Not much to choose between the two editions, for readers adult or otherwise.

READ REVIEW

THE FIRST CONSPIRACY

THE SECRET PLOT TO KILL GEORGE WASHINGTON

Meltzer and Mensch’s melodramatic 2018 account of a plot that would have definitely changed the outcome of the Revolutionary War, reissued in modestly tightened form for younger audiences.

In dozens of short chapters featuring barrages of orotund, present-tense prose, the authors spin a scanty web of evidence into a whirl of conspiracy. First, though, come paeans to George Washington’s sterling character and irreplaceability along with an extended overview of the war’s run-up from the occupation and abandonment of Boston to the British fleet’s arrival in New York harbor. It’s in the stews of New York (“Drinking. Disease. Filth. Secret plots”—but the syphilis and prostitutes to be found there in the adult edition seem to be absent) that ousted Loyalist governor William Tryon hatches a scheme to commit widespread sabotage and, as a hyperventilating contemporary dubs it, “SACRICIDE,” and also there that the conspirators give themselves away just prior to the disastrous Battle of Long Island. Though most escape punishment, one prisoner is hanged on the very day that the Continental Congress sees the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. Further chapters on Washington’s own spycraft, on his changing attitude toward allowing free blacks to enlist, and other conspiracies real or drummed up serve to enrich the page count as well as, sometimes, the content. Massive sections of endnotes and scholarly sources are carried over from the original.

Not much to choose between the two editions, for readers adult or otherwise.   (index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-24483-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist.

MAYA LIN

THINKING WITH HER HANDS

One of the world’s most celebrated creators of civic architecture is profiled in this accessible, engaging biography.

Similar in style and format to her Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (2014) and Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe (2011), Rubin’s well-researched profile examines the career, creative processes, and career milestones of Maya Lin. Rubin discusses at length Lin’s most famous achievement, designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Chinese-American Lin was a reserved college student who entered and won the competition to design and build the memorial. Her youth and ethnicity were subjects of great controversy, and Rubin discusses how Lin fought to ensure her vision of the memorial remained intact. Other notable works by Lin, including the Civil Rights Memorial for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, a library and chapel for the Children’s Defense Fund, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the outdoor Wave Field project are examined but not in as much depth as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Attractively designed, the book is illustrated extensively with color photos and drawings.

An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0837-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND

A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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