The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, updated and expanded edition (W. W. Norton, 2015)
Newly expanded and updated to include standout works from the twenty-first century as well as essential readings in science (from the earliest works of Hippocrates to the discovery of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs), The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories of six literary genres―fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry, and science―accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the end of each chapter―ranging from Cervantes to Cormac McCarthy, Herodotus to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Aristotle to Stephen Hawking―preview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.
“Updated and expanded from an earlier edition, the book replicates what one should encounter (emphasis on should) at a good liberal arts college or university—a solid grounding in both classical and modern writers who have shaped Western thought. In a user-friendly manner, Bauer suggests not only what a well-educated person should read (and she freely admits her list is subjective and incomplete), but offers guidance on how to read and engage deeply with these canonical texts….
“The heart of The Well-Educated Mind are the lists, covering six essential genres: fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry and science—arranged in that order, from the most familiar and comfortable (for most readers) to the most fear-provoking. Within each category, we are directed to read the works chronologically because, Bauer says, writers build on the work of those who have come before them. She introduces each section with very helpful, context-setting guides on how to approach that genre, what questions to ask yourself when reading and the connections to seek, both within that genre and across all six categories.
“Bauer supplies a challenging and intriguing curriculum. The lists contain their share of the usual suspects—Aristotle, Shakespeare, Milton, Thoreau, Woolf—but some pleasant surprises, too, including All the President’s Men and Don DeLillo’s White Noise. Even if you read only a fraction of the choices, The Well-Educated Mind is a welcome counterbalance to the anodyne, information-based sound bytes that assault our daily lives. Unlike that exercise machine being used as a clothes rack in your bedroom, this is a portable, flexible means to self-improvement.
–Bookpage, January 2016
The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory (W. W. Norton, 2015)
(previously published as The Story of Science)
“ A bright, informative resource for readers seeking to understand science through the eyes of the men and women who shaped its history.” — Kirkus Reviews
Far too often, public discussion of science is carried out by journalists, voters, and politicians who have received their science secondhand. The Story of Western Science (previously published as The Story of Science) shows us the joy and importance of reading groundbreaking science writing for ourselves and guides us back to the masterpieces that have changed the way we think about our world, our cosmos, and ourselves.
Able to be referenced individually, or read together as the narrative of Western scientific development, the book’s twenty-eight succinct chapters lead readers from the first science texts by Hippocrates, Plato, and Aristotle through twentieth-century classics in biology, physics, and cosmology. The Story of Western Science illuminates everything from mankind’s earliest inquiries to the butterfly effect, from the birth of the scientific method to the rise of earth science and the flowering of modern biology.
Each chapter recommends one or more classic books and provides entertaining accounts of crucial contributions to science, vivid sketches of the scientist-writers, and clear explanations of the mechanics underlying each concept. The Story of Western Science reveals science to be a dramatic undertaking practiced by some of history’s most memorable characters. It reminds us that scientific inquiry is a human pursuit—an essential, often deeply personal, sometimes flawed, frequently brilliant way of understanding the world.
In the tradition of her perennial bestseller The-Well Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer delivers an accessible, entertaining, and illuminating springboard into the scientific education you never had.
The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople (W. W. Norton, 2013)
A lively and fascinating narrative history about the birth of the modern world
“Another expertly clarified primer by Bauer (History/Coll. of William & Mary; The History of the Medieval World, 2010, etc.) organizes by themes the chaos of the medieval world into a semblance of cohesive law, migratory logic and religious fervor that would later explode into the Renaissance. The author has an excellent eye for presenting her subject in bold strokes, memorable themes and without undue clutter. Her work is grounded in the notion of the Renaissance (or, as she posits in the plural: renaissances) as gaining seismic steam in the 12th century, with translation of classic texts by Gerard of Cremona and others. The debate between reason and faith was engaged, proving hugely subversive to central powers. The violent, epic thrusts of peoples also marked the period: The Crusades were launched by the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople; the Muslim kingdoms battled to capture the Spanish peninsula, spreading into Africa and northern India; England and France dissolved into frequent anarchy and civil war, leading to the rise of the Plantagenets; roiling ensued in the Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms of Sri Lanka and India; the shoguns ruled in Japan, the Ming in China; great empires like the Incas and later Aztecs rose in South and Central America; and the Mongols galvanized their ferocious military might and set their sights to the west and south. This was the era of Genghis Khan, Frederick Barbarossa, Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, Osman, Robert Bruce and Mansa Musa of Mali, as well as the Magna Carta, Inquisition, the plague and the spread of the Portuguese slave trade into Africa. Already splintered, Byzantium would be eclipsed by the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, provoking new exoduses of peoples, west and east, “the seeds of new nations; the roots of new wars.” Bauer ably captures it all. A wide-angle, thorough world survey for students, complete with immensely useful timelines and maps. “–Kirkus Reviews
“Bauer’s elegant prose and her command of much of the material makes this a wonderful starting point for the study of the ancient world.” Publishers Weekly
W. W. Norton, 2007, ISBN 978-0393059748
“Bauer (The History of the Ancient World) continues her witty and well-written examination of world history with a volume that is rich in detail and intriguing in anecdotal information.” Publishers Weekly
“Bauer parlays her capacious knowledge of history into the exciting and terrifying subject it can be.” — Booklist
“A quietly audacious tour de force.” — Book of the Month Club
W.W. Norton, 2010, ISBN 978-0-393-05975-5
“[A]n engaging, sophisticated and wholly persuasive account of how some public figures get away with transgressions and some do not….An elegant study, also useful for any aspiring public figure.”–Jurek Martin, Financial Times
Princeton University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-691-13810-7
“Bauer outlines the three stages of the classical tradition: first, read for facts; then evaluate them; finally, form your own opinions. After explaining the mechanics of each stage (e.g., what type of notes to take in the book itself, or in the journal), Bauer begins the list section of the book, with separate chapters for her five major genres: fiction, autobiography/memoir, history/politics, drama and poetry. She introduces each category with a concise discussion of its historical development and the major scholarly debates, clearly defining all important terms (e.g., postmodernism, metafiction). And then, the piece de resistance: lists, in chronological order, of some 30 major works in each genre, complete with advice on choosing the edition and a one-page synopsis. Bauer has crafted a timeless, intelligent book.” Publisher’s Weekly
W.W. Norton, 2003, ISBN 0-393-05094-7
“Outstanding … should be on every home educator’s reference bookshelf.”–Homeschooling Today
Visit the official Well-Trained Mind website to find support and information for home schoolers, afterschoolers, and teachers.
To purchase, visit Peace Hill Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble; or order anywhere books are sold.
W.W. Norton, 2009 (Tenth Anniversary Edition), ISBN 978-0393067088
“If you love history and want to convey that love to your children, these books are indispensable.”–The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Told in the straightforward, engaging style that has become Susan Wise Bauer’s trademark, The Story of the World covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present. Africa, China, Europe, the Americas–find out what happened around the world in the centuries before our own. This read-aloud series is designed for parents to share with elementary-school children, or for older readers to enjoy alone. Introduce your child to the marvelous story of the world’s civilizations!
Volume One: Ancient Times
Volume Two: The Middle Ages
Volume Three: Early Modern Times
Volume Four: The Modern Age
Also available in audio format!
Use alone, or combine with the curriculum guides and tests for a complete elementary history/literature/geography program.
For details and reviews, visit the Story of the World page.
Purchase at Peace Hill Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble; or order anywhere books are sold.
Peace Hill Press, 2001-2007, ISBNs 978-1933339-009 /978-1933339-092 / 978-0971412-996 / 978-0972860-338
“Highly, highly recommended.”–Homeschoolreviews.com
“The Writing With Ease (WWE) text, with or without the coordinating workbooks, provides parents with a tool to help their students develop competent analytical writing skills….If you desire to help your early elementary students become competent writers and would appreciate a very direct, organized-yet-flexible, and economical approach to that goal, you would do well to consider The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease.”–The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Peace Hill Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1933339-252