First Bites by Dixie Moss

First Bites

Tidbits of American History for the Young and Young at Heart
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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 18th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4897-0205-0
Page count: 98pp
Publisher: LifeRichPublishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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