Films and Documentaries

Films and Documentaries

Films and Documentaries




Current and Upcoming Assignments

Due Date





Film/Documentary Guiding Questions


5/7 (after school)






AP World History Syllabus (pdf)

Document #1 - Early Law Codes

Document #2 - Early Systems of Inequality

Document #3 - Buddhism and Christianity

Document #4 - Women in Islam and Christianity

Document #5 - Feudalisms

Document #6 - Before European Hegemony

Document #7 - Way of Death

Document #8 - Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels

Document #9 - Machines as the Measure of Men

Document #10 - Rebecca and Baquaqua

Document #11 - Wealth of Nations

Document #12 - Class Antagonism in England

Document #13 - Big Mama's Funeral

Document #14 - Things Fall Apart questions

Document #15 - Mao and the Chinese Revolution

Document #16 - Stalin's 1933 Address

Document #17 - Italian and German Fascism

Document #18 - Women in Africa, Latin America, and Asia


Karl Marx (1818-1883), part sociologist, part economist, part historian, and part philosopher. Marx is best known for his "Communist Manifesto" calling for an end to the capitalist economic system, although his most important contribution to our knowledge today can be found in "Capital" (1867), where he describes and analyzes how capitalism functions.



These are some excellent films, all of which deal with at least one aspect of World History. They do not offer perfect portrayals of people and events, but they are as good as it gets when films tries to make history into entertainment. Many are excellent, and based on actual published histories. Even where they are not perfect, they give a good feel for the time period and events of the times, and some just plain make you think. Region/topics are in parentheses. Enjoy.

Land and Freedom (Spanish Civil War, revolutions)
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (1920 Irish Rebellion)
Germinal (19th century French coal miners lives and strike)
Escape From Sobibor (Holocaust)
Burn (Europeans + Caribbean)
The Mission (Europeans + Latin America)
Guiana 1838: The Arrival (Indian laborers in Guyana)
Blackshack Alley (Caribbean)
Frida (Mexico)
Soy Cuba (“I am Cuba ” made by Soviet filmakers)
Strawberries and Chocolate (Cuba)
El Norte (“The North”, Latin American immgration)
La Vendadora de Rosas (“The Rose Seller”, Colombia)
Estado del Sitio (“State of Siege”, Uruguay)
Romero (U.S. + El Salvador)
Missing ( U.S. + Chile )
The Official Story (Argentina)
Men with Guns (Central America)
Central Station (Brazil)
Cidade de Deus (“City of God ”, Brazil )
Carandiru (Brazil)
Pixote (Brazil)
Kingdom of Heaven (Europe and Middle East - Crusades)
Paradise Now (Israel-Palestine conflict)
Turtles Can Fly (Iraq)
Battle of Algiers (France and Algeria)
Water (India)
Gandhi (England + India)
Salaam Bombay (India)
The Terrorist (South Asia)
Max Havelaar (Dutch + Indonesia)
The Seven Samurai (Japan)
To Live (China)
Farewell My Concubine (China)
Raise the Red Lantern (China)
The Painted Veil (China)
Rabbitproof Fence (Australia)
A World Apart (South Africa)
Tsotsi (South Africa)
Hotel Rwanda (Rwandan genocide)
Sometimes in April (Rwandan genocide)


great wall of china
A small portion of the Great Wall of China, the 4,000 mile wall built by Chinese Emperors as defense against northern invaders.


As with the films, these documentaries are excellent. Some feature great actual photos and documentary footage, and some have great commentary by working historians.

An Inconvenient Truth (global warming)
Jesus and Paul (ABC News - birth of Christianity)
From Jesus to Christ (PBS Frontline - birth of Christianity)
The Story of India (PBS -South Asia from beginnings to 20th century)
Islam: Empire of Faith (PBS -birth of Islam and Islamic civilization)

The Long Way Home (creation of Israel)
Occupation 101 (history of Israel-Palestinian conflict)
Trinkets and Beads (Ecuador + oil)
The Devil's Miner (Bolivia)
A Place Called Chiapas (Mexico)
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (Mexico)
Bus 157 (Brazil )
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Venezuela)
If the Mango Tree Could Speak (children in Central America)
Buena Vista Social Club (music and Cuba)
Control Room (Middle-Eastern news network Al-Jazeera)
Darwin's Nightmare (globalization and Tanzania)

King Leopold's Ghost (colonialism in Belgian Congo)
Zeitgeist (religion, 9/11, and more)


pyramids at giza
The pyramids at Giza, Egypt, all constructed as tombs for pharoah's between the years 2525 and 2460 b.c.e.


As I say constantly in class, the best way to really understand history is to read good books, written by good historians, about the person, group, event, trend, or theme. Well, to that end, here are some of those excellent histories which span the years of our AP World History course. Some are short, some are big and thick, and some are easy to read, others very dense and sometimes hard to follow. But all are worth reading if you want to learn about that topic in our history. I hope you'll read at least a few of them in the near future. There are many, many more, of course, but these are a good start. If you want to read about more specific topics, or just something that isn't listed here, check the end of each chapter in "World Civilizations", or just search the web for the topics you are interested in. Author's names in parentheses. Enjoy.


Women in Ancient Global History (Sarah and Brady Hughes)
The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations (Yoffee and Cowgill)
Old World Encounters: Cross Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in the Pre-Modern World (Jerry Bentley)
Before European Hegemony: The World System, 1250-1350 (Janet Abu-Lughod)
Cross Cultural Trade in World History (Philip Curtin)
Islamic and European Expansion (Michael Adas)
Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Frederick Cooper)
Racism: A Short History (Frederickson)
The Colonizer and the Colonized (Memmi)
Indentured Labor in the Age of Imperialism
(Jeremy Northrup)
magined Communities
(Benedict Anderson)
The Invention of Tradition (Hobsbawm and Ranger)
Nations and Nationalism (Ernest Gellner)
Orientalism (Edward Said)
Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India (Bernard Cohn)
Peasant Wars of the 20th Century (Eric Wolff)
Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (James Scott)

Seeing Like a State (James Scott)
Heroes (John Pilger)
A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (Power)

Planet of Slums (Mike Davis)
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Naomi Klein)

The Civilizations of Africa to 1800 (Christopher Ehret)
African Connections: Archaeological Perspectives on Africa and the Wider World (Peter Mitchell)
The Peoples of the Middle Niger (Roderick McIntosh)
South Africa (Leonard Thompson)
The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800-1500 - (Nurse and Spear)
The Swahili (Horton and Middleton)
The Zimbabwe Culture: Origins and Decline of Southern Zambezian States (Innocent Pikirayi)
A Green Place, A Good Place: Agragian Change, Gender, and Social Identity in the Great Lakes Region to the 15th Century (David Lee Shoenbrun)

Paths in the Rainforests - (Jan Vansina)
Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (Paul Lovejoy)
The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800
(Robin Blackburn)
Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey - (Bay)
Ouidah: The Social History of a West African Slaving Port, 1727-1892 - (Law)
Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830 (Joseph Miller)
Women and Slavery in Africa (Robertson and Klein, eds.)
The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (Philip Curtin)
Maize and Grace: Africa's Encounter with a New World Crop, 1500-2000 (James McCann)
The Making of Contemporary Africa: The Development of African Society since 1800 (Bill Freund)
Terrific Majesty: The Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Invention (Carolyn Hamilton)
The Moon is Dead, Give us Our Money: The Cultural Origins of an African Work Ethic, Natal, South Africa, 1843-1900 (Keletso Atkins)
The Black Man's Burden (Basil Davidson)
Work, Culture, and Identity: Migrant Laborers in Mozambique and South Africa, 1860-1910 (Patrick Harries)
Capital and Labour on the Kimberley Diamond Fields, 1871-1890 (Robert Turrell)
Courtyards, Markets, City Streets: Urban Women in Africa (Kathleen Sheldon, ed)
African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenco Marques, 1877-1962 (Penvenne)
Drink, Power, and Cultural Exchange: A Social History of Alcohol in Ghana, c. 1800 to Recent Times ( Akyeampong)
African Perspectives on Colonialism (A. Adu Boahen)
White Farms, Black Labor: The State and Agrarian Change in Southern Africa, 1910-1950
Jeeves and Crush, eds.)
Gender and the Making of a South African Bantustan: A Social History of the Ciskei, 1945-1959 (Anne Kelk Mager)
Bo-Totsi: The Youth Gangs of Soweto, 1935-1976 (Clive Glaser)
Congo/Paris: Transnational Traders on the Margins of the Law (MacGaffey and Bazenguissa-Gnaga)
The World and a Very Small Place in Afric: A History of Globalization in Niumi, The Gambia (Wright)
Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire - (Anderson)
The Church of Women: Gendered Encounters between Maasai and Missionaries (Dorothy Hodgson)
Threads of Solidarity: Women in South African Industry, 1900-1980 (Iris Berger)
Poison and Medicine: Ethnicity, Power, and Violence in a Nigerian City, 1966 to 1986 - (Anthony)
When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (Mandani)

Portuguese Caravel
Model of a Portuguese Caravel, the vessel which allowed the Portuguese to dominate sea lanes and long distance commerce from the mid-15th century on. This technology precipitated the European colonial era, during which Europeans would use their seagoing advantages to extract wealth, resources, and human labor from distant points on the globe. |

A Social History of Western Europe: 1450-1720 (Sheldon Watts)
Lord and Peasant in Russia (Blum)
Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640 (Patricia Seed)
The Making of New World Slavery (Robin Blackburn)
The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (Jonathan Spence)
The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith)
Becoming Revolutionaries: The Deputies of the National Assembly and the Emergence of
Revolutionary Culture, 1789-1790
(Timothy Tackett)
Capital, Volume 1 (Karl Marx)
Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Adas)
The Social World of Batavia: European and Eurasian in the Dutch Asia - (Jean Taylor)
European Womern and the Second British Empire (Margaret Strobel)
Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution (Lynn Hunt)
The Village In the Nation: The Genesis of Peasant National Identity in Austrian Poland, 1848-1914 (Keely Stauter-Halsted)
1848: The Revolutionary Tide in Europe (Peter Stearns)
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seaman, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1750-1750 (Marcus Rediker)
Moral Capital: The Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chris Brown)
Peaceful Conquest: The Industrialization of Europe (Pollard)
The Making of the English working class (E.P. Thompson)
The Condition of the Working Class in England (Frederich Engels)
Age of Capital, Age of Empire, and Age of Revolution (Eric Hobsbawm)
Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914 (Eugen Weber)
Roots of Rebellion: Workers’ Politics and Organizations in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 1900-1914 (Bonnell)
The Russian Revolution - (Sheila Fitzpatrick)
The Origins of the First World War (James Jolls)
Politics and Diplomacy of Peace-Making, 1918-1919 (Arno Mayer)
How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy, 1922-1945 (Victoria de Grazia)
The Unfinished Peace After WWI: America, Britain, and the Stabilisation of Europe, 1919-1932 (Patrick Cohrs)
The Coming of the Third Reich (Richard Evans)
Germans Into Nazis (Peter Fritzsche)
A History of Fascism (Stanley Payne)
The Spanish Labyrinth: The Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War
(Gerald Brennan)
The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936 (Murray Bookchin)
Blood of Spain: An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War (Ronald Fraser)
The Revolution and Civil War in Spain (Pierre Broue and Emile Temime)
The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution, and Revenge (Paul Preston)
Hitler’s Social Revolution: Class and Status in Nazi Germany (Schoenbaum)
Prison Notebooks (Antonio Gramsci, edited by Smith + Hoare)
Eichmann in Jerusalem (Hannah Arent)
Ordinary Men (Browning)
Europe Since Hitler (Laqueur)
The Great Terror: A Reassessment
Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (Robert Conquest)
The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia (Moshe Lewin)
Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as Civilization (Stephen Kotkin)
The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (Sheila Fitzpatrick)
A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland (Kate Brown)
The New French Revolution: A Social and Economic Survey of France and France in the 1980’s (Ardagh)
Modern Capitalist Planning: The French Model (Cohen)

A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India (Upinder Singh)
A History of India (Burton Stein)
Essays on Medieval Indian History (Satish Chandra)
Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750 (K.N. Chaudhuri)
Merchants and Faith: Muslim Commerce and Culture in the Indian Ocean (Patricia Risso)
The Languages of Political Islam: India, 1200-1800 (Muzaffar Alam)
Bullion for Goods: European and Indian Ocean Merchants in the Indian Ocean Trade, 1500-1800 (Om Prakash)
A Concise History of Modern India (Metcalf and Metcalf)
Unfamiliar Relations: Family and History in South Asia (Chatterjee, ed.)
Slavery and South Asian History (Chatterjee and Eaton, eds.)
A Rule of Property for Bengal: An Essay on the Idea of Permanent Settlement (Ranajit Guha)
Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Nicholas Dirks)
Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (Lata Mani)
Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770-1870 (C.A. Bayly)
The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia
(James Scott)
Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India
(Ranajit Guha)
Dominance Without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India
(Ranajit Guha)
A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Sugata Bose)
India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy
(Ramachandra Guha)

The Rise of Modern China (Hsu)
Family, Fields and Ancestors: Chinese society, 1550-1949 (Eastman)
The Opium War (Fay)
The Japanese Colonial Empire: 1895-1945 (Myers and Beattie)
The Communist Revolution in China (Bianco)
Feminism and Socialism in China (Croll)
Mao’s China and After 1984 (Meisner)

A History of Islamic Societies (Ira Lapidus)

The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: 1948-1951
(Illan Pappe)
The Birth of Israel
The Arab Awakening (Antonious)
Rewriting the History of 1948 (Shlaim)
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Pappe)

The Gun and the Olive Branch (David Hirst)
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (Steve Coll)


See Latin American and Caribbean History page of this site

If histories are too much sometimes, here are some excellent novels which, even if the characters are fictional, illustrate the history well and give a great feel for how if felt to be in that time and place.

A House for Mr. Biswas - V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad)
Gate of the Sun - Elias Khoury (Palestine and Israel)
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (Congo/Africa)
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe (Nigeria/Africa)
Petals of Blood - Ngugi wa Thiongo (Kenya)
Burmese Days - George Orwell (Burma)
God's Bits of Wood - Ousmane Membene (French West Africa)
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway (Spanish Civil War)


General World History
(Karl Marx) (good descriptions of Marx and his critique of capitalism) (archive of Marxist thinkers, including some of their more important writings) (good descricptions of and writings about capitalism and the free market) (general world history info) (fact oriented online encyclopedia)
(excellent links to world history topics/regions, etc.) (country-oriented, but still good stuff)
(very good site on Mongols)
(very fact-oriented but still helpful timelines)
(women throughout world history)
(modern world history, short descriptions)
(journal of world history - best journal of best new work by world historians)
(world history association - best organization of world historians)










Before European Hegemony

Grounbreaking book by Sociologist and
Historian Janet Abu-Lughod (former professor
at the New School) about the development
of global trade and capitalism, and about the interaction between global societies in the
middle ages.































chinggis khan

Chinggis Khan, Mongol leader who led his nomadic people to conquere much of Asia in
the 13th century. The Mongols were probably
the most mobile people ever, and facilitated
contacts and the spread of resources world-















































imagined communities

A brilliant theory of nationalism, and why people
come to imagine themselves as a community -
or a "nation". Anderson was a political-
scientiest at Cornell, but he uses lots of history
to demonstrate his theories.




Another brilliant book,this one by Joseph
Miller, professor of African History at the
University of Virginia. He did INCREDIBLE
reasearch, and then used it all to write this
heartbreaking description of how the growing world economy changed West African
economies and societies, and how the entire
system worked from the banks of England to
the Portuguese traders down to the enslaved
West Africans who travelled the "Way of Death."



The Moon Is Dead

THE book that got me interested in African
history by A. Keletso Atkins at the University
of Minnesota. About how South African people
viewed and interacted with white settlers and
governments as free laborers. And, about how
radically different cultures have radically
different priorities and expectations.













machines as the measure of men

Influential history by Mike Adas, of Rutgers-
New Brunswick, about how Europeans
intellectuals began to place themselves above
others, and justify their political and military
domination of Africa and Asia.


















contentious traditions

Moving and brilliant book by scholar of
women's studies and feminism who has
taught in India and at the University of
California Santa-Barbara. About how
English colonialism actually deepened
caste divisions and rigidity in colonial India,
and how the practice of Sati brutalized women
in the name of "tradition."

Gun and Olive Branch
Thoroughly researched and comprehensively
argued history of the ideal of Zionism and its
effects on Palestine and the people living there
prior to the creation of Israel. A violent and
disturbing story that lays out the roots of modern
"terrorism" and the present conflict in the region.