“This book was so interesting!”–spoken by a ninth grader.

A couple of months ago, the daughter of a friend of my brother and sister-in-law wandered into their home office and saw the poster for the History of the Ancient World on their wall. “Hey, we use that book at our school!” she said.

Heather said, “Oh, yeah, my sister-in-law wrote it.”

“I love that book!” she said. She is clearly a girl of great taste and intelligence.

So she and her mother (here they are)–

talked to her history teacher, and on this trip to Seattle her teacher invited me to come speak to his ninth-grade history class.

This was a first for me. I don’t generally find myself lecturing ninth-graders (apart from my own). But they were charming and interested, and told me how much they liked the book and how it was so much better than a standard textbook, and asked lots of questions about how you write a history of the world.

Like, “How do you decide where to start?” (Answer: You pick a starting point, write fifty pages, throw them away and start at a better place.)

And, “Are you going to finish the books on time?” (Answer: Er, no, not even close.)

And, “Now that you’ve done the first two books, is it getting easier?” (Answer: No, I reinvent the wheel every single blasted time; the only difference is that now I can say to myself, I’ve done it twice, it will probably come together one more time.)

And, “Do you edit your rough drafts?” (Answer: Well, the original drafts of both books came out to around 900,000 words each, and the final drafts clocked in at 250,000, so that should speak for itself. Someday I will seriously publish The History of the World: The Director’s Cut. Not that anyone will read it.)


This was fun. I talk about history a lot, but I don’t talk about writing it very often, and I enjoyed myself. And afterwards they wanted me to sign books.

I LOVE having teenage fans. And it’s not a given, when you write political history about people named Meskiaggasher and Adjib and Yi.

Showing 14 comments
  • Sebastian (a lady)

    I find it amazingly cool that they are using your adult text in their class. Most textbooks for this age are so watered down, with more pictures and graphs than text itself.

  • moshome7

    This warmed my heart on so many different levels. Thanks.

  • Lori

    How VERY cool!

  • J.

    Thank you very much for speaking today! We (it seems fair enough to speak in the plural on behalf of the class) enjoyed it greatly!

  • Christina

    That’s so wonderful! You are such a fantastic writer…not many people CAN write about people like Meskiaggasher and Adjib and Yi in a way that grown-ups or kids ENJOY! You have such a gift. How fun that you were able to share it from this different perspective (i.e. talking about writing history…).

  • Karen

    Did you get any information about how the teacher used the book? Was the class like a seminar, reading and discussion based, or did they do other activities/projects tied into the book?

  • Paisley

    Thank you so much for coming yesterday. It was so cool to have you in our class. You should have seen our teacher on Friday jumping up and down in his classroom singing “Susan Wise Bauer is coming on Monday!” In other words, he was very excited to meet you, as was I. As i told my friends that you were coming, they too were bouncing up and down in their excitement. All of the students have said that they would much rather read your book than an boring old textbook. Your book has brought so many interesting conversation starteres. Thank you for coming to our class and let us finally meet “Bauer”. Thank you for giving us some of your visiting time with your family to come and talk to us about this ongoing project of yours. We are forver grateful. Thank you.

  • Hanna

    Thank you so much for visiting our class yesterday! It was great to finally meet the author of our history book! For over half of the year our homework has been ‘Bauer book’ this and ‘Bauer book’ that and “What did we read in the ‘Bauer book’ last night?”. It was really interesting and exciting to finally meet the ‘Bauer’ that was (and is still) such an important part of our history class and our ninth grade education. Thanks again!

  • Sarah

    Curious if this a private or public school? Seems like a public school would not have this much flexibility in curriculum choices, but I could be wrong.

    I thought this was very cool. I am trying really hard to turn my brother, a.k.a. assistant superintendent of curriculum, onto author created texts. Perhaps at some point your books will have an impact on the greater Cincinnati public schools.

    Don’t even get me started on the heated conversations between said brother and myself the homeschool mom.

  • A Circle of Quiet

    What a great opportunity, Susan! I am really curious about how they use your book…any chance these interested and interesting young people can chime in and let us know?

    Happy travels.


  • P.

    To clear some things up, yes we are a private school. We use the books in our class just like a text book. We are each given a copy of the book and are ours to keep for forever. We mark up the books and annotate them to death. We are given homework to read in a certain chapter in Bauer and then do an assigned worksheet which has questions on the reading. Then we discuss the reading in class the next day. the Bauer book is so much better than an actual text book. Thanks again for coming into our class Susan.

  • Sharon E.

    I’m sure you know this, but World Magazine had a nice review of your book a couple of weeks ago – cover date April 25. They particularly liked the leadership sketches, and used the adjective “readable”, which doesn’t usually apply to the average history book!

  • Charlotte Cushman

    I saw your book in World Magazine and immediately ordered it for my son and I to work through this year. He was excited that we were chucking his boring History textbook.

    My kids have been listening to the Story of the World (first two) on cd since we purchased them at a homeschool conference last year.

    I love the way you write. It is interesting and funny!

  • Colleen in NS

    Wow, you go girl!!

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