Books by Albert Marrin

Released: Sept. 10, 2019

"Meticulous research supports a Holocaust book worthy of attention. (notes, selected sources, index) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)"
Janusz Korczak's dedication to orphaned children during World War II serves as a reminder of the good one person can do in a world gone dark. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 9, 2018

"Not one to shy away from unnerving details, Marrin relays what researchers and scientist express today: another influenza pandemic will unquestionably strike again. (notes, bibliography, further reading, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)"
A comprehensive history of the influenza pandemic of 1918, the worst global killer that humankind has experienced. Read full book review >
UPROOTED by Albert Marrin
Released: Oct. 25, 2016

"The author asks a chilling question: can another uprooting happen? The short answer: yes. (source notes, suggested resources) (Nonfiction. 12-18)"
"On a deeper level, the Second World War was about racism." Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 23, 2014

"Students of the period will be captivated. (source notes, further reading; index and photo credits not seen) (Biography. 12-18)"
A comprehensive examination of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency and its legacy. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 11, 2014

"A valuable aid in understanding a historical period that continues to resonate. (notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)
This exploration of Thomas Paine and his passionate writings in support of liberty provides insight into a turbulent period of change in the United States, England and France. Read full book review >
Released: April 8, 2014

"A comprehensive portrait of an ever-fascinating figure. (source notes, further reading, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)"
John Brown's fight to end slavery in the United States is presented in a broad historical context that reveals an impact far beyond the time it occurred. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 10, 2012

"Required reading on a topic that can only grow in importance to readers who will be living that 'social, political, and military history.' (endnotes, index, black-and-white photos) (Nonfiction. 11-14)"
Opinionated, cogent perspectives on the role of fossil fuels in human history. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 8, 2011

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911 resulted in the greatest loss of life in a New York City workplace until the 9/11 attacks nearly a century later. The victims were primarily young Jewish and Italian female immigrants, and the conditions they had worked under and the circumstances surrounding the disaster made it one of the most important events in workplace and labor history. In this ambitious work, the author seeks to place the tragedy in historical context, exploring the conditions that propelled the immigrants to leave Europe for America and what life was like for them once they arrived. Marrin uses colorful descriptive language to provide a sense of the cultural and political landscape and supplies detailed descriptions of the origins and workings of sweatshops. Despite the many changes that resulted from hearings and investigations into the fire, the author is able to demonstrate that sweatshop conditions linger in this country and in other parts of the world, even including other tragic fires. This is a competent, comprehensive social history that occasionally gets muddled because of the many strands of the story. (bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2009

Marrin's approach to the story of the Dust Bowl is unique in its focus on ecology, arguing that the ignorant and exploitive practices of farmers, hunters and ranchers made the catastrophe worse than it needed to be. Hunting indigenous species such as the buffalo and prairie dog to near extinction, killing off predators of smaller animals, introducing cattle grazing and destroying the natural landscape for farms and settlements all set the stage for the disaster to come. The author does not neglect the miseries suffered by families living in the afflicted areas, however, placing the story in the context of the Great Depression and explaining how what was happening in the Great Plains was yet another sign to Americans of the country's downward spiral. The author concludes with a discussion of modern ecological disasters in the making. The engaging narrative includes quotes from a variety of primary sources, and it is abundantly illustrated throughout with photographs and other archival material, making this a reader-friendly, insightful work of history. (glossary, notes, further resources, bibliography, index, timeline) (Nonfiction. 10-16)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2007

An assassin's bullet killed William McKinley and made Theodore Roosevelt the 26th president of the United States, the youngest in American history. It was a new era in America and the world, with the rise of technology and industry and an expanding role for the president in relation to Congress. Roosevelt took charge in regulating big business, passing laws to protect food and drugs, creating national parks and developing America's military might—issues that will seem familiar to today's young readers. Marrin offers another encyclopedic volume on a pivotal American leader and the time period, portraying him as a moral leader with an exuberance to match the spirit of his times. Long stretches of dense text are unrelieved by illustrations, though the many photographs—including some by Lewis Hine and Jacob Riis—and the well-chosen cartoons yield an interesting parallel narrative. Source notes are thorough, though there's nothing to guide young readers to the wealth of other material available for them. A comprehensive resource for young researchers. (index) (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
OH, RATS! by Albert Marrin
Released: Aug. 1, 2006

The lore and science of rats receive an enthusiastic treatment in this handsome volume. Marrin adopts a personal tone, beginning his exploration with an anecdote from his youth and then presenting fact after cool fact about these "champions of survival." Several short chapters discuss the biology and behavior of the rat, the history of rats and people, rats as food, the diseases carried by rats and the difficulty of getting rid of them. Well-designed sidebars present additional related factoids for the eager reader. What those readers will notice first, however, are Mordan's striking black-and-white illustrations, enhanced with shades of red to heighten their subject's sinister nature. That these decidedly creepy illustrations are at times at odds with the enthusiasm of the text does nothing to diminish their effectiveness. The black, white and red design lends a vaguely antique air to the whole; the landscape orientation emphasizes the horizontal slinkiness of its subject. End matter provides both the author's bibliography and a number of titles for further reading, both nonfiction and fiction. Even the most rat-o-phobic reader will emerge with a heightened appreciation for the hardy rodent. (Nonfiction. 9-13)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2004

Andrew Jackson's belief in union kept secessionists at bay for a generation, but his actions toward Native Americans were "an evil which must forever stain his memory." Jackson was the least educated of American presidents, a hell-raising, gambling man from Tennessee who became a successful lawyer, a heroic general and the first popularly elected president of the US. His era became the Age of Jackson, and his ideas on slavery, Native Americans, and the power of the presidency defined the times. The lively narrative is unusually frank in its portrayal of Jackson's destructive beliefs and actions. Maps and black-and-white photographs of archival materials add relief to the dense narrative that begins in Scotland in 1297 in the days of William Wallace. The extensive bibliography of the author's sources contains no guide to sources for young readers. (notes, additional reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

A compelling twin biography of both Edward Jenner, inventor of the vaccine for smallpox, and of the disease itself. Opening with a graphic description of the ravages of the 1521 smallpox outbreak that toppled the Aztec Empire when Cortés invaded Mexico, the narrative then plumbs the beginnings of the disease in humans, the biology of viruses, and explores the sociocultural impact of smallpox. A discussion of various early methodologies of immunization leads directly into the life and work of the unassuming country surgeon who, in the late-18th century, doggedly pursued a safe and effective means of preventing the disease that regularly visited misery upon the Old World and virtually wiped out whole populations of indigenous peoples in the New. Jenner emerges as a likable and decent man, and a dedicated physician, one whose flexibility of thought and willingness to experiment recognized the immunological ramifications of the fact that milkmaids who had contracted cowpox never seemed to contract smallpox. Marrin (Secrets from the Rocks, p. 339, etc.) ably weaves in the scientific, religious, social, and cultural forces at work in Jenner's day without ever muddying his main story line. He then brings the story of smallpox right into the present, detailing the eradication of smallpox by the WHO and then discussing its potential impact as a terrorist weapon in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Primary source material is quoted liberally in the text, and although authorship is occasionally indicated when introducing an excerpt, there is no real link between these quotations and the lengthy bibliography and somewhat less lengthy Webliography at the end. This absence of specific source notes and a somewhat histrionic tendency to refer to smallpox as "the Speckled Monster" weaken the whole a bit, but it remains a readable and compelling offering, and presents a nicely detailed companion to Giblin's When Plague Strikes (1995). (Nonfiction. 10+)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

Often regarded as the inspiration behind Indiana Jones, renowned dinosaur hunter Andrews marks an apt change of pace for Marrin, best known for rousing accounts of wars and generals. Working for New York's American Museum of Natural History, Andrews first made his name collecting whales just before the WWI, then went on to organize an epochal series of expeditions into Mongolia, searching for—and finding in profusion—the remains of prehistoric creatures. Indulging in his fondness for lurid, attention-grabbing anecdotes, the author tucks a beheading, some gunplay, and a meal featuring boiled sheep's eyes into his account of Andrew's adventures, discoveries, family life, and opinions on various topics from hunting to women. Contemporary photos capture the rugged conditions under which Andrews and his companions labored, as well as some of their revolutionary findings; back matter includes a perfunctory list of books and Web sites. Andrew's life does make a grand tale, though as it's just been told with similar flourish for the same audience in Bausum's and Andrews's more heavily illustrated Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs: A Photobiography of Explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (2000), this rendition is more an alternative than a must-buy. (Biography. 10-13)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

Marrin's biography of our first president is packed with information, but is problematic in its presentation. In his characteristically epic style, he portrays an intriguing George Washington: militarily inexperienced, socially retreating, but with a hard edge that helped him to gain wisdom through his mistakes and earn respect as a commander. Copiously documented, the narrative should inspire readers to learn more about Washington. But Marrin undercuts his own authority with several stylistic problems. He regularly uses sweeping statements that, without clarification or context, are debatable ("Great Britain ruled the mightiest empire in all of human history"), or illogical, e.g., "Had it not been for Charles Lee, Washington might have won the war that day. Because of Lee, it would drag on for another five years." (Lee may well have kept the war from ending that day, but he himself did not have anything to do with its ultimate length.) In an unusual comparison he suggests that "a war dance was like a ‘pep rally' before a college football game." He relies on the present tense to lend drama to his scenes, in a way that can only be considered fiction ("At once, a plan formed in the British General's mind"), or that makes an interpretation but presents it as fact ("Someone, undoubtedly without his [Washington's] permission, had driven a pole into the ground amid the corpses"). Marrin's style makes for dramatic reading here and there, but his narrative is long and often bogged down in details, and he eventually undermines any dramatic tension by overusing his tricks. The book is well illustrated on nearly every page with black-and-white reproductions of etchings, drawings, and maps; notes, a bibliography, and index (not seen) complete it. Marrin's book may be useful to young readers for its extent of documented information, but they may find better reading elsewhere. (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

The pirate tactics of the 17th century would be considered terrorism today, but that didn't prevent governments of the time from hiring Henry Morgan (1635—1688) and his ilk to pillage on their behalf; Morgan received a royal commission, at age 33, to learn whether Spain really intended to invade Jamaica and was ultimately rewarded with a knighthood. As usual, Marrin (Empires Lost and Won, 1997, etc.) writes vividly, lacing the high-seas excitement with lucid, exacting descriptions of the economic and political factors of the era, as well as likely—and dreadful, involving vermin, disease, starvation—conditions aboard ships. Most surprising is the depiction of Morgan's civic role, as governor of Port Royal, Jamaica (1680—1682), which benefitted not only from the buccaneer's ill-gotten gold, but a thriving slave market as well. (index, not seen, b&w illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography) (Biography. 11-15) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1997

Marrin (The Sea King, 1995, etc.) retraces the Spanish conquest of the American Southwest in this distinctive, authentically illustrated volume. His approach capitalizes on the drama inherent throughout human struggle, providing a dense, compelling narrative inhabited by such dazzling figures as the 16th-century nobleman, Francisco V†squez de Coronado, whose expedition resulted in battle with the Zuni and whose scouts were the first outsiders to stumble across the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. Marrin's clear-eyed research presents a three- dimensional portrait of General Antonio L¢pez de Santa Anna, easily the most despised figure of Mexico in the 19th century, who, after promising political reform, seized power as military dictator and subsequently led Mexico to defeat in the war against the US and Texas. Although this history is enlivened by such personalities, it is also brimming with details of day-to-day living, e.g., the supplies a trader packed for the eight-week journey to the first stop on the Santa Fe trail. (b&w photos and reproductions, maps, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1995

Marrin (Virginia's General, 1994, etc.) once again focuses on a complex, flamboyant figure as a way to introduce an extraordinary time of chaos and change. The author marshals facts, period documents, and current historical interpretations into a vivid book about a larger-than- life man who was knighted for his crimes of piracy. The Elizabethan era was characterized by intense loyalties and rivalries, religious conflict, and powerful economic change; the author weaves these and more into a well-organized narrative that crackles with near- novelistic flourishes and dramatic intensity. Part of the picture: the developing African slave trade, the Protestant Reformation and the Inquisition, the pressures of almost indescribable and overarching greed, the subjugation and looting of native peoples in the Americas, exciting sea battles, courageous navigation, and near-constant exploration. Though lacking labeled diagrams of the Spanish and British ships that are so well-described, the handsome book is bolstered by maps and well-captioned b&w period illustrations. Marrin presents Drake as a catalyst for and emblematic of this protean age. Hero or villain, Drake emerges as an unforgettable persona in a masterly work. (bibliography, notes, index) (Biography. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

After his recent Unconditional Surrender: Ulysses S. Grant and the Civil War (1993), Marrin returns with it's companion volume about that other great Civil War general, Robert E. Lee. The two men couldn't have been more different. Grant was a slovenly alcoholic who was only successful in warfare; Lee, on the other hand, was perfection—at least he was to hear Marrin talk about him. But Marrin's adulation is excusable. Lee was truly an extraordinary man: outstanding in school, at the top of his class in West Point, a brave and cunning soldier. Lee also became one of the most brilliant generals America has ever known. With a small and pitifully undersupplied army, he ran rings around the stronger North until, his supply lines cut, he ran out of troops and provisions. Marrin describes Lee's decisive battles clearly and with excitement. Lee was also beloved by his men and respected by all, a loving husband and father. Marrin shows Lee to be a Southern gentleman in the finest tradition. Comprehensive and coherent, a superb history. (Nonfiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1994

Dramatic yet well balanced, a biography framed by chapters outlining Grant's earlier and later life while focusing on his major military campaigns and offering perspectives of civilians in charge as well as of generals and the soldiers who carried out their orders. The author is particularly effective in depicting motivations, whether of patriotic ordinary soldiers or scheming generals; he points out that Lee personally abhorred both slavery and secession but felt honor bound to defend his home state, while Lincoln, Grant, and other Union generals insisted that they were fighting only to preserve the Union. Graphically, he portrays the waste and slaughter that destroyed young soldiers' visions of easy victories, and the sufferings of civilians in this first ``total war.'' Moving effortlessly from one viewpoint to another, Marrin considers Grant's mistakes and failures along with his hard-won successes, humanizing his portrait with details of a loving family life and struggles with political and military enemies. An excellent complement to Jim Murphy's The Boy's War (1990). Contemporary illustrations (mostly portraits); source notes; extensive bibliography; index. (Biography. 12+) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1992

A powerfully written, emotion-packed, highly biased account of America's involvement in Vietnam. Marrin mentions a variety of views on the war, but his sympathies are clearly with the Americans who fought there. While he details the ``grunts' '' confusion, frustration, and suffering and apologizes for the atrocities they committed as aberrations, he depicts the communists as ruthless and power-hungry, the South Vietnamese as corrupt, the US government as blind and indecisive, the news media as sensation-seeking, and the antiwar activists as ``spoiled brats.'' He also emphasizes the suffering of American POWs (and, to a lesser degree, some of the Vietnamese). Though he quotes a number of Vietnamese sources and presents some background on the country, the Vietnamese are the villains in virtually every comparison with Americans; Marrin's presumption of motives is good for American soldiers, bad for everyone else. To his credit, he attributes quotes and offers a reasonably complete bibliography. Useful as a digest of some of the adult oral histories, but not as an objective summary. Index and b&w photos not seen. (Nonfiction. 12+) Read full book review >