Summer Assignment for AP European History

Recommended Summer Reading
for AP European History
Welcome to Honors World History and AP European History. We do not lightly
intrude on your summer; however, a little reading over the summer accomplishes a few
very important goals. First, if students begin thinking of history as ideas enacted through
human actions, then we have truly begun the study of history. Too many people see
history simply as a somewhat random collection of events. The sooner we can change
this perception, the better. The books on the recommended reading list present history in
just these terms. Second, education researchers have suggested that we may lose
recently learned skills and our brain functions slow down over extended breaks from
school. Reading that challenges us to think has the effect of reducing the “brain drain” of
the summer break. Lastly, students who show commitment enough to do some outside
reading during the break tend to come to class better prepared and ready for early
Is this a mandatory assignment? No, it is not. It is simply a list of books that
will better prepare you to tackle the study of history in an AP course.
Should I read all of the books on the list? Of course not! If you elect to
complete some summer reading, choose one book off of the list. You should
have a life this summer too!
Will I be tested on this stuff? Because we have selected books that have some
relevance to European history you will eventually encounter themes, ideas, and
people from the summer reading selections in class. However, there is no
specific quiz or test on the summer reading.
We hope that you will enjoy our recommended reading selections. Good Luck.
Recommended Reading List:
A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester; ISBN: 0-316-54556-2
This book provides a foundation to AP European History and provides a survey
of European History from approximately 410 to approximately 1550. AP
European History begins in 1450, so there is a century of overlap with this book.
A word of warning: This is a professional work of history, not a text book.
Manchester does not attempt to whitewash or gloss over the shocking
debauchery of the Renaissance popes. As a result, the subject matter on pages
68-86 is of a sexual nature. Keep in mind that this kind of immorality in the
Roman Catholic Church is one of the catalysts behind the religious changes of
the 16th century that define the modern era of European history.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder; ISBN: 978-0374530716
This novel presents the philosophical history of the Western world in a very
imaginative form. “One day Sophie comes home from school to find two
questions in her mail: Who are you? and Where does the world come from?” The
story that develops after this event takes Sophie through the history of
philosophy from Socrates to Sartre.
Europe 101 by Rick Steves; ISBN: 978-1566915168
This is the book that Mr. Casas recommends to all of his friends planning a trip to
Europe. In this book travel guru Rick Steves offers an informative guide to the
history of Europe from the Prehistoric Era through the modern European Union.
The book contains easy to understand maps, timelines, and diagrams. The first
six chapters cover Europe through the High Middle Ages, and serve as a great
introduction AP European History.
A few more recommendations:
If you pick up your textbook at registration (Western Civilization: Fifth Edition,
Jackson J. Spielvogel), read and take notes on Chapter 11, The Later Middle
Ages: Crisis and Disintegration in the Fourteenth Century (see reading guide).
We always recommend that students pick up a good AP prep guide early in the
year. The best and most comprehensive prep guide is the AP Achiever:
European History by Chris Freiler (ISBN: 978-0073256726). This book is not
generally available at retail book stores. It may be purchased easily through There are other prep guides available at retail book stores by
Barrons and Princeton Review.
AP Euro Blog:
Mr. Casas will be updating his blog over the summer with entries about AP
European History, the 14th Century, and other helpful information and study tips.
You may also ask questions about any of the reading through the blog.