Famous Men of Rome
Famous Men of Greece
Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Famous Men of Modern Times
The Famous Men books have been revised and updated before, but these newest versions and their companion study guides are better than ever.
There are three components for each book: the Famous Men book of stories that serves as your core book, a student guide, and a teacher guide. Some courses also have flashcards to help students memorize key points of information.
The story books are nicely formatted in double columns for easier reading. Plenty of detailed illustrations make the books visually interesting. The latest printing of Famous Men of Rome now features full-color illustrations, a feature we'll also see in the other volumes with future printings. A helpful glossary and maps are in the back of each book.
The text of the stories was written for children but there are a number of words and terms with which children are unlikely to be familiar. The study guides list these unfamiliar terms and words, providing information about people, places, and particular events, but requiring students to look up definitions of words like "resolute" and "conspirators."
Study guides also have a section of comprehension questions for each story followed by suggested activities. Activities include suggestions for map work (maps are included in both the study guide and the storybook), timeline entries (timeline page in study guide), drawing, discussion questions, writing assignments, poetry memorization assignments, and more--but not all of these for each lesson.
If you, like me, have no idea how to pronounce names such as "Chaeronea," you will appreciate the pronunciation guide in the back of the Famous Men of Rome study guide. Student Guides seem to vary in regard to what is included at the back of the book. Periodic reviews, drill questions, the aforementioned pronunciation guide, copywork passages, list of timeline events, maps, and drawing pages are among the extras at the back of Student Guides, although all of these are not included in each guide.
The teacher guide is identical to the student guide but with answers included.
The Famous Men books include discussion of Christianity (likely because they were written within a cultural period that assumed a Judeo-Christian outlook) but do not seem to promote a Christian worldview. It will be up to parents to add that dimension if they so desire.
These books are very helpful for those who want to provide an interesting foundation for a classical education. Students will come to know the key people, understand major events such as the transitions of the Roman government from monarchy to republic to empire. Children will become familiar with famous ideas, writings, and even quotations from the periods. All this serves as a foundation for more comprehensive history study at a later time as well as a basis for cultural literacy.
Famous Men of Rome covers well-known figures such as Romulus and Remus, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Nero, Diocletian, and Constantine. But it also includes many others such as Horatius, Cincinnatus, Scipio Africanus, and The Gracchi who are frequently omitted from world history textbooks.
Famous Men of Greece begins with the "Gods of Greece" since they are so significant in Greek culture. The first ten stories are written largely from Greek mythology. Actual history begins with the story of Lycurgus and his development of the government of Sparta circa 800 B.C. History continues through stories of characters like Draco, Solon, Mitiades, Leonidas, Themistocles, Pericles, Socrates, Xenophon, Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, and Pyrrhus, ending with the fall of Greece around 146 B.C.
Famous Men of the Middle Ages is necessarily selective since it attempts to cover a time period from the 4th through the 15th centuries. It begins with an introduction that covers some background on Teutonic mythology--possibly in keeping with the inclusion of mythology in the Rome and Greece books. Among key characters from history are Alaric the Visigoth, Attila the Hun, Genseric the Vandal, Theodoric the Ostrogoth, Clovis, Justinian, Mohammed, Charles Martel, Pepin, Charlemagne, Harun-al-Raschid, Egbert the Saxon, Rollo the Viking, Alfred the Great, Henry the Fowler, Canute the Great, The Cid, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror, Peter the Hermit, Frederick Barbarosa, Henry II and his sons, Louis IX, Robert Bruce, Marco Polo, Edward the Black Prince, William Tell, Arnold von Winkelried, Tamerlane, Henry V, Joan of Arc, Gutenberg, and Warwick the King-Maker.
Famous Men of Modern Times has a title that might be confusing since it selects key figures from the 15th through 19th centuries. Some might not consider this time period as "modern times" since it fits with any world history study that begins with the period of exploration. Key figures include Lorenzo de Medici, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand of Aragon, Vasco da Gama, Chevalier Bayard, Cardinal Wolsey, Charles V of Germany, Suleiman the Magnificent, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Henry of Navarre, Wallenstein, Gustavus Adolphus, Cardinal Richelieu, Galileo, Oliver Cromwell, Louis XIV, Sir Isaac Newton, William III of England, Sobieski, Peter the Great, Charles XII of Sweden, Frederick the Great, William Pitt, George Washington, Robespierre, Napoleon, Horatio Nelson, Thaddeus Kosciusko, Abraham Lincoln, Garibaldi, William Ewart Gladstone, and Count von Bismarck. Full-color illustrations are helpful, but, unfortunately, the printer seems to have erred in adding too much yellow in the printing process.
Memoria Press suggests beginning history studies around third grade with the study of D'Aulaires' Greek Myths (book plus teacher and student guides available from Memoria Press), then proceeding through Famous Men of Rome, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, and Famous Men of Greece in that order. Famous Men of Modern History might be used either after Middle Ages or Greece. Depending upon how you use them, you might complete either one or two books per year. They can be your primary history material for approximately grades three through six. Past grade six, I would use them as supplements--the material is likely to be interesting even to high schoolers.