History with a hilarious spin and a cinch to provoke vigorous debates aplenty.



From Pelé to “Doc Soc” Socrates, Mother Teresa to Pythagoras, movers and shakers from the past face off in this split-page, mix-and-match fight card.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether George Washington could have schooled Leonardo da Vinci in pingpong, whether Harriet Tubman pwned Ernest Hemingway in the Hunger Games, or Boudica trumped “Class Act” (get it?) Carolus Linnaeus as a game-show host, Swartz brings the data and lets readers call the outcomes. Endowed with a set of identifying memes—“Marie Curie: Madame Radioactive, Chemist, Physicist, Biohazard”—and a quick, mostly admiring, but solidly factual biography, each contestant strikes a tough pose in a stylized but recognizable cartoon portrait, glaring across the card-stock page’s jaggedly cut divide. Swartz also rates each, 1-10, in seven personal categories (“Leadership,” “Intelligence,” “Wealth,” etc.). In a center section that is likewise mix or match, he supplies 50 competitive challenges (only a few actual conflicts), along with discussion questions: escaping Alcatraz? “Who’s the better schemer?” Living in 10,000 B.C.E.? “Who’s more outdoorsy?” As nearly a third of the contestants are women and over a quarter people of color, the author has plainly made an effort to diversify his cast’s origins as well as their walks of life. He also puts some lesser-known figures on the bill, like Empress Myeongseong of Korea and Zulu king Cetewayo.

History with a hilarious spin and a cinch to provoke vigorous debates aplenty. (Informational novelty. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8544-4

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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



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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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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