Looking for books about the Cold War for French high school students. More below.
June 23, 2009 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Looking for books about the Cold War for French high school students. More below.

I have a friend who teaches English to French high school students. She’s planning her course for next year and the subject is history -- specifically “the world between WW2 and today”. Can you make any recommendations for her? I think the books should be accessible (these are not native English speakers, although “they are a keen group”) and not too difficult to get. They will be coming over here as part of an exchange program sometime during the year.
One of the books they will be reading is JFK’s “A Nation of Immigrants” (although that’s not really post WW2). She says they are not interested in The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. Apparently previous classes have read this and “the students do not find it particularly thrilling to study this.” So. Any ideas about what you think would be good for these kids to read?
posted by jackmcc to Writing & Language (3 answers total)
Picking up a book and just going to it, with little discussion or help with language, will make reading a far slower and far less enjoyable task if the level of the text is beyond their own. A rule of thumb of reading for pleasure in a foreign language, as opposed to studying the language itself: if out of every 100 words, you can't instantaneously identify and understand above 93-95 of them (to the point where they don't slow you down in any way), you may need to choose another text.
posted by mdonley at 4:46 PM on June 23, 2009

I haven't read this particular volume, but the Norton Anthologies (here is the one for American literature after 1945) are usually great for capturing the big ideas and famous works of a time period, presented in short and digestible chunks. I imagine something like this would be less daunting for a non-native speaker (and could be useful throughout the length of the course).

Not a book, but your friend should definitely show them Dr. Strangelove. It explained the Cold War to me better than any book could.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:16 PM on June 23, 2009

"The Spy Who Came in From the Cold"

It's fiction so I'm not sure this would be on your radar. Having said that, it is a fantastic Cold War novel by a former Cold War spy that is perhaps closer to French soil than American.

It seems to be one of those great pieces of fiction that contain more real truth than a history book.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 9:51 PM on June 23, 2009

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