Catholic Homeschool Review

Copyright 1996-2002. All Rights Reserved. Keeping It Catholic


History Reviews

in the current

Keeping It Catholic Home Education Guide


On this page, you will find a few reviews,

giving you yet another "sneak peak" at the now available book in the

Keeping It Catholic Home Education Guide series!

These are just some of the texts you might use for your history courses -

and all of them are Catholic!


More Catholic history texts, reading sources, timeline helps, history and geography supplements plus Marianna's tips are featured in the History Volume of the Keeping It Catholic Home Education Guides


(Books are listed in grade or age order)

Elementary Level History Reviews, Grades K-6

Upper Elementary History Reviews, Grades 7-8

High School History Reviews, Grades 9-Adult




+History through the Saints



+Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas




+Founders of Freedom from the Land of Our Lady history text series

Land of Our Lady history series (Grades 4-8)



How America Grew

Hunters of Souls

Old World and America, The

Old World's Gifts to the New, The



Before America



American History for Young Catholics

Great Moments in Catholic History




 Characters of the Inquisition

Characters of the Reformation

Christ and the Americas

Christ the King, Lord of History

Europe and the Faith






+History through the Saints-A 2000 Year Catholic Timeline

(Kmen, Krusader Enterprises, $39.95)


History through the Saints is a colorful, laminated, and foldable timeline made of heavy card stock. All popes beginning with St. Peter are listed across the bottom, while general history is printed in black. Marian apparitions are printed in green, while Eucharistic miracles are listed in purple. The lives of the saints and much other information is listed, too.

This program can be used alone or with Saints & Angels (see review under this grade level which will be featured in the book). As an optional timeline activity, a list of questions based on the saints of the month is also included. The answer-keyed questions encourage students to learn about other events in the time of the saint's life. The included sticker pack visually assists children in absorbing and retaining what they learn. - Ellen Kramer, Catholic Homeschoolers of Pennsylvania


Please Note: Krusader Enterprises offers their titles Saints & Angels, Crosses & Crowns; History Through the Saints; and The Life of Christ and His Apostles (the latter which has not been reviewed) only from May 1 - August 31st of each year.

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+The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas

(Seton Educational Media Catalog, $15.00 includes answer key)


Like its predecessors written by Seton, the text continues with biographical overviews, setting the people into the appropriate time period. Explorers, missionaries and founders of America include Catholics like Christopher Columbus, Rene de La Salle, Charles Carroll, and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. This one is an extremely easy introduction to American history for young Catholic students! (127 pp., full color photos, paperback.) - MCB

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+Founders of Freedom

Volume 1 of the Land of Our Lady Series (Neumann Press, $26.00)

Age Level: Grades 4 and up


This is history presented in brief narrative form, integrating the teachings of the Catholic Church from the first pages. The text provides a comprehensive foundation to the study of history for the fourth grade student, beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve and ending with the Renaissance. A total of eight units, comprised of 25 chapters, include the following:

-Civilization Begins (God's gifts to mankind, the sin of pride - Original Sin and its results on the human soul; the loss of Paradise; Noah's Ark and the Flood; the Tower of Babel; the beginning of civilization; explanation of the terms Prehistoric Age, Old Stone Age, New Stone Age, and the Age of Metals; Chinese beginnings of civilization including their written language, the oldest known in the world; the Great Wall of China; the gifts of Egypt; Babylonian contributions to law and science; the Phoenicians, who "picked up" other cultures; the Hebrews, the first of all the peoples to worship the one true God; Abraham, the Israelites and their subsequent unfaithfulness to God; the sufferings in Egypt; Moses; the twelve tribes; Saul, David, Solomon, and the Kingdom of Juda)

-Civilization Develops (Greek beginnings; the Spartans, Darius, the Battle of Thermopylae, the Acropolis, the Parthenon, Pericles, Greek democracy, Draco, Solon, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; Alexander the Great; the founding of Rome and its later establishment as "Mistress of the World")

-Civilization is Christianized (The first chapter of this unit opens with the subtitle that Christ is the "Center of Time," explaining, "The birth of Christ on earth was the greatest event in all history." Defines the use of B.C. and A.D., Augustus' deeds, the government of the Roman Empire, the census, the Visitation, the Nativity of Jesus, Christ as King, His miracles and crucifixion, Pentecost, and concludes with an overview of the Acts of the Apostles, the Gospel writers and the conversion of St. Paul)

-Christian Civilization is Challenged (Nero and the martyrs, deaths of Saints Peter and Paul, persecutions of the Christians, the survival of the Church in the Catacombs; the discovery of the True Cross by St. Helen, Constantine of the "In this sign thou shalt conquer" fame, culminating in the Edict of Milan, whereby Christians were granted the freedom to worship as they chose; the Justinian Code, the fall of Rome; Fathers of the Church including St. Ignatius, St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, St. Jerome, St. Augustine)

-The Church Saves Christian Civilization (the first Christian monks; monks in Ireland, Irish missionaries in other lands, and other Irish saints including St. Patrick and St. Brigid; the monks of St. Benedict; Pope St. Gregory the Great; St. Augustine of Canterbury; St. Boniface; the Venerable Bede "the Scholar")

-Feudalism Molds Christian Civilization (the conversion of Clovis, the victory of Charles Martel, founding of the Papal States; Charlemagne, castles, knights, the meaning of feudalism, the steps to knighthood; the division of the Holy Roman Empire; early rulers of Germany, the emperor of Germany and Italy, Alfred the Great, Normandy and Saxony, William the Conqueror, Henry II, the tyrant King John, and the Magna Carta)

-Religion Unites Christian Civilization (the Middle Ages, Dominicans, Franciscans, Cistercians, farmers, traders, guilds, early schools and universities; great saints and teachers like St. Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon "the father of modern science," St. Bonaventure, and John Scotus, and the "great pride of every town: - the Catholic cathedral)

-A New World Awaits Christian Civilization (the events that led to the discovery of America, including the Crusades and the Hundred Year's War, their failures, the Children's Crusade, St. Joan of Arc; the onset of the Renaissance, the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, Gutenburg, and inventions like the compass and the astrolab, finishing with a brief overview of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World)

At the end of each chapter are various review questions and suggestions, which homeschooling parents might easily use for lesson ideas. These include "To Help You Understand" (mostly hands-on ideas), "Work by Yourself" (comprehension questions), "For a Higher Mark" (spiritual questions relating to faith comprehension about the material studied), "Learning New Words" (vocabulary), "Time for Discussion" (critical thinking skills), "A Little Quiz," (matching), "Some Work to Do" (a variety of ideas), "Look It Up" (copying and reference skills), and more. The end of each unit includes Highlights (a comprehensive review) and a Mastery Test.

Various illustrations and photos, including eight maps, are featured throughout the text. Because this is an actual reproduction from the original 1950's text, there will be found a few areas that might appear to be outdated, like references to radio. I never find that a problem, because history is a living, changing thing. (296 pp., hardcover. An Answer Key to the Land of Our Lady Series, for all five texts, provides answers to chapter questions and unit tests. Currently, it is available only through Catholic Heritage Curricula for $10.50) - MCB

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Land of Our Lady History series
( Neumann Press, entire set $125.00, each individual text is also available for separate purchase)
Age Level: Grades 4 through 8

Catholicism and American history set in gold-embossed, hardcover texts - a beautiful and practical addition to a Catholic homeschooling library! Republished by Neumann Press, the entire scope of the Land of Our Lady five volume set is "…the story of the Catholic Church in the development of the land dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother of God" (Editor's Preface from Volume 1). At the beginning of each unit is found hymns to Our Lady, their origin and meanings.

These texts can stand alone, but they might also be used as the solid Catholic foundation for reading various books, especially lives of the saints throughout the centuries. All five texts are available for purchase either separately or as a set.

Please Note: An Answer Key to the Land of Our Lady Series, for all five books in the series, provides answers to chapter questions and unit tests. Currently, it is available only through Catholic Heritage Curricula for $10.50.

Please look for the reviews of the following Land of Our Lady titles under their respective grade levels (complete reviews of each text will be found in the upcoming book):


Grade 4: Founders of Freedom, Volume 1

Grade 5: Bearers of Freedom, Volume 2

Grade 6: Leaders of Freedom, Volume 3

Grade 7: Challenge of Freedom, Volume 4

Grade 8: Guardian of Freedom, Volume 5

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+How American Grew (Seton Press, Seton Educational Media Catalog $13.00. Answer Key, $3.00)
Age Level: Grade 5 and up or 10 years and up

How America Grew is "reader friendly" and spurs the student's interest in many areas of American history. Implementing the "scrapbook idea" suggested in the text, three of my children used both this text and one from the Land of Our Lady series (Volume 4, Challenges of Freedom) to study, learn and, finally, create their own American history timeline books.

Following my own customized lesson plans, my children read the material, studied and traced the maps, and answered chapter questions in writing, later using this information to design their own American history books. In fact, the youngest came up with the idea of creating his own Civil War history trivia game cards. They retained much of what they studied, including early modes of transportation, presidents, details of historical events relating to the American Revolution, the writing of the Constitution, the various Amendments, the Monroe Doctrine, the causes of the Civil War, and so much more.

Overlapping with the end of How American Began (the fourth grade text), the fifth grade level begins with the American Revolution and concludes with the Vietnam War. While definitely a history text, it also tends to focus on historical figures in American history and includes interesting sidebars on various people and events. Thirty chapters fill the text's following six units:

-A New Nation is Born (the First Continental Congress, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Declaration of Independence, leaders of the American Revolution)

-Our New Nation (formation of the Union, the First Amendment, the Three Branches of Government George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Sacajawea "the Bird Woman," and Zebulon Pike)

-A New Nation at War (the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, the acquisition of Florida, the tariff question between the North and the South)

-America Grows (Daniel Boone, the Northwest Territory, Texas, the Alamo, California, Father Junipero Serra, the Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail, early modes of transportation, Robert Fulton's steamboat, the Erie Canal, the first railroads, Samuel Morse and the telegraph, the Pony Express, and inventions like the cotton gin, the McCormick reaper, and the first sewing machine)

-America Remains United (the foundation of the American Civil War, the Missouri Compromise, the Underground Railroad, the Compromise of 1850, the Dred Scott Decision, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, General Lee, the South after the Civil War)

-A Growing and Changing America (Indians, buffalo, cowboys, the Homestead Act, the acquisition of Alaska and Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, the Panama Canal, the Machine Age, scientists and inventors like Edison, William Marconi, Lee DeForest, the first radio broadcasting station, the telephone, Henry Ford and the automobile, the formation of corporations like Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Samuel Gompers and labor unions)

-The Unites States Becomes a World Leader (President Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations, World War I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Depression, the first Catholic nominee for President - Alfred E. Smith, the New Deal, World War II, Truman, Eisenhower, the Cold War, Kennedy and Johnson, the Peace Corps, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Age, and War in Vietnam. Because updates are usually prohibited with reprints, there is one chapter title that describes Truman and Eisenhower as "two recent presidents," but since we know the text is a reprint, we did not find this a real problem.)

Complimenting the comprehensive text, sidebar subjects include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Charles Carroll, Captain John Berry, John Paul Jones, Washington's First Cabinet, the Monroe Doctrine, The Mexican War (a page depicting young American officers who later became "outstanding generals some years later in the Civil War" like U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, General Zachary Taylor, General Winfield Scott, W.T. Sherman, and Stonewall Jackson), the Railroad Story, inventors and inventions like The Cotton Gin, The Reaper, The Sewing Machine, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster, The South Today, The War with Spain (1898), The Panama Canal, Edison's Inventions, and more.

Helpful maps throughout include (but are not limited to) the English Plan to Defeat the Americans, George Rogers Clark's Route, the United States in 1783, L'Enfant Plans the Nation's Capital, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Jackson's Campaigns Against the Seminoles, Daniel Boone's Trail, Settlers Reach the Mississippi, How the Settlers Reached Texas, Dispute Between Mexico and Texas, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Missouri Compromise, How the South and North Contrasted, the Union Plant to Divide the South, and Europe in World War I.

Chapter reviews include study suggestions like "Words to Know," "People Who Helped History," "Do You Remember?" "Questions to Think About," "Working with Maps," and "Discovering the World Around You." Each unit ends with a section called "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" that includes history scrapbook ideas, "Understanding the Present" (essay or discussion ideas), and "Preparing for the Future" (one rhetorical question concerning the future). Unit Summaries include two lists entitled "I Should Know That…" and "Dates I Should Remember."

The back of the book includes "Important Dates to Remember" (from 1788 to 1965), a "Dictionary of Historical Terms," and an index. (285 pp., laminated paperback) - MCB

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+Hunters of Souls
Author: Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P.
Neumann Press
Age: Grades 5 and up
Reviewer: Marianna Bartold

 This attractive book can be used as a saint's book, a reader, or a supplement to world history or cultural studies. A beautiful hardcover book on well known and little known Dominican saints and blesseds by the Catholic artist Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, the Preface to Boys and Girls begins, "You do not remember a time when there were no airplanes, no trains, no radios, no automobiles, refrigerators, telephones, or motion picture shows. Even your mother and father are so used to all these things that it is hard for them to remember there was ever a time when things were different. The point is to make the children aware that "people did not always dress the same as they do now," or live, travel or play in the same way we do. Yet, the preface asks the child reader, "Would you be surprised to find that boys and girls of seven hundred years ago were not so very different from boys and girls of today?" The bottom line: "the boys and girls whose stories are told in this book grew up to be saints…" and yet "…it is just as hard to be good as it ever was." A communion of time and space is created between our children and their friends in heaven who were once children.

Beginning with the story of St. Dominic, eight of the ten stories commence with the childhood of a Dominican saint or blessed. Appealing titles and stories are enhanced by the inspiring, detailed black and white scissor-cut artwork of Sister Dorcy. Beginning with From a Castle in Spain (St. Dominic), the stories are neither too short nor too lengthy. The table of contents includes a unique feature - the feast day of the saint whose story is told. Other titles include Three Creeds of a Boy Named Peter (St. Peter Martyr of Verona), The Saint with the Seven-League Boots (St. Hyacinth of Poland), Mother of the Poor (Blessed Zedislva of Bohemia), The Lawyer Who Sailed on His Cloak (St. Raymond of Pennafort), Little Sister Princess (St. Margaret of Hungary), A Book with Golden Pages (Blessed James of Voragine), The Heavenly Gardener (Blessed Albert of Bergano), Rich Little Poor Girl (Blessed Catherine of Racconigi), and Hail, Holy Queen (Blessed Sadoc and Martyrs of Sandomir). (110 pages, plus 2 page bibliography, hardcover. Check supplier for current price.)

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+Old World and America, The (Fr. Furlong, Tan Books and Publishers, $18.00. Answer Key, $10.00)
Age Levels: Approximately grades 5-8 or ages 10-14


Whether your child is a history buff or not, he will enjoy this book by Rev. Philip J. Furlong. Originally printed in 1937, it provides an overview of world history from the creation of the world to the colonization of the Americas. Featured at the end of each chapter are comprehension questions, which include several well-done sections: "Questions That Make You Think," "Strange Facts (Can You Explain This?)," "Questions That Test Your Character," and "Topics for Discussion."

Your child will be asked, for example, to explain how geography influenced Greek history, to explain fully why St. Boniface was a real hero, and to discuss whether or not the Church preserved learning in the Middle Ages.

There are also suggested activities, originally intended for the classroom setting, which might be adapted for home use. For those of you homeschooling mothers extraordinaire who actually find time to do creative projects with your children, you'll find lots of ideas in the activity section. Some examples include using a large scroll of paper compose a medieval charter for a French town, making a "peep box" with a list of the chief events in the wars with Carthage, or dressing dolls like Franciscan missionaries to China. The separate answer key, which is more like a book itself, is a big help for the homeschooling parent. (384 pp., Imprimatur, 200 illustrations & maps plus index.) - Mary Pat Kengmana, New Zealand


+The Old World's Gifts to the New (Sister Mary Celeste, Neumann Press, $20.00)
Age Level: Ages 10 and up or Grades 5 and up

 Another classic republished by Neumann Press, this book spans history from the earliest days of man through the early days of Catholic colonization in Maryland. It explores culture in a unique way by stressing those gifts passed down from generation to generation throughout recorded history.


Contained in an elegant blue hardcover with gold embossing, the text provides a general, but thoroughly Catholic, over view of history in nine units. The chapters begin with Gifts to Us from the People Who Lived Thousands of Years Before Christ (opening with Gifts of Primitive Man, Valley of the Nile, Valley of the Two Rivers, How the Gift of Faith was Preserved by the Hebrews, and Neighbors of the Hebrews), followed by Gifts of Ancient Greece, The Gifts of Imperial Rome, Gifts of the Germanic Tribes, How the People Lived in the Middle Ages, What the Church Did for the People of the Middle Ages, The Great Awakening, Path Makers to the New World, and Path Breakers and Home Makers of the New World.

At the end of many sections will be found a brief explanation of what we owe to a particular culture or leader. The following are just two examples: "The Phoenicians did not think out anything very new. But they traveled a great deal and they carried with them to every place they visited the knowledge of what other peoples had accomplished. It was probably the Phoenicians who first brought the civilization of Egypt and Asia to the people of Europe; thus we owe to these ancient trades the beginnings of much of our knowledge today."

On Alexander the Great, the reader will find "...what Alexander did do was to carry the gifts of Greece into Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia and Inidia. While he was on his great marches, he founded many cities. He called every city after himself. The most famous of these cities is Alexandria in Egypt which he hoped to make the center city of the world. It did become very great. Here was a great museum where scholars, poets, and scientists lived and taught. Here was a library which contained over a half million papyrus rolls of manuscripts. Here was a wonderful lighthouse built in the harbor...It was Alexandria in Egypt that helped to keep alive and to pass on to later peoples Greek learning and art."

Permeated with Catholicism, much of the text reads like an upper level story book. Some sections shorter than others but they outline cultural gifts and Catholic contributions where ever applicable. For example, there are a few pages detailing the stages of a lord's son as he pursued knighthood (first by training when young, then becoming a page, a squire and, hopefully after proving his worthiness, a knight). A beautiful addition is the Catholic ceremony of the aspirant's vigil before the altar on the eve of his knighthood. Yet there are also very brief sections, like those on women saints who were also scholars, and music of the Church in the Middle Ages.

Black and white maps, photos andpictures accompany the actual text. Students will find short quizzes and tests, review work in multiple-choice or "matching" format, discussion questions. The book includes an index but does not have an accompanying teacher's manual or answer key. (477 pp.) - MCB


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 +Before America (Seton Press, Seton Educational Media Catalog, $13.00. Answer Key $3.00)
Age Level : Grade 6 (recommended)
 The six units of this book are The People of Earliest Times, Civilization Comes to Europe, The Roman Empire, The Middle Ages, The Rise of Nations in Europe, and Western Civilization Expands, generally yet effectively ranging from the Stone Age to the discovery of America. Each chapter includes sub-units or sections, ranging from only two to four, making this text interesting, educational, and user-friendly.

Four questions follow each subsection, which can be used as homework assignments or discussion. Each chapter ends with a "Review" page and includes "Learning to Use New Words" (vocabulary words already found in the chapter), "Knowing the Important Facts" (usually comprised of 5 questions on chapter content), "Thinking Through the Facts" (comprehensions questions, also usually 5 questions), and "Developing a Time Sense" (putting events in order of time).

The beginning opens with a brief introduction to the student which includes a continuing "S" curve timeline or "stream of history" from 700,000,000 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Noting the "enormous expanse of time between the beginning of life on the earth and the first valley civilization in Egypt and Sumeria," the time line places the creation of man at 1,000,000 B.C.

The first chapter explains how we know about the past, thanks to archeologists who study findings from caves, under the sea, under the earth, uncovered monuments, the jungle and the work of scientists. It also explains how history events are dated, comparing the Christian, Jewish and Chinese calendars, focusing on the meaning of B.C. and A.D. (no "Common Era" found here). Commencing with a short section on prehistory (before history was written), it continues with Egypt, the Lyidians and Persians, the Jews, and ancient India and China.

Chapter Two opens with the people of Greece, the Aegean civiliation, great artists, thinkers and writers, and then introduces the ancient people of Rome. Chapter Three outlines the beginnings and achievements of the Romans, the Jews - and later the Christians - in the Roman Empire, Christianity, the Church after great persecution, and the fall of the Western empire.

The biggest unit is Chapter Four, The Middle Ages, which covers the rebuilding of Western Europe, the Byzantine Empire, the Moslems, Charlemagne, feudal times, the Crusades, craftsmen, guilds, great churches, cathedrals, schools, scholars and more. The Rise of Nations in Europe, Chapter Five, first focuses on England, then moves to France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Russia.

Chapter Six provides a good overview of the Renaissance, the history of the Vatican Library, and explains why those enamored with the study of the "classics" from Greeks and Romans were "partly right and partly wrong" for their views. Although briefly discussed, this is a compelling area of discussion for Catholic families, as it explains that those interested in the classics totally dismissed the Middle Ages, and the lives and contributions of people like St. Thomas Aquinas. From there, it can also be said that, while the Greeks and Romans had the best writers, thinkers, sculpors and architects, they had not received the revelation of the Trinity and could not know about the coming Incarnation. The ancients may have come very close to the final Truth, but they did not own that knowledge with surety.

Another section of this same chapter deals with the architects and sculptors of this time, introducing the student to Michelangelo, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael, with brief mentions of Rubens, El Greco, Rembrant and Holbein. Immediately following this is the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenburg, the studies of Copernicus and the work of Galileo, which later resulted in the change in our calendar by Pope Gregory XIII (hence, the Gregorian calendar).

 The last two chapters deal with nationalism, the Protestant Revolt (which Protestants simply call "The Reformation"), the true Catholic Reformation (which resulted in the Council of Trent) and the discovery of the New World.

 Nationalism and revolt against the Church's teachings are important concepts for the student to grasp because both seriously impacted history down to our own time. The student must understand how, first, nationalism contributed to the Protestant Revolt which spread throughout Europe; second, the lasting damage accomplished by the heresies of Luther in Germany, Calvin in France, and King Henry VIII in England, and how it effected not only Europe but later the foundations of the United States; and third, how the Church recognized and corrected the erroneous teachings of some of its members by convening the Council of Trent.

Phrased to help 10 and 11 year old children understand the significance of this Council, the text outlines some doctrines that the Council proclaimed in a definite matter so that no more abuses should occur: "Man is saved by faith and good works...The Bible and tradition are the bases of the Catholic religion...The Church decides what the Bible means...The Pope is the supreme head of the Church on earth...Christ instituted seven sacraments...the doctrine of indulgences was upheld but the granting of indulgences for payment of money was forbidden." Each of these teachings are followed by what Luther or Calvin erroneously promoted, helping the child grasp the reason for the Council's declarations.

Throughout the text are black and white illustrations (including one piece of artwork labeling the sections of a medieval castle - the keep, battlements, granary and garden, chapel, sally port, drawbridge, etc.), almost 30 maps, photos of great cathedrals, shadowboxes and interesting "sidebars." Only a few photos are "dated" with 1960's hairstyles, clothing or household appliances. (286 pp. include Glossary, Important Dates, and index. Answer Key sold separately.) - MCB

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+American History for Young Catholics 7 (Seton Press, Seton Educational Media Catalog $20.00 includes answer key)
Age Level: Grade 7 (recommended, but also grades 8-9)

 An extremely well-done textbook, American History for Young Catholics includes thirty chapters, beginning with the settlement of Jamestown and ending with the Reagan era.

 In addition to the more well known facts of history (for example, "no taxation without representation, " George Washington as a military officer and first president of the U.S., William Penn's colony, the Boston Tea Party, the War of Independence, the Dred-Scott Decision, the Civil War, World Wars I and II), this text notes the Catholic contributions, as well as prejudices against the faith, which are presented for study.

 Chapters include sub-sections like "Maryland, a refuge for Catholics," "Kateri Tekakwitha," "The Church in Maryland," "Religious Intolerance in the English colonies," "French missions on Lake Huron and along the Mississippi," "Father Isaac Jogues," "Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits in Old and New Mexico," "The Mission labors of Juan de Padilla," "Baltimore becomes an archdiocese," "The Third Council of Baltimore," "Catholic education," "Early teaching sisterhoods," "Mother Seton," "Anti-Catholic riots," "Catholic contributions to the cause of liberty" (in the Civil War), "Catholics in the Labor Movement," "Rerum Novarum," "Social Work of the Church,"and so much more.

 Outlined in blue shadowboxes, Section Survey is liberally peppered throughout, sometimes appearing on every page in a given chapter. Section Survey assists the students to think about and understand the reading material. These can also be used for either daily work or review questions. The questions can be as simple as "Who were the Hurons?" to "List several reasons why Father Kino is important in the history of America." Each chapter also includes Chapter Review, with an average of 12 questions. - MCB

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+Great Moments in Catholic History (Curran, Neumann Press, $21.00)
Age Level: Ages 14 and Up

This book is like an index or "mini" encyclopedia, or perhaps a "trivia" game on Catholic history. The only problem is that the information isn't trivial. Great Moments provides the answers to many (let's say hundreds) of questions.

Each page highlights detailed information on one historical event, accompanied by an illustration, with a sum total of 100 compelling incidents. Readers won't know if they should start with the 500 questions listed (the questions also indicate on what page the reader will find the answer) or if they should just dive right into the book. Homeschooling families can use this book in many ways - as a topical index from which to launch further study of any historical event, as a catechetical tool, as the foundation for a Catholic history timeline, or for pure enjoyment. (130 pp.) - MCB


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High School History Reviews, Grades 9 through Adult


+Characters of the Inquisition (Walsh, Tan Books and Publishers)
Age: High School to Adult
Marianna Bartold


For those who want to know the true story of the Inquisition, this famous Catholic historian effectively dispels its spurious but clinging myths. Similar to the style of Hilaire Belloc, Characters of the Inquisition provides detailed information on six "main" Inquisitors. At the same time, it outlines the real background of this time period, describes how the Inquisition worked, and what could have happened if there has been no Inquisition. There are no question and answer sections, as this book was not intended as a study text. However, it would be easy to design one's own tests with a combination of typical questions and essays. (301 pp.) - MCB


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+Characters of the Reformation (Belloc, Tan Books and Publishers, $12.00)
Age Level: High School to Adult

 Catholic historian Hillaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation is a fascinating overview of history of the Reformation in England, bringing alive the tragic and true series of events. As the author wrote in his introductory chapter, Nature of the Reformation, " ...neither the Counter-Reformation nor the active fighting which succeeded in preserving a part of Christendom intact would have been necessary but for (the) difficult success of the Protestant movement in England. This is the most important point to seize in all the story of the great religious revolution, and it is the point least often insisted on."


Just as important, and perhaps a timely reminder for Catholics today, Belloc wrote, "Now to understand the Reformation it is not enough to appreciate how it arose and what sort of men conducted the battle on either side when the struggle broke out. It is equally important, and perhaps more important, to appreciate that the affair went, like all great conflicts in history, through certain phases which perpetually recur in human disputes." A lesson that history has oft repeated, and one Belloc understood, is that everything matters in the course of human events.


Characters of the Reformation provides striking insights into the weak and strong character traits - as well as physical traits - of England's historical figures of the Reformation. Belloc began his historical observations with King Henry VIII, his Queen, Catherine of Aragon, followed by the king's mistress, Ann Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, the King's "minister" but a true enemy of Catholicism and perhaps best called the "master behind the scenes") , Sir Thomas More (murdered by order of the king, Thomas More is a canonized saint), Thomas Cranmer ( the King's agent and another arch-enemy of Catholicism, especially the Holy Mass), Stephen Gardiner (the Bishop of Winchester who sided with Henry VIII and realized too late the errors of his ways), Pope Clement VII, Mary Tudor (the legitimate daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Argon), the first Queen Elizabeth (Mary Tudor's illegimate half-sister, as well usurper of the "other" Mary's, Queen of Scots, rightful claim to the throne), the unique, influential and dangerous William Cecil, Mary Stuart (known to history as Mary, Queen of Scots, and the legitimate Queen of England after the death of Mary Tudor), and other real figures like Cardinal Richelieu (who erroneously believed and acted upon his personal view the power of his French King was more important that Catholicism), Oliver Cromwell (described by Belloc as "the true creator of the English Reformation), Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascale, William of Orange, Laud (the Protestant archbishop of Canterbury) and Louis XIV (who Belloc aptly describes as the French king and creator of the idea now called Gallicanism - that is, "national churches existing within the unity of the Catholic Church and yet maintaining highly developed local powers").

There are no question and answer sections, as this book was not intended as a study text. However, it would be easy to design one's own tests with a combination of typical questions and essays. (208 pp.) - MCB


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Christ and the Americas
Carroll, Tan Books and Publishers, $24.00, Seton Answer Key $3.00 or Mother of Divine Grace Syllabus, $15.00)
Age Level: Grade 9 through Adult
Marianna Bartold


Christ and the Americas is a welcome text that focuses on the history of the Catholic Church in all of the Americas (North, Central and South America and the Caribbean). Presented in narrative form, it spans from the time before Christ and concludes in the early 1990's (with brief commentary on Bush, Reagan and Clinton).

Comprised of 26 chapters, the first one begins with The New World Meets the New (from "Devil Gods" worshipped by the Aztecs and Incas to "Spaniards Explore the New World") and continues with Two Heroes, Cortes and Magellan, Missionaries and Conquistadors, Bringing Christ to the New World, France in the New World, From England to America, The Eve of the American War for Independence, The United States' War of Independence, The Birth of the American Government, Catholics in the New Nation, The French Revolution and the New World, Spain is Driven From Latin America, Manifest Destiny, No Irish Need Apply, The Coming of the Civil War, The Civil War, Traditionalists in Latin America, The U.S. in the Gilded Age, The Age of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and the First World War, Vivo Cristo Rey! (about the Mexican revolution, the martyrdom of Blessed Miguel Pro and more), Boom, Depression and the New Deal, The United States in World War II, the Birth and Death of Anti-Communions, Communists vs. Christians in Latin America, and The Moral Decline of America. There are about 15 maps scattered throughout the text.

Each chapter features "Review Questions" (comprehension and critical thinking) and "Projects" (ranging from map work, additional research either on a specific subject presented in the chapter or in the locale in which the student resides, current events, and more). Some project ideas are designed for the classroom (like "Hold a series of debates, etc.") which can either be skipped or adapted for a single student. For example, instead of holding a classroom debate, a student might write a paper explaining the Catholic principles on the side of any moral issue. Although intended as a high school textbook, Christ and the Americas does not include a final test for the year. Answer key information is provided below. (433 pp. includes bibliography and index.) - MCB


+Answer Key to Christ and the Americas ($3.00) or Syllabus for American History Using Christ and the Americas ($15.00)

Available for individual purchase, Seton Home Study makes an economical and complete answer key available in their Seton Educational Media Catalog. (They also sell the text to those not enrolled with Seton.) Another option is the Syllabus written by Laura Berquist (Mother of Divine Grace), which is almost 30 pages (printed on one side). Directed to the student, there are no answers in the syllabus. Actual lesson plans are brief and fill about 12 of the entire 30 pages. Essay assignments range in suggested length and are usually correlated to either the text or a suggested reading list. The remainder of the syllabus consists of more lists (composers, American poets and poems, American artists, European authors "so that students can understand what else was happening in the world," etc.). - MCB


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Christ the King, Lord of History
(Carroll, Tan Books and Publishers, $24.00)
Age: Grade 9 through Adult


Christ the King, Lord of History is unique in our day because the "Catholic conscience" flows through it pages. As another contributor to this review, Mary Pat Kengmana, enthusiastically wrote, "This must be the Cadillac of world history books!"

Anne Carroll did a tremendous job in tracing 4,000 years of world history in 30 chapters, beginning with Abraham through the year 1978. Presented in narrative form, which includes chapter review questions and project ideas, it could well take a homeschooling student two years to study and savor it. Considering the time span it covers, they would be two years well spent. The text is recommended for grades 9 or 10 (for example, Seton Home Study School now uses it for their 10th grade course, while Mother of Divine Grace recommends it for 9th grade).

The first chapter sets the tone for this text with its opening question, "What is history all about?" and then presents the following response: "History is the Japanese decision to bomb Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II. History is Robert E. Lee's choice to command Confederate armies instead of Union armies, so that the Union had a much harder time winning the war. History is the settlement of New England by Pilgrims and Puritans, so that their ideas influenced the kind of government the United States eventually had. History is Christopher Columbus persuading the King and Queen of Spain to support his voyage in which he discovered the New World…History is the record of events which have made a difference in the world."

Anne Carroll begins her first chapter sounding just like the interesting, invigorating and analytical history teacher she is. The reasons her history books are so popular? I'll present just two examples.

First, she recognizes - and teaches - that the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ is the most important event in history. As she aptly points out, only one Person influenced history both before and after He was born on earth - Jesus. Second, the author is willing to direct the reader's attention to the strengths and virtues, weaknesses and foibles of historical characters, Catholic or not.

Inevitably, there will be a few areas in which the reader may not agree with the author's take on a particular subject, individual, or issue. Also, readers may find that particular facts in which they are interested or find noteworthy are either not mentioned or "glossed over." On the other hand, the author does assert in the first chapter that historians "must make choices about the events to be included" in any history book, admitting that the same applies to Christ the King.

The first seven chapters of the entire thirty range from Abraham to The Most Important Event in History (the Incarnation), followed by The Apostolic Age, Empire Versus Church, The Great Heresies, The Barbarians and the Church, The Prophet and the Emperor, The Foundation of a New Civilization, The High Middle Ages, The Greatest of Centuries, Spain Becomes a Great Power, Revolt and Counterattack, England Against the Faith, The Catholic Defense, The Catholic Offense, The Age of France, The Rise and Fall of the Stuarts, Liberals and Despots, The French Revolution, The Age of Napoleon, The Nineteenth Century, World War I and the Russian Revolution, The World Between Wars, World War II, and The Modern World.

The intricacies of the many royal family trees are confusing, but they had great effect on the outcome of history. For this reason, students might find it helpful to create a time-line and add events as they are studied. Even if students cannot keep all the details in mind, they will finish with a greater appreciation of the Catholic Church in the course of world history.

Some of the project ideas are slated for class use (for example, "Act out a session of the Roman Senate debating what to do about Hannibal and Carthage") and can be skipped. Other ideas, like "Prepare a report on [the] Roman religion," are conductive for a family presentation. At any rate, students will benefit from the extra suggestions. The students might also focus on concisely answering review questions, additional resources from the library, etc. (474 pp., including index.) Answer key information found below. - MPK and MCB


+Christ the King, Lord of History Workbook and Study Guide (Mooney, Tan Books, $16.50), or Christ the King Answer Key (Seton Press, $3.00)

For those who customize their student's curriculum, there are two additional resources for the Christ the King, Lord of History textbook. First is Belinda Mooney's Workbook and Study Guide, a very helpful manual that provides textbook answers, lesson ideas and study aids. Second, since Seton Home Study utilizes this text for its tenth grade course and also makes it available for separate purchase through the Seton Education Media Catalog, they developed a simple answer key booklet, which provides only answers bu tno lesson or study helps. - MCB

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+Europe and the Faith (Belloc, Tan Books and Publishers, $11.00)
Age Level: High School to Adult

 "There is no such thing as a 'Catholic" aspect to history. There is a Protestant aspect, a Jewish aspect, a Mohammedan aspect, a Japanese aspect...For all of these look o n Europe from without. The Catholic sees Europe from within. As usual, the critical thinker and writer Hilaire Belloc makes the reader think from the very beginning of his work. Starting in his Introduction, Belloc muses on the Catholic conscience in history, as opposed to the phrases already becoming popular in his day and are now standard in our own. For from the phrase "Catholic aspect" has evolved the "Catholic viewpoint," " the Catholic worldview, " or the "Catholic perspective," as though all other views or perspectives might be legitimate. As Belloc explained, "This talk of 'aspects' is modern and therefore part of a decline...I will not stoop to it."

Belloc was right. Although we don't mean to infer that one worldview compared to another has any claims to legitimacy and equality, today we may be indirectly fostering that error when we speak of the "Catholic perspective" or the Catholic viewpoint" or the "Catholic worldview."

After exploring (and explaining) the idea of Catholic conscience, Belloc proceeds to the ancient history of Catholic Europe. Refuting the common acceptance that the Roman Empire fell to barbarians, the author then embarks on his theme - "Europe is the Church, and the Church is Europe." He does not mean that Catholicism cannot thrive anywhere except Europe. To state it prosaically, the book is a discussion of roots and why the Catholic "plant" cannot be torn from those roots. Delving deep into analysis, the book explores the history of Western civilization that lies in Catholic Europe. This is not technically a history text, but a historical analysis that the Catholic Faith and Europe are inseparable. While there are no questions or chapter tests, it certainly will provide much food for thought and discussion. (192 pp.) - MCB

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+(The) Last Crusader: Isabella of Spain (Walsh, Tan Books and Publishers, $14.95)
Age Levels: High School through Adult

The compelling, often tragic, and true story of the great Catholic Queen Isabella of Spain, wife to King Ferdinand. These faithful monarchs were parents of another faithful child of God, Catherine of Aragon, the inspiring Catholic queen of the lecherous King Henry VIII of England.

Most children have heard of Columbus and how he approached Queen Isabella to fund his historic trip; adults speak, often wrongly, concerning the real facts of the Spanish Inquisition but they do not know the whole story of infiltration and political intrigue against the Catholic Spanish crown. While this is not a children's book, Catholic parents may wish to read it for their own background knowledge; high schoolers will definitely benefit from studying it. Discover how and why the virtually destitute king and queen reclaimed Spain from the Moors, why they expelled many Jews, and why the Spanish Inquisition was established. A must read for the next generation of Catholics! (515 pp. includes index.) - MCB

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