Gr 6-8--These handsome volumes provide broad overviews of each civilization. The long spans of time make depth impossible, but the authors attempt to give a balanced look at the lives of both the nobility and the common people. Topics vary according to the civilization but include advancements in science and knowledge, the arts, social structures, religious practices, and the causes for the civilization's eventual demise. Ancient China covers the dynasties beginning with Xia and ending with Qing. VanVoorst emphasizes the critical role the Byzantine Empire played in protecting Greek and Roman knowledge and the advancement of Christianity in Western Europe and ultimately North America. Maya notes the gradual restructuring of Mayan society leading up to its destruction by the Spaniards. Occasional topical pages provide background information. The design includes tinted pages, border art, and photo frames. Each title includes maps, a table listing periods or rulers, and well-chosen photographs and art reproductions. (Unfortunately most captions fail to identify the actual location of the artifact or artwork.) A concluding time line encapsulates major events from the text. The straightforward presentations will leave curious readers wanting to know more.--Carol S. Surges, Longfellow Middle School, Wauwatosa, WI[Page 141]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.