Short pieces that rely more on wishful lore and received knowledge than historical research and evidence.

First Bites


A potpourri of pieces from a personal, patriotic point of view for “the young and young at heart.”

Debut author Moss offers short “tidbits” (or “bites”) about historical people, places, things, and events in this collection. The author introduces each entry with a brief selection of original verse, followed by an equally epigrammatic explanation (“What can I say about Lincoln? He was a great man who genuinely cared for the people and this country”). After entries on Christopher Columbus, Ponce de Léon, and the Pilgrims, the rest of the “bites” relate to the history of the United States proper, from George Washington to the first man on the moon. A personal section on World War II, including entries on rationing, “My ‘Victory Garden’ and the War Effort,” and V-J Day, is the highlight of the text, as it focuses on Moss’ firsthand experiences as a child during the war. The accounts are presented roughly in chronological order, and accompanied by artwork, photographs, and illustrations from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, as well as photographs by the author. However, the sequence is flawed; for example, the book introduces Washington as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army (1775) before Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment (1752). Furthermore, the poetry has no particular rhyme scheme, meter, or shared form. Topic choices range from the expected (Paul Revere) to the puzzling (“The Minstrel Show”), and the length of an entry seemingly bears no connection to its importance. For instance, Abraham Lincoln merits five lines of verse and two lines of exposition, while a selection on “Fun Words” has five lines of verse and more than a dozen lines about a Native American word (skookum), a name (Winnemucca), and a made-up word. Some comments show an antiquated, romanticized, and sometimes ahistorical slant, as in a description of Paiute leader Winnemucca (“He welcomed the white men when they arrived, but they were suspicious of him because he was an Indian”). The book also lacks a bibliography.

Short pieces that rely more on wishful lore and received knowledge than historical research and evidence.

Pub Date: June 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4897-0205-0

Page Count: 98

Publisher: LifeRichPublishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.



A singular spotlight on the concerted World War II effort to save Lipizzaner stallions.

Letts (The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation, 2011, etc.), a lifelong equestrienne, eloquently brings together the many facets of this unlikely, poignant story underscoring the love and respect of man for horses. The horses in question were rare Arabian thoroughbreds introduced to Europe by the Ottoman Turks in the late 17th century and subsequently bred in Poland. The Bolsheviks had slaughtered nearly the whole stock in 1917, deeming them the “playthings of princes,” though the Polish stud stable at Janów Podlaski was finally beginning to thrive again by the time of the Russian-Nazi invasion of Poland in late 1938. Two important equine sagas, handled well by the author, converge here: the German takeover of the Janów stud farm, led by German Olympic organizer Gustav Rau, in order to reassemble the Polish horse-breeding industry for the glory of the Third Reich, which desperately needed horses for mounted troops; and the attempts to save the working Lipizzaner stallions at the aristocratic Spanish Riding School in Vienna, led by Alois Podhajsky, who had won the bronze medal in dressage at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Under Rau, the stud farm was moved to Hostau, Czechoslovakia, by October 1942, and put under the care of Polish civil servant Hubert Rudofsky, who successfully increased the number of bred Lipizzaners by 1944. With Allied bombs falling on German cities, and eventually Vienna, Podhajsky determined that his horses had to be moved to safety, eventually housed in the village of St. Martin, Austria, yet the Nazi-controlled Austrian government was loathe to relinquish control of such a symbol of Austrian determination. Enter the Americans, specifically Maj. Hank Reed of the 2nd Calvary, which had traded in tanks for horses to fight the Nazis across France, and the exciting meeting of Gen. George Patton’s army at Hostau.

The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-54480-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet