World's Great Events:
A History of the World from Ancient to Modern Times
B. C. 4004 to A. D. 1903
(Above is the 1903 edition, which was reprinted in 1908 with a tan, blind-stamped decorative cover and an additional 50 pages of content at the end of Volume 5--The Nile Dam, The Battle of Tsushima, Sweden and Norway Separated, The First Russian Parliament, The Panama Canal, The Voyage of the American Fleet, The Lisbon Assassination.)
This review is for the original 5 volume set pictured. The World's Great Events was later expanded and reprinted as 10 volumes,
but the perspective is not so lovely and the mass of material included is too much for most children.
The World's Great Events was compiled and edited by Esther Singleton, illustrated with clear black and white prints, and published by Collier in 1903. It presents history as a series of accessible source documents interspersed with well-written essays from eminent writers and historians, many of whom were evangelical Christians.
Volume I opens with an essay by Jacques Béningne Bossuet--
The first epoch immediately presents to you a grand and awful spectacle; God creating the heavens and the earth by his word, and making man after his own image. With this begins Moses, the most ancient of historians, most sublime of philosophers, and wisest of legislators.
Thus he lays the foundation as well of his history as of his doctrines and laws. Next he shows us all men contained in one man, and his wife extracted from him; matrimonial union and the society of mankind established upon this foundation; the perfection and power of man, so far as he bears the image of God in his first estate; his dominion over animals; his innocence, together with his felicity, in paradise, the memory whereof is preserved in the golden age of the poets; the divine command given to our first parents; the malice of the tempting spirit, and his appearance under the form of a serpent; the fall of Adam and Eve, fatal to all their posterity; the first man justly punished in all his children, and mankind cursed by God; the first promise of redemption, and the future victory of men over the devil who had undone them.
This volume covers the ancients from Creation to the Fall of Jerusalem. It lets our children meet Plutarch, Herodotus, Thucidydes, Plato, and Livy at their best, in a context of truth and beauty. Appropriate for reading aloud to ages 8 or 9 and up. Appropriate for independent reading for ages 11 or 12 and up.
(Now, I say that because you asked.... But I've read them to toddlers. Whoever is in the schoolroom with something to keep his hands busy has the opportunity to comprehend as much as he can.)
One of the later essays in the book is from Frederic W. Farrar--
The shepherds made their way to the inn of Bethlehem, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger. The fancy of poet and painter has reveled in the imaginary glories of the scene. They have sung of the "bright harnessed angels" who hovered there, and of the stars lingering beyond their time to shed their sweet influences on that smiling infancy. They have painted the radiation of light from his manger-cradle, illuminating all the place till the bystanders are forced to shade their eyes from that heavenly splendor. But all this is wide of reality. Such glories as the simple shepherds saw were seen only by the eyes of faith; and all which met their eyes [at the manger] was a peasant of Galilee, already beyond the prime of life, and a young mother of whom they could not know that she was a wedded maid and virgin wife, with an Infant Child, whom, since there were none to help her, her own hands and wrapped in swaddling-clothes. The light that shined in the darkness was no physical but a spiritual beam; the Dayspring from on high, which had now visited mankind, dawned only in a few faithful and humble hearts.
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