Documentary-Based Modern World History Study

Documentary-Based Modern World History StudyWe have enjoyed learning history through documentaries for a couple years now.  This documentary-based study covers World War 1 up through the present day.  Because there is so much, it will likely take more than one school year to finish it.  Most of the time will be spent watching documentaries, but we will be using 3 different books:

  1. Modern World History:  Patterns of Interaction (older edition)
  2. A People’s History of the United States
  3. A People’s History of American Empire  (comic book style)

My 8th grader will be reading all three books and my 6th grader will be reading Modern World History:  Patterns of Interaction and A People’s History of American Empire.

It was particularly difficult choosing resources for this time period in history because I wanted to avoid a white-washed view of history.  I desire my children to see history through a critical lens to help them learn to think through current and future events rather than accept the status quo.  Also, I’ve tended to choose videos that reflect history from the perspective of the people rather than governments.

The Great War 1914-1918

The Stage is Set for War pg 360-366

  • Read War is the Health of the State – A People’s History of the United States pg 359-376
  • Read Righteous Conquest – A People’s History of American Empire pg 76-77
  • Read WWI – A People’s History of American Empire pg 82-87
  • Read Resistance to War – A People’s History of American Empire pg 88-102
  • The Germans:  Bismark and the German Empire
  • The Germans:  Wilhelm and the World
  • Dan Snow in Sarajevo
  • Timeline additions:  June 1914 Archduke Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated; July 1914 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

War Consumes Europe pg 367-372

War Affects the World pg 373-379

A Flawed Peace pg 380-383

Revolution and Nationalism 1900-1939

Revolutions in Russia pg 389-394

Totalitarianism  Case Study:  Stalinist Russia pg 395-400

Collapse of Chinese Imperial Rule pg 401-404

Nationalism in India and Southwest Asia pg 405-409

  • Gandhi movie gandhi
  • Timeline additions: 1919, Amritsar Massacre in Punjab, India; 1923, Turkey becomes a republic; 1935, Great Britain grants India self-rule.

Years of Crisis 1919-1939

An Age of Uncertainty pg 415-420

A Global Depression pg 421-426

Fascism Rises in Europe pg 427-430

Aggressors on the March pg 431-435

World War II, 1939-1945

Hitler’s Lightning War pg 441-446

Japan Strikes in the Pacific pg 447-450

The Holocaust pg 451-454

The Allies are Victorious pg 455-461


The Devastation of Europe and Japan pg 462-466

Restructuring the Postwar World, 1945-Present

Two Superpowers Face Off pg 474-481

Space Race

Civil Rights

Communists Triumph in China pg 482-485

War in Korea and Vietnam pg 486-490

Revolt Against the Status Quo

Cold War Around the World pg 491-495

The Seventies

The Cold War Thaws pg 496-499

Reagan/Bush Years


The Colonies Become New Nations, 1945-Present

The Indian Subcontinent Gains Independence pg 504-511

Southeast Asian Nations Gain Independence pg 512-515

New Nations in Africa pg 516-520

Conflicts in the Middle East pg  521-525

Struggles for Democracy, 1945-Present

Democracy  Case Study:  Latin American Democracies pg 530-535

Democratic Challenges in African Nations pg 536-540

Gorbachev Moves Toward Democracy pg 541-545

Collapse of the Soviet Union pg 546-550

China Follows Its Own Path pg 551-555

United States and the Arab World 1990s-Present

The Clinton Presidency

The Bush Presidency

The Obama Presidency

Arab Spring


Global Interdependence, 1960-Present

Science and Technology Shape Human Outlook pg 560-564 and Technology Changes People’s Lives pg 587-590

Global Economic Development pg 565-571 and Economic Issues in the Developing World pg 599-601

Global Security Issues pg 572-576 and The Threat of Weapons and Terrorism pg 602-605 and Defending Human Rights and Freedoms pg 606-609

Cultures Blend in a Global Age pg 577-581

Dangers to the Global Environment pg 591-594 and Feeding a Growing Population pg 595-598


  1. Do you have a similar plan for early American History up to the 20th century? I’m looking at doing US History next year for my girls and I’m not in love with any of the syllabi I’ve seen. I LOVE this approach, and we use a lot of documentaries already.

  2. Wow! What an extensive list…great categorization. I am definately pinning this to reference as I plan Online Unit Studies. Do you think your selections would be appropriate for younger students, or just middle school and up? What YouTube channels are particularly subscribe-worthy for history study? And are most of these full-length videos or shorts?

    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      No, these selections contain material that might be unsuitable for younger children. Most of the videos are full length documentaries. HTH

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