s, established the first Russian state, which was centered on Kiev (a loose federation sometimes called the Kievan Rus federation state). (Some scholars dispute this, saying the Rus were another East Slavic people.) The Rus ruler was the first Russian ruler mentioned in Islamic and Western literature.

In Kiev, the Rus blended with the Slavs. At the same time, they and other Scandinavian tribes moved further south, entering Baghdad and Constantinople. In Kiev and along the river routes connecting the Baltic to the Black Sea, these groups became known together as the Varangians.
By 1000, the Varangians were in complete control of the region, and their trade routes were increasing the strength of Kievan Rus. Still, the vast and sparsely populated land was not culturally unified. Clans, each with their own prices, ruled locally with little intervention.

Vladimir, prince of Kiev, greatly expanded Rus and adopted Christianity–a political and cultural shift that began the formation of a national identity. He allowed Constantinople to set up an Episcopal see there, beginning the blending of Slavic and Byzantine cultures; however, he and his successors were unable to achieve political stability in the area.

1000-1400: During the second half of the Middle Ages, Kiev declined, and with it, the Russian state as a whole. Largely, this was due to Mongol invasions of the 1200s which halved the population of Rus, but constant clan warfare and the decline of the trade routes between the Baltic and Black seas had started the process long before. For a time, local princes and their upper class administrators, called boyars, reclaimed control. They taxed the people in their territories but otherwise interfered with these agriculturally based communities very little. There was only a rudimentary written law code. During this time, marked cultural and political distinctions formed from one Slavic territory to the next–distinctions that remain to this day.

In the mid-1200s, Mongols began defeating Russian principalities. Soon, they and the Turkic nomads that joined them, together known as the Tatars or Tartars or the Golden Horde, controlled the entire region. They ruled from the Western city of Sarai and demanded little more than tributes from the local Russian princes under them. They helped the Russians advance in military tactics and transportation. During this time, Russia also developed its postal road network, a census, a fiscal system, and military organization.
After Genghis Khan’s empire broke up, the Tatars converted to Islam and split into four separate factions. From this weakened position, all but one was defeated by Russia. (The Crimean faction was taken by the Ottoman Turks until Catherine the Great reclaimed it in the 1700s.)
During the Tatar reign, Moscow grew and flourished. It cooperated with the Tatars, becoming an important center for them. Then it became the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the 1300s, it began the fight to overthrow the Tatars.
In the mid-1400s, Ivan the Great (Ivan III) of Moscow (a land officially known as the Grand Duchy of Moscow) led the consolidation of the Russian land that eventually led to the creation of the Russian national state. He instituted a system of military service by nobles, granting them land in exchange for their service, using this to triple the size of Moscow. At the same time, he completed the overthrow of the Tatars. Eventually, he claimed sovereignty over all of Russia, a claim that continued long after his rule. He also renovated the Moscow Kremlin, the Russian citadel that is now the center of Russian government. (The complex includes several palaces and cathedrals and is surrounded by a towered wall.)

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

After the fall of Constantinople, Russia became known as the Third Rome, further increasing its stature.
Ivan IV, following Ivan III, was the first to take the title of tsar. Ruling during the 1500s, he is known as Ivan the Terrible. Though ruthless in his authoritarian standpoint, Ivan the Terrible established a new law code and created the first feudal representative governmental body. However, his son’s reign was followed by a period called the Time of Troubles, partly due to crop failure and a resulting famine and partly due to the lack of an heir to the throne. Russia lost territory to outsiders, but the Russian bureaucracy held the state together until in the early 1600s a national assembly decided on a new leader and dynasty. This was the Romanov dynasty that ruled until 1917.
Threats from outsiders caused the Russian princes to accept Romanov rule and to work with him to defend the state. Also, the Romanovs allowed the princes to not only place a huge tax burden on the peasants, but to make them into serfs who could not freely leave the land they were attached to. Peasant riots became frequent. Still, during the 1600s, the population of Russia increased greatly.
In spite of these advances, Russia was a primitive state until Peter the Great became co-ruler, then soon afterward gained complete control as czar. During his reign ini the 1700s, Russia became a great European power. Peter encouraged fine craftsmanship; spent money carefully; abolished the powers of the boyars, the former ruling class; moved the capital to St. Petersburg; captured a Black Sea trading port for a time; gained Estonia and Livonia on the Baltic coast; centralized the government; stabilized the Orthodox Church under state control; and more.
Peter traveled widely in the West disguised as an ordinary citizen. He learned Western traditions in shipbuilding, medicine, almshouses, factories, museums and more. He hired Western teachers for Russians; created a civil service; and built canals, factories, roads, new industries and a navy. Peter was sometimes forceful and cruel, too, and in spite of his reforms, the peasants still lived in poverty. A European war that weakened Sweden led to Russia becoming the leading power in the Baltic.
1725-1762: Peter’s rule
1762-1796: Catherine the Great
1850–1900: In the 1850s, The Crimean War took place between Russia and Turkey over some Black Sea lands. Britain and France entered the war to check Russia’s power. Russia was defeated, but not before the disastrous Charge of the (British) Light Brigade killed many Russians. This was the first war that was covered by newspapers with photographers.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

In 1904-5, Russia and Japan fought the Russo-Japanese War over Korea and Manchuria. Japan won. That year, the Russian Revolution began when on Bloody Sunday troops fired onto a defenseless group of demonstrators in St. Petersburg. Worker strikes and riots followed, including mutinies by some members of the military. In response, Czar Nicholas II wrote his October Manifesto promising civil rights and the first Duma (parliament) was set up.
1917: Nicolas did not deliver on his promises, and poor management during World War I led to another round of riots in St. Petersburg, again with many members of the military joining in. Soon after, Nicholas was forced to abdicate and a liberal government was created. However, before the end of that same year the Bolshevik Party (communists) seized power, promising an end to poverty.
Led by Vladimir Lenin, the Bolsheviks made peace with Germany; moved the capital to Moscow; broke up large private estates, giving the farmland to the peasants; and gave control of the factories to the workers. The government retained control of the banks, however.
1918: Russian revolutionaries executed the former czar and his family. Russian Civil War between Reds (Bolsheviks) and Whites (anti-Bolsheviks); Reds win in 1920. Allied troops (U.S., British, French) intervene (March); leave in 1919.
1922: The anti-Bolsheviks triumphed against the Bolsheviks. They renamed Russia the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or Soviet Union for short).
1924: Lenin died. Leading up to the second world war, Trotsky (who had worked closely with Lenin) and Stalin fought for power. Stalin won and dominated as dictator till his death in 1953. Fearing Trotsky’s power, he expelled him from the Russian Communist Party early on in his rule.
1943: As World War II reached its peak, the German army became bogged down in the harsh Russian winter weather at the Russian front. Hitler’s surrender at Stalingrad in 1943 was one of the turning points of the war in the Allies’ favor.
1948: Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia. Berlin blockade begins, prompting Allied airlift. (Blockade ends May 12, 1949; airlift continues until Sept. 30, 1949.) Stalin and Tito break.
1953: Stalin dies. Malenkov becomes Soviet premier; Beria, minister of interior; Molotov, foreign minister. East Berliners rise against Communist rule; quelled by tanks. 1953: Moscow announces explosion of hydrogen bomb.
1954: Soviet Union grants sovereignty to East Germany.
1956: Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of USSR Communist Party, denounces Stalin’s excesses. Workers’ uprising against Communist rule in Poznan, Poland, is crushed; rebellion inspires Hungarian students to stage a protest against Communism in Budapest.
1957: Russians launch Sputnik I, first Earth-orbiting satellite—the Space Age begins.
1960: American U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, shot down over Russia. Khrushchev kills Paris summit conference because of U-2.
1962: Cuban missile crisis. USSR to build missile bases in Cuba; Kennedy orders Cuban blockade, lifts blockade after Russians back down.
Soviet Union collapsed in 90s. Many civil wars around the world, often because political boundaries weren’t aligned with cultural and linguistic ones.
1957: USSR launched Sputnik, first artificial satellite to orbit Earth
1945-89: The Cold War: Due to stockpling off nuclear weapons–no actual fighting – despite fact that we were allies in WWII – USSR isolated itself. NATO formed–an alliance of western nations fighting against communist powers. USSR backed by Eastern European states. After WWII USSR controlled East Germany and U.S. …France and Britain had west. Even Berlin divided. Berlin Wall built to keep refugees from moving from east to west.
1962: The U.S. Air Force obtained pictures of a missile launch site in Cuba, where nuclear missiles could easily reach the U.S., beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis. The U.S. began making plans to invade Cuba, but in a victory of diplomacy the Soviets agreed to destroy the launch sites. The two countries greatly mistrusted and feared each other, however. In the late 1980s, the Cold War finally ended.
1989: Gorbachev allowed the communist countries of Eastern Europe to elect democratic governments.
1980s: After the fall of the Soviet Union, various countries around Russia’s borders gained independence from Russia in a succession of revolutions. Czechoslovakia was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, for instance. During this time, political terrorism increased in the area.

School in a Book: History of Europe

This School in a Book section is in progress.

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Ancient Greece: The area of Europe and the Middle East that formed around 3000 BCE as a collection of individually governed city-states, but that were culturally related. Ancient Greece included modern-day Greece, Asia Minor, the Aegean Sea, Crete and more. Greece was mountainous, not in a river basin like Mesopotamia and Egypt. Therefore, land was highy valued. Also, Greeks were more isolated from each other and the rest of the ancient world and developed many unique ways. Each city was very proud of itself. Citizens referred to themselves by their first names and the name of their city (polis).

Major aspects of the Greek influence: Democracy, philosophy, rhetoric/oratory, rationalism, individualism, theater, and much more. As a fringe society, Greece assimilated cultural ideas from the larger, more vibrant Mesopotamian civilizations, then built on them.

Minoans: Lived on the island of Crete from about 1700 to 1450. A lost civilization. A palace complex that was the center of city life. Disappeared by 1500 for unknown reasons.

King Minos: The king of the Minoans that was said to be the stepfather of the fabled monster called the Minotaur. Palace called Kuossos (?). Large and elaborate, with a labrynth? Language called Linear A. NOT a predecessor of the Greek language. Large bureauocracy. First people to create indoor plumbing. First great artists. Huge, amazing architecture. Great traders, especially with Egypt. Rich. Peaceful. Since they lived on an island, wealth was directed at cultural achievement rather than protection.

Myceaneans: Linear B, which we know how to decipher. This was the precursor to Greek. Lived in Mycenae. Inhabitants there were called in Homer the “Acheans,” though we call them Myceneans. A very impressive city. Graves filled with gold, silver, ivory, weapons. Warlike. Ruled by kings, including King Agamemnon.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

School in a Book: History of North and Central America

Ancient Times (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Temple Mound cultures: Native cultures that formed along what i snow the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. They were known for their central plazas surrounded by rectangular mounds with temples on top. They lived in adobe longhouses and grew corn, sunflowers, beans, pumpkins and more.

Hopi culture: The Native culture that formed in what is now the southwestern U.S. They were known for their effective irrigation systems, unique art, rain dances and other complex ceremonies, and the Cliff Palace. They grew corn, beans, squash, cotton and more.

Inuit culture: The Native culture of the far north in what is now Alaska and Canada, who traded with the Vikings.

Anasazi culture: The Native culture of what is now Colorado, who lived in pueblos.

Cree, Chippewa, Algonquin cultures: The Native cultures of what is now Canada.

Sioux culture: The Native culture of what is now the American Midwest.

Iroquois culture: The Native culture of what is now New York State.

Mohawk culture: The Native culture of what is now New England.

Mayan culture: 300 BCE to 800 CE.

Toltec culture: 800 CE. The culture that replaced the Mayans in Mesoamerica. Militaristic city-state. Temples guarded by stone warriors. Warrior chiefs replaced Mayan priests. Quality of poetry, art, literature declined.

Aztec culture: 1200 CE. The culture that replaced the Toltecs. Very warlike. Known for pyramids, unique calendar, advanced governmental and economic structure and tiered social structure. Center near Lake Texcoco (now Mexico City). Created garden islands for growing food. Built city of Tenochitlan on an island in the lake. Easily defended . One of world’s best-planned cities. Traded throughout Mexico. By the 1500s, their empire stretched coast to coast across Mexico. Pyramines, shrines, emperor. Conquered quickly by the Spanish in the 1500s.

the 1500s- During this century, Europeans arrived on E coast of mod day us and in mesoamerica and were attempting colonization

Mesoamerica: The area which is now Mexico and Central America.

Christopher Colombus: The first European to come to the Americas. Lnaded in the CIs in 1492. An Italian-born Spaniard sailing for England.


John Cabot:

Ponce de Leon:

Jaques Cartier:


John Smith:




Plymouth Plantation:



Massachussets Bay Colony:

William Penn:


Salem witch trials:

French and Indian War:

American Revolution:

Sugar Act and Stamp Act:

Boston Tea Party:

Samuel Adams:

“No taxation without representation”:

Declaration of Independence:

Thomas Jefferson:

George Washington:

Treaty of Paris:


Constitutional Convention:


Bill of Rights:

Nat Turner:

The Alamo:

Davy Crockett:

Lone Star Republic:

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo:

American Civil War:

Abraham Lincoln:

Emancipation Proclamation:

The Olmecs:

The Zapotecs:

The Mayans:

Teotihuacan: The largest city in the Americas from approximately 1 to 500 CE. Population of about 125,000 at its height.

Teotihuacan began as a religious center in the Mexican Highlands around the first century AD. It became the largest and most populated center in the pre-Columbian Americas. Teotihuacan was home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate the large population.[2] The term Teotihuacan (or Teotihuacano) is also used for the whole civilization and cultural complex associated with the site.

Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented; evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The later Aztecs saw these magnificent ruins and claimed a common ancestry with the Teotihuacanos, modifying and adopting aspects of their culture.

The Hopewell culture:

The Hopi:

The Moche: The people who settled modern-day Ecuador (in Central America) toward the end of ancient times (around 300 AD) and through the beginning of the Middle Ages (around 700 AD). They made pottery, wove textiles, and did metalwork.

By 1500 BCE, the Olmecs of Mesoamerica had built the first North American cities, which included earth and stone pyramids for religious worship and sculptures (including some of enormous heads). Around 800 BCE, their neighbors, the Zapotecs, became the first Americans to develop writing, and in 600 BCE the Mayan civilization, with their noteworthy temples and pyramids, began to flourish. By 300 BCE, they had built the great city of Teotihuacan, and by 300 CE, they were at their peak, encompassing most of Mexico and beyond. By 500, this city featured a planned grid system, temple complexes, crafts and markets, and was the largest trading city in the Americas. The Mayans were an unusually unwarlike, peaceful people.
Meanwhile, smaller tribes in the modern-day United States were creating their own unique cultures. Some were hunter-gatherer tribes while others had small permanent villages.In 300 CE, the Hopewell culture was at its peak in modern-day Ohio and the Mogollon, Anasazi and Hohokam cultures were growing in the southwest, which later were eclipsed by the Hopi in this area.

The Middle Ages (500 to 1500 CE)

The Temple Mound cultures:

The Toltecs:

The Aztecs:

The Inuit:

The Anasazi:

The Cree, Chippewa and Algonquin tribes:

The Sioux tribe:

The Iroquois tribe:

The Mohawk tribe:

By 700, the Hopi culture in the southwest featured irrigaton systems, corn, beans, squash, cotton, unique architecture and art, rain dances, other complex ceremonies, and the beautiful Cliff Palace. Around the same time, the Temple Mound cultures, named for their central plazas surrounded by rectangular mounds with temples for the dead on top, began building the first towns north of Mexico (along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers). Their people lived in longhouses with adobe walls and thatched roofs and traded along the rivers. Their crops included corn, sunflowers, beans and pumpkins. By 1450 CE, they had declined significantly.

Meanwhile, in Mesoamerica, the Mayans were in decline; however, their influence was a lasting one. Around 800 CE, the Toltecs migrated into the area. They established a militaristic city-state featuring temples guarded by stone warriors. Their warrior chiefs took power from the Mayan priests, and the quality of pottery, art and literature declined. Around 1200 CE, the Aztecs rose to power in the area, overcoming the Toltecs. This warlike people is well-known for their pyramids, their unique calendar, their advanced governmental and eonomic structure and their tiered social structure.

Other cultures thriving during the Middle Ages were the Inuit in the far north, who traded with Vikings; the Anasazi in Colorado who lived in pueblos; the Cree, Chippewa/Ojibwe and Algonquin in Canada; the Sioux in the Midwest; the Iroquois in New York; the Mohawk in New England; and more.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

By 1500 CE, Europeans had arrived on the East Coast of the modern-day United States and in Mesoamerica, changing the Americas forever.

By the 1500s there were about six million native Americans grouped into hundreds of unique tribes with different food, art, governmental styles and ways of life (for example, totems, tepees, tribal councils, wigwams, masks, etc.). Some of these tribes formed confederations. Some fought wars.

Christopher Colombus:

John Cabot:

Ponce de Leon:

Jacques Cartier:


John Smith:

The activities of the Spanish in New Mexico:

The activities of the French in

In 1492 CE, Christopher Colombus (an Italian-born Spaniard whose voyage was sponsored by England) landed on the Carribean Islands. Believing it to be India (which had been his destination) he named the islands the West Indies. Colombus may never have known he had founded the Americas, even after several successive visits.
In 1497, John Cabot, an Italian sponsored by England, discovered Newfoundland and set up a colony at Quebec. In 1513, Ponce de Leon explored Florida and claimed it for Spain. In 1534, Jacques Cartier claimed part of Canada for France (including modern-day Montreal). In 1584, Roanoke, an English colony on the East Coast of the modern-day U.S., was established. All attempts to colonize the Americas during the 1500s, however, failed. As a result, for the span of this century, most Europeans considered the Americas unimportant.

In 1607, John Smith led the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, which became the first successful English colony in the Americas. Without the help of the natives in the area, survival was unlikely. Less than a decade later, they began flourishing by growing tobacco on lands taken from the natives and selling it to Europe. Fur trading became popular as well.

Around the same time, the Spanish were settling New Mexico, setting up mines, trading posts and a capital (Santa Fe), and the French were settling the Great Lakes area, the Mississippi river area and the St. Lawrence river area in Canada.
At first, the Native Americans in these areas were friendly to the Europeans. Then they began to suffer from smallpox, measles and other European diseases; to be killed; and to be driven off their lands. Until Europeans introduced them to horses, wheeled transportation and guns, they fought only with wood and stone tools, bows, slingshots and spears.
Eventually, Jamestown [and other American colonies?] failed, but Plymouth (which later became part of Massachusets), founded in 1620 by a group of over 100 Puritans (some religious separatists and some mercenaries) succeeded, becoming the first permanent North American settlement. The first winter, Plymouth Plantation saw the death of over half its settlers. In 1621, however, they shared the first Thanksgiving meal with Squanto and other Native Americans.
Over the next 20 years, about 20,000 new settlers arrived, most settling in Plymouth and various colonies nearby, including the Massachussets Bay colony. Later, the Dutch established New Amsterdam (later taken over by the English and renamed New York) and the English king gave Pennsylvania to a group of Quakers led by William Penn. The Carolinas grew as well.

From 1619 onward, owners of tobacco, cotton, rice and indigo plantations began importing slaves. Soon after, the majority of the people living in some areas were slaves.

The late 1600s saw many violent wars with the native peoples.

By 1700 CE, England owned twelve flourishing colonies along the Atlantic coast and in all, there were approximately 400,000 Europeans in North America. Boston was the largest of these. The French colonies in Canada grew more slowly, and though the Spanish still held Florida, after losing control of the seas they missed their chance to move further into North America and outpace England.

In 1692, Puritan fears led to the death of fourteen women and six men in the Salem witch trials.
In addition, during the 1600s and 1700s, French and British colonies fought several wars for land with natives assisting both sides. These included the Seven Years War of the late 1700s (which in turn included the French and Indian War, which gave English control of the Ohio Valley land).

Also in the late 1700s, Britain won some Canadian colonies from France and traded other lands to the Spanish, gaining Florida.

In the early 1770s, the thirteen American colonies started the American Revolution in response to unfair laws by the English king (including exhorbitantly high taxes like the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act) by boycotting British imports. In the Boston Tea Party led by Sam Adams, colonists snuck into the harbor at night and threw the tea imports overboard. The colonists had asked to be represented in the English government but were denied this request; thus, their mantra became “No taxation without representation.”

In 1776, the colonies created the Declaration of Independence, a claimed right to self-rule, officially beginning the war on Britain. The Declaration was mostly written by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington led the colonists to victory, the British finally surrendering at Yorktown in 1781. Two years later, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war.
In 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Pennsylvania, the founding fathers created the United States Constitution. (Prior to this time, America was held together by the Articles of Confederation, which gave almost all power to the states.)

In 1789, George Washington was elected the first president of the new United States and in 1791, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution.

Also in 1791, Britain split Quebec into English-speaking Upper Canada (Ontario) and French-speaking Lower Canada (Quebec) to reduce tensions between these areas, who both wanted control.

In 1831, a slave revolt in Virginia that killed sixty white people and was led by Nat Turner led to harsher penalties for slaves.

In 1835, Texas declared its independence from Mexico, which at the time extended far into the modern-day U.S. The turning point of Texan independence came in 1836 when they won the town of San Antonio back after a battle at the Alamo, a mission in the center of town. (The most well-known defender of the Alamo was Davy Crockett.) Texas renamed itself the Lone Star Republic. Then, in 1845, it joined the U.S. In 1847, the U.S. captured Mexico City (temporarily). In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave the U.S. California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

By 1850, the northern states had already banned slavery. Their economy was based on manufacturing, with a newly built railroad as its backbone. In the South, however, tobacco and cotton plantations dominated. Though each state was allowed to choose whether or not to legalize slavery, southerners complained that the northerners protected runaway slaves, impinging on their policies. This, and differences in ideas concerning the strength of the federal government versus states’ rights, led to the American Civil War.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Because he opposed slavery and was in favor of a stronger national government, the south seceded and created the Confederate States of America, officially beginning the war. The northern military commander was Ulysses S. Grant. The southern commander was Robert E. Lee. Fighting began in 1861 at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, with the northern victory becoming likely after they won at Gettysburg in 1863. That same year, Abraham Lincoln declared an end to slavery the U.S., and in 1865 the thirteenth amendment outlawed it after General Lee surrendered to General Grant in the courthouse at Appomattox, Virginia. Five days after this surrender, Lincoln was assassinated.

Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who made trips through southern territory, helping others escape.

Following this, reconstruction began in the south, which southerners resisted. Many plantations still held slaves or used indentured servants.

1800s: Canadian rebels resisted British control, but failed.

1840: Britain reunited Upper and Lower Cananda. Now called the Province of Canada.

1867: Canada became self-governing and folded in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. French and English were both official languages.

1870: NW Territories joined Canada. Owned by Hudson Bay Company.

1898: Yukon Territory joined Canada. Owned by Hudson Bay company also. Site of 1800s gold rush.

1885: Canadian Pacific Railway complete uniting the country, St. Lawrence River to Pacific Ocean.

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

1914: WWI began. U.S. kept out of European affairs till this tiime. Had become an industrial power, modernized. Invented cars, movies and more.

1917: Ships attacked by German U-boats. U.S. entered WWI.

1918: War ended. U.S. didn’t join Wilson’s League of Nations. Wanted to stay out of world affairs.

U.S. returned to isolationism after WWI. 1920s: Booming economy. 1929: Stock market crash. Great Depression worldwide as industry struggled to adjust to peacetime levels of trade. Stock market speculators had overvalued many companies. Unemloyment rampant. Then there was a drought in the Great Plains (the Dust Bowl), leading to massive crop failuress.

1932-3: New Deal introduced by Roosevelt: Subsidized farm prices, huge contruction program. Then start of WWWII increased heavy industry and U.S. recovered fully.

1929: Wall Street crash, great depression. Rescued by Roosevelt’s New Deal. Included farm subsidies, minimum wage, construction programs. Then WWII helped a lot more.

1920s: Prohibition (18th Amendment). Gangsters including Al Capone set up bootlegging operations and crime increased. Majro growth of cities. Jazz Age: radio, mvies, cars, skyscraper, elevators invented.

1933: 21st Amendment ended Prohibition.

1941: Japanese attacked U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. Next day entered war (declared war on Japan, then Axis declared war on us). 2400 soldiers killed in the attack. Happened because we were pressuring Japan to stop attacking China.

1930s: Drought in Great Plains “Dust Bowl.” Topsoil gone, towns closed, economy even worse.

1944: Kamikaze (suicide bomber planes) attacks on Allied ships trying to take Okinawa.

1945: U.S. took Okinawa, then dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to avoid an estimated million deaths in a further attack on the mainland. This ended the war, but only somewhat earlier than it would have anyway. Truman made the decision. First bomb killed 130,000 people, Nagasaki killed 750,000 and more later. 100 cities in Japan destroyed at war’s end. (Enola Gay dropped Little BOy and Fat Man was dropped by Bockstar plane.)

1945: United Nations was founded.

1945: UN formed to guarantee civil liberties and work for peace and stability (to prevent war). UN Security Council’s job is to keep peace.

1950s: U.S. led nuclear arms race and prospered.

1960s: Cuban Missile Crisis, cold war. Man on moon in 1969, one year ahead of schedule (Apollo II mission). American culture spread widely.

45-89: The Cold War: Due to stockpling off nuclear weapons–no actual fighting – despite fact that we were allies in WWII – USSR isolated itself. NATO formed–an alliance of western nations fighting against communist powers. USSR backed by Eastern European states. After WWII USSR controlled East Germany and U.S. …France and Britain had west. Even Berlin divided. Berlin Wall built to keep refugees from moving from east to west.

Cuban Missile Crisis: 1962: U.S. Air Force got picutres of a missile launch site in Cuba, where nuclear missiles could easily reach thhe U.S. Plans to invade Cuba but sSoviets agreed to destry the launch sites.

1987: Cold War ended.

1989: Gorbachev allowed the communist countries of Eastern Europe to elect democratic government

The Korean War began when communist North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950. The UN sent aid to SK. u.s. sent troops. Still, most of SK was captured. So UN fought them back at Seoul. Reached border of China, then China entered, taking NK’s side. Cease fire n 1953. Country divided down the middle.

Vietnam war: Vietman declared independence from France in 1954–Country divided between north and south, with two different governments.

1965: U.S. sent troops to aid the south, who had started moin towards civil war between the Viet Cong in the south and the communists in the north.

1969: half a million U.S. troops in Vietnam. Then withdrawal began.

1969: First man on the moon.

1973: Cease-fire declared. 57,000 U.S. soldiers killed.

1970s: War in Vietnam.

1980s: Computer technology brought economic boom. U.S. now the global policeman.

1981: First space shuttle launched.

1990: Hubble Space Telescope took first pictures of deep space

ADD: Maya: Peak 300 B.C> to AD 800. From peoples that were in same area from 2000 B.C. Southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Built many cities that included temple pyramids, fortified palaces, marketplaces, workshops, living quarters. Class system: nobles, priests, rules, officials, servants (in cities) and ordinary people (in countryside, and went to cities for needs.) Had about 800 hieroglyphs, advanced math, science,; claendar; astronomy, intricate roads, crafts. Also, blood sacrifice. All were independent city-states as in Greece. They fought each other. Declined when lost many farmers due to war (farmers taken hostage and many killed as blood sacrifices.)

ADD: Aztecs in Mexico: 125: Moved near Lake Texcoco (now Mexico City). Created garden islands for growing food. Built Tenochititlan on an island in the lake. Easily defended due to location. One of the world’s best-planned cities. Traded throughout Mexico.

1500: Grew empire till stretched coast to coast. Pyramids, shrines. Had an emperor.

1519: Spanish arrived in Mexico. Cities conquered by Aztecs hated them due to all the human sacrifice, though they paid tribute. But allied with Spanish when they came and Aztecs were conquered within a year. (Conquistadores led by Cortez pretended C. was a god that Montezuma had been waiting for and tricked him into welcoming him.) A few setbacks, then destruction of Aztec empire. Helped due to bringing of European diseases.

Later in 1500s: Spanish expanded colonies, took parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico. Settled these areas. Made laws to prevent mistreatment of natives, but laws didn’t work. North Americans worked as slaves and in mines and died of European diseases. Spanish missionaries destroyed temples and idols.

1803: Louisiana purchase from France doubled U.S. size.

1805: Lewis and Clark reach Pacific with help of Sacajawea

1812: War of 1812 against Britain due to their European trade blockade. Failed to take Canada from British.

1820: Mississippi River settled.

1838-9: Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ to Oklahoma after series of wars between Americans and whites. Jackson passed Indian Removal Act and made them settle on Indian Territory. Thousands died on the trail.

1845: U.S. annexes Texas.

1861: Explosive U.S. growth. People attracted to freedom. 31 million by 1861 and much land and resources.Western settlers protected by army and laws to all new land claims. New states added to union when population reached 60,000.

Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, fly first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Henry Ford organizes Ford Motor Company.

1905: Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity and other key theories in physics.

1909: North Pole reportedly reached by American explorers Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded in New York by prominent black and white intellectuals and led by W.E.B. Du Bois.

1920: U.S. Dept. of Justice “red hunt” nets thousands of radicals; aliens deported. Women’s suffrage (19th) amendment ratified.

1923: Widespread Ku Klux Klan violence in U.S.

1925: John T. Scopes convicted and fined for teaching evolution in a public school in Tennessee “Monkey Trial”; sentence set aside.

1929: In U.S., stock market prices collapse, with U.S. securities losing $26 billion—first phase of Depression and world economic crisis.

1932: In U.S., Congress sets up Reconstruction Finance Corporation to stimulate economy. Veterans march on Washington—most leave after Senate rejects payment of cash bonuses; others removed by troops under Douglas MacArthur. U.S. protests Japanese aggression in Manchuria. Amelia Earhart is first woman to fly Atlantic solo.

1933: Roosevelt inaugurated (“the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”); launches New Deal. Prohibition repealed.

1939: In U.S., Roosevelt submits $1,319-million defense budget, proclaims U.S. neutrality, and declares limited emergency. Einstein writes FDR about feasibility of atomic bomb. New York World’s Fair opens.

1940: The first official network television broadcast is put out by NBC.

1941: Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Philippines, Guam force U.S. into war; U.S. Pacific fleet crippled (Dec. 7). U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Germany and Italy declare war on U.S.; Congress declares war on those countries (Dec. 11). Manhattan Project (atomic bomb research) begins. Roosevelt enunciates “four freedoms,” signs Lend-Lease Act, declares national emergency, promises aid to USSR. Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.

1942: Roosevelt orders Japanese and Japanese Americans in western U.S. to be exiled to “relocation centers,” many for the remainder of the war (Feb. 19). U.S. forces on Bataan peninsula in Philippines surrender (April 9). U.S. and Filipino troops on Corregidor island in Manila Bay surrender to Japanese (May 6).

1943: Casablanca Conference—Churchill and FDR agree on unconditional surrender goal (Jan. 14–24). Cairo Conference: FDR, Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek pledge defeat of Japan, free Korea (Nov. 22–26). Tehran Conference: FDR, Churchill, Stalin agree on invasion plans (Nov. 28–Dec. 1).

1944: U.S. and British troops land at Anzio on west Italian coast and hold beachhead (Jan. 22). U.S. and British troops enter Rome (June 4). D-Day—Allies launch Normandy invasion (June 6). Later, americans invade phillippines

1945: Yalta Agreement signed by FDR, Churchill, Stalin—establishes basis for occupation of Germany, returns to Soviet Union lands taken by Germany and Japan; Allies declare V-E Day (May 8). A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima by U.S. (Aug. 6). USSR declares war on Japan (Aug. 8). Nagasaki hit by A-bomb (Aug. 9). Japan agrees to surrender (Aug. 14). V-J Day—Japanese sign surrender terms aboard battleship Missouri (Sept. 2).

1950: Truman orders development of hydrogen bomb (Jan. 31). McCarthyism begins.

1954: U.S. Supreme Court (in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka) unanimously bans racial segregation in public schools (May 17). Eisenhower launches world atomic pool without Soviet Union (Sept. 6).

1957: Eisenhower Doctrine calls for aid to Mideast countries which resist armed aggression from Communist-controlled nations (Jan. 5). The “Little Rock Nine” integrate Arkansas high school. Eisenhower sends troops to quell mob and protect school integration (Sept. 24).

1959: Alaska and Hawaii become states. Leakeys discover hominid fossils.

1959: Cuban President Batista resigns and flees—Castro takes over (Jan. 1).

1961: U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba (Jan. 3). Cuba invaded at Bay of Pigs by an estimated 1,200 anti-Castro exiles aided by U.S.; invasion crushed (April 17).

1962: Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., is first American to orbit Earth—three times in 4 hr 55 min (Feb. 20).

1962: Cuban missile crisis > USSR to build missile bases in Cuba; Kennedy orders Cuban blockade, lifts blockade after Russians back down (Aug.–Nov.). James H. Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, registers at University of Mississippi (Oct. 1).

1963: Civil rights rally held by 200,000 blacks and whites in Washington, D.C.; Martin Luther King delivers “I have a dream” speech (Aug. 28). Washington-to-Moscow “hot line” communications link opens, designed to reduce risk of accidental war (Aug. 30). President Kennedy shot and killed by sniper in Dallas, Tex. Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president same day (Nov. 22). Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President Kennedy, is shot and killed by Jack Ruby, Dallas nightclub owner (Nov. 24). Kenya achieves independence. Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique. There are 15,000 U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam.

1965: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more than 2,600 other blacks arrested in Selma, Ala., during three-day demonstrations against voter-registration rules (Feb. 1). Malcolm X, black-nationalist leader, shot to death at Harlem rally in New York City (Feb. 21). Medicare, senior citizens’ government medical assistance program, begins (July 1). Blacks riot for six days in Watts section of Los Angeles: 34 dead, over 1,000 injured, nearly 4,000 arrested, fire damage put at $175 million (Aug. 11–16).

1966: Black teenagers riot in Watts, Los Angeles; two men killed and at least 25 injured (March 15). Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona.

1967: Racial violence in Detroit; 7,000 National Guardsmen aid police after night of rioting. Similar outbreaks occur in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, Rochester, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala., and New Britain, Conn. (July 23). Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black U.S. Supreme Court justice (Oct. 2). Dr. Christiaan N. Barnard and team of South African surgeons perform world’s first successful human heart transplant (Dec. 3)—patient dies 18 days later.

1950-2000: Rapid growth of economies in industrialized nations. Rebuilding after war. Standard of living rose. In early 1970s, the price of oil started to increase, though, due to OPEC–a consortium of Mid East and other oil-rich
countries. they quadrupled the price. led to a worldwide energy crisis. Caused inflation and poverty. -Increase in common markets like NAFTA and APEC> Members buy and sell at agreed-upon rates and protect each other from competition. 

1700-1799: The American Revolution (sometimes referred to as the American War of Independence or the Revolutionary War) was a conflict that lasted from 1775-1783 and allowed the original 13 colonies to remain independent from Great Britain.

American politician and soldier George Washington became the first president of the United States in 1789, serving two terms.

Beginning in Great Britain in the late 1790s, the Industrial Revolution eventually made its way to the United States and changed the focus of the U.S. economy and the way it manufactured products.


In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson agreed to the Louisiana Purchase, successfully adding 530 million acres of land to the United States. The area was purchased from France for $15 million. The following year, President Jefferson assigned Meriwether Lewis (who asked for help from William Clark) to head west and explore the newly purchased land. It took about a year and a half for the duo to reach the west coast.

The War of 1812 resolved outstanding tensions between the United States and Great Britain. The two year war ended British military posts on U.S. soil and British interference with American trade.

The American Civil War divided the United States in two—the Northern States versus the Southern States. The outcome of the four year battle (1861-1865) kept the United States together as one whole nation and ended slavery.


On December 17, 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright became the first people to maintain a controlled flight in a powered, heavier-than-air machine. The Wright Flyer only flew for 12 seconds for a distance of 120 feet, but the technology would change the modern world forever.

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I by declaring war on Germany.

After nearly 100 years of protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins, women of the United States were officially granted the right to vote after the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 26, 1920.

The worst economic crisis to happen in the United States occurred when the stock market crashed in October 1929, resulting in the Great Depression.  

World War II officially begins in September 1939 after Germany invades Poland. The United States didn’t enter the war until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

On August 6 and August 9, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, effectively ending World War II. 

After World War II, an agreement was reached to divide Korea into two parts: a northern half to be controlled by the Soviet Union and a southern half to be controlled by the United States. The division was originally meant as a temporary solution, but the Soviet Union managed to block elections that were held to elect someone to unify to the country. Instead, the Soviet Union sent North Korean troops across the 38th parallel leading to the three-year-long (1950-1953) Korean War. 

From 1954-1968, the African American Civil Rights movement took place, especially in the Southern states. Fighting to put an end to racial segregation and discrimination, the movement resulted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

The Vietnam War was a nearly 20-year battle (November 1, 1955–April 30, 1975) between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam won the war and Vietnam became a unified country.

The Apollo 11 mission (July 16-24, 1969) allowed United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin to become the first humans to walk on the moon’s surface.


The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, changed the United States forever. Less than a month later (October 7, 2001) the United States began the War in Afghanistan, which is still happening today.

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded and occupied Iraq. The war lasted for more than eight years before it was officially declared over on December 18, 2011.

In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected president of the United States.

School in a Book: History of South America

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Chavins: The people who built the first South American cities. In addition to hunting and gathering they made pottery, weaved on looms and made elborate carvings. Their cities, which formed around 2500 BCE, were located in modern-day Peru. They included religious ceremonial sites and a three-story high building with mazes of rooms and corridors.

Tiahuanaco: The city that was built around 300 BCE in the Andes in modern-day Bolivia near Lake Titicaca. Its center featured enormous stone temples and palaces, and it was surrounded by long strings of smaller settlements reaching into the Brazilian rain forests. Distinctive jewelry, pottery and temple stones were found there. The city’s population reached 100,000 before it began to decline. It was abandoned due to drought or destroyed around 1000 CE. The people of Tiahuanaco are referred to as the Tiahuanaco people or the Tiahuanaco culture. They were peaceful and nonmilitaristic.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

The Huari: The militaristic people who built the empire that spread over half of modern-day Peru from about 800 CE to about 1000 CE.

The Incas: The people who built the empire that spread over much of modern-day Peru after the Huari civilization failed. They came into prominence around 1200 CE and built many important towns, including Cuzco and Macchu Picchu, which remain today. They built stone structures without mortar, using a precise stone fitting technique. Their cultural peak, during which they expanded their empire far north and south, conquering other tribes after a long period of isolationism, occurred in the 1500s. Key features of Incan life included: relay runners who carried messages along the two main roads that spanned the length of the empire; terraced farms built onto the sides of the mountains; wooden spears and slingshots; and quipus (knotted ropes that helped them count). They did not write.

Machu Picchu: A small Incan town located deep in the Andes mountains which served as a spiritual center and possibly as an escape for dignitaries. It featured an astronomical observatory and stone temples.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Amerigo Vespucci: The first western explorer to reach South America and the first to realize that the Americas existed. After his travels, he created the first map of the New World, giving the new continent his name. His discovery occurred in 1499, just a few years after Christopher Colombus landed on the Carribean islands thinking he had landed in India. Though Vespucci was Italian, he sailed for Spain, which funded his travels with the hopes of colonizing new lands. Vespucci first landed in modern-day Guyana (the northernmost area of South America), then traveled into the Amazon rain forest and to the island of Trinidad.

Spanish colonization of South America: In the mid-1500s, the Spanish landed in Incan areas. In less than a year, the Incas had been destroyed. Machu Picchu served as their last stronghold against the Spanish invaders (called conquistadors). The Spanish mistreated the natives and forced them into slavery. They smashed Incan temples and idols and introduced deadly diseases. In the late 1500s and throughout the 1600s, Spanish conquistadors relentlessly raided South America for gold, which allowed Spain to dominate Europe during this time. However, grave mismanagement of these funds and Napolean’s bid for Portugal and Spain in the early 1800s weakened Spain. During this century, South Americans began rebelling and fightng for independence. Eventually, all were successful. In the early 1800s, Argentina, Paraguay, Mexico, Peru, Braziland Venezuela gained independence. They were led by Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin. Because wealthy plantation owners still held most of the power, living conditions didn’t improve after independence.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

School in a Book: History of the Middle East

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

3000 B.C.: The Bronze Age began in the Middle East when copper was smelted by Egyptians and Sumerians.

3000 B.C.: Writing was developed in Sumer (cuneiform) and Egypt (hieroglyphs), triggering the beginning of recorded history.

2360 B.C.: Sargon of Akkad (one of the Sumerian cities) united Mesopotamia into the world’s first empire. (Note that ‘Sumer’ refers to the collection of cities and Akkad refers to the Sumerian city that became dominant during Sargon’s time.)

2100 B.C: Ur, then Assyria and Babylon took over location of prominence in Mesopotamia.

1200-1150 B.C.:Bronze Age collapse

1100 B.C.: Use of Iron spreads.

1180 B.C.: Disintegration of Hittite Empire

In Mesopotamia, assyrian empire, persians… Nebuchadnezzar rules as king of Babylon …Cyrus the Great rules over Medes and Persians

3000 B.C.: Wheels first used on chariots in Mesopotamia. Before that, carts/ wheelbarrows.

2500 B.C.: Bricks first used for buildings (Indus Valley).

1900-700 B.C.: Babylon. Under Hammurabi the Great Babylonians began to take over southern Mesopotamia. Then controlled whole of Mesopotamia. Famous for code of law. Stable, efficient rule. Well-disciplined armies. Hittites sacked Babylon, the main city, in 1595 B.C. Continued on but soon overshadowed by Assyria. From Babylongians we get the system of counting based on the number 60 that divides hours and the degrees of a circle. Built on Sumerian math and science. Code of Hammurabi especially known for fairness and “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” as quoted in the Bible.

1900-612 B.C.: Assyrians: While Babylon ruled in southern mesopotamia, Assyrians dominated the north. Valley of Upper Tigris River. Last great ruler was Ashurbanipal, who built the great library at Ninevah and vast gardens with plants from all over the world–a major palace. Ordered many historic records and math, chemistry, astronomy texts to be written down. Had some setbacks due to dictatorial leadership style and rebellions, but eventually conquered Babylon. At its greatest in mid-700s. Included Babylon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, northern Arabia, Egypt. Siege warfare experts. Women and children sometimes sold into slavery.

1800-587 B.C.: The Hebrews: First settled Palestine (Canaan) about 1800 B.C. Came from Ur. “Hebrews” means “people from the other side” of the Euphrates River. OT says leader was Abraham, a shepherd from Ur. Grandson Jacob had twelve sons, twelve tribes of Israel. When famine struch Canaan they all went to Egypt but became enslaved there until Moses brought them back to Canaan, around 1200 B.C. Fought the Philistines (Palestinians) for land, established Israel. Conquered city of Jericho as part of this effort. Wise king Solomon was one of their leaders. Fair, and very rich, too. After his death Israel split into two different states, Israel and Judah, which weakened them and led to their downfall.

Significance of Hebrews: Introduced monotheism and individualism and humanism/humaneness–originally one of the nomadic groups that wandered around the Near East. Not particularly well-liked. Small in number. No particular religion. Traders. Info about them from the O.T. Also, different perspective of time. Egyptians saw it as a circle, with history repeating itself. Hebrews saw it as a linear thing. also hebrews v concerned with social justice. patriarchal but treated women with respect. hebrews always believed they were the chosen people. also: universalism. applied their own laws to everyone else.

The Old Testament: Based on 6-7000 yr old oral traditions. Written by various authors. Thought to be very reliable historically, though few other sources exist to compare it with. (Ex: In 5700 BCE a flood occurred in the Black Sea that might have been the one in Noah’s time. A cataclysmmic event.) Torah (first 5 books) written on sheepskin and kept in an arc. no mistakes tolerated. no one allowed to touch it. ark of the cov was lost in a battle with the philistines early on in their history. the laws in the early OT books were based on the ten commands, but got more and more and more complex the more the jews mingled with other cultures while trying to remain distinct from them. the prophets, minor and major, often reinforced these strict guidelines. esp decrying baal worship and assimilation of culture.

1600 BCE: Great famine in Isrel, where the Hebrews were, so Jacob took his family to Egypt. Then other Hebrews followed. 1225: Jews fled slavery in Egypt and settled in Canaan. Moses was the leader. Moses introduced idea that sinning is responsible for bad things that happen; individual responsibility for fate, fate not at the whim of a god. Revolutionary idea. Also comforting to the Hebrews. Hebrews=israelites=jews. After Moses, settled Canaan (?). Elected Saul as King and defeated the Philistines, who also wanted to settle Palestine, which was a great place to live. Then had King Solomon. A great empire built with Jerusalem as the capital. Jews started spreading their fairth. Grew quickly. 996–death of solomon, kingdom split. tribe of israel to north and tribe of judah to the south. after this, no longer a first rate power.

722–assyrians attacked and expelled israel.

586-chaldeans attacked judah. sent jjews into the babylonian captivity. jews brought to babylon and made slaves

515-king cyrus allowed jews to return to jerusalem. managed somehow to survive as a race. tolerated there for a time.

1600-1200 B.C.: The Hittites. First to use iron. Warlike people. Chariots. 1,000 gods (chief is a strom god). Boulder sculptures. Peak 1300. Developed writing. Introduced the horse to the Middle East. Raided by the Sea Peoples and weakened, then fell. (Made up of several city-states united by warfare around 1650.) Partly concurrent with the Assyrians and Babylonians.

1500 B.C.: Iron smelted by Hittites in Middle East. Stone age – bronze age – iron age sometimes describe historical periods but dates of these ages are different for different areas, depending on when these technologies developed there.

1500-500 B.C.: The Phoenicians. Greatest seafarers of ancient times. East end of Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Lebanon. String of independent city-states. Trade with India, China and crafts, not much large-scale farming or land conquering.. Prosperous, powerful. Saw rise and fall of Minoans and Myceneans and actively helped the rise of Greece and Rome. Invented glass blowing. Purple dye. Supplied materials and craftworkers to Solomon to build temple of Jerusalem. Had many colonies around the Med, inc Carthage.

1037 B.C.: Alongside the Abassids, the Sejuk Turks from central Asia arrived in modern-day Afghanistan and conquered it. Then they conquered Baghdad and defeated the Byzantines

1020 B.C.: Philistines threatened them again. Hebrews changed to a king system (instead of judges between tribes). Saul, then David, who united all the tribes and made Jerusalem the capital and enlargened territory. Built great temple of Jerusalem. Peace-loving, wise king. Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant, the greatest tresure of the Israelites, which housed Moses’ Ten Commandments. (here insert solomon stuff) (cut child in two to discover mom story)

721 B.C.: Assyrians invaded Israel, dispersing many Jews.

683 B.C.: Took Judah, too. Scattered Jews widely. Some became Assyrian slaves.

656-661 B.C.: Muslims divided between Sunis and Shiites due to dispute over who should lead. Sunis more successful. During this time, Muslims seen as liberators and tolerant since they didn’t force conversiona. Arabic became a universal language except in Persia which was mainly Shiite.

636-642 B.C.: Muslims took Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt (jihad)

630 B.C.: Muhammad captured Mecca and became its ruler.

626-539 B.C.: Babylon Revived: Babylon declared independence from Assyria, then took over the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar drove the Egyptians back into Egypt and took Syria. Also captured Jerusalem and forced Jews to live in Babylon as prisoners because they’d tried to revolt. Babylon now master of all lands in Fertile Crescent. Neb made Babylon a beautiful world capital. Made the Hanging Gardens–stepped gardens overlooking the city, a large bridge, the tower of Babel, a fine palace and more. In later years, became mad. Trade and seafaring flourished. Huge metropolis and world market.

612 B.C.: Assyria fell to the Babylonians, never to be (regained)

610 B.C.: Muhammed experienced his first vision, which led to his founding of Islam. At this time, Arabs worshipped many gods. Started preaching but Mecca felt threatened and he and his followers fled to Medina. There, religion grew. Based on prayer, one God, purification, assistance to poor.

587/97 B.C.: Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and deported most of the Jews to Babylon. Beginning of the “diaspora.” (?: who controlled israel now? assyria or babylong? compare all this with story of the world timelines)

570 B.C.: Muhammed born in Mecca.

559-331 B.C.: Persian Empire. Modern-day Iran. Medes and Persians who made up the Persian Empire came from central Asia around 800 B.C. Their ruler, Cyrus the Great, rebelled against the Medes and gained control, then expanded Persia with capital on the Silk Road. Persia reached from Mediterranean to Afghanistan. Ruled fairly to gain support of subjects. One Persian king, Darius, especially great general. Followed religious teachings of a Persian prophet named Zarathustra. (teachings brought from Asia.) (Zoroastrianism.) This religion influenced Christianity later.
Extended into India and Greece for a time. Satraps (governors) paid taxes and ruled peacefully. Darius built roads connecting all parts of the empire, introduced standard coinage and controlled the Western end of the Silk Road. Conquered by the Greeks.

238 B.C. to AD 63: First the Parthians, then the Sassanids rose to power in Persia. Not much is known about them, but they did halt Rome’s eastern expansion and were excellent warriors. They practiced Zoroastianism. They fell to Muslim Arabs in 63 and became Muslim, too.
early 500s: Haggia Sophia built in Constantinople.

200-100 B.C.: Rome destroyed Carthage and this started downfall of Phoenicians (fact check this).

69 B.C.: Cleopatra born

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

539 B.C.: Babylon conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia, who freed the Jews. Ruled till Alex the Great took it over in 331.

700: Major advances in chemistry in Baghdad
810: Algebra invented in Persia

900: Arabic advances in astronomy

750-1258: The Abbasid Dynasty. Abassids defeated previous Sunni leaders, the Umayyads. During this time the Islamic Empire was unified, culture flourished and Baghdad, the captial, became great. Court in Baghdad was the setting for much of ‘the Thousand and One Nights.
…taking Constantinople for Islam, and ruled over the Abassid Empire, too. The Byzantine Empire soon became the Ottoman Empire under the Ottoman Turks and built the Ottoman Empire. Byzantine Empire retook Constantinople in 1261, but Ottomans exanded all over Greece nd Central Europe, then in 1453 finally defeated Constantinople! Ottomans keen on good ties and trade with West. Occupied the Balkans, Blak Sea, Anatolia, Syria, more. Constantinople became Istanbul. Europe did feel threatened by closer presence of Muslims. Ottomans dominated Middle East, especially under Suleymon the Magnificent.

1258: The Monguls overra and destroyed the Abbasid dynasty and the Turks, who had been divided not 150 years before. Turks moved closer to Constantinople.

1095-1291: The Crusades

Palestine was the Muslim and Christian holy land, with Jerusalem as the holiest city. The Turks didn’t allow Crhristians to pilgrimage to there, which sparked the Pope to call on Christians to “fre” it from Muslims. At first, loners went. In 1099, well-disciplined army went and succceeeded in caturing Jerusalem. Massacred inhabitants.

1187: Recaptured by Muslims. Later, after attempts to get it back, a peace treaty signed sharing Jerusalem. Christians allowed to visit again. A fourth through eigth crusade unsuccessful. In 1291, Palestine conquered by the sultan of Egypt and crusades ended.

1347-1351: The Black Death. One of worst disasters in history. Wiped out 1/3 of population of Middle East and Europe.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

Early 1500s: Persians gained independence under the Safavid dynasty. Shiite Islam became sate religion. Many religious wars with Sunni Ottomans but held strong against being taken over by Ottomans.

1600s: Slow decline of the Ottomans began. Prosperity reduced gradually by military defeat[?}, plagues, new sea routes let to reductiion of traffic through trade routes. Lost more and more of the empire–chipped away. Russia took the Crimea and most of Ukraine. Whole middle east greatly weakened. Persia, though, remained stable. Did avoid colonization, though. (!)

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

1948: State of Israel formed. Many Jews returned to Palestine. Conflict between Israel and the Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan and Syriaincreased. Arabs aided by other Arab countries, too.

The U.S. sided wih th Mid-Eastern allies who sold U.S. oil, especially Kuwait. Shiite fundamentalists came to power in Iran in 1979. Israel often aggressive, proactive.

1990: Iraq invaded Kuwait to improve its sea access and U.S. and other countries united against Iraq and liberated Kuwait.

School in a Book: History of Asia

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)


Harappan civilization:

Exodus of Indus Valley:

Aryan culture:

Mauryan Empire:


Huang Di: 2700 BCE. The emperor who first united northern and southern China. The first emperor of China. Brought medicine, writing, civilization. Prior to this, China was not a unified entity, but a collection of small farming villages. Interestingly, farming developed in this area around the same time that it was discovered in the West, probably coincidentally.

Xiling J.: Wife of Huang Di. Said to have discovered silk.

Xia Dynasty: Founder Yu. Irrigation, dams. 2200BCE

Shang Dynasty: Emperor Tang. Bronze, jade, horses, chariots, domestic animals, wheat, millet, rice, silk, calligraphy, ancestor worship.

Zhou Dynasty:

Warring States Period: 500 BCE.

Qin Dynasty: 221 BCE. Shi Huangdi (who later took the name Qin Zheng).

Hang Dynasty/Han Dynasty: 202.

Shi Huangdi/Qin Zheng: First united Chinese empire. Invention of paper. Book burning. Great Wall. Officially becomes a Confucian state. Silk Road is made. Start of Qin dynasty.

Great Wall of China:

Silk Road:

Terracotta soldiers:

Emperor Liu Bang:

Huns of Mongolia:

Sui and Tang Dynasties:

Yang Jian:

Sui Dynasty:

Tibetan takeover and civil war:

Song Dynasty:

Mongol Empire:

Genghis Khan:

Kublai Khan:

Yuan Dynasty:

Marco Polo:

Ming Dynasty:

Zhu Yuan Zhang:

Forbidden City:

Japanese invasion:

Qing Dynasty:


Opium Wars:

Hong Kong takeover:

Republic of China:

Communist Party:

Chiang Kai-Shek:

Chinese Civil War:

Mao Zedong:

The Long March:

Chinese-Japanese War:

People’s Republic of China:

Great Leap Forward:

Cultural Revolution:

Little Red Book:

Tiananmen Square demonstration:

Return of Hong Hong:

China in the new millennium:

In China, Huang Di unites the north and south. T’ang … Shang Dynasty…475 BC: Warring States period begins in China as the Zhou king became a mere figurehead; China is annexed by regional warlords…Shi Huangdi (Qin Zheng) begins uniting Warring States of China

In India, the Harappan civilization … Exodus of Indus Valley … aryan people enter india…The Mauryan Empire of India

In China, the Great Wall of China was built…. Qin Zheng orders book burning …China in this period officially becomes a Confucian state and opens trading connections with the West, i.e. the Silk Road – buddha, confucius … 221 B.C.: First united Chinese empire, under Shi Huangdi…

200 B.C.: Paper is invented in China

3000 B.C.: Farming, crafts. First small farming villages.

2700 B.C.: Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor–first emperor of China. Brought medicine, writing, civilization. Wife Xiling J. said to have discovered silk.

2200 B.C.: Xia Dynasty is first dynasty (founder Yu). Yu made irrigation, dams.

1766: Emperor Tang started the Shang Dynasty. Bronze, jade, horses/chariots, domestic animals, wheat millet, rice, silk, calligraphy, ancestor worship.

1122 B.C.: Zhou Dynasty replaced Shang.

1122-221 B.C.: The Zhou Dynasty. A golden age in China. Growth of towns, trade and imperialism. (Ousted the Shangs.) Not a single kingdom but a collection of large estates whose rulers were loyal to the king. Ironworking began in China at this time. This period followed by the “Period of the Warring States”–warlord infighting. This was the time of Confucius and Lao-Tzu. Idea of a centralized Chinese imperial state became popularized.
Inventions: China: ivention of gunpowder, paper, magnetic compasses, acupuncture, abacuses-early calculator useful for computing large sums. modern computers became faster only in the early 1980s. plus seismograph.

868: Earliest known printed book in china

900: Chinese develop porcelain

350s B.C.: Warlike Qin state grow to dominate area (of western China)

221-206 B.C.: King Qin Zheng. (Qin is pronounced “Chin” and “China” comes from it.) United most of China in just ten years, ending period o warring states. Changed name to Shi Huangdi (“first emperor”). Reorganized the government. Standardized weights and measures, Chinese writing, width of wagon wheels, laws, single currency. Had administrators take over in place of feudal system aristocrats. Roads and canals, irrigation, drainage, started Great Wall (214). Destroyed classic literary works, including some by Confucius, in name of modernization. Sages under attack. Invented the wheelbarrow. Shi Huangdi’s tomb housed 7,000 larger than life terracotta soldiers

202 B.C. to AD 220: Han Dynasty founded after Zheng’s death. Long-lasting dynasty. Very stable. More lenient than the Qins. Fair Confucian principles of law and administration. First emperor is Liu Bang. Popular, relaxed harsh laws. For a time, captial Chang’an was world’s largest city. At end of the Silk Road on which China traded with Persia and Rome. China as large as the Roman Empire. Mandarins are the educated officials. They had to take an exam on Confucianism. They managed to beat back the Huns of Mongolia. Got Buddhism from India. Writings destroyed by the Qin were replaced. Invented paper. But empire fell apart due to border tension with barbarians and internal rebellions by the poor.

Sui and Tang Dynasties: 589-907. After the fall of the Han, China divided. Constant warfare and nomad invasions. Population fell. People fled more into the soth. Buddhism grew.

589: Yang Jian united China again, founded Sui dynasty. Cut taxes and abolished compulsory military service. Irrigation, palaces, parks. Tang dynasty took over, organized empire beyond anywhere else in world. Stable for 300 years. Expanded to west to keep control of Silk Road. Empire extended from Korea to Afghanistan and Thailand.

700s and 800s: Tibetans defeated China in central Asia. Other rebellions, too. 907 to 960, period of civil war.

960: Song dynasty. Third united Chinese empire. Initiated long period of cultural eminence. Painting. Made peace with the now-unified states on their borders (Tibetan, Liao, Thai and Vietnamese states.) Agriculture expanded, population grew. 100 million people. Invented porcelain, far ahead of Europe. Also invented gunpowder rockets, clocks, movable type printing, paddle-wheel boats, magnetic compass. Had poetry, theater, banking, trade expansion. Government reform.

1127: Jin invaded north, took the capital.

1234: Kublai Khan’s Mongols took over.

1279: Mongols took areas further south, too.

1206-1405: Mongol Empire. Largest empire in history. Started and led by Genghis Khan, then grandson Kublai Khan, who completed conquest of China. G. K. was 13 when he took leadership of his small warlike tribe. GK means “emperor of all men.” Took Turkestand, northern China, Korea (failed to get Japan), then Afghanistan, Persia and parts of Russia. Fast horses, far-firing bows, disciplined army. Pacific Ocean to Black Sea by 1200s.

1271: K.Khan started the Yuan dynasty with himself as Chinese emperor. Traditionally lived in Yurts, large round tents made of hides or cloth. Khan encouraged trade, opened Silk Road to the west.

1275: Venetian merchant Marco Polo spent 17 years at court of KK. Wrote all about the luxury there.

1294: Kublai Kahn died. Empire began to break up. His descendants overthrown in a thirteen-year campaign led by Zhu Yuan Zhang, who became emperor in 1368. Called his dynasty “ming” for “bright”. Mongols lost power in all states by 1405. China, Russia left poor and Muslims in turmoil.

Ming dynasty: 1368-1644. Zhang moved the campital south to Nanjing. Restored order. Uncle, Emperor Yonle, took over and China became great again. Built the Forbidden City (where?) for only emperors to use. Roads, canals, palaces, temples, leraning, arts, trade, exports. Ornamental gardens.

1517: Portugese and other Europeans arrived on coast. Traded in Guangzhou.

1592: Japan invaded Korea, threatening China. Japanese pirates near coast! Civil unrest due to famine, rising taxes, government corruption, which was due to fights and Mongols and Japan.

1517-1644: Borders weakened in several places. Mings fell. Manchus of north, called into Beijing to put down rebels. Did so, then established the Qing Dynasty.

1644-1911: Qing Dynasty. Size and population grew. Monguls finally defeated. Manchus, from Manchuria, lived separately from Chinese in closed-off areas. Chinese men had to wear long hair in pigtails to show inferiority to Manchus. But both Manchus and Chinese were civil servants (mandarins). Eventually Manchus assimilated and were accepted. Brought efficiency without disturbing customs too much. Therefore stayed in power a long time. Trade increaseed – tea, porcelain, cotton, silk. Started treating foreigners poorly to show their superiority. Took vassal states (Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, Mongolia, Turkestan)–Chinese emire now largest in world. 300 million people by 1800. (Tibet was ruled by a Buddhist leader called the Dalai Lama.)

1700: Chinese emperors only took silver for their highly-prized goods; not allowed to buy foreign stuff. Believed China was the “Middle Kingdom,” surrounded by barbarians. Diplomats tried and failed to sway the Qing emperors so illegal trade began. Opium trade. Traders began importing opium from places like Burma in huge quantities.

1830: Opium addiction widespread. Also, food shortages due to population growth. Taxes high. Some rebellions, too.

1830-1860: Opium wars. (?) Chinese officials burned stores of British opium in Guangzhous and Britain sent warships. Britain trade then banned. Fired on the ships. Britain won, took Hong Kong. China forced to open to trade. Trade agreements made with many countries.

1842: Hong Kong Island became a British colony and grew into a center of trade.

1898: Granted a 99-year lease on it. And the Kowloon Peninsula, too.

1911: Manchus (Qing Dynasty) overthrown in a cibil war.

1912: Republic of China founded. Had a president. No more imperial government; military leaders instead. One center led by rebel warlords in Beijing and nationalist government used Canton (Nanjing/Nanking) as their capital. Long civil war.

1921: Communitst Party founded.

1926: Communists joined with the nationalists in Canton and Chiang Kai-Shek took leadership and together they defeated the rebels in the North.

1927: The communists and nationalists began fighting each other. No longer allied. This fighting became known as the Chinese Civil War, though war had been going on since 1911. Kai-Shek’s capital in Nanjing. Drove communists out of Shanghai, but country still not stabilized.

1931: Japanese occupied Manchuria and threatened China. Meanshile communists set up a rival government (the JianXi Soviets) in Southern China. Mao Zedong took leadership, withstood nationalist attempts to oust them. Finally, after a huge attack, the long march.

1934: The Long March. 100,000 communists marched 6300 miles. 1/5th reached destination north in Shaanxi Province.

1936: to fight Japan, nationalists and commies allied for a while.

1945: War with Japan, which had gone on this whole time, finally ended. Communist and nationalist alliance ended and civil war resumed. (The U.S. and Britain supported the nationalists against Japan.) Communists had large army and support of the people.

1949: Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Pushed the nationalists to Taiwan.

1958: Great Leap Forward: redistributed land to giant peasant communes. Failed, starvation, food shortages still.

1966: Started Cultural Revolution. Produced more iron and steel. Brought doctors to countryside, taught kids to read and write. Required everyone to read “The Thoughts of Chairman Mao,” also known as the Little Red Book. When people started criticising communism, he killed scholars, political opponents, more. Put others in concentration camps.

1976: China became more open. Traded more. More industry. Foreign investments welcomed.

1989: Tiananmen Square student demonstrations and massacre. 3,000 killed, 10,000 injured. Maybe many more.

1997: Hong Kong was returned to China.


Prehistory (to 3500 BCE)

Ancient History (3500 BCE to 500 CE)

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

Early Modern Times (1500 to 1900)

The Modern Era (1900 to the present)

Classical Japan:


Priestess Hiiko:

Golden Age of Japan:



Fujiwara Dynasty:

Nobleman Yoritomo:





Portugese invasion:

Civil war:



Tokugawa shogun era:


Nijo castle:

President Fillmore:

Matthew Perry:

Wars with China, Russia, Korea:

Occupation of Manchuria:

Invasion of China:

Rape of Nanking:

Chinese-Japanese war:

Emperor Hirohito:

Pearl Harbor:

Kamikaze attacks:

Battle of Midway:

Atomic bombs and Japanese surrender:

Post-war rebuilding of Japan:

30,000 B.C.: People living in Japan. One of oldest nations in world. First settlers ethnically unrelated to other tribes. Others came from Korea and Manchuria.

300 B.C. to AD 800: Classical Japan. Yayoi tribe introduced bronze and iron, rice and barley from Korea and China. Shaped Japanese culture and Shinto religion–nature spirits and tribal ancestors worshiped. Still, Japan not unified.

167: Priestess Hiiko (of Yamato tribe) used religious influence to unite about 30 Japanese tribes. Sent ambassadors to China to learn about it and copied China in many ways. Most of Japan is one state. Invaded Korea.

500s: Established Buddhism. Shinto threatened. Temples and towns built.

700s: Golden age. Shinto and Buddhism both accepted, co-existed peacefully.

710: Nara became the capital. Emperor gradually became a ceremonial figure and government controlled by officials and monks. Increased political tension.

794: Capital moved to Kyoto, where it still is today. Japan is now a powerful state. Fujiwara family held power till about 1150.

800-1200: Fujiwara Japan. Art, literature flourished. Fujiwara became regents to the emperor and eventually became more powerful than the emperor. Rich people isolated from poor. Eventually jostling for power led to civil war.

1192: Nobleman Yoritomo took power. Set up the shogunate, a rigid feudal system. Ruthless leader. Till 1868, shoguns (rather than emperors) ruled Japan as military dictators. Emperor still there but a ceremonial figure. Regents to the emperor and daimyos jostled for power, so the samurai class developed. They fought for the daimyos. Samurai trained in religion, arts, more. Code of honor. Many rituals. Became Zen Buddhists. Had to commit hara-kiri , suicide, if defeated by enemy. Eventually infighting led to civil war and breakup of empire into smaller city-states before 1500.

1542: In midst of civil war, Portugese sailors arrived in Japan. Introduced guns. (Seen as weapons of cowards but adopted by necessity.) Introduced Christianity and converted tens of thousands.

1568: Nobunaga used guns to take Kyoto. Followed by Hideyoshi, who became the chief imperial minister. Planned a great Japanese empire that would include China. Invaded Korea but failed to capture it. Strong central control. Banned foreigners, Christianity and overseas travel.

1603-1716: Isolated. Tokugawa shoguns in control. Increased stability. Moved capital to Edo (Tokyo). Built world’s largest castle. Kept daimyos busy organizing and paying for the great palace (Nijo castle, world’s largest castle)–no time or money for soldiers and war. Killed many Christians in Nagasaki after a revolt there. Peope not allowed to go abroad. Churches torn down. Japan became prosperous. Emperor encouraged merchants and farmers to expand business while daimyos and Samurai became poor. From feudalism to a trading economy!! Population expansion. More education for all. A few trading posts set up on islands, not main island, for Dutch and China. Population gre from 20 to 30 million during the Tokugawas. Many people were educated. Advanced ideas about hygeine. Public baths popular.

1716: Opened to west more due to pressure from U.S. and others. Limited trade to other islands, not mainland.

1853: President Fillmore sent four warships–steamnships–to Japan. Commanded by Matthew Perry. Intimidated them into opening trade. Other treaties with foreigners followed. Japan began a big modernization effort and greatly improved education till became among best educated in world. Imported machines and started manufacturing cotton. Adopted European fashions.

1894-1905: War with China and Russia after trying to take over Korea. Won both wars.

1910: Annexed Korea and became most powerful nation in Asia. First industrialized nation there.

1931: Japan occupied Manchuria, a resource-rich region they needed for their increased industrialization. (Especially hard-pressed due to the depression.)

1935-6: Invaded China.

1937: “The Rape of Nanking.” 100,000 Chinese massacred. By 1938, Japan controlled most of Eastern China. Puppet governments in Beijing and Nanjing. Superior due to recent industrialization, technology. Chinese-Japanese war lasted til 1945 when Japan lost the war. Emperor Hirohito was the leader from 1901-1989. Held an aggressive policy toward other countries during his whole reign.

1940: Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy but hadn’t fought yet. Then attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, unprovoked, and went to war with the U.S>

1944: Kamikaze attacks on u.S. ships, especially as they tried to take Okinawa.

1941: Japan overtook Hong Kong, Burma, Indonesia, more. U.S. fought Japan at sea. Much of fighting from aircraft carriers. Battle of Midway: decisive victory for U.S., turning point for war. Happened because U.S. cracked Japanese radio codes. Tide turned and U.S. advanced within bombing distance of Japan.

1945: Okinawa and Iwo Jima taken; atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered in Augus. 130,,000 dead in H, 750,000 in Nagasaki and thougsands more later. War casualties totaled 2 million Japanese. 100 cities destroyed, too. Took Japan 10 years to regain prewar industrial production levels.


Add to japan: After WWII, U.S. helped Japan rebuild. Planned a complete ind. overhaul, rapid apitalist growth. Improved education, ahd free elections, (women voted and were elected too). Rapidy growing econom. South Korea also grew rapidly during this time, as sdid Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore.

Southeast Asia

802-1440: Khmer Empire: Now Cambodia. Built the city of Angkor Thom, with Angkor Wat, a huge temple complex.

1100s: Khmer conquered much of mainland Southeast Asia and held it for a time. Used war elephants. An advanced culture.

1400s: Taken over by Thailand/Siam.

1600s: Southeast Asia: No ban on traders. Dutch dominated island trade.

1700s: Britain started to gain more trade links. British established Singapore as a free port (1819). Became main trading center/stopping point.

1800s: European nations got involved in local Southeast Asian wars to advance trade interests. Didn’t colonize Southeast Asia but some countries economically dependent on them. French had Indochina, cambodia, laos, vietnam. Dutch in indonesia. british in burma. Treated locasl poorly. Cash crops grown. Rubber exported to colonies and grwon there. Factories, roads, bridges, RRs government buildings built. Industrialization began. Some mining.

1898: U.S. took Phillipines from the Spanish

1948 – Burma (Jan. 4) and Ceylon (Feb. 4) granted independence by Britain. Independent Republic of Korea is proclaimed, following election supervised by UN (Aug. 15). Verdict in Japanese war trial: 18 imprisoned (Nov. 12); Tojo and six others hanged (Dec. 23). United States of Indonesia established as Dutch and Indonesians settle conflict (Dec. 27).

1973: U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends, marking official halt to 12 years of combat activity in Southeast Asia

1975: Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge take over Cambodia (April). American merchant ship Mayaguez, seized by Cambodian forces, is rescued in operation by U.S. Navy and Marines, 38 of whom are killed (May 15).

1979 -Vietnam and Vietnam-backed Cambodian insurgents announce fall of Phnom Penh, Cambodian capital, and collapse of Pol Pot regime (Jan. 7).

ASIA: 1950-1988

Wars in Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Phillipines over independence from colonial rulers.
The Korean War began when communist North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950. The UN sent aid to SK. u.s. sent troops. Still, most of SK was captured. So UN fought them back at Seoul. Reached border of China, then China entered, taking NK’s side. Cease fire n 1953. Country divided down the middle.

Vietnam war: Vietman declared independence from France in 1954–Country divided between north and south, with two different governments.

1965: U.S. sent troops to aid the south, who had started moin towards civil war between the Viet Cong in the south and the communists in the north.

1969: half a million U.S. troops in Vietnam. Then withdrawal began.

1973: Cease-fire declared. 57,000 U.S. soldiers killed.

Cambodia: 1945: The Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot took over Cambodia. Regime of terror. Overthrown by Vietnamese troops in 1979.

School in a Book: History of Australia and Oceania

Ancient History (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

The Polynesians: The first people to settle modern-day Australia. [?] They might have first come from Taiwan, then Melanesia, an area in the Pacific Islands (2000 BCE). After that, they settled the Polynesian Triangle around Fiji, then moved to Tahiti and the Marquesas (1300 BCE). From there, they visited America, Easter Island and Hawaii. They carved wood; kept livestock; and grew coconuts, taros, yams and vegetables. They were remarkable sailors, with large oceangoing canoes featuring sails and paddles stabilized with outriggers or doubled up like catamarans. They also had advanced knowledge of stars, currents and winds.

Easter Island statues: They might have created the famous Easter Island statues, or they might have been created by unknown earlier settlers since the Polynesians weren’t known to be stone carvers.

The Middle Ages (500 CE to 1500 CE)

The Maori: The Polynesians who settled modern-day New Zealand during the Middle Ages (850 CE and on). They traded with the Aborigines.

The Aborigines: The Polynesians who settled modern-day Australia. [?] The Aborigines were tribal societies ruled by chiefs. They were experts in wood carving, even though they were isolated from Asia and Indonesia.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE to 1900 CE)

New Holland: The name the Dutch gave the Australian continent in the 1700s after discovering it in the 1600s. (The Dutch also discovered Tasmania and New Zealand around this time.)

Captain Cook: The British explorer who claimed New Zealand and Australia for Britain. He also traveled to Tahiti, Hawaii and Antarctica. In Antarctica, he was pushed back by glaciers.

First Australian colonists: Convicts exiled from Britain in the late 1700s. These were followed by free settlers, who also colonized New Zealand. They introduced new diseases to the Aborigines and changed local culture.

British takeover of New Zealand: During the 1800s, the British colonists of New Zealand competed with the Maori for land. Eventually, the Maori gave ownership of the island to the British in exchange for land ownership rights. Some accounts claim that two versions of the treaty were written, though, with one leading the Maori to believe they were giving up governorship, not ownership. Following this, there were violent Maori uprisings. Eventually, New Zealand became an official British colony.

The new nation of Australia: The nation created by the British in the 1800s. Following this, the British and Aborigines coexisted, but not entirely peacefully. Many Aborigines were killed in conflicts over land and many others died of Western diseases.

The Commonwealth of Australia: A federation of various Australian colonies founded in the early 1900s. These colonies set up governments based on free trade and equal rights. Many of them achieved independence from Britain and wrote constitutions based on the American and British constitutions.

(Add: When did Australia as a whole achieve independence from Britain? What about New Zealand?)

The Australian gold rush: The influx of settlers in the 1900s (mid or early?) resulting from the discovery of gold there. (Need more.)

Australia during World War II: During World War II, Australia fought on the side of the Allies. (Need more.)

Post-world war Australia: After World War II, Australia gained wealth and tourism. They imported a great deal of American technology and culture.

The Modern Era (1900 to the Present)

The Commonwealth of Australia: In the early 1900s, the leaders of various Australian colonies united in a federation called the Commonwealth of Australia. These new colonies set up governments based on free trade and equal rights, and many of them achieved independence, writing their own constitutions based on the American and British constitutions.

The Australian gold rush: In the late 1900s, there was a gold rush.

Australia in World War II: During World War II, the Australians fought on the side of the Allies.
During the robust postwar economic times, Australia gained wealth and tourism. They imported a great deal of American technology and culture.

School in a Book: Writing

In some people, the word writer inspires a feeling of pride or admiration. In others, it inspires dread. If you’re in the latter category, consider making writing improvement your top educational priority. If you aren’t, practice a lot anyway. It’s likely the most useful skill you’ll learn in school.

Basic Writing

Writing Skills

How to write a paragraph: Write the main idea. Follow this with several supporting sentences. After mastering this basic formula, experiment with placing the main idea elsewhere in the paragraph. Switch to a new paragraph when the main point you’re making and supporting changes–no sooner and no later.

How to take notes on a text: First, find the main idea of the entire section of writing. Practice this skill alone until you are good at it. (This comes in handy in both personal and philosophical arguments, in which the main point of the speaker often gets lost.) After that, identify the main supporting ideas in the section—the points that give rise to the main idea. Finally, make note of any particularly insightful or important side point. Record your notes in the simplest form possible, without unnecessary blank spaces on the page. Use bullets.

How to write an outline: Place your thesis statement at the beginning. Then list the major points that support your thesis using Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.). Under each of these, list all of the supporting ideas or arguments using capital letters (A, B, C, etc.). If needed, under these, list subordinate ideas using numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.), then small letters (a, b, c, etc.).

How to write a short story: First, create a compelling dilemma involving interesting characters. Think of the story as a movie without a narrator, and write each scene like a movie scene without any background explanation. Start the story at a particularly interesting place in media res (in the middle of action). Make sure that every character undergoes inner change, and the protagonist is quite changed by the end. Make sure that in each and every scene there is an immediate conflict in addition to the story’s larger conflict, and make sure that every scene moves the story forward. Use the standard plot graph, with a slow introduction, then rising action (when lots of complications are thrown in), then a climax (when everything bad happens all at once), then a quick resolution.

How to write a poem: Read several poems of several types, including free verse, odes, haikus, rhyming poems with regular stanza lengths, nonrhyming poems with regular stanza lengths and more. Find a feeling within yourself and choose a subject that in the moment of writing causes that same strong feeling in you. Write a straight description of that subject/metaphor that includes words that convey your reaction to it, without ever describing your thoughts or feelings directly. As you edit it, get rid of any extra words and any words that sound in any way corny (flower, sunshine, beauty, etc.).

How to write an essay: First, research the topic. Then, write a great thesis statement. This will often be one sentence in length, but for more complex themes, you can state the argument, then use a second sentence to review your supporting evidence; for example, “This paper argues that rabbit habitats should be more carefully preserved. It discusses several reasons for this, then offers two practical changes that can be made.” Note that most instructors won’t object to the use of the passive voice or the self-referencing phrase, “this paper.” “Here, I,” as in, “Here, I explain …” also usually works. Next, choose references that support that thesis statement. Then, write a fairly thorough outline that includes the supporting arguments, evidence and references. Write a first draft of the essay without overly concerning yourself with proper grammar and perfect phrasing. The introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention and clearly state the position the paper will support. It usually briefly mentions several important supporting arguments and ends with the thesis statement. The middle paragraphs provide support for the main argument, one point at a time and offer credible references, and the conclusion restates the argument and the main supporting points, then ends by widening the reader’s scope. It might refer to the significance or larger application of the position or contain a call to action.

Essay Writing Terminology

Thesis statement: The part of an essay that clearly states the essay’s main point. It might also briefly mention several of the relevant supporting points. It is usually either one or two sentences in length (most commonly one).

Three-prong thesis statement: A thesis statement that offers three supporting points and is usually only one sentence long; for example, “I love rabbits because they are fast, soft and beautiful.” This is a simple way to go, if your ideas allow for it.

Five-paragraph essay: A simple essay format that includes one introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs and one concluding paragraph. The three body paragraphs present three supporting points for the thesis (which is usually a three-prong thesis).

Hook: A lead-in placed at the beginning of a piece of writing that offers relevant, interesting information and grabs the reader’s attention. Often, it is a statistic or a paraphrased idea presented by an expert on the paper’s topic.

General Writing Rules

The goal of writing is to be understood, and preferably, to be understood easily. This happens when language is clear, concise, well-organized and direct. The following rules for good writing can and should be selectively broken in creative writing, but in most nonfiction writing and in most practical writing (letters, emails, instructions, etc.), they stand.

Be organized. Write an outline first, and use it.

Be specific and concrete. Otherwise, you’ll lose me.

Be concise. Overwriting sounds arrogant.

Don’t use a lot of adjectives and adverbs. They’re out of style.

Pay attention to transitions. When possible, don’t confuse the reader by jumping from one step to the next or one idea to the next without showing (subtly) how they relate.

Pay attention to rhythm. Intersperse long and short sentences and read the piece out loud or have someone else read it out loud to you to see if it flows well.

Use the active voice. This just means to avoid “is” and “are” when possible, particularly when doing so creates a needlessly long phrase, as in “is trying to help people figure out” instead of “helps” or “advises.”

For dialogue, use either “said” or “asked” or leave the quote bare. Don’t use “stated,” “exclaimed,” etc.

State quotes in the past tense, even if the author still believes what they said.

Use the positive form of the statement, avoiding double negatives when possible.

Do not use run-on sentences. One sentence per sentence is enough.

Place the phrase you want to emphasize at the end of the sentence.

Keep related words together. A clause (a descriptive phrase) should be right next to the person, place or thing that it’s describing.

Express coordinate ideas in similar form. (For example, when using bullet points, all of the points should be in the same form, same tense, and as parallel in structure as possible.)

Don’t accidentally inject opinion. When making unsupported statements, consider using “may,” “might” or “can” instead of “should” or “will.”

Don’t be awkward. When grammar rules feel wrong, they can safely be broken. Usually.

Don’t be fancy. No one will like you more for it.

Practice. Revise and rewrite. Wait a year, then revise again. To become a faster, clearer, more organized writer, practice outlining nonfiction texts. Also, master the art of writing short, factual, straightforward stories worthy of a top-notch news reporter. Then move on to the more creative stuff.

Essay Writing Tips

Pretend you’re in an argument. An essay is an argument, after all. Pretend someone is in the room with you right now. They don’t agree with what you’re saying but they’re willing to listen without answering back—yet. How would you answer these questions? (When stuck, imagine someone screaming them at you.)

  • Why is what you’re telling me important? Why should anyone care about your opinion on this? Are there relevant statistics, or is there a reason someone might disagree with you? (Introductory sentences or paragraphs, including introductions to new sections.)
  • What is your main point, anyway? (Thesis statement.)
  • What is your evidence? (Supporting paragraphs.)

Just spit it out. Do NOT stare at a blank screen. If you can’t think of a great first sentence, skip it and write the second one. Just write. If the person you’re arguing with were here in front of you, and your grade depended on your convincing them, you wouldn’t not talk. You would just start saying something. You’ll edit later.

Don’t be fancy. It’s harder. Use short, simple sentences. Pretend the person you’re arguing with is a high school student. You can always make things sound more professional in the final edit, combining short sentences to make longer ones and switching out a few key words to bring it up a level. (You might notice that you keep more of those unpretentious sentences than you thought you would, though.)

Be scannable. The goal of writing is to be understood, and preferably, to be understood easily. Don’t make your teachers work too hard to understand what you’re saying. A good reader should be able to fully digest your paragraph in under thirty seconds. If it takes them longer than that, it’s the writer’s fault, not the reader’s.

Don’t pad. This is a first draft. Don’t add in any sentences that don’t strictly need to be there. In the final edit, if a point needs more explanation (and you need more pages), go ahead. Doing so before getting to the end is a waste of time.

Pretend it’s just an outline. Still too intimidated to start writing the real thing? Tell yourself you’re just filling in your outline a bit. Write full, simple sentences (and a few longer, more inspired ones as they come to you) within the outline itself. Then pop in your source quotes or ideas (properly referenced).

Oh, and do write that outline. Organization is everything. Writing is just what happens later.

Don’t go in order. First paragraphs are the hardest. Write whatever seems easiest first. Success begets success.

Don’t stop to research. Add something like [REFERENCE NEEDED] in the paragraph and move on. Which reminds me:

Bracket everything that isn’t yours. [LIKE THIS.] That way, you don’t end up accidentally plagarizing.

Take some hits. It’s painful, but some sentences don’t sound perfect. If you revise endlessly, you’ll spend twenty percent of your time perfecting one percent of your essay (and improving your grade not at all). Teachers aren’t looking for professional-quality writing. They’re looking for professional-quality thinking.

Use your last perfectly-formatted essay as a template. Erase the text, retitle the document, and you’re off.

Tell yourself you’ll bang the whole thing out in an hour. You won’t, but you’ll get the first draft mostly done, and after that you’ll just tie up few “loose ends.” (This really works.)

Remind yourself that this essay isn’t your whole grade. If your organization and thinking is clear, you’ll likely be just fine, grade-wise.

Remember that there’s never a good day to write an essay. They’re almost all equally unfit, and equally fine.

School in a Book: Literary Analysis

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When it comes to analyzing a literary work, here is what you need to know: the basic historical context of the piece; the reason the piece is considered great or important; and what the piece is, ultimately, about (what’s the point?). After that, you’ll want to look at the literary devices in the work and understand how they add to its meaning, beauty and effectiveness. This sounds like a lot of work, but don’t be a martyr: for context, and to get through more difficult works, I highly recommend CliffsNotes and SparkNotes . . . and skimming.

Bonus points: Understand the difference between good and great literature (one is well-written and entertaining while the other is these, plus important and universal in some way) and don’t confuse a work’s true meaning with the meaning that the author intended (the authorial intent). Great literature, it is said, is a mystical creature with a life independent of its creator.

A few additional notes on poetry interpretation: Though any great literary work can abide line by line analysis, due to its shorter length, poetry is particularly amenable to it. At least once in your life, choose a poem you like and study its use of some of the literary devices below, its use of repetition, rhyme, rhythm and cadence and, most importantly, its diction (both the connotations and the denotations of each word). Think about how each of these elements furthers the meaning of the poem. You might be surprised how much there is to say about those few lovely stanzas.

Most people should probably know most of these terms; it just makes for better conversation about books. Play with literary analysis by choosing one or two favorite works and identifying some or most of the following literary devices in them. This will help you appreciate their beauty in a way you haven’t before.

Basic Literary Analysis

Subject: The objective main topic of a piece of writing (i.e. Tom Sawyer’s adventures on the Mississippi)

Theme: The subjective, philosophical idea that is being explored in the work (i.e. boyhood or independence)

Narrative: The work’s story line

Genre: The type or category of writing (i.e. mystery, science fiction, romance, etc.)

Motif: A recurring idea, symbol or set of symbols in the work (i.e. the Mississippi River)

Premise: The question or problem posed by the work

Diction: Word choice

Syntax: The ways words are organized in sentences and paragraphs

Style: The unique way something is written, including the work’s diction and tone

Tone: The unique way the audience receives the work (i.e. formal, conversational, etc.)

Voice: The unique way the author writes. A magazine can have many voices, but maintain a single tone throughout.

Mood: The overall feeling of the piece (i.e. dark, brooding, light, fanciful, etc.)

Pace: The speed and rhythm with which a story is told

Literary convention: A commonly used style, idea or technique in literature

Figurative language: Language that implies or represents an idea rather than directly stating it, often for mood, dramatic effect, or humor (i.e. hyperbole, understatement, analogy, personification, euphemism, simile, metaphor, etc.)

Image/imagery: A mental picture or representation of a person, place, or thing

Analogy: A comparison that goes into some detail

Simile: A short description that compares two different things using the words like or as

Metaphor: A word or phrase that stands in for the object it’s being compared to. (Metaphors don’t use the words like or as.)

Symbol: Something that appears in a piece of writing that stands for or suggests something else

Onomatopoeia: A word or words that imitate a sound
Personification: The attributing of human characteristics to something that is not human

Irony: What occurs when reality is exactly the opposite of one’s reasonable expectation. Example: “I was hired to write books but instead, I am burning them.”

Paradox: A statement that initially appears to be contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense

Foreshadowing: Hints of upcoming events in the story

Pun: A play on words that relies on a word’s having more than one meaning or sounding like another word

Cliché: An overused expression

Double entendre: A phrase that can be interpreted in two different ways

Euphemism: An innocuous-sounding phrase used in place of something disagreeable

Allusion: A reference that is not directly stated or explained (i.e. using “to be or not to be” without mentioning Hamlet)

Oxymoron: A phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings

Synecdoche: Substituting a part for the whole (i.e. “boards” for “the stage”) or the whole for a part (i.e. “the Americans” for “the American team”).

Metonymy: Substituting a related concept for the whole (i.e. “the White House” for “the President”).

Alliteration: The repetition of initial sounds in closely-placed words

Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds in closely-placed words (anywhere in the words)

Consonance: The repetition of consonant sounds in closely-placed words (anywhere in the words)

Connotation: A word’s unspoken implication

Denotation: The dictionary meaning of a word

Plot: The events of the story

Subplot: An additional plot interwoven with the main plot

Conflict: A struggle that affects the story line

Setting: The time, place, and conditions in which the action takes place; the work’s context

Point of view (POV): The view from which the story is told. It can be first person (the narrator speaks as himself), objective (the reader knows no more than the reader), limited omniscient (the narrator knows a bit extra about the characters, as when he/she tells the story through the eyes of the protagonist), or omniscient (the narrator knows everything about the characters and situations).

The five parts of dramatic structure: Exposition (inciting incident), rising action, climax, falling action (resolution), and dénouement

Rising action: The set of conflicts in a story that lead up to the climax

Climax: The peak moment of the action, occurring at or near the end of the work. It is the turning point for the protagonist.

Reversal: The point in the plot at which the action turns in an unexpected direction

Falling action: The action that occurs after the climax, moving it toward its resolution

Dénouement: The final resolution of the story

Characterization: Writing that brings a character to life and makes them unique

Protagonist: The story’s main character

Tragic hero/tragic figure: A protagonist whose story comes to an unhappy end due to his or her own behavior and character flaws

Antihero: A protagonist who isn’t all good and may even be bad

Antagonist: The story’s main bad guy

Round character: A character that is complex and realistic

Flat character: An uncomplicated character that doesn’t feel real to the reader

Foil: A character who provides a clear contrast to another character

Soliloquy: A monologue by a character in a play

Fiction: Imagined, untrue literature

Nonfiction: Factual literature

Biography: A nonfiction life story written by someone other than the subject

Autobiography: A nonfiction life story written by the subject

Memoir: A nonfiction story written by the subject about his or her own experiences, but not about his or her entire life

Anthology: A collection of short stories written by various authors, compiled in one book or journal.

Myth: A story that attempts to explain events in nature by referring to supernatural causes, like gods and deities. Usually passed on from generation to generation.

Fable: A story intended to depict a useful truth or moral lesson. Fables frequently involve animals that speak and act like human beings.

Tale: A story about imaginary or exaggerated events that the narrator pretends is true

Parable: A short story that teaches a moral or spiritual lesson

Parody: A humorous imitation of a popular work

Satire: A humorous work that makes fun of another work or anything else, revealing its weakness

Travesty: A work that treats a serious subject lightly or mockingly

Types of poems: Ode (dignified poem written to praise someone or something), lyric, free verse (rule-free poetry), limerick (lighthearted rhyming poem with a particular structure), haiku, sonnet, villanelle, sestina, acrostic, elegy, epigram, ballad (narrative folksong-like poem), epitaph (brief poem sometimes written on a gravestone paying tribute to a dead person or commemorating another loss), more.

Stanza: A group of lines in a poem that form a metrical or thematic unit, set off by a space.

Verse: Poetic lines composed in a measured rhythmical pattern, that are often, but not necessarily, rhymed.

Beat: One count pause in speech, action, or poetry.

Stress: The emphasis, or accent, given a syllable in word pronunciation or in poetry reading

Meter: A recurring rhythmic pattern of stresses and unstressed syllables in a poem

Rhythm: A term used to refer to the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds in poetry

Couplet: A group of two rhyming lines

Triplet: A group of three rhyming lines

Quatrain: A four-line stanza. Quatrains are the most common stanzaic form in the English language, having various meters and rhyme schemes.

Epic: A long narrative poem, told in a formal, elevated style that focuses on a serious subject and chronicles heroic deeds and events important to a culture or nation.

Lyric: A brief poem that expresses the personal emotions and thoughts of a single speaker, not necessarily of the poet.

Sonnet: A fixed form of lyric poetry that consists of fourteen lines, usually written in iambic pentameter, with a varied rhyme scheme.

Acrostic: A sentence where the first letter of each word of the sentence helps to remember the spelling of a word, or order of things

Vilanele: A type of fixed form poetry consisting of nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas.

Exposition: Explanatory writing

Didactic writing: Instructional writing

Freewriting: Writing continuously without much thought in order to discover hidden ideas or feelings

Jargon: Terms only familiar to those in the know

Editorial: A short article expressing an opinion or point of view. Often, but not always, written by a member of the publication staff.

Bibliography: The list of books, magazines, journals, people, websites, or any other resources that you consulted in the process of writing a book, article, or paper.

Boilerplate: A piece of writing that gets reused frequently, sometimes with minor changes

Canon: Works generally considered by scholars to be the most important of a genre

Byline: The author’s name appearing with his/her published work

Hook: A starting sentence or idea that grabs the reader’s attention

Pseudonym: A “pen name” 

Public domain work: Any written material not under copyright

Query: A short letter pitching an article or a book idea to an editor or agent

Rough draft: The first organized version of a document or other work

Serial: A series of related works or a regularly published work, as a newsletter or magazine

Side bar: Extra information put alongside, but not in, the main article

Slant: The bias or angle in a piece of writing

Solicited/unsolicited manuscript: A manuscript that an agent or editor has or has not asked to see

Synopsis: A brief summary of a story, manuscript, or book

School in a Book: Punctuation and Grammar

Some of the rules of grammar and punctuation don’t need to be taught; instead, they’re inbued, like social skills. However, as with social skills, a little direct coaching goes a very long way. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how much more educated you’ll seem when you don’t make simple writing mistakes.

Basic Punctuation

The fourteen punctuation marks: Period, question mark, exclamation point, comma, semicolon, colon, apostrophe, dash/hyphen, en dash, em dash, brackets, braces, parentheses and ellipsis

Comma: Used to separate ideas within a sentence. Sometimes there’s no clear right or wrong way to use a comma. The serial comma is the comma sometimes used right before the “and” in a list, and most writers don’t use it anymore. Do use commas to set off parenthetic expressions and before other independent clauses.

Semicolon: Used to connect separate sentences, the second of which includes a restatement of the first. It is also used to separate words and phrases in long lists that already have commas in them. Example: I was sad; she hurt me on purpose. Example: I own: three black and yellow hats; one long, dark skirt; and one pair of shoes.

Colon: Used to introduce a quotation, explanation, example, or series. It is also used between sentences instead of a period to show that the second explains or adds directly to the first. Finally, colons can be used for emphasis. Example: I have four pairs of boots: one for rain, one for snow and two for fashion. Example: My sister is beautiful: she has dark hair and a great smile. Example: Yes, I have a best friend: my sister.

Dash/hyphen: Used to connect compound phrases. Example: Cold-water fish

En dash: Used to connect dates and more. It is largely a stylistic choice when to use it.

Em dash: Twice as long as an en dash and used in place of commas, colons, or parenthesis.

Brackets, braces and parentheses: Used to contain additional information that isn’t otherwise grammatically connected to the sentence. Example: My dog (who I love) is sweet as heck. Parenthesis are most common. Brackets are used for technical purposes or to clarify a quote. Example: He [Mr. Smith] is my friend. Braces ({}) are used to contain two or more lines of text or listed items to show that they are considered as a unit. Used mostly in mathematics and computer programming. Example: 2{1+[23-3]}=x.

Apostrophe: Used to indicate the omission of a letter or letters from a word, the possessive case, or the plurals of lowercase letters. Examples: I’ve; Sara’s.

Quotation marks: Used around quotations. Single quotation marks are used for quotes within quotes.

Ellipsis: Used to indicate that something is missing, the idea or list continues in the same way, or there was a pause in speech. They’re also used to end a quote if the actual quote did not end at the chosen ending.

Basic Grammar

The eight parts of speech: Noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection

Noun: A person, place or thing. Proper nouns are capitalized and are the given name of someone or something in particular. Common (generic) nouns are not capitalized.

Pronoun: A small word used in place of a noun: she, he, they, we, them, it, I, you, etc. You may use they, them and their as the indefinite singular pronoun, but try to avoid this pronoun entirely.

Verb: An action word

Adjective: A word that describes a noun, like “pretty” or “smart”

Adverb: A word that describes a verb, like “slowly” or “carefully”

Article: The words a, an, and the. (These are also considered adjectives.)

Preposition: A word placed before a noun to form a phrase that, taken as a whole, modifies another word in the sentence. (This phrase is called the “prepositional phrase.”) The most common are in, with, by, for, at, in, on, out, to, under, within and without. Example: “With my dog as company, I can do anything.” Contrary to popular understanding, it’s okay to end a sentence in a preposition; however, choose the wording that is the most clear. “The building in which I live” and “The building I live in” are both correct, but “The building I live in is brown” is hard to read.

Conjunction: A word that joins words, phrases or clauses but are not part of a clause or prepositional phrase. The most common are and, but, therefore, however, so, for, or, nor, yet, since, while, and because. Coordinating conjunctions connect grammatically equal elements, while subordinating conjunctions connect clauses that are not equal (because, although, while, since, etc.). There are other types of conjunctions as well.Interjection: A word used to express emotion: oh, wow, ah, etc.

Sentence: A unit of writing consisting of a single main subject (someone or something that is doing something) and a single main action. (Caveat: If two complete sentences convey the same idea, a semicolon can be used to separate them and make up a single sentence.) Sentences may also include adverbs, adjectives, small words and clauses. The number of the subject of the sentence (whether it’s singular or plural) determines the number of the verb in the sentence. A clause should be placed directly after the noun or verb to which it refers. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.

Run-on sentence: Two or more sentences joined as one, without a period separating them

Loose sentence: A sentence that connects two different ideas with a conjunction like “and.” These give the paragraph some breathability and flow, but too many in a row are tiresome.

Sentence fragment: A sentence that is missing the subject, the verb, or both. “Aha!” is a sentence fragment, as is “Good question.”

Topic sentence: The sentence at the beginning of a paragraph that includes the main idea of the paragraph

Verb tense: The form of the verb that denotes the time of the action. It’s important to hold to one tense throughout a piece of writing.

The six verb tenses: Past, present, future, past perfect (“has eaten”), present perfect (“has been dancing”, and future perfect (“will have danced”).

Clause: A phrase that as a whole, modifies a verb or noun. Example: Running to meet her, I slipped.

Independent clause: A modifying sentence that, if desired, could stand alone

Helping verb: A verb that helps the main verb express the action. There are 23 or 24 in all: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being, have, has, had, could, should, must, may, might, must, can, will, would, do, did, does, and (sometimes) having.

Suffix: A word ending that changes the word’s tense or meaning

Prefix: A word beginning that changes the word’s meaning

Synonyms: Words with the same or approximately the same meaning

Antonyms: Words with opposite meanings

Homographs: Words which are spelled alike but have different meanings and/or pronunciations

Homonyms: Words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings



Palindrome: A word or phrase that means the same when read in either direction (i.e. “eve”)

Acronym: An abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word

School in a Book: Classic Nonfiction

When I was in school, nonfiction was textbooks. And the encyclopedia and the dictionary, too. What nobody told me is that there’s another kind of nonfiction out there. There’s the kind that’s actually fun to read.

Modern nonfiction is some of the most entertaining, well-written stuff you can find. (After all, if you want to make money writing about neuroscience, for example, you’d better make it relevant, understandable, and full of fascinating anecdotes, right?) It’s stimulating and informative, but that’s not all it is: it’s a road map for becoming a better person. Nonfiction can widen your perspective, give you wisdom, make you stronger . . . maybe even make you a happier person. Nonfiction helps us come up with new goals and ideas about what our lives can encompass–then takes our hands and helps us draw the circles.

It’s such a great time to be a reader, isn’t it?

Of course, the lists below also feature numerous difficult-to-read works, particularly the advanced compilation. Confession: I haven’t read all of these. Instead, somewhere along the way (mostly in philosophy and history classes) I learned about the significance of the texts–the historical context, the main takeaways and the way the text changed people’s thinking. Feel free to do the same.

Here are some questions for consideration:

  • What main point does the piece make?
  • What is the historical context of the piece?
  • Who was the author (profession, social standing, age, etc.) of the piece?
  • What is the genre of the piece?
  • What does the author have to gain or lose from others accepting or rejecting his ideas?
  • What events led to the writing of the piece?
  • What events resulted from the writing of the piece?
  • How did the piece change people’s thinking?

Classic Nonfiction

  • The Holy Bible
  • The Analects, Confucius (551–479 BCE)
  • Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze (c. 6th century BCE)
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu (late sixth century BCE)
  • Republic, Plato (c. 428–347 BCE)
  • Apology, Plato (c. 428–347 BCE)
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)
  • Rights of Man, Thomas Paine (1737–1809)
  • Common Sense, Thomas Paine (1737–1809)
  • On Liberty, John Stuart Mill (1806–1873)
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745–1797)
  • Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859)
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth (1797–1883)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897)
  • Walden, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)
  • The Souls of Black Folks, W. E. B. DuBois (1868–1963)
  • Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938)
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Constitution of the United States
  • The Bill of Rights
  • The Gettysburg Address
  • The Magna Carta
  • The “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank (1929–1945)
  • The Story of My Life, Helen Keller (1880–1968)
  • Roots, Alex Haley
  • Autobiography of Malcom X, Malcom X
  • Black Boy, Richard Wright (1908–1960)
  • Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin (1920–1980)
  • Native Son, Richard Wright
  • The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
  • A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
  • The Meaning of It All, Richard Feynman
  • The Story of Paul Bunyan
  • The Story of John Henry
  • The Story of Daniel Boone
  • The Story of George Washington and the Apple Tree
  • The Story of Paul Revere

Modern Classic Nonfiction and Other Choices

  • The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, parts one through four, Susan Wise Bauer
  • The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer
  • The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer
  • What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your First Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Second Grader Needs to Know, E.D. HirscWhat Your Kindergartener Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Third Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know, E.D. Hirsch
  • The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
  • A good world history encyclopedia
  • A good science encyclopedia
  • Wikipedia
  • The free online video learning series by the Khan Academy
  • Alexander of Macedon, Peter Green
  • Treblinka, Jean-Francois Steiner
  • The War Magician, David Fisher
  • Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer
  • The Particle at the Edge of the Universe, Sean Carroll
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene
  • Endurance, Scott Kelly
  • Genome, Matt Ridley
  • The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin
  • Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, Laurence Gonzales
  • The Underachiever’s Manifesto, Ray Bennett
  • Being Mortal, Arul Gawande
  • Flourish, Martin Seligman
  • Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmivaly
  • The Inner Game of Work, W. Timothy Gallway
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcom Gladwell
  • Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini
  • What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis
  • The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
  • Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • Discover Your Inner Economist, Tyler Cowen
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman
  • Switch, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath
  • On Writing, Steven King
  • Save the Cat!, Blake Snyder
  • The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell
  • How Children Fail, John Holt
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman
  • Love Sense, Sue Johnson
  • Parenting with Love and Logic, Foster Cline
  • If I Have to Tell You One More Time, Amy McCready
  • The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle
  • A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
  • Conversations with God, Parts One through Three, Neale Donald Walsch
  • Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, Robert Lanza and Bob Berman
  • Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable–and Couldn’t, Steve Volk
  • Dying to Be Me, Anita Moorjani
  • A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken
  • Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klostermann
  • When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  • Educated, Tara Westover
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  • A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
  • A House in the Sky, Amanda Lindhout
  • Into the Wild, John Krakauer
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

Advanced Classic Nonfiction

  • Selected writings of Buddha (c. 500–300 BCE)
  • Selected writings of Herodotus (c. 484–425 BCE)
  • Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle (384–322 BCE)
  • Rhetoric, Aristotle (384–322 BCE)
  • History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (c. 460–400 BCE)
  • The Koran
  • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Peter and Heolise Abelard (c. 1090–1164)
  • De Republica and other writings, Cicero (106–43 BCE)
  • Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans, Plutarch (c. 46–120)
  • Enchiridion, Epictetus (c. 55–135)
  • The Confessions, Saint Augustine (354–430)
  • The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius (c. 480–524)
  • Selected writings of Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Aquinas
  • The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis (c. 1380–1471)
  • In Praise of Folly, Erasmus (1466–1536)
  • Novum Organum, Frances Bacon (1561–1626)
  • The Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
  • Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes (1596–1650)
  • Discourse on Method, Rene Descartes (1596–1650)
  • Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke (1632–1704)
  • The Second Treatise of Government, John Locke (1632–1704)
  • Wars of the Jews, Josephus (37–100)
  • Annals, Tacitus (c. 56–117)
  • The Early History of Rome, Livy (c. 64 BCE–17 CE)
  • The Twelve Caesars, Suetonius (c. 69–after 122)
  • The Campaigns of Alexander, Arrian (c. 89–after 160)
  • On the Nature of Things, Lucretius (c. 99–55 BCE)
  • Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (121–180)
  • The City of God, St. Augustine (354–430)
  • The Education of a Christian Prince, Erasmus (1466–1536)
  • Commentary on Galatians, Martin Luther (1483–1546)
  • The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther (1483–1546)
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1509–1564)
  • Selected writings of John Knox (c. 1513–1572)
  • The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)
  • The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)*
  • Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross (1542–1591)
  • The Defense of Poesy, Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586)
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys (1633–1703)
  • Wonders of the Invisible World, Cotton Mather (1663–1728)
  • An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • An Essay on Man, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • The Way to Wealth, Ben Franklin (1706-1790)
  • The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
  • The Journal of John Woolman, John Woolman (1720–1772)
  • The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1723–1790)
  • A Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
  • On American Taxation, Edmund Burke (1729–1797)
  • Life of Johnson, James Boswell (1740–1795)
  • Memoir, Correspondence and Misc., Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
  • The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804)
  • The Memoirs of Victor Hugo, Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
  • Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859)
  • A Child’s History of England, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
  • For Self-Examination, Soren Kierkegaard (1813–1855)
  • Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin
  • The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx (1818–1883)
  • The Education of Henry Adams, Henry Adams (1838–1918)
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Frederich Nietzsche (1844–1900)
  • Beyond Good and Evil, Frederich Nietzsche (1844–1900)
  • An Autobiography, Annie Besant (1847–1933)
  • Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
  • The Ego and the Id, Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
  • The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
  • Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
  • Notes on Nursing, Florence Nightingale
  • The Ecclesiastical History, Adam Bede

School in a Book: Religion and Spirituality

Spirituality feels complicated: cultural, nuanced. And it is. I understand that. But the basic tenets of the major world religions are actually fairly straightforward, and it is these that I seek to present here. Please note that this treatment is highly simplified and does not represent all adherents of the given faith. Other religions with over one million adherents that aren’t discussed here include Falun Gong (a 20th-century Chinese religion similar to Buddhism that incorporates meditation and qigong exercises), Sikhism (a 15th-century Indian religion that follows the teaching of Sikh gurus and rejects religious certainty), Korean shamanism, Caodaism, Bahá’í Faith (a nineteenth-century Middle Eastern religion that seeks to unify all world religions), Tenriism, Jainism, Cheondoism, and Hoahaoism.

Basic Religion and Spirituality


Rank of Christianity in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number one. Christianity is the world’s most populous religion.

Holy book of Christianity: The Bible. The Catholic Christian version of the Bible includes additional sections, and Mormons have an additional holy book called The Book of Mormon.

Concept of God in Christianity: There is one all-knowing, all-loving, everywhere-present, all-powerful, gender-neutral God, who created the universe.

Notion of life after death in Christianity: Salvation–that is, eternal life in a place of bliss called Heaven–comes to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Others go to Hell after death.

Other basic tenets of Christianity: Humans are sinful and in need of redemption. Jesus Christ, the sinless son of God, came to Earth to preach faith in Him and to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. In addition to faith, Christians should practice love, charity, self-sacrifice, humility, morality, prayer, Bible reading, sexual abstinence prior to marriage and monogomy thereafter, and other good works.

Origins of Christianity: Christianity began with the life of Jesus Christ, who lived in the first century AD in the Middle East. His followers spread the faith widely over the following several centuries. From these early Christians, Catholicism developed, which appointed a Pope as its leader. Then Orthodoxy and Protestantism split off from Catholicism, in that order. Protestants divided into many different sects, including Methodist, Anglican and Lutheran Christianity. Later, Mormonism split off from Protestant Christianity with even greater changes.


Rank of Islam in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number two

Holy book of Islam: The Quran, which is the verbatim word of God revealed to the prophet Muhammad, plus the sunnah, the other teachings of Muhammad, and the hadith, the record of Muhammad’s life.

Concept of God in Islam: There is one God, with Muhammad as the messenger of God. God is merciful and all-powerful.

Notion of life after death in Islam: Muslims go to a blissful Heaven, and non-Muslims go to a place of eternal punishment.

Other basic tenets of Islam: Islam is the final expression of a faith that pre-existed and was partially revealed through Adam, Abraham, and Jesus. Therefore, it is considered an Abrahamic faith like Judaism and Christianity. Muslims must practice the five pillars of the faith, which include (1) recitation of the creed, (2) daily prayers, (3) almsgiving, (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. They also must follow sharia law, which is more specific and lengthy and includes guidelines on clothing, relationships, finances and more. Most Muslims belong to either the Sunni or the Shia sect, with the major original difference between them being who they considered the proper leader of their faith after the death of Muhammad. Muslims also believe in angels.

Origins of Islam: Islam was started in the early seventh century in Mecca by the Prophet Muhammad. It spread in Europe through war and coercion, and in Africa through trading relationships.


Rank of Hiduism in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number three

Holy books of Hinduism: Hindu texts are many and varied. They are not considered absolutely true. They are divided into two categories: the Shruti and the Smriti. The Shruti are the oldest traditions and include the four Vedas. The Upanishads are the parts of the Vedas that discuss meditation and philosophy and are the foundation of Hinduism. Of the Smritis, the Hindu epics, especially the Bhagavad Gita, and the Puranas are most important.

Concept of God in Hinduism: Varies by tradition. Some traditions teach the existence of multiple deities (dualism) while others teach of a single supreme being that is reflected in all other beings (the divine in all/non-dualism). Hindu gods are depicted in art and stories. Various incarnations of the same god are called avatars.

Notion of life after death in Hinduism: Reincarnation, called samsara. Hindus desire liberation from samsara through moksha (enlightenment).

Other basic tenets of Hinduism: Dharma (the path of rightness) is considered the foremost goal of a human being. It includes religious duties and moral virtues, but it is also equated with the eternal, unchanging truth. According to Hinduism, achieving dharma allows people to be in harmony with their true nature and with the world. Other Hindu goals are artha, properly pursued economic prosperity; kama, aesthetic pleasure; and moksha, liberation from suffering (enlightenment). Hindus also believe in karma. Hindu monks are called sanyāsī, sādhu, or swāmi. Religious rituals are observed mostly at home and are not mandatory. They include yoga, chanting, meditation and more. Hindus recognize four social classes: the Brahmins (teachers and priests); the Kshatriyas (warriors and kings); the Vaishyas (farmers and merchants); and the Shudras (servants and laborers). They believe in non-violence, respect for all life and vegetarianism.

Origins of Hinduism: Hinduism is a fusion of various ancient Indian cultural ideas and tradition, with no single founder. It began to take its current form between 500 B.C. and AD 300. It is widely practiced in India and parts of Southeast Asia.


Rank of Buddhism in terms of number of followers worldwide: Number four

Holy books of Buddhism: Numerous and highly varied. Some are based on the words of the Buddha, like the sutras, while others were created by ancient Buddhist schools, like the tantras.

Concept of God in Buddhism: There is no creator God or supreme being in the universe.

Notion of life after death in Buddhism: Reincarnation. This cycle of death and rebirth, which is affected by one’s karma, can be escaped through nirvana (enlightenment).

Other basic tenets of Buddhism: Meditation, mindfulness, nonattachment, compassion, lovingkindness and virtue; taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (the way) and the Sangha (teachers and fellow travelers); the Four Noble Truths; and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are: suffering is universal; suffering is caused by desire and attachment; suffering can end; this happens through the Noble Eightfold Path (right understanding, right thinking, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration). There are two main schools of Buddhist thoughts: the Theravada and the Mahayana. They differ in their recommended approach to nirvana and more.

Origins of Buddhism: Buddhism was founded between 500 and 400 B.C. in India by Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, who as a wealthy but unhappy young man who became enlightened while sitting underneath a Bodhi tree. Buddhism is prominent throughout Asia.


Holy book of Confucianism: The Analects of Confucius

Concept of God in Confucianism: None. Confucianism is sometimes considered a religion and sometimes considered a philosophy.

Notion of life after death in Confucianism: None.

Other basic tenets of Confucianism: Kindness; manners; rituals; morals; respect of elders and family; moderation.

Origins of Confucianism in terms of number of followers worldwide: Confucianism was founded by Confucius, a government worker-turned-philosopher who lived around the time of Buddha (551-479 B.C.) in China. Confucius taught his philosophy to his subordinates at work before quitting to travel and teach only. His teachings became the state philosophy during the Han Dynasty in China, which liked Confucius’ emphasis on strong central government and respect for authority.


Holy book of Taoism: The Tao Te Ching, the I Ching, the Daozang/Treasury of Tao, and the Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu). The Daozang is a collection of over 1500 texts written up to the Ming dynasty, and is considered the Taoist canon. The Zhuangzi is an important, beautiful, lighthearted description of the ideal sage written by Master Zhuang (Zhuangzi) (c. 369-301 B.C.).

Concept of God in Taoism: Various gods exist but none are supreme, and all are subject to the Tao. (Most Taoist gods are borrowed from other cultures.)

Notion of life after death in Taoism: Unclear. The soul is eternal, but there is a regular afterlife and an enhanced one.

Other basic tenets of Taoism: Taoists are naturalists. They believe in the interconnectedness of all things; acceptance of contradiction or paradox, called Yin and Yang (concepts originated in the I Ching); and the pursuit of harmony through virtue. They also believe in fortune telling, honoring deceased spirits, and more.

Origins of Taoism: Taoism (sometimes called Daoism) began with the writing of the Tao Te Ching, likely by the teacher Laozi around 500 B.C. (This is close to the time of Buddha and Confucius.) The Tao Te Ching was influenced by an ancient divination text, the I Ching (Yi Ching), which as the oldest Chinese classic text was compiled around 800 B.C. Like Confucianism, Taoism became prominent during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-AD 220). It might have developed as a reaction to that more authoritarian philosophy.


Holy books of Shinto: The Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, written in the 8th century.

Concept of God in Shinto: There are many gods, spirits and essences, all with unique roles and purposes.

Notion of life after death in Shinto:

Other basic tenets of Shinto: Shinto emphasizes the importance of performing rituals for the purpose of connecting with the past.

Origins of Shinto: Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan. It is a collection of animistic folk mythologies. Practices were first codified around 700 B.C.


Holy book of Judaism: The Torah, which is part of the Hebrew Bible, and additional oral tradition found in later texts like the Midrash and the Talmud. Texts are open to interpretation by rabbis and is a highly scholarly and intellectual endeavor.

Concept of God in Judaism: Orthodox Jews believe in one all-knowing, all-loving, everywhere-present, all-powerful, gender-neutral God, who created the universe. Other Jews believe that belief in God is a matter of personal choice.

Notion of life after death in Judaism: Unclear and controversial.

Other basic tenets of Judaism: Jews, particularly Orthodox Jews, practice a complex, laborious array of rituals dating to the time of Abraham. They believe that by doing so, they are keeping the Covenant (the law of God given to the Jews by which they earn God’s favor). Among these practices: not working on Sundays; not eating pork or shellfish (eating kosher foods only); and celebration of Jewish holidays. Conservative and Reform Jews take a more lenient approach to Jewish law.

Origins of Judaism: Abraham, a man who lived in the Middle East, had a son, Isaac, who had a son, Jacob, who was the father of twelve sons, who founded the twelve tribes of Israel. These tribes, who lived around 1200 B.C., later became known as Jews, or the Jewish people. Later, Christianity and Islam developed from Judaism. Jews have been persecuted throughout history and repeatedly forced to leave their nation, Israel, yet they have largely maintained their ethnic and cultural identity. About 43% of Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/Mormonism

Holy books of Mormonism: The Bible and The Book of Mormon

Concept of God in Mormonism:

Notion of life after death in Mormonism:

Other basic tenets of Mormonism:

Origins of Mormonism:

Alternative Forms of Spirituality

Holy book(s) of alternative forms of spirituality: None. Modern spiritual thinkers read modern spiritual-but-not-religious authors like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, and Esther Hicks, plus Buddhist authors like Pema Chodron, Ram Daas and more.

Concept of God of alternative forms of spirituality: God is the one, unified something that makes up everything in the Universe. As such, God is part of everything, including each person. God is sometimes called the creator, the force, the all-that-is or simply the universe. God is good and loving.

Notion of life after death of alternative forms of spirituality: Reincarnation, another afterlife including the experience of oneness with the Divine, or unknown. There is no Hell, but there is no one clear and correct path to a happy afterlife.

Other basic tenets of alternative forms of spirituality: Sin does not exist. Though people often judge poorly or act out of fear, they are naturally and fundamentally good. Onesself is one’s only spiritual authority. Meditation and mindfulness are helpful. So are various healing modalities, such as Reiki. Discovering one’s highest self is a priority, as is practicing love and non-judgment. Truth is often relative and experiential and may be discovered through the law of attraction; divination/clairvoyance/mediums; angels, spirits and ghosts; near-death experiences; deathbed revelations; intuition; and more. Enlightenment or something akin to enlightenment is the goal of many modern spiritualists.

Origins of alternative forms of spirituality: Alternative spirituality includes Buddhist Modernism, some new religious movements (NRMs), spiritual-but-not-religious ideas, New Thought spirituality and New Age spirituality. It primarily refers to belief systems that originated during the twentieth century. Alternative spirituality evolves rapidly as new spiritual teachers, channels and authors become known. It is largely influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism.

School in a Book: Prehistory

The Beginning of Time

The Big Bang: The theoretical beginning of the universe during which a large force of energy resulted in a huge explosion of matter. Rapidly, the matter cooled and expanded, forming stars, planets and everything else in the Universe. The approximate date of the Big Bang is 14 billion BCE.

The formation of Earth: 4.5 billion BCE. Oceans formed around 4.4 billion BCE.

The formation of the first living organisms (microorganisms): Approximately 4 billion BCE.

LUCA: Last universal common ancestor. 3.5 billion BCE. LUCA is the most recent living organism that survived to evolve into all current life on the planet.

Hominid: The great apes that eventually evolved into humans. The first hominids lived approximately 7 million BCE.

The Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Eras

Homo habilis: The first human species. They evolved in East Africa from an unknown, extinct great ape around 2.5 million BCE. They were the first great apes to use stone tools and they had larger brains than their ancestors.

Homo erectus: The human species that evolved from Homo habilis around 1.5 million BCE and migrated out of Africa to Asia. These humans walked upright and were the first animal to use fire for cooking (around 1 million BCE). Around 500,000 BCE they started hunting with spears, building shelters and creating more complex tribal communities.

The Neanderthals: One of the most successful subspecies [?] of the Homo erectus [?]. They evolved around 250,000 BCE in Africa and migrated across Asia and Europe after the Sahara desert became passable [when?]. They mated with Homo sapiens, but went extinct around 25,000 BCE.

Homo sapiens: The modern-day human species. They evolved around 200,000 BCE in Africa and were highly successful, migrating across Asia and Europe along with the Neanderthals. They were the first apes to speak in a complex way. They led other related species in the complexity of their societies and technology. Around 25,000 BCE they began performing ritual burials and making clothing, artworks, jewelry, advanced tools, boats, ovens, pottery, harpoons, saws, woven baskets, woven nets and woven baby carriers.

Cro-Magnons: The Homo erectus subspecies [?] who, around 25,000 BCE, replaced the Neanderthals. Like the Neanderthals, they mated with Homo sapiens. From them, Homo sapiens inherited larger brains.

Early modern humans: The group of Homo sapiens [subspecies?] that evolved around 40,000 BCE and settled that last two habitable continents: Australia (using boats) and North America (using a land bridge connecting modern-day Alaska to Asia).

Last Glacial Age/Last Ice Age: The most recent Ice Age (of many throughout the history of the earth). It lasted from about 2.5 million BCE to about 10,000 BCE. During this time, a land bridge formed between Asia and modern-day Alaska, which humans used to cross into the Americas. The land bridge formed because much of the world’s water was locked up in huge ice sheets and could not flow freely. From the Alaska area, humans settled North, Central and South America.

The first farms: People began raising crops in Mesopotamia, in an area called the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, around 10,000 BCE. Just prior to this, animal husbandry had begun. Some of the most important crops were barley and wheat, but other grains and vegetables were also grown.

The first towns: The ability to cultivate land and use it as a reliable food source led to a decrease in the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and the formation of the first towns. Town-based Mesopotamians built religious sites, smelted copper, developed writing, built irrigation channels, invented the wheel (which was only used for pottery until later) and much more.

The Neolithic Revolution: The move from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a town-based, agriculture-based way of life. The revolution occurred at different times in different places throughout the world; however, the change was seen on all continents in the span of several thousand years, despite no known contact between some of them. Note that the Neolithic Revolution is also called the Agricultural Revolution, though the Second Agricultural Revolution of the 1800s that helped bring about the Industrial Revolution is sometimes also called the Agricultural Revolution.

The settlement of Europe: Around the same time that the agricultural revolution began, Caucasians settled Europe for the first time.

Sumer: The first human civilization. Sumer was built in Mesopotamia along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers around 5,000 BCE. It was made up of a collection of individual city-states featuring ziggurats (pyramid-like centers of worship), a more advanced form of writing called cuneiform, scribes, accountants and much more. The people of Sumer are called Sumerians.

Cuneiform: The first complex written language. It was developed and used in Sumer after approximately 3,000 BCE and used pictographs. Its use triggered the beginning of recorded history.

Hieroglyphics: The second complex written language. It was developed and used in Egypt shortly after cuneiform was developed and, like cuneiform, used pictographs.

School in a Book: Classic Fiction: Older Kids and Adults

Did you ever wonder what the best thing in the world is? Well, pay attention, because I know the answer: it’s reading. Reading is the best thing. Here is my list of the best books in the world that aren’t true, besides the ones in my classic children’s literature list.

Introductory Classic Fiction

  • The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
  • Gulliver’s Travels, Johnathan Swift (1667–1745)
  • The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann David Wyss (1743–1818)
  • Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)
  • Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (1775–1817)
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1775–1817)
  • Emma, Jane Austen (1775–1817)
  • Mansfield Park, Jane Austen (1775–1817)
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving (1783-1859)
  • Rip van Winkle, Washington Irving (1783-1859)
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1797–1851)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas (1802–1870)
  • The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas (1802–1870)
  • The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)
  • The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)
  • The Professor at the Breakfast Table, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1816–1855)
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1818–1848)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne (1828–1905)
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne (1828–1905)
  • From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne (1828–1905)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne (1828–1905)
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (1835–1910)
  • Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (1835-1910)
  • The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, Mark Twain (1835-1910)
  • Dracula, Bram Stoker (1847–1912)
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett (1849–1909)
  • Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)
  • The Awakening, Kate Chopin (1850–1904)
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)
  • Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle (1853–1911)
  • The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry (1862–1910)
  • The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton (1862–1937)
  • The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton (1862–1937)
  • Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling (1865- 1936)
  • The Time Machine, H.G. Wells (1866–1946)
  • The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells (1866–1946)
  • The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux (1868–1927)
  • The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (1871–1900)
  • Twelve Men, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945)
  • The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford (1873–1939)
  • The Ball and the Cross, G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
  • The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
  • The Wisdom of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann (1875–1955)
  • Buddenbrooks, Thomas Mann (1875–1955)
  • The Call of the Wild, Jack London (1876-1916)
  • To Build a Fire, Jack London (1876-1916)
  • White Fang, Jack London (1876-1916)
  • Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941)
  • A Room with a View, E. M. Forster (1879–1970)
  • You Know Me Al, Ring Lardner (1885–1933)
  • Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
  • Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
  • The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973)
  • The Lord of the Rings series, J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973)
  • The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973)
  • Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)
  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)
  • Our Town, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (1898–1970)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • Out of the Silent Planet and the rest of the Space Trilogy, C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • The Once and Future King, T. H. White (1899-1985)
  • Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (1900–1949)
  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–1944)
  • Lost Horizon, James Hilton (1900–1954)
  • Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988)
  • Magic, Inc., Robert Heinlein (1907–1988)
  • Waldo, Robert Heinlein (1907–1988)
  • A Death in the Family, James Agee (1909–1955)
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee (1909–1955)
  • The Lord of the Flies, William Golding (1911–1993)
  • You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You, John Ciardi (1916-1986)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger (1919–2010)
  • Franny and Zooey, J. D. Salinger (1919–2010)
  • Nine Stories, J. D. Salinger (1919–2010)
  • Books by Isaac Asimov (1920–1992)
  • Dune, Frank Herbert (1920–1986)
  • Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose (1920-2002)
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1920–2012)
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)
  • Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)
  • The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)
  • On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)
  • The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote (1924–1984)
  • Music for Chameleons, Truman Capote (1924–1984)
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote (1924–1984)
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin (1924–1987)
  • A Separate Peace, John Knowles (1926–2001)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1926–)
  • The complete works of John Knowles (1926–2001)
  • Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1927–2014)
  • The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass (1927–2015)
  • The American Dream, Edward Albee (1928–)
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee (1928–)
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (1929–)
  • My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potak (1929–2002)
  • The Chosen, Chaim Potak (1929–2002)
  • The Promise, Chaim Potak (1929–2002)
  • No Longer At Ease, Chinua Achebe (1930–2013)
  • The Princess Bride, William Goldman (1931–)
  • I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Hannah Green (1932–)
  • Rabbit, Run, John Updike (1932–2009)
  • Rabbit Revisited, John Updike (1932–2009)
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1932–1963)
  • A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines (1933–)
  • Summer of My German Soldier, Bette Greene (1934–)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey (1935–2001)
  • Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller (1944–)
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1944–)
  • The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (1948–)
  • Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (1951–)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (1952–2001)
  • The Trumpet of the Swans, E.B. White
  • The Walking Drum, Louis L’Amour
  • Walden Two, B.F. Skinner
  • The Way of a Pilgrim, Anonymous
  • The Seven Story Mountain, Thomas Merton
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
  • The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
  • Ben Hur, Lew Wallace
  • Selected poems by Robert Frost (1874-1963)
  • The Princess and the Goblin, George MacDonald
  • The complete stories and poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
  • The complete works of E. E. Cummings (1894–1962)
  • The complete works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940)
  • The Pilgrim Continues His Way, Anonymous
  • The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Intermediate Classic Fiction

  • The Illiad, Homer
  • The Odyssey, Homer
  • The Aeneid, Virgil (70–19 BCE)
  • The Metamorphosis, Ovid (43 BCE–17 CE)
  • Beowulf, Anonymous (c. 975-1025)
  • The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321)
  • The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer (c. 1343–1400)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Anonymous (c. 1300s)
  • La Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1415–1471)
  • The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527)
  • Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616)
  • The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–1599)
  • Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Hamlet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Macbeth, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Othello, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
  • Paradise Lost, John Milton (1608–1674)
  • Paradise Regained, John Milton (1608–1674)
  • The Sufferings of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
  • Don Juan, Lord Byron (1788–1824)
  • Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
  • Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (1812–1870
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
  • Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1819–1891)
  • Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)
  • The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)
  • Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)
  • The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)
  • The Man Without a Country, Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909)
  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)
  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)
  • Green Mansions, William Henry Hudson (1841–1922)
  • The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James (1843–1916)
  • The Golden Bowl, Henry James (1843–1916)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
  • Lady Windermere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)
  • The Seagull, Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)
  • The Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)
  • Uncle Vanya, Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)
  • The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)
  • Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)
  • Siddhartha, Herman Hesse (1877–1962)
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce (1882–1941)
  • Ulysses, James Joyce (1882–1941)
  • A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
  • Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
  • Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
  • Jacob’s Room, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
  • To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
  • The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka (1883–1924)
  • The Trial, Franz Kafka (1883–1924)
  • The Castle, Franz Kafka (1883–1924)
  • Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930)
  • Women In Love, D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930)
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930)
  • The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • Ah! Wilderness, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • Strange Interlude, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • Anna Christie, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • Desire Under the Elms, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • Morning Becomes Electra, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • Men Without Women, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
  • The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)
  • Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)
  • Anthem, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)
  • Night of January 16th, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)
  • We The Living, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)
  • The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)
  • The Stranger, Albert Camus (1913–1960)
  • Catch-22, Joseph Heller (1923–1999)

Classic Poetry

  • The poetry of William Blake (1757–1827)
  • The poetry of William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
  • The poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)
  • The poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
  • Selected works by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542)
  • The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe (c. 1373–after 1438)
  • Poetry of John Donne (1572–1631)
  • Selected poetry of John Hopkins (1675–)
  • The poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
  • The poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
  • The complete works of W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
  • The poetry of Ezra Pound (1885–1972)
  • Eight Sonnets, Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and other poems by Dylan Thomas (1914–1953)

Additional Classic Fiction

  • The Orestia Trilogy, Aeschylus (c. 525–c. 456 BCE)
  • Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus (c. 525–c. 456 BCE)
  • The Oedipus Plays, Sophocles (c. 497–405 BCE)
  • Medea, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • The Bacchae, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • The Trojan Women, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • Hippolytus, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BCE)
  • Lysistrata, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BCE)
  • The Frogs, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BCE)
  • The Clouds, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BCE)
  • Odes, Horace (65–8 BCE)
  • The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, Epictetus (c. 55–135)
  • Cur Deus Homo, Anselm (c. 1033–1109)
  • The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375)
  • Mabinogion, Anonymous (c. 1350-1410)
  • Orlando Furioso, Ludovico Ariosto (1474–1533)
  • Utopia, Sir Thomas More (1478–1535)
  • The Schoolmaster, Roger Ascham (1515–1568)
  • Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • Faust, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • Volpone, Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
  • The Alchemist, Ben Johnson (1572–1637)
  • Tamburlaine the Great, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • The Jew of Malta, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  • Every Man in His Humour, Ben Johnson (1572–1637)
  • The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster (c. 1580–c. 1634)
  • Life is a Dream, Calderon de la Barca (1600–1681)
  • Pensees, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)
  • Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem, John Dryden (1631–1700)
  • Oroonoko: The Royal Slave, Aphra Behn (1640–1689)
  • The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe (c. 1660–1731)
  • The Bassett Table, Susana Centlivre (c. 1667 to 1670–1723)
  • The Way of the World, William Congreve (1670–1729)
  • The Beggar’s Opera, John Gay (1685–1732)
  • The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • Satires and Epistles of Horace Imitated, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • The Dunciad, Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
  • Pamela, Samuel Richardson (1689–1761)
  • Fantomina, Eliza Haywood (c. 1693–1756)
  • The Bourgeois Gentleman, Moliere (1622–1673)
  • The Misanthrope, Moliere (1622–1673)
  • Tartuffe, Moliere (1622–1673)
  • Candide, Voltaire (1694–1778)
  • The Vicar of Wakefield, Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774)
  • Sartor Resarus, Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)
  • Pere Goriot, Honore de Balzac (1799–1850)
  • Tom Jones, Henry Fielding (1707–1754)
  • Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding (1707–1754)
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Lawrence Stern (1713–1768)
  • Erotica Romana, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
  • Hermann and Dorothea, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832)
  • Edmond, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797)
  • Charlotte: A Tale of Truth, Susana Rowson (1762–1824)
  • The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal (1783–1842)
  • The Red and the Black, Stendhal (1783–1842)
  • The Deerslayer, James Fennimore Cooper (1789–1851)
  • Mr. Midshipman Easy, Captain Frederick Marryat (1792–1848)
  • Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852)
  • The poetry of Robert Browning (1812–1889)
  • The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (1819–1880)
  • Adam Bede, George Eliot (1819–1880)
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot (1819–1880)
  • Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)
  • Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880)
  • The Inspector-General, Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852)
  • Henry Esmond, William Thackeray (1811–1863)
  • Vanity Fair, William Thackeray (1811–1863)
  • Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana (1815–1882)
  • The Small House at Allington, Anthony Trollope (1815–1882)
  • Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope (1815–1882)
  • Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883)
  • The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins (1824–1889)
  • The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins (1824–1889)
  • The Egoist, George Meredith (1828–1909)
  • The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, George Meredith (1828–1909)
  • The Rise of Silas Lapham, W. D. Howells (1837–1920)
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • Tess of the D’ubervilles, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce (1842–c. 1914)
  • Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy (1850–1898)
  • The Hound of Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)
  • The Virginian, Owen Wister (1860–1938)
  • What Every Woman Knows, J.M. Barrie (1860–1937)
  • The Petty Demon, Fyodor Sologub (1863–1927)
  • The Three-Cornered World, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)
  • Kokoro, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)
  • I Am a Cat, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)
  • The Pastoral Symphony, Andre Gide (1869–1951)
  • The Pit, Frank Norris (1870–1902)
  • The Octopus, Frank Norris (1870–1902)
  • Sarra, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919)
  • The Seven Who Were Hanged, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919)
  • The Life of Man, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919)
  • Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945)
  • An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945)
  • Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust (1871–1922)
  • My Antonia, Willa Cather (1873–1947)
  • O Pioneers!, Willa Cather (1873–1947)
  • Death Comes For the Archbishop, Willa Cather (1873–1947)
  • Of Human Bondage and other selected works by W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965)
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
  • Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
  • The writings of Amy Lowell (1874–1925)
  • Giants in the Earth, O.E. Rolvaang (1876–1931)
  • Many Marriages, Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941)
  • Demian, Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)
  • Red Roses for Me, Sean O’Casey (1880–1964)
  • Finnegans Wake, James Joyce (1882–1941)
  • Dubliners, James Joyce (1882–1941)
  • Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
  • Giant, Edna Ferber (1885–1968)
  • Main Street, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
  • Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
  • The Key, Junichiro Tanizaki (1886–1965)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty, Charles Nordhoff (1887–1947) and James Norman Hall (1887–1951)
  • The Horse’s Mouth, Joyce Cary (1888–1957)
  • At the Bay, Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923)
  • In a German Pension, Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923)
  • Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980)
  • The Sea of Grass, Conrad Richter (1890–1968)
  • Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (1890–1960)
  • The Light in the Forest, Conrad Richter (1890–1968)
  • Black Spring, Henry Miller (1891–1980)
  • Johnny Tremain, Ester Forbes (1891–1967)
  • Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)
  • The Maltese Falcon, Dashiel Hammett (1894–1961)
  • The Citadel, A. J. Cronin (1896–1981)
  • The 42nd Parallel, John Dos Passos (1896–1970)
  • Nineteen, Nineteen, John Dos Passos (1896–1970)
  • Three Soldiers, John Dos Passos (1896–1970)
  • The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Light in August, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Sanctuary, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)
  • Snow Country, Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)
  • The Sound of the Mountain, Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)
  • You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938)
  • Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther (1901–1970)
  • Selected works of Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991)
  • Too Late the Philanthrope, Alan Paton (1903–1988)
  • The Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West (1903–1940)
  • God’s Little Acre, Erskine Caldwell (1903–1987)
  • The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene (1904–1991)
  • The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene (1904–1991)
  • Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt (1907–2001)
  • Alas, Babylon, Pat Frank (1908–1964)
  • The Ox-Bow Incident, Walter van Tillburg Clark (1909–1971)
  • Free Fall, William Golding (1911–1993)
  • The Inheritors, William Golding (1911–1993)
  • The Assistant, Bernard Malamud (1914–1986)
  • The Fixer, Bernard Malamud (1914–1986)
  • Dangling Man, Saul Bellow (1915–2005)
  • Herzog, Saul Bellow (1915–2005)
  • All My Sons, Arthur Miller (1915–2005)
  • The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk (1915–)
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers (1917–1967)
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1917–1993)
  • The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Muriel Spark (1918–2006)
  • The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008)
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck (1928–)
  • Selected books by Toni Morrison (1931–)
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines (1933–)
  • Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya (1937–)
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard (1937–)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Nora Hurston
  • Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
  • Nana, Zola
  • Modern Love, George Meredith (1828–1909)
  • The complete works of Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906)
  • The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler (1835–1902)
  • Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928)
  • Miss Julie, August Strindberg (1849–1912)
  • The complete works of George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
  • The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924)
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)
  • As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner (1897–1962)
  • Everyman, Anonymous (1909)
  • The Bald Soprano, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • The Lesson, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • Jack, or the Submission, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • The Chairs, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)
  • No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)
  • Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)
  • Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)
  • Endgame, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)
  • All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989)
  • Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler (1905–1983)
  • Act Without Words, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)

School in a Book: Basic Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary

I have a basic working Mandarin vocabulary–what I call “traveler’s Chinese.” Though it’s one of my life goals to become fluent or close to it (mostly because it would be so much fun), I also feel that this basic level is extremely valuable in its own right. Once you get past the language basics and talk to some natives who–surprise!–actually understand you, the groundwork has been laid; you become confident. After that, you have fun with it: talk to people you meet, ask them to explain things, practice a bit here and a bit there. A decade or so later, you’re ready to visit the land of your chosen second language and make a lot of progress in a relatively short amount of time.

A note on the list: There are four tones in Mandarin Chinese. Fortunately, they’re not hard to master; just do an Internet search to hear them and practice. One more tip: At first, don’t worry about grammar too much. Get the main verbs, the main short words (“because,” “with,” “and,” “very,” and the time- and distance-related vocabulary) and the whole introductory conversation basics, then move on to your nouns–food, body parts, etc. When you practice, make as many mistakes as you can possibly make, grammar-wise; just get yourself understood. That’s the goal.

Basic Mandarin Vocabulary:

Conversational Basics and Common Phrases:

Hello: Ni3 hao3
How are you: Ni3 hao3 ma
What is your name: Ni3 de ming2 zi jiao4 shen2 me
My name is: Wo3 de ming2 zi jiao4
First name: Ming2 zi
Family name: Gui4 xing4
How old are you: Ni3 ji1 sui4 le
I am __ years old: Wo3 you3 __ nian2
Good morning: Zao3 an1
Good afternoon:
Good evening: Wan3 an1
Yes: Shi4
No: Bu4 shi4
Please: Qing2
May I: Ke3 yi3
Thank you: Xie4 xie4
Excuse me/I’m sorry: Dui4 bu4 qi2
You’re welcome/I don’t mind: Mei2 guan4 xi1
No problem/I don’t care: Bu4 yao4 jin3
Where are you from: Ni3 lai2 zai4 na3 li3
I am from: Wo3 lai2 zi4
I speak __: Wo3 shuo1 __
Do you speak __: Ni3 shuo1 __ ma?
U.S.A.: Mei3 guo2
American: Mei3 guo2 ren2
English: Ying1 wen2
China: Zhong1 guo2
Chinese (person): Zhong1 guo2 ren2
Chinese (Mandarin language): Pu2 tong2 hua4
Chinese (Cantonese language): Guang3 dong1 hua4
How do you say: Wo3 zem2 me shuo1
What does this mean: Shen2 me yi4 ci2
Say it again: Zai4 shuo1 yi1 ci4
May I ask: Qing2 wen3
Can you please: Ni3 ke3 yi3
Nice to meet you: Hen3 gao1 xin1 jian4 dao4 ni3
Be careful: Xiao4 xin1 (yi1 dian3)
Hurry up: Kuai4 yi1 dian3
Wait a moment: Deng3 yi2 xia4
I am ready: Wo3 zhu3 bei4 hao3 le
Both are fine: Shen2 me dou1 ke3 yi3


To be: Shi4
To go: Qu4
To want: Yao4
To use: Yong4
To need: Xu3 yao4
To know: Zhi1 dao4
To like: Xi3 huan1
To love: Ai4
To live: Zhu4
To be born: Chu1 sheng1
To die: Si2
To sleep/go to bed: Shui4 jiao4
To wake up: Xing3 lai2
To cook: Zuo2 (fan4)
To read: Kan4 (shu1)
To practice: Lian4 xi3
To make/do: Zuo3
To look at: Kan4
To see: Kan4 dao4
To look for: Zhao3
To walk: Zou3 (lu4)
To run: Pao3 (bu4)
To go to work: Shang4 ban4
To finish work: Xia4 ban4
To rest: Xiu2 xi3
To play: Wan2
To sing: Chang4 ge1
To smile: Wei1 xiao4
To laugh: Da4 xiao1
To hug: Bao4
To cry: Ai1 hao4; ku1; bei4 qi4
To dance: Tiao4 wu3
To swim: You2 yong3
To take pictures: Zhao4 xiang4
To go shopping: (Qu4) guang4 jie1; gou4 wu4; mai3 dong1 xi1
To go to the bathroom: Shang4 ce4 suo3
To take a shower: Xi3 zao3
To wash hands/face: Xi3 lian2/shou3
To ride (a bike, etc.): Qi2
To ride (a car–no movement): Zuo4
To visit (someone): Bai4 fang3
To visit (something): Can1 guan1
To leave: Zou3
To wait: Deng3 (dai4)
To stay (there): Liu2 zai4 (zhe1 li3)
To stay home: Dai4 zia4 jia1 li3
To stand up: Zhan4 qi3 lai2
To sit down: Zuo4 xia4
To find: Zhao3 dao4
To pay: Fu4 qian2
To break: Sui4; lan4
To fix: Xiu1
To take: Na2
To listen: Ting1 (shuo1)
To lay down (something): Fang4
To lay down (body): Tang3 xia4
To meet (regularly): Peng4 dao4; peng4 tou2
To meet (past or future): Kan4 jian4
To show/indicate: Zhan3 shi3
To mistakenly think: Yi3 wei2
To try: Shi4 yi1 shi4
To taste/experience: Chang2 hang2; chang2 yi1 chang2
To guess: Cai1 yi1 cai1
To translate: Fan1 yi4
To hate: Hen4
To put on/wear: Chuan1; dai4
To change clothes: Huan2 yi4 fu2


When: Shen2 me shi2 hou4
How long: Duo1 jiu2
Early: Zao4
Late: Wan2
Soon: Hen3 kuai4
Not soon: Hen3 man4
Always: Zong3 shi4
Never: Cong2 lai2 (mei2 you3)
Again: Zai4
Often/usually: Jing1 chang2
Sometimes: You3 shi2 hou4
Still more (time): Hai2 (you3)
Daytime: Wan3 shang4
Nighttime: Wan3 shang4
Day: Tian1
Morning: Zao3 shang4
Afternoon: Xia4 wu3
Time: Shi2 jian1
Hour: Xiao3 shi2; zhong1 tou2
Minute: Fen1 zhong1
Second: Miao3 zhong1
This week: Zhe4 zhou1
Next week: Xia4 zhou1
Last week: Shang4 zhou1
Before/earlier: Yi3 qian2; zai4 shi1 qian2
After/later: Yi3 hou4; hou4 lai2; dai1 hui3
At the same time: Tong2 shi2
First: Di1 yi1
Second: Di1 er4
One time: Yi1 ci4
The first time: Di1 yi1 ci4
Midnight: Ban4 ye4
Long (time): Jiu2; chang2 shi2 jian1
A while: Yi2 xia4
Future: Wei4 lai2
Ever: Guo1; ceng2 jing2

Size- and Amount-Related:

How much/how many: Duo1 shao1
More: Bi3 (jiao4) duo1 de;
Less: Bi3 (jiao4) shao3 de
A little: Yi1 dian3
A little more: Duo1 yi1 dian3
Most: Zui4
Some: Yi1 xie3 de
Only: Zhi2 you3
Still more (amount): Hai2 you3
Almost: Cha4 bu4 duo1
Not enough: Bu2 gou4
Not quite: Bu2 tai4
Too (much): Tai4
Size: Da4 xiao3
Short (people): Ai3
Short (stuff): Duan3
Tall (people): Gao1
Long (things): chang2
Wide: Kuan1 kuo4 de
Deep: Shen1 de
Empty: Kong1 dong4
Amount: Deng3 yu2
Enough: Gou3 le
None: Mei2 you3 yi1 ge
Both: Liang3
Both/all: Dou1; quan2 bu2 de
Another one: Zai4 yi1 ge
Equal: Deng3 (yu1)
How many?: Ji3 ge
Another: Bie2 de
One or two: Yi1 liang2 ge
Either one: Bu2 lun4 . . . dou1 (hao1)
Only: Jiu4
Pound: Bang4
Kilo: Gong1 jin1
1/2 kilo: Jin1
Still more: Hai2 you3
Others: Qi2 ta1 de
Every: Mei3 yi1; mei3 ge
Each: Mei3 yi1 ge
The whole (one): Zheng3 ge4
The whole (time): Suo3 you3 (shi2 jian1)
Everything: Yi1 qie4 dou1; shen2 me dou1; suo3 you3 shi4 wu4
Something: Xie1 shi4
Nothing: Mei2 you3 dong1 xi1; mei1 you3 shi4
Everybody: Mei2 ge ren2; ren2 ren2
Anything: Wu2 lun2 shen2 me
Somebody: Yi1 ge ren2
Nobody: Mei2 you3 ren2
Anybody: Ren4 he2 ren2; shen2 me ren2
Everywhere: Mei3 ge di4 fang1; dao4 qu4 dou1
Somewhere: Yi1 ge di4 fang1
Nowhere: Mei2 you3 di4 fang1
Anywhere: Ren4 he2 di4 fang1


A direction: Fang1 xiang4
A location: Fang1 wei4
Here: Zher4
There: Nar4
High: Gao1
Low: Di1
Beside: Zai . . . pang2 bian1/lin2 jin4
Between: Zai4 . . . zhi1 jian1/zhong1 jian1
Ahead: Zai . . . qian2 fang1/qian2 mian4
Over/above/on: Zai4 . . . shang4 mian4; gao1 yu2
In: Zai4 . . . li3 bian1
Under: Zai4 . . . xia4 mina4
The top: Zui4 shang4 mian4; zui4 shang4 bian4
The bottom: Di3 bu1; zui4 di3
Side/limit: Bian1
Behind: Zai . . . hou4 mian4
Both sides: Liang3 bian1
This side: Zhe4 bian1
That side: Na4 bian1
Central: Zhong1 yang1 de
Inner: Li3 bian1 de
Outer: Wai4 bian1 de
Right: You3
Left: Zuo3
Center: Zhong1 jian1
Close/near: Jin4
Far away: (Yao2) yuan2
To travel forwards: Ziang4 qian2 zou3
To travel backwards: Ziang4 hou4 zou3
On the corner: Zai4 jiao3 luo4
One block: Yi1 kuai4 zhuan1
To turn right: Xiang4 you4 zhuan3
To turn left: Xiang4 zuo3 zhuan3
To go straight: Zhi2 zou3
North: Bei1
South: Nan2
East: Dong1 fang1
West: Xi1 fang1
Easterner: Dong1 fang1 ren2
Westerner: Xi1 fang1 ren2

Other Small Words:

This: Zhe4 ge
That: Na4 ge
But/nevertheless: Ke3 shi4; dan4 shi4
If: Ru2 guo3; yao4 shi4
Which: Na3 yi1 ge
Although/even though: Sui1 ran2
Therefore: Suo3 yi3
Will: Hui4; jiang1 (yao4)
Should: Ying1 gai1
Because: Yin1 wei4
Anyway/regardless: Qi2 shi2; bu4 guan3
Also: Ye3; you4
Probably: Huo4 xu3; ke3 neng2
In addition: Ling4 wai4; hai2 you3; chu1 ci3 gi4 wai4
Instead of: Er4 bu2 shi2
Not so: Bu4 ran2
To: Qu4 (location); gei1; zi1 (time)
From: Cong2; lai2 zi
Of: Shu3 yu2
For: Wei4
(Word at end of a question): Ma
(Word at end of a completed statement): Le

Numbers and Money:

1-10: Yi1, er4, san1, si4, wu3, liu4, qi1, ba1 jiu3 shi2
11: Shi2yi1
20: Er4 shi4
Hundred: Bai3
Thousand: Qian1
Ten thousand: Wan4
Million: Bai3 wan4
Billion: Yi4
1/10th yuen2: Yi1 jiao3
1/100th yuen: Yi1 fen1
To barter/exchange: Huan4
Passcode: Mi4 ma3
Number one: Yi1 yao4
1.00: Yi1 dian4 ling2 ling2
Money: Qian2
The cost: Jia4 ge2
Debit card: Jie4 ji4 ka1
Credit card: Xin4 yong4 ka3
Receipt: Shou1 ju4

Family Members:

Husband: Zhang4 fu1; lao3 gong1
Wife: Qi1 zi; lao3 po2
Mother: Mu3 qian1; Ma1 ma
Father: Fu4 qian1; ba1 ba
Parents: Fu4 mu3 qian1
Son: Er2 zi
Daughter: Nu3 er2
Older brother: Ge4 ge
Younger brother: Di4 di
Older sister: Jie3 jie
Younger sister: Mei4 mei
Grandparents: Ye3 ye3 nai3 nai4
Grandmother (mom’s mom): Wai4 po2
Grandmother (dad’s mom):  Nai3 nai1
Grandfather (mom’s dad): Wai4 gong1
Grandfather (dad’s dad): Ye3 ye


Best: Zui4 hao3 de
Better: Geng4 hao3 de; bi (jian4) hao3 de
Worse/worst: Geng4 huai4 de; bi3 (jiao4) huai4 de; bi3 (jiao4) cha4 de
The same: Yi2 yang4 de
Different: Bu4 tong2 de
Big: Da4
Small: Xiao3
Clamorous: Da4 shan1
Loud: Chao3 nao4
Quiet/peaceful: An1 jing4 de
Old (people): Lao3
Old (things) jiu4
Young: Nian2 qing1 de
Weak: Ruo4 de; shou4 ruo4
Strong: (Qiang2) zhuang4 de
Heavy: Zhong4 de
Light: Qing1 de
Light/bright: Deng1
Soft: Ruan3 de
Hard: Ying4 de
Wet: Chao2 shi2 de; shi2 de
Dry: Gan1 (zao4) de
Clean: Gan1 jing4 de
Dirty: Zang1 de
True: Zhen1 de
False: Bu4 zhen1 de
Cheap: Pian2 yi4 de
Used: Er4 shou3 de; yong4 guo4 de
New: Xin1 de
Stinky: Chou4
Handsome: Ying1 jun4
Pretty: Piao4 liang4
Beautiful: Mei3 liang3
Broken: Sui4 le; lan4 de; huai4 de
Bright: Ming2 liang2 de; xing3 mu4 de
Dim: Bu4 liang2
Well-organized: Zu3 zhi1 de; zheng3 li2 de
Works well: Zuo2 de hen3 hao3
Doesn’t work: Mei2 zuo4
Happy: Gao1 xin1; kai1 xin1
Sad: Bei1 shang1; shang1 xin1 de
Hopeful/to hope: Xi1 wang4 (de)
Surprised: Chi1 jing1 de
Angry: Sheng1 qi4 de
Jealous: Du4 ji4
Afraid: Hai4 pa4
Excited: Xing4 fen4
Nervous: Jin3 zhang1 (DE??)
Worried: Dan1 xin1; zhao1 ji2
Embarrassed: Diu1 ren2; gan1 ga4
Bored: Wu2 liao3
Famous: Zhu4 ming2; you3 ming2
Popular: Liu2 xing2
Unpopular: Bu4 de ren2 xin1; bu4 luo3 xing2
Shy: Hai4 xiu1
Outgoing: Kai1 fang4
Nice: Hao3 de
Mean: Huai4 de
Friendly: You3 hao3 de
Scholarly: Hao4 xue2 de
Smart: Cong2 ming2 de
Stupid: Ben4 de
Rich: You3 qian2 de
Poor: qiong2
Funny: You3 mo2 de; hua1 ji4 de
Interesting: You3 qu4
Unique: Tu4 bie2 de
Ordinary/common: Pu2 tong1 de; ping2 chang2 de
Rare: Xi1 you3 de
Important: Zhong4 yao4
Complicated: Fu4 za2


Food: Fan4; shi2 wu4
Fruit: Shui3 guo3
Vegetables: Shu1 cai4
Apple: Ping2 guo3
Banana: Xiang1 jiao1
Orange: Ju2 zi
Grape: Pu2 tao2
Carrot: Hu2 luo2 bo1
Peas: Wan1 dou4
Cucumber: Huang2 gua1
Spinach: Bo1 cai4
Broccoli: Ye1 cai4
Cabbage: Da4 bai2 cai4
Onion: Yang2 cong1
Corn: Bao1 gu3; yu2 mi3
Cauliflower: Hua1 cai4
Tomato: Xi1 hong2 shi4
Celery: Qin2 cai4
Green pepper: Qing1 jiao1
Red pepper: Tian2 jiao1 hong2 jiao1
Rice: Mi3 fan4; fan4
Noodles: Mian4 tiao2
Bread: Mian4 bao1
Chicken: Ji1 rou4; ji1
Fish: Yu2 rou4; yu2
Tofu: Dou4 fu1
Pork: Zhu1 rou4; zhu1
Egg(s): Ji1 dan4
Meat: Rou4
Beef: Niu3 rou4; niu3
Hamburger: Han4 bao3 bao1
Milk: Niu2 nai3
Alcohol: Jiu3
Beer: Pi2 jiu3
Wine: Jiu3
Potato: Tu3 dou4
Soy sauce: Jiang4 you3
Sauce: Jiang4
Oil: You2
Sugar: Tang3
Dessert: Tian2 shi2; tian2 dian3
Wheat: Mai4
Cookie: Bing3 gan1
Seafood: Hai3 xian1
Steak: Niu3 pai2
Beans: Dou4 li3; dou4
Shrimp: Xia1
Berry: Jiang1 guo3
Lettuce: Sheng1 cai4
Green vegetables: Qing1 cai4
Green beans: Ji1 dou4 ji1
Beverage: Yin3 liao4
Water: Shui3
Ice: Bing1
Sweet: Tian2 de
Salt: Yan2
Salty: Xian2 de
Spicy: La4 de
Sour: Suan1 de
Fresh: Xin1 xian4 de
Menu: Cai4 dan1
Fork: Cha1 zi
Knife: Dao1 zi
Spoon: Shao2 zi
Bowl: Wan3
Chopsticks: Kuai4 zi
Cup: Bei1 zi
Plate: Pan2 zi
Wok/pan: Ping2 guo1; guo1
Caffeine: Ka1 fei1 yin1
Coffee: Ka1 fei1
Decaf coffee: Two1 ka1 fei1 yin1 de ka1 fei1
Bottle: Yi4 ping2
Spices: Xiang1 liao4; tiao2 wei4 pin3
Cheese: Nai3 lao4
Pizza: Pi1 sa4
Snack: Dian3 xin1
Salad: Sha1 la1
Fast food: Kuai4 can1
Butter: Huang3 you2
A dish: Cai4
Soup: Tang2

Personal Effects:

Pencil: Qian1 bi3
Pen: Bi3
Paper: Zhi3
Scissors: Bi3 ji4 ben3; ben3 zi
Tape: Zhao1 dai4
Computer: Dian4 zi3 (ji1 suan4 ji1)
Glue: jiao1 shui3
Map: Di4 tu3
Cards: Ka1 pian4
Letter: Xing4
Calendar: Ri4 li4
Stamp: You2 pian4
Envelope: Xin4 feng1
Cell phone:
Sign: Biao1
Light/lamp: Deng1
Clothes: Y2 fu2
Shirt: Chen4 shan1
Pants: Ku4 zi
Sweater: Mao3 yi1
Shoes: Xie4 zi
Skirt: Duan3 qun2; qun2 zi
Hat: Mao4 zi
Coat: Wai4 tao4
Socks: Wa4 zi
Underwear: Nei4 yi1; nei4 ku4; duan3 ku4
Bra: Wen2 xiong1; xiong1 zao4
Pajamas: Shui4 yi1
Shorts: Duan3 ku4
Jeans: Niu3 chang2 ku4
Blanket: Bei1 zi
Hairbrush: Shu1 zi
Comb: Shu1 zi
Handbag: Shou3 ti2 bao1
Purse: Qian2 bao1
Towel: Mao2 jin1
Shampoo: Xi3 fa1 shui3
Conditioner: Zhe1 li3 shui3
Soap: Xiang1 zao4; fei2 zao4
Lotion: Ying1 yang3 shuang1
Toothpaste: Ya2 gao1
Toothbrush: Ya2 shua1
Suitcase: Xiang1 zi; lu3 xing2 xiang3
Toilet paper: Ce4 zhi3
Garbage: La1 ji1
Garbage can: La1 ji1 xiang1
Air conditioner: Kong1 tiao2
Heater: Dian4 nuan3 qi4
Keys: Yao4 shi2
Batteries: Dian4 chi2
Clock: Zhong1
Camera: Zhao4 xiang4 ji1
Wallet: Qian2 bao1
Glasses: Yan3


Color: Yan2 se4
Red: Hong2 se4
Blue: Lan2 se4
Yellow: Huang2 se4
Green: Lu2 se4
Orange: Ju2 se4
Purple: Zi3 se4
Pink: Fen3 hong2 se4
Black: Hei1 se4
White: Bai2 se4
Gray: Hui1 se4
Brown: Zhong se4/ he1 se4
Silver: Yin2 se4
Gold: Jin1 se4

Body Parts:

Body: Shen1 ti3
Head: Tou3
Mind: Si1 xiang3
Face: Lian3
Eyes: Yan3 jing1
Ears: Er3 duo1
Mouth: Kou3
Lips: Zui3 ba1
Nose: Bi2 zi
Hands: Shou3
Feet: Jiao3
Fingers: Shou3 zhi3
Toes: Jiao3 zhi3
Legs: Tui3
Arms: Shou3 bi4
Hair: Tou2 fa1
Back: Bei4
Neck: Bo2 zi
Skin: Pi2 fu1
Stomach: Du4 zi
Butt: Pi4 gu3
Poop: Fen4 bian4
Pee: Niao4


Car: Che1
Bus: Gong1 gong4 qi4 che1
Taxi: Chu1 zu1 che1
Motorcycle: Mo2 to2 che1
Plane: Fei1 ji1
Ship: Lun2 chuan2
Airport: Ji1 chang3
Bus station: Gong1 gong4 qui4 che1 zhan4
Train: Huo3 che1
Train station: Huo3 che1 zhan4
Bus stop: Gong1 gong4 qi4 che1 zhan4
Culture: Wen2 hua4
Foreign: Wai4 guo2
Foreigner: Wai4 guo2 ren2
To travel: Lu2 you2
Overseas/abroad: Hai3 wai4
Nation: Guo2 jia1; guo2 min2
Native language: Ben3 zu2 yu3
Trip/journey: Cheng2
Passenger: Cheng2 ke4
Hometown: Jia1 xiang1; ben3 guo2
Fare: Fei4 yong4
Hotel: Fan4 dian4; lu2 guan3


Where: Zai4 na3 li3; nai4 nar3
Place: Di4 fang1
Supermarket: Chao1 shi4
Small market: Cai4 shi4 chang3; shang4 dian4
Park: Gong1 yuan2
Library: Tu2 shu1 guan3
Street: Jie1 dao4
Bank: Yin2 hang2
Hospital: Yi1 yuan4
Building: Jian4 zhu4
Elementary school: Xia3 xue2
Middle school: Zhong1 xue2
High school: Gao1 zhong1
College: Da4 xue
Gym: Jian4 shen1 fang2
City: Cheng2 shi4
Church: Jian4 tang2
Temple: Miao4
Post office: You3 ju2
Bar/nightclub: Jiu3 ba1
Movie theater: Dian4 ying3 yuan4
Theater: Ju4 yuan4
Outdoors: Wai4 mian4
Indoors: Li3 mian4
The zoo: Dong4 wu4 yuan1
Great Wall: Chang2 cheng2
Art museum: Bo4 wu4 guan3
Apartment building: Gong1 yu4

Rooms & Furniture:

Room: Fang2 jian1
Bedroom: Fang2 jian1; wo4 shi4
Bathroom/toilet: Ce4 suo3
Kitchen: Chu1 fang2
Living room: Ke4 ting1
Dining room: Fan4 ting1
Bed: Chuang2
Window: Chuang1 (hu4)
Wall: Qiang2 bi4
Chair: Yi3 zi
Desk/table: Zhuo1 zi
Couch: Chang2 sha4 fa1
Pillow: Zhen3 tou2
Closet: Zha3 wu4 fang2
Door: Men2
Home/house: Jia1
Apartment: Fang2 zi


Weather: Tian1 qi4
Hot: Re4
Cold: Leng2
Warm: Nuan3 he de
Cool: Liang2 kuai4
Spring: Chun1 tian1
Summer: Xia4 tian1
Fall: Qiu1 tian1
Winter: Dong1 tian1
Sun: Tai4 yang2
Moon: Yue4 liang4
Stars: Xing1 xing1
Land: Lu4 di4; tu3
Sea/ocean: Hai3 yang2
Wind: Feng1
Rain: Yu3
Snow: Xue3
Clouds: Yun2
Cloudy: Yin1 tian1 de
Storm: Feng1 bao4
Grass: Cao3
Flower: Hua1
Tree: Shu4
Bush: Guan4 mu4 cong2
Nature: Zi4 ran2
River: He2 liu2
Lake: Hu2
Beach: Sha1 tan1
Mountain: Shan1
Fire: Huo3
Sunny: Qing2 lang3
Rainy: Xia4 yu3 de
Temperature: Wen1 du4
Animal: Dong4 wu4


Doctor: Yi1 sheng1
Nurse: Hu4 shi4
Waitress: Nu3 zhao1 dai4; fu2 wu4 guan2
Waiter: Nan2 zhao1 dai4
Salesperson/shopkeeper: Shou4 huo4 yuan2
Driver: Si1 ji1
Manager: Jin1 li3
Supervisor: Zhu2 guan3
School principal: Xiao4 zhang3
Cook: Chu2 shi1
Janitor: Men2 wei4
Writer: Zuo4 jia1
Secretary: Mi4 shu1
Librarian: Tu2 shu1 guan3 li3 yuan2
Scientist: Ke1 xue2 jia1
Soldier: Shi4 bing1
Journalist: Bao1 jie4
Minister: You2 di4 yuan2; mu4 shi1
Singer: Ge1 shou3
Artist: Yi4 shu4 jia1
Dancer: Wu2 dao3 jia1
President: Zong3 tong3
Government official: Gong1 wu4 yuan2
Tutor: Jiao1 jao4
Boss: Lao3 ban3
Interpreter: Fan1 yi4
Cashier: Shou1 ying2 yuan2
Garbage collector: qin1 jie3 gong1
Police officer:
Housekeeper/housewife: Bao3 mu2; (jia1 ting2) zhu2 fu4
Computer programmer:
Business owner:

Activities, Entertainment & Celebrations:

Game: You3 xi4
Sports/exercise: Yun4 dong4
Ball: Dan4; qui2
Basketball: Lan2 qui2
Football: Gan1 an1 qui2
Baseball: Lei qui2
Soccer: Zu2 qui2
Volleyball: Pai2 qui2
Ping-Pong: Ping1 pong1 qui2
Badminton: Yu3 mao1 qui2
Competition: Bi4 sai4
Song: Ge1 qu3
Team: Huan2 dui4
To skate: Bing1 chang3
To see a movie: Kan4 dian4 ying3
Birthday: Sheng1 ri4
Christmas: Sheng4 dan4 jie2
New Year: Xin1 nian2
Spring Festival: Chun1 jie4
Happy birthday: Sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le
Merry Christmas:
Happy New Year: Xin1 nian1 kuai4 le
Congratulations: Zhu4 he4
Celebration: Qing4 zhu4
Holiday: Jia4 qi1
Vacation: Jia4 re4
Present/gift: Li3 wu4
Wedding: Hun1 li3
Funeral: Chu1 bin1


Death: Si3
Life: Shen1 ming4
Sick: Bing4 le
Sickness: Ji2 bing4
Pills: Yao4 pian4
A cough: Ke2 sou4
A cold: Gan3 mao4
Fever: Fa1 shao1
Flu: Liu2 xing2 gan3 mao4
Stomachache: Du1 zi tong4
Headache: Tou2 tong4
?: Ban2
?: Shen1 bing4
To hurt/ache: Tong4
Tired: Lei4


Word: Zi4
Character: Xie1 zi4
New word: Sheng1 zi4; dan1 zi4
Sentence: Ju1 zi
Phrase: Ci2 zu3
Pronunciation: Fa1 yin1
Grammar: Yu2 fa3
Language: Yu3 yan2
Story: Gu4 shi4
Number: Hao4 ma3; hao4
Phone number: Dian4 hua4 hao4 ma3
Address: Di4 zhi3
Driver’s license: Jia4 shi2 zi2 zao4
Passport: Hu4 zao4
Age: Nian2 ji4
Literature: Wen2 xue2
Math: Shu4 xue2
History: LI4 shi3
Science: Zi4 yan2; ke1 xue2
Art: Yi4 shu4; mei3 shu4
Music: Yin1 yue4
Politics: Zheng4 zhi4
Government: Zheng4 fu3
Physical education: Ti3 yu4
Sign: Biao1 zhi4
Wood: Mu4 tou2
Plastic: Su4 liao4
Electricity: Dian4
Electric: Dian4 de
Machine: Ji1 qi4
Action/movement: Xing2 dong4
Problem: Wen4 ti3
Plan: Ji4 hua4
Idea/concept: Zhu2 yi4
Level: Shui2 ping1
List: Dan4 zi
Stress: Ya1 li4
Feelings/emotion: Gan3 jue2
Attitude: Tai4 du4
Mood: Qing2 xu4
Personality: Ge4 xing4
God: Shang4 di4
Classmate: Ton2 xue2
Relationship: Guan1 xi4
Friendship: You3 qing3