World Literature by James Stobaugh published by Master Books, is a fully illustrated literature text for high school students. The most accurate first impression is that this book is a hybrid mix between a philosophy and literature text. There is quite a bit of emphasis on various world religious texts and philosophical development with a small sampling of fiction literature. This book is one of a series of a thorough alternative high school home school studies curriculum. The quality presentation of this book rivals that of many popular public school texts. This is the conservative answer to all those revisionist, liberal revision of history that are disguised as text books that are so common in public schools and colleges today. The Teacher's text is formatted for a three ring binder and basically contains work sheets and activities to supplement the student text. I believe that teacher's text can serve as a student work book as well.
The ambitious title- World Literature, in of itself is rather broad- encompassing the whole of world philosophical thought and written works from the ancient times to the modern day. Historical events, as well as cultural and social events are captured in the context of literature and religious works. The text begins with the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamia and a sampling of excerpts of other ancient writings. Integrated within the coverage of widely known historical facts are biblical stories as well. There is a focus on biblical personalities and writings in the context of world events and geographic locations. This course is like a comparative literature course where the student is urged to compare and contrast ancient works with the biblical accounts of the bible. For example, ancient world accounts of a world wide flood are compared and contrasted with the Genesis account. This gives the student a comprehensive view of history and literature in its entirety! Culturally relevant artwork, archeological sites and historical figures are photographed as well. The information is presented in an easy to read magazine article type of format in contrast to large passages of bland text. Basically the student can pick up this book starting with any lesson within any chapter.
Aside from the recognition that for many, homeschooling is not an option- The book is complete with photographs, charts and other visual material- just as any other text. It would make a good supplement to any public school curriculum. As a sampler of various works- it is not an exhaustive account of world literature. In fact the book offers additional reading suggestions for a more rounded approach. Additionally, the focus is heavily concerned with religious writings and works. With a BS in History, I greatly appreciated the perspective of this book and the recognition that history and literature is not all about relativism, but there are morals and absolutes in life and history as well. The only downside to this book is that all the photos and graphics are in black and white and not color. Instead of the glossy full color pages that one would expect from a modern text, this book is in black and white- which is the only downside. There is also a use of less formal slang language that is used by the author. An example of this is found on page 12, when the author states that Gilgamesh is a "selfish self-centered prig". As a blogger for New Leaf publishers I received this book, published by Master Books for the purpose of writing this review.