Kirkus Reviews QR Code


From the Guts & Glory series, volume 4

by Ben Thompson

Pub Date: June 6th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-316-31209-7
Publisher: Little, Brown

A history buff and blogger provides an engaging look at the cast of characters and events that led to the founding of the United States.

Following brief background on what was happening in various parts of the world, the saga of the colonists’ rebellion against Great Britain unfolds. Interestingly, there is no mention of African countries even though most of Europe was actively involved in trade on Africa’s west coast. The narrative follows the chronology of events and discusses the major players. Each chapter opens with a quote that sets the stage and is enlivened by excerpts of letters from the times. The many interesting sidebars include a set that describes all the flags flown by both sides during the conflict as well as an exploration of whether Benjamin Franklin really favored the turkey as the national bird. These tidbits serve to add zip to the story without breaking its flow. The strength here, as in others in the series, is the lively storytelling style. Thompson uses pop-culture references to engage the most history-averse readers. While most of the individuals spotlighted are men, there are a few stories of women who contributed to the effort. What is not included is much attention to the roles of African-Americans or Native Americans who fought on both sides. The backmatter includes an index (not seen) and a bibliography that includes general sources and specific books for many of the chapters.

Both fans of others in the series and lovers of Hamilton: An American Musical will enjoy the information and breezy tone.

(Nonfiction. 8-12)