Volume 1--We stumbled across a first edition of this wonderful text some years ago, and just loved it. Written at about a 6th grade reading level, Volume 1 is a very comprehensive text, suitable for junior or senior high, that covers world history from creation through the Reformation. It is enjoyable reading, full of pictures (always a plus for me), and highly Christian in content. Egyptian history, and how it tied in to the biblical story of Moses, was especially exciting for us. Your children will like learning about history with this text. It comes from an evangelical viewpoint that is nondenominational in nature, and covers origins (creation versus evolution) extensively in the first chapter.
If there is a weak point, it is the attempt to weave back and forth between discussing the various cultures of the world. Just about the time you are really getting into the early Babylonian culture, the authors pick you up by the hair and plunk you down in the middle of India. I also found the graphic descriptions of a Japanese suicide and an Aztec human sacrifice a bit too much to take, but then, what is Liquid Paper for? What I was most impressed with was that this is not a secular textbook covered with a thin veneer of Christianity: it is written with the Lord Jesus and His hand on human history always in mind.
Volume 2--Volume 2 picks up at the Reformation and continues on to the present (1990's). We have a new author, and a new approach in this book. You won't find much discussion of cultures outside of our western culture (now, in public school, you would often find every culture except our own discussed), although Islamic, Oriental, American Indian, and African peoples are mentioned briefly. Various philosophies of a humanistic nature--naturalism, enlightenment, romanticism, deism, Darwinism, communism, etc.--are expounded upon in depth, as are the belief systems of various portions of the Christian community. The reading level is more difficult than in Volume 1. We still have lots of pictures, but the writing style is not as reader-friendly (not as interesting) as in the first book.
I did not like this book as well as Volume 1. Obviously, with a different author we are not going to have the same writing style. More anecdotes about particular people and small events of interest within the big events would have helped to make the history stick in our minds better. I would have liked to have read more about God's directive and protective hand in historic happenings. For instance, what about the miraculous intervention--due to intercessory prayer--of God for England in the destruction of the Spanish Armada? How about the idiotic errors made by the Nazi commanders during World War II (God bringing confusion to their wicked minds)?
Something else we don't have is a friendly attitude toward Christians who are not of a Puritan Reformed background. The author is at times harsh with various men of God of the past, even suggesting heresy when perhaps there was simply a different interpretation of the Scriptures than Reformed Christians would hold. Particularly disheartening are his negative insinuations and inaccurate observations about Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians. Liquid Paper may be a useful accessory to Volume 2 also! (I read my children's textbooks before they get their hands on them, so when I run across objectionable comments, I either Liquid Paper and rewrite small portions, or write a SEE MOM note in the margin. A SEE MOM note means we will discuss the offensive material, what valid points the author may have, why he thinks the way he does, and why he is wrong in his views.)
In summary, Volume 1 is excellent, and Volume 2 is still a fine text, warts and all. We will be using Streams of Civilization again. Plan on at least a year and a half to complete the two texts at either the junior or senior high level.