20th Century History

This year’s history study focuses on the twentieth century. Studying modern history has certain difficulties that do not apply to earlier periods:

(1) Most history texts stop either at the beginning or in the middle of the twentieth century.

(2) Those books that cover the whole century are more suitable for high school or adult reading, rather than younger teenagers.

(3) The nature of twentieth century history means that secular books with material sufficiently challenging for this age group will almost always have problematic sections or images.

(4) Books covering the entire century from a Catholic perspective simply aren’t available.

Due to the lack of a narrative text suitable for this level to provide an overview of world history for this level we have arranged this course as a series of units from which you can choose. We recommend that each student studies the history of their own country (USA or Britain) for twelve weeks during the first term, and follows this up with four six-week units chosen from the following list of topics:

First World War

Second World War

Russia and the Fall of Communism


Middle East

South Africa

South East Asia (India, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan)

For World War I, World War II and the Middle East, complete units divided into eighteen lessons are available; for the other topics we have provided lists of resources, and hope to add full lesson plans later.

If you would like a recommended course of study, we would suggest:

(1) Second World War

(2) Russia or China

(3) First World War or South East Asia

(4) Middle East or South Africa

These units rely heavily on primary source material (original documents from the period being studied). Where possible we have used books from the Witness to History series recently published by Heinemann. These short books on a number of twentieth century history topics consist of double page spreads, with a brief introduction to an aspect of the topic complemented by an extract from an original document. You can see a sample here. They include sources from different perspectives, ranging from eyewitness accounts to newspaper reports and extracts from speeches and official documents. We have supplemented these with other accounts and documents that can be found online, including Catholic sources where possible.

Time requirement: Three lessons weekly, of approximately 45 minutes each, plus supplementary reading.

Teacher involvement: While students can study the material alone, it is important to remember that twentieth century history is a heavy subject that includes distressing and emotive topics. Please make time to follow up your child’s history lessons with some discussion about what they are learning. This does not need to be formal discussion: conversation while doing dishes would be fine!

Key Resources (Key Texts for individual study units are listed separately)

US: * The Century for Young People, by Peter Jennings

UK: * Young Oxford History of Britain and Ireland, Section 5: A Century of Change

(also published as a separate volume, A Century of Change by James Mason)

Witness to History: The Troubles in Northern Ireland by Tony Allan

Recommended Resource

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (formerly published as Kingfisher History of the World), or similar history encyclopedia

Note: Selections from this book are listed for some units. They provide a useful introduction to certain topics, but are not an essential element of the course.

Suggested Reference Works

There are a number of books available providing newspaper style reports, photographic illustrations or eyewitness accounts of the twentieth century. We recommend having at least one of these additional reference books to hand.

Note: The nature of the subject matter means that there may be problematic information or images in these books. We have not thoroughly previewed them, as the criteria people use for judging suitability for this age group varies so widely. Items we consider acceptable, you may not; and vice versa. Please review any of these books that you plan to use and exercise your own judgment. Many of these were published at the end of the twentieth century and are now out of print, but are likely to be easily available used or through libraries. Any other similar book(s) can be substituted.

20th Century Day by Day (pub.Dorling Kindersley) – US edition (available from Sonlight), or UK edition as appropriate [previous title Chronicle of the 20th Century]

20th Century: a Visual History by Simon Adams (pub.Dorling Kindersley)

National Geographic: Eyewitness to the 20th Century

LIFE: Our Century in Pictures by Tony Chiu

Children’s History of the 20th Century (pub.Dorling Kindersley)

Eyewitness: the 20th Century (Eyewitness Accounts of the Moments that Shaped Our Century), by Jon E.Lewis (pub.Robinson)

Usborne Illustrated Atlas of the 20th Century

Useful Links

About: 20th Century History – links to many topics and sites about individuals. Includes very useful timeline and map links.

Modern History Sourcebook – hundreds of primary source documents

This course makes use of a number of articles and primary source documents available through websites. You may wish to print these at the beginning of a unit ready for your student to use.

Lesson Format

  • A lesson should take around 45 minutes
  • Read the recommended selections
  • Look at additional reference material (as time permits)
  • Add events and people to a timeline or Book of Centuries
  • Look up places mentioned on a map. (You may like to add outline maps to a history notebook).
  • Write narration in a history notebook. (This could take various forms: a straightforward summary of the topic; comparison of two sides of an issue; an imaginative “eyewitness” account; a newspaper style report; or any other “narration” of your choice.)

You could choose to approach a week’s work in one of two ways (or a mixture of both):

(1) For each lesson spend 30 minutes reading, followed by a short written narration and / or map and timeline work

(2) Spend two lessons reading, then use the entire third lesson for a longer written narration and map/timeline work

For some units specific lesson breakdowns are given together with suggestions for narration and notebook work. These are only ideas: feel free to use them or ignore them as you choose.

Suggested additional reading is given for each 6 week period – your child should read at least one of the books recommended.

Further reading suggestions are optional, intended for children who enjoy history, are voracious readers, or who develop an interest in a particular topic.

National History – United States of America (12 weeks)

Key Resource

The Century for Young People by Peter Jennings

Week 1

Ch.1 – Seeds of Change 1901-1914

Week 2: First World War

Ch.2 – Shell Shock, 1914-1919

Week 3: The Twenties

Ch.3 – Boom to Bust, 1920-29

Week 4: The Depression

Ch.4 – Stormy Weather, 1929-1936

Week 5

Ch.5 – Over the Edge, 1936-1941

Week 6

Ch.6 – Global Nightmare, 1941-1945

The USS Franklin’s Hero Priest by Katie O’Brien

Week 7

Ch.7 – An Uneasy Peace, 1946-1952

Week 8

Ch.8 – Mass Markets, 1953-1961

Week 9

Ch.9 – Into the Streets, 1961-1969

Week 10

Ch.10 – Years of Doubt, 1969-1981

Week 11

Ch.11 – New Morning, 1981-1989

Week 12

Ch.12 – Machine Dreams, 1989-1999

Further Reading

Carry a Big Stick: the Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt (George Grant) – conservative Christian perspective

You Want WOMEN to Vote, Lizzie Stanton (Jean Fritz)

Earthquake at Dawn (Kristiana Gregory)

The Yanks are Coming: the United States in the First World War (Albert Marrin) – out of print

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (Mildred D.Taylor)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Witness to History: The Great Depression (Nathaniel Harris)

Witness to History: World War II Homefront (Gary Barr)

Victory in the Pacific (Albert Marrin)

Air Raid: Pearl Harbor (Theodore Taylor)

Witness to History: Pearl Harbor (Gary Barr)

Up Periscope (Robb White) – life aboard a submarine in the Pacific

Witness to History: Civil Rights by Brendan January

National History – Britain (12 weeks)

Key Resources

* Young Oxford History of Britain and Ireland, Section 5: A Century of Change (also published as a separate volume, A Century of Change by James Mason)

Witness to History: The Troubles in Northern Ireland by Tony Allan

Week 1: Edwardian England

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The British Empire 1815-1913

A Century of Change: Ch.1 – Land of Hope and Glory

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Suffrage 1848-1928

Week 2: First World War

A Century of Change: Ch.2 – Your Country Needs You

Week 3: Ireland

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

  • Ireland 1800-1913
  • Ireland: Civil Unrest 1916-1923 (KHE, p.392-93)

Weeks 4 and 5: Between the Wars

A Century of Change: Ch.3 – Peace in Our Time (to ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord’)

Weeks 6 to 8: World War II

A Century of Change: Ch.4 – The People’s War

Witness to History: The D-Day Landings

Week 9: Post-War Britain

A Century of Change: Ch.5 – Winds of Change

Week 10: 1970s-90s

A Century of Change: Ch.6 – Britain in Doubt

Week 11: Northern Ireland

Witness to History: The Troubles in Northern Ireland by Tony Allan (pub.Heinemann)

Week 12

A Century of Change: Ch.7 – The Twenty-First Century

Further Reading

Bring Out the Banners (Geoffrey Trease) – historical fiction telling the story of two very different English “suffragettes”

Double Take: Votes for Women (Belinda Hollyer)

Street of Tall People by Alan Gibbons – set in the East End of London in 1936. Story of the friendship between two boys – one Jewish, and the other connected with Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts.

Dolphin Crossing (Jill Paton Walsh) – two boys join the effort to rescue British soldiers stranded at Dunkirk

A Spoonful of Jam by Michelle Magorian – slice of life story of a grammar school scholarship girl in 1947

World History – First World War (6 weeks)

Key Resources

Witness to History: World War I by Sean Connolly (pub.Heinemann) [Note: Some sections of this book are read out of order]

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

Any reference work from the suggested list

Additional Reading

Choose at least one book from the further reading list.

Useful Links

BBC History Website: World War I

First World War.Com

Week 1: The Beginning

Lesson 1: Background

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The Balkan Wars 1921-1913; The World at a Glance 1914-1949;

World War I – Introduction; How do we know?

Map work: Look at a map of Europe in 1914. Add to notebook

Lesson 2: Causes

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The Start of World War I 1914
World War I
– Alliances and crises; Shots at Sarajevo
Notebook: Write a brief note on the causes of the First World War

Lesson 3: The Early Stages

World War I – Europe at War; ‘Over by Christmas’
The Christmas Truce of 1914
Notebook: Write a narration about the Christmas Truce or research and report on Lord Kitchener

Week 2: Trench Warfare

Lesson 1

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Battles of World War I, 1914-1917

World War I – The German Advance; Trench Warfare
Notebook: Copy the map of the Battle of the Marne and summarise the Schlieffen Plan

Lesson 2

Selections from Journal of Private Donald Fraser of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1915
Note: Graphic description of trench warfare.

Lesson 3

World War I – Gas attacks (pp.36-37)
Notebook: Write a report on trench warfare or a newspaper account or a first-person diary entry

Week 3:

Lesson 1: Eastern and Southern Fronts

World War I – The Eastern Front; Gallipoli; The Wider Conflict (pp.40-41)
Notebook: Narration of Battle of Gallipoli (this could be a description by either an Australian or a Turkish soldier)
Mapwork: Add maps of the Eastern Front and Gallipoli to notebook

Lesson 2: Air War

World War I – Battles in the air (you can also read another account from the Red Baron here); Total war
Memoirs of Harold F.Taylor, pilot of the Royal Flying Corps
Notebook: Research and report on the Red Baron or Zeppelins

Lesson 3: Sea War

World War I – U-boats; The Battle of Jutland (pp.30-31)
British newspaper report on the Battle of Jutland
Notebook: Research and report on the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915

Week 4: The Later Stages

Lesson 1: Uprising and Revolution

World War I – The Irish Uprising; Turmoil in Russia

Lesson 2: America and the War

World War I – The USA enters the war
Woodrow Wilson’s speech to Congress and formal declaration of war
Notebook: Question to answer – Do you think the USA should have entered the war earlier? Explain your answer.

Lesson 3: War Poets

World War I – War poetry

Audio gallery: ‘The Sentry’ by Wilfred Owen and a letter from the poet to his mother

More poetry by Wilfred Owen and others

Poems by Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon.

Notebook: Copywork – any World War I poem

Week 5: The Church

Lesson 1: Pope Benedict XV

Biography of Pope Benedict XV; Pope Benedict XV’s Peace Note of 1st August 1917

Notebook: Add narration of Benedict XV and his role in the war

Lesson 2: An Emperor and a Chaplain

Emperor Charles I who was beatified in 2004

A brief biography of Fr.Francis Duffy, an American army chaplain (third section of article)

Notebook: Report on Blessed Charles of Austria

Lesson 3: Fatima

Read any account of the Fatima apparitions of you choice

or explore EWTN’s Fatima website

Week 6: The End of the War

Lesson 1: The Armistice

World War I – Turning the tide; The armistice

British newspaper report of the Armistice

Lesson 2: Treaty of Versailles

World War I – A lasting peace?

American journalist’s description of the Versailles signing ceremony

Mapwork: Add map of Europe in 1919 to your notebook. Compare it with the map of Europe in 1914.

Lesson 3: The Aftermath

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – World War I: the Aftermath 1918-1923 (KHE, p.396-97)

World War I – What have we learnt from World War I?

Notebook: Essay: What have you learnt from studying World War I?

Further Reading

The Good Master and The Singing Tree (Kate Seredy) – set in Hungary before and during World War I

War Horse (Michael Morpurgo) – told through the eyes of a horse used at the Front by the British army

Private Peaceful (Michael Morpurgo) – a soldier refuses to follow orders and is court martialled for cowardice. Moving and thought provoking.

POW (Martin Booth) – a boy sailor finds himself in a prisoner of war camp after his boat is torpedoed. Based on the memories of the author’s grandfather.

Gay Neck: the Story of a Pigeon (Dhan Gopal Mukerji) – story of an carrier pigeon used by an Indian regiment in France

The Flying Aces of World War I (Gene Gurney) – out of print

The Yanks are Coming: the United States in the First World War (Albert Marrin) – out of print

Rilla of Ingleside (L.M.Montgomery) – one of the sequels to the “Anne” books.

The Road From Home: the Story of an Armenian Girl by David Kherdian – true story of the author’s mother, caught up in the twentieth century’s “unknown holocaust” as Turkey attempted to destroy its Armenian minority
World History – Second World War (6 weeks)

Key Resources

Witness to History: World War II by Sean Connolly [Note: Some sections of this book are read out of order]

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

Any reference work from the suggested list

Recommended Resource

Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World War II

Useful Links

BBC Online: World War II

Eyewitness to History: World War II

Additional Reading

Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl

Note: There are so many books available on World War II that further reading is listed by week rather than in a single list.

Week 1: Fascism and Nazi Germany

Lesson 1: Fascism

Kingfisher History Encylopedia – The Rise of Fascism 1922-1939; Weimar and Hitler 1919-1939;

German Expansion 1938-1939; The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939

Lesson 2: Hitler and Life in Germany

Brief biography of Adolf Hitler

Listen to extracts from speeches by Hitler made in 1933 and 1939 (with translation)

Cardinal Recollections: Pope Benedict XVI’s childhood in Nazi Germany

Lesson 3: Beginning of the War

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The Beginning of World War II 1939

World War II – Introduction; How do we Know?; Blitzkrieg!

Further Reading

The Shadow of His Wings (Fr.Gereon Goldmann)

I Was There (Hans Peter Richter) – partly autobiographical book about German children in the Hitler Youth.

Witness to History: The Rise of Hitler by Nathaniel Harris

The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler (William L.Shirer) (World Landmarks Series)

Hitler (Albert Marrin) – biography

Week 2: Britain and the Blitz

Lesson 1: Dunkirk

Brief description of evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk, May / June 1940

Five eyewitness accounts of Dunkirk

Account of Albert Barnes, a fourteen year old rescuer

Speeches by British prime minister Winston Churchill:

1. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” – 13 May 1940

2. Listen to “We shall fight on the beaches” – 18 June 1940

Lesson 2: The Battle of Britain

World War II – The Battle of Britain

Another speech by Churchill: “Never in the field of human conflict…” – 20 August 1940

Eyewitness account of British Battle of Britain pilot John Beard

Lesson 3: The Blitz

World War II – The Blitz

Journalist’s account of a night raid on London in 1940

Further Reading

Dolphin Crossing (Jill Paton Walsh) – two boys join the effort to rescue British soldiers stranded at Dunkirk

Fireweed (Jill Paton Walsh) – two teenagers try to survive alone during the Blitz (slight element of romance)

Enemy Brothers: a Story of World War II (Constance Savery) – a British airman discovers a captured German boy is his long lost brother.

Useful Links

Winston Churchill Centre

Week 3: World War

Lesson 1: Pearl Harbor

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – War in the Pacific 1941-1945

World War II – Pearl Harbor (pp.14-15)

Accounts of Pearl Harbor from both American and Japanese sources

US declaration of war with Germany

Lesson 2: Africa

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – War in the West 1939-1945

World War II – Fighting in Africa (pp.16-17)

Lesson 3: Russia

World War II – The Soviet defence (pp.20-21)

Article on the Battle of Stalingrad, 1942

Further Reading

Air Raid: Pearl Harbor (Theodore Taylor)

Stories of Karol: the Unknown Life of John Paul II by Gian Franco Svidercoschi – puts the early life of Pope John Paul into the context of Poland during and after the Second World War

The Winged Watchman (Hilda van Stockum) – life in Holland during WW2 (pub.Bethlehem Books)

The Endless Steppe (Esther Hautzig) – a Jewish family are sent to a Siberian labour camp during World War II

The Borrowed House (Hilda van Stockum) – a 13 year old German girl has been indoctrinated with Nazi propaganda. Living in occupied Holland, she learns to see through the lies.

Number the Stars (Lois Lowry) – Danish Jews are helped to escape to Sweden by boat

Week 4: The War Continues

Lesson 1: War in Asia

World War II – The fall of Singapore (pp.18-19); Fighting in the Philippines (pp.22-23);

“A call for sacrifice” speech by Franklin D.Roosevelt, 28 April 1942

Lesson 2: War at Sea

World War II – The enemy below (pp.24-25); War in the Pacific (pp.28-29); Defending Australia (pp.30-31)

The USS Franklin’s Hero Priest by Katie O’Brien

Lesson 3: War-Time Life

World War II – Women at War (pp.26-27)

Further Reading

Victory in the Pacific (Albert Marrin)

Up Periscope (Robb White) – life aboard a submarine in the Pacific

Week 5: The Holocaust, the Church and D-Day

Lesson 1: The Holocaust

World War II – The Holocaust

Description of a Nazi Death Camp after liberation in 1944

Elie Weisel, “Listen to the silent screams” – speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Note: The Hebrew words quoted in the text (“Yitgadal veyitkadash, Shmay Rabba”) are the opening words of Kaddish,

the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Lesson 2: The Church, the War and the Jews

Mit Brennender Sorge: Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the Church and the German Reich

The Dutch Church speaks out on behalf of the Jews

Pope John Paul II, “Holocaust Speech” – given at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, in 2000.

Lesson 3: D-Day and the War in Europe

World War II – Advancing through Italy; D-Day; Air raids on Germany; The Battle of the Bulge

Background Reading (for teacher!)

Pius XII and the Second World War (Pierre Blet) – substantial book written for adults.

Further Reading

Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)

A Place to Hide: True Stories of Holocaust Rescues (Jayne Pettit)

The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom) – a Dutch Christian family risk their lives hiding Jews from the Nazis

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Judith Kerr) – a German Jewish family travel through Europe in search of safety

One Small Suitcase (Barry Turner) – story of the kindertransporte, Jewish children sent as refugees to Britain without their parents.

Week 6: The End of the War and the Aftermath

Lesson 1: The Final Stages

World War II – Through Burma; Yalta; V-E Day;

Listen to victory speech of Winston Churchill on V-E day

Lesson 2: Hiroshima and Nagasaki

World War II – The atomic bomb

Hiroshima and Nagasaki [Note: Includes graphic description]

Lesson 3: After the War

World War II – What have we learnt from World War II?

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The United Nations 1945-1948

– Italy and the Balkans 1943-1949

– Peace in the Pacific 1945-1948

Further Reading

Witness to History: The D-Day Landings (Sean Connolly)

Witness to History: Hiroshima (Nick Harris)

The Silver Sword (Ian Serraillier) [US Title: Escape from Warsaw] – four children struggle to survive in the ruins of Warsaw.
World History – Middle East (6 weeks)

Key Resources

Witness to History: The Arab-Israeli Conflict by Stewart Ross

Witness to History: The War in Iraq by David Downing

Any reference work from the suggested list

Additional Reading

Any book of your choice (see further reading list for suggestions)

Useful Websites

Latin (Catholic) Patriarchate of Jerusalem – information about the Vatican and the Middle East, and about Arab Christians. Includes a number of links on Pope John Paul II’s visits to the Middle East.

CNN: War in Iraq

Conflict in the Persian Gulf (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) – resources for 1991 and 2003 wars

Week 1: Israel – Birth of a Nation

Lesson 1: Introduction

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – Introduction; How do we know?

Mapwork: Study map of Israel and surrounding area; add map of Israel to notebook; add outline map of the middle east to

folder and label countries

Lesson 2: The British Mandate in Palestine

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – A holy land; Conflicting interests; Mandate – A holy land; Conflicting interests; Mandate

Notebook: Write a short report on Zionism

Lesson 3: The Birth of Israel

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – Holocaust; Exit Britain, enter the UN; Israel, 1948-49

Israeli Declaration of Independence, 1948

Week 2: Israel – Wars of Survival

Lesson 1: Early Years

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – Digging in, 1948-55; Suez; The Palestinians organize

Lesson 2: The Six-Day War

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – The Six-Day War, 1967; Resolution 242; Arab versus Arab

The Palestinian National Charter, 1968 (Palestinian Liberation Organisation Covenant)

Lesson 3: Yom Kippur War

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – Yom Kippur; The conflict spreads; Camp David

Week 3: Israel – Intifada and Terror

Lesson 1: The Intifada

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mounting violence; Intifada; PLO recognition and isolation

Lesson 2: Terror and Counter-Terror

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – Signs of hope, 1991-96; Terror and counter-terror

Lesson 3: Conclusion

The Arab-Israeli Conflict – The road map; What have we learnt?

Pope John Paul II talks about Jerusalem (from Redemptionis Anno)

Week 4: Iraq – Saddam Hussein and the Gulf War

Lesson 1: Introduction

The War in Iraq – Introduction; How do we know?; Iraq; Saddam and Iraq

Mapwork: Add map of Iraq to folder.

Lesson 2: Saddam’s Wars

The War in Iraq – Saddam and his neighbours; War and containment

Interview with the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad

Notebook: Research and report on either the Iran-Iraq War or the Gulf War or the effects of economic sanctions on Iraq

Note: Useful resources for both wars can be found here

Lesson 3: The Case for War

The War in Iraq – The rise of the US neo-conservatives; After September 11; The case for military action

Notebook: What reasons were there for war against Iraq?

Week 5: Iraq – War

Lesson 1: The Case Against War

The War in Iraq – The case against military action; The decision is taken

Statement of Cardinal Pio Laghi, Special Envoy of John Paul II to President George Bush (5 March 2003)

Notebook: What arguments were there against war?

Lesson 2: Fighting the War

The War in Iraq – The opposing forces; War from the air; Advances on the ground

Stories of heroes of the war (including Dominican nun Sister Marianne Pierre and Catholic chaplain Lt. Col. Philip Briganti)

Lesson 3: Effects of the War

The War in Iraq – Civilian casualties; The media and the war; Iraq’s neighbours

Notebook: Write a newpaper report on any aspect of the war from the perspective of an embedded journalist.

Week 6: Iraq – After the War

Lesson 1: End of the War

The War in Iraq – Advance to Baghdad; The regime collapses; Short-term priorities

President Bush on the capture of Saddam Hussein

Lesson 2: After the War

The War in Iraq – New international tensions; New tensions inside Iraq

Lesson 3: Outlook

The War in Iraq – Prospects; What have we learnt from the war in Iraq

Notebook: Summarise your conclusions about the Iraq War

Further Reading

Laurence of Arabia (Alistair Maclean) – World Landmarks Series (out of print)

After the War (Carol Matas) – 15 year old Ruth survives the Holocaust and makes her way to Palestine as a refugee

Ben Gurion and the Birth of Israel (Joan Comay) – World Landmarks series

One More River (Lynne Reid Banks) – a Canadian teenager is a reluctant emigré when her family move to Israel to live on a Kibbutz. Story about how she adjusts to her new life, finds herself caught up in the Six Day War and begins to think of herself as an Israeli

Broken Bridge (Lynne Reid Banks) – a Jewish teenager sees her cousin murdered by Palestinians. Sequel to One More River
World History – Russia and the Fall of Communism (6 weeks)


** Key Resources

Russian Revolution

** Twentieth Century Perspectives: The Russian Revolution by Tony Allan

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Russia 1917-1924 (KHE, p.394-95)

Eyewitness account of execution of Tsar Nicholas II, 1918

Further Reading

1917: Red Banners, White Mantle by Warren Carroll – Catholic perspective on the events of 1917.

One Day in Russia 1917 by Philip Bolsover

Note: Out of print but used copies cheaply and easily available. You may need to search under the title One Day in Russia Nineteen-Seventeen

Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan – Fiction. Katya’s mother becomes a lady-in-waiting to the Empress of Russia in 1913; World War I and the Russian Revolution bring great changes to her life. Well told “inside story”.

Anastasia, the Last Grand Duchess: Russia 1914 (Carolyn Meyer) – Royal Diaries Series

The White Nights of St.Petersburg (Geoffrey Trease) – another “inside story”, from the perspective of a young Englishman visiting St.Petersburg at the time of the Revolution. Well told by a good author. Out of print.

Communist Russia and the Church

** Bolshevik Persecution of the Catholic Church, by Donia Byrnes (Loyola University Student Historical Journal)

** Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism) – encyclical of Pope Pius XI promulgated on 19 March 1937

Stalinist Russia

** One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) – classic account of life in a Siberian labour camp under Stalin

Further Reading

Stalin: Russia’s Man of Steel (Albert Marrin) – out of print

The Impossible Journey (Gloria Whelan) – Siberia after the Russian Revolution. Sequel to Angel on the Square

The Cold War

Twentieth Century Perspectives: The Cold War by David Taylor

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The Cold War 1945-1989

Fall of Communism

** Witness to History: The Collapse of Communism by Stewart Ross

The role of Pope John Paul II in the fall of communism

Pope John Paul II, “We do not want a Poland which costs us nothing” – speech given at Czestochowa, Poland, 18 June 1983

** Vaclav Havel, “A contaminated moral environment” – speech, 1 January 1990

Further Reading

Shadow Under the Sea (Geoffrey Trease) – set in Russia during the Perestroika Period

Song for a Tattered Flag (Geoffrey Trease) – fall of the Ceaucescu regime in Romania
World History – China (6 weeks)


** Key Resources

** Twentieth Century Perspectives: Rise of Modern China by Tony Allan

Boxer Rebellion

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – The Opium Wars 1830-1864 (background); The Boxer Rebellion

Pierre Loti, When the Allies Entered Peking, 1900

Further Reading

Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom (Katherine Paterson)

Chinese Republic

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – China 1911-1935 (KHE, p.402-3)

Further Reading

The Man Who Changed China (Pearl S.Buck) – story of Sun Yat-Sen who set up a democratic republic in China in 1921(World Landmarks series)

China at War

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – China and Japan at War 1931-1945

Further Reading

China’s Long March: 6000 Miles of Danger (Jean Fritz) – the long march to safety of the Communist Red Army in 1934-5

The Small Woman (Alan Burgess) – biography of Gladys Aylward, Protestant missionary to pre-War China

The House of Sixty Fathers (Meindert de Jong) – a Chinese boy separated from his family in Japanese-occupied China is rescued by some American airmen

Other Resources

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (video)

Post-War China and the Cultural Revolution

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Communist China 1945-1949; China 1949-1997

** Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Liang – story of a 12 year old girl who lived through Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution

The underground Catholic Church in China

Biography of Ignatius Cardinal Kung

Further Reading

Mao Tse-Tung and His China (Albert Marrin) – out of print

Chu Ju’s House by Gloria Whelan – a 14 year old girl leaves home rather than see her baby sister put up for adoption. Set in modern rural China
World History – South East Asia (6 weeks)


** Key Resources

Week 1: India

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Southeast Asia 1800-1913; Indian Independence 1945-1947;

British Commonwealth 1914-1949

Eyewitness account of the assassination of Gandhi, 1948

Listen to extracts from Prime Minister Nehru’s speech following the assassination of Gandhi, 30 January 1948

Further Reading

Homeless Bird (Gloria Whelan) – a 13 year old Indian girl undergoes an arranged marriage but is widowed, leaving her no place in her traditional Indian society.

Other Resources

Gandhi (Video / DVD)

Week 2: Korea


** Twentieth Century Perspectives: The Korean War by Michael Burgan

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Wars in Asia 1950-1988

Further Reading

The War in Korea: 1950-53 (Robert Leckie) – World Landmarks series

Year of Impossible Goodbyes (Sook Nyul Choi) – when Japanese occupation is succeeded by Russian domination of North Korea, Sookan’s family try to escape to the south

So Far From the Bamboo Grove (Yoko Kawashima Watkins) – a Japanese family flee from North Korea at the end of World War II. Violent.

Weeks 3 and 4: Vietnam

** Witness to History: The War in Vietnam by Michael Burgan

The Catholic Church in Vietnam

Our Lady of Lavang: a Marian shrine in Vietnam

Further Reading

America and Vietnam: the Elephant and the Tiger by Albert Marrin – out of print

Goodbye, Vietnam (Gloria Whelan) – a 13 year old girl and her family escape from Vietnam by boat to start a new life.

Weeks 5 and 6: Afghanistan

** Witness to History: Afghanistan by David Downing

Further Reading

The Breadwinner (Deborah Ellis) – a family struggle to survive after their father is arrested by the Taliban
National History – South Africa (6 weeks)


** Key Resource

** Witness to History: Apartheid in South Africa (David Downing)

Boer War

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Scramble for Africa 1880-1912

Brief summary of the Boer War

Biography of Emily Hobhouse, who campaigned to bring an end to concentration camps in South Africa, and to help those who suffered in the war.

Account of Annie Rayne, a child at the Siege of Mafeking (and background information)

Additional Resource

Anglo Boer War Museum web site

South Africa and Apartheid

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – Famine in Africa 1967-2000; South Africa 1990-2000

Further Reading

Out of Bounds: Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope (Beverley Naidoo) – fifty years of South African history told through the eyes of seven fictional children (Beverley Naidoo) – fifty years of South African history told through the eyes of seven fictional children

Journey to Jo’burg (Beverley Naidoo) – two children learn about the realities of life as a black person in South Africa when they go in search of their mother.

No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa (ed.Tim McKee) – experiences of 12 South African teenagers under apartheid

The Other Side of Truth (Beverley Naidoo) – a 12 year old Nigerian girl is forced to flee to Britain as a refugee after her mother is shot. Can she help her father, arrested as an illegal immigrant?

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