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AP World History – Summer Reading List
Choose ONE of the following books to incorporate into your summer reading plans. All
of the following books have been selected due to their relevance to the AP World History
curriculum and the appropriateness of the reading level.
“Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond
This is the definitive work of environmental determinism, the idea that scientific and
environmental factors can best explain the course of history. Although a challenging
read, it is also the most helpful. Recommended for science aficionados.
“The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church
in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia – and How it Died” by John Philip Jenkins
This revisionist history reexamines previously held notions of the dominance of Western
Catholicism and the spread of Islam. The focus on non-Western history is consistent
with the curricular standards of the AP.
“Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford
This important scholarly work is where the AP draws most of their information about the
Mongols. Not only extremely relevant to our class, it is also an exciting story and a wellwritten narrative that reads less like a history and more like a novel.
“The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture, and the World Economy” by
Kenneth Pomeranz and Steven Topik*
This book is a collection of essays that examine some of the more fascinating vignettes
featuring global trade in the modern era. I am told that it is relatively fascinating for an
economics book, and definitely relevant to the AP World curriculum.
“When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 14051433” by Louise Levathes*
This book focuses in on an important era in Chinese history when they were interested in
overseas trade and exploration. This subject frequently appears on AP exams.
“1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann*
This popular bestseller revised modern notions of life in the Americas before European
colonization. Recommended for those interested in Native American civilizations.
“King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa”
by Adam Hochschild
This is an excellent book on the Belgian Congo that provides numerous insights into the
era of imperialism. Aside from the author’s occasional sermonizing, it is a fascinating
and important piece of historical detective work.
“Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America” by John Charles
This book is an excellent summary of Latin America in the modern era. This book would
not only be helpful to incoming AP World students, but would provide some historical
context for those sophomores taking AP Spanish.
“Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” by Margaret MacMillan
This book examines the global impact of the peace treaties that ended World War I. This
story is critical for understanding the 20th century, and makes for a fascinating read.
“The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair” by
Martin Meredith
This book catalogues the struggles of the African continent since independence.
Recommended for students with a greater interest in African history.
“The Middle East” by Bernard Lewis*
A sweeping summary of the region throughout all of world history by the most respected
Middle Eastern scholar in America. The discussion of change over time in a single
region is a key component of the AP curriculum.
*Denotes books not personally read by Mr. Lerch, but recommended by others.