Hard to beat for scope but offering a slanted view at best.

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THE BIG HISTORY TIMELINE WALLBOOK

UNFOLD THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE—FROM THE BIG BANG TO THE PRESENT DAY!

A panoramic view of history and prehistory on a loooong sheet, supplemented by select “breaking news” highlights.

The timeline stretches over 7 feet and is accordion-folded for ease of storage—though not so much for readability (notwithstanding a magnifier tucked into a front pocket), as many of the hundreds of tiny captions and images are cut off by creases. It begins with the Big Bang and then repeatedly branches until, by the end, 11 parallel tracks record select events and discoveries both in nature and in five broad human geo-cultural areas. Not only is the Eurocentric bias as visually blatant as it gets (guess which of the historical tracks is in the middle and, by a good margin, the widest from beginning to end), but ugly Eurocentric assumptions are well in evidence too: in the “Stone Ages” track, where hominids get lighter-skinned as they get closer to Homo sapiens; in “Sub-Saharan Africa,” where three of Forshaw’s five larger figures are whites; and in the portraits of Lenin, Stalin, and an unidentified Gorbachev that shoulder their way into the “North Africa and Middle East” track. The long sheet is easily detachable, but bound in behind are 29 “news” articles covering arbitrary highlights such as the opening of the Colosseum in Rome (with a picture of a panther carrying off a gladiator’s severed leg) and a pleasantly difficult multiple-choice quiz.

Hard to beat for scope but offering a slanted view at best. (Informational novelty. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9932-8472-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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THE CIVIL WAR AT SEA

In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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