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To myself, reading heavy, thick, wordy books is something that I don't like to start with because they are often too complicated and they could bore you a lot!
Image Source: 產品資料卡
Though I am not a fan of thick wordy books, textbooks are pretty nice sources for IR. And Especially for high school/middle school textbooks, they are full of illustrations, pictures and concept maps. Since they are for high school/middle school students, they are not telling you the most complicated matters, but they are enough to let you get a brief picture about relationships between countries, and relevant historical events. For MUNers, these textbooks (especially for those in Hong Kong) got a section which entirely talks about United Nations. If you had history lesson before, you might have your notes taken. They are your good memories. Although I didn't take History in High School, I am still keeping the notes regarding Renaissance, French Revolution-End of Napoleon Wars, and WWI-Vietnam War in Cold War. They have been with me for many years!
From left to right, these characters represent Japan, Germany, Italy and the young Italy.
This is obvious... they are England, France and USA.
Despite talking about WWII, it actually includes way more historical events: American War of Independence, Holy Roman Empire and Italy, Disputes among France and Britain in the medieval period, Splendid Isolation Policy of Britain, some culture bits and trivia, Busby Chair... It is interesting to see how characters represent their country! And their personality might inspire you how you can address your speech in a MUN Conference!
But please take notes of the following:
1. You should notice that since it comes from Japan, and it might be used for entertainment purpose more than education purpose, it might be biased or inaccurate. (But so far I found the contents are ok and accurate enough.)
2. When it refers to a historical event, a subtitle might be popped out to explain more. Please make sure that you can pause the video for a bit, or rewind it so that you can take notes or understand more. Ofter these subtitles could be so small in font size and disappearing in a short time.
3. Search on the internet for more information about the events that the anime refers.
4. Understand some terminology. For example, "marriage" means "forming alliance".
5. Identify some characters could be confusing, for example, Norway Finland Sweden Denmark confuse me ...
This is a fun and easy way to start knowing about IR!
I will recommend some including: The EU Explained
Watching his video, I am sure you need a note book with you for some notes taking. But you can always go back as the videos should be always here. He offers different languages of subtitle too. If he speaks too fast, you can go to his website for full scripts.
Of course there are more YouTubers who are doing great videos! Comment for more recommended YouTubers!
Do you have any recommendation for newbies in IR? Comment below!