A good fit for middle and high school libraries as a useful reference.



An encyclopedic history of the emergence of life on Earth that “traces the history of life from the dawn of evolution to the present day through the lens of one hundred living things that have changed the world.”

Lloyd (What on Earth Happened?: The Complete Story of the Planet, Life, and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day, 2008, etc.) orders species chronologically and also ranks them according to the impact that these “living things have had on the path of evolution.” The book—originally titled What on Earth Evolved? and first published in 2009 in the U.K. to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species—is divided into two major sections. The first, “Before Humans,” from 4 billion to 12,000 years ago, deals with the “the impact of species that evolved in the wild”—e.g., viruses, algae, trees, fish, insects, and, eventually, Homo sapiens. The second section, “After Humans,” spans the period from “12,000 years ago to the present day” and discusses “the impact of species that thrived in the presence of modern mankind.” The author gives special emphasis to the role of viruses, which, through infection, caused mutations that induced “critical innovations” in a variety of species. He also spotlights predators such as sharks, for mastering “the art of sexual reproduction” 400 million years ago. The biggest evolutionary news occurred when “modern humans first emerged in Africa, about 160,000 years ago.” Lloyd also offers a fascinating historical sidelight on how the “potyvirus,” by causing the spectacular mutation of tulips, created the conditions for the first speculative boom and bust. He gives the lowly earthworm top ranking due to its crucial role in creating fertile soil, while Homo sapiens occupy the sixth position. “Traditional history,” writes the author, “seldom considers the impact of a range of living species that have, in their own way, had a far greater impact on the planet, life and people than human contributions, such as politics, war and inventions.”

A good fit for middle and high school libraries as a useful reference.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4088-7638-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...


A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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