While it often provides a deeper look at American figures and events than can be found in many textbooks, this dense work...




An armchair historian collects his favorite tales from the early days of the United States.

Boynton’s debut work takes a close look at American history. The text begins with the early European visitors to the North American continent, moves through various European settlers and explorers as well as Native American history, and ends in the 1830s with Texas’ declaration of independence and the Trail of Tears. Focusing primarily on stories that might get short shrift in a history classroom, Boynton introduces readers to such figures as James Wilkinson, an American general who was an agent for the Spanish government and a co-conspirator of Aaron Burr. The work also touches on events that many students may be unfamiliar with, such as the skirmishes between post-Revolutionary American ships seeking new trading partners in the Mediterranean and pirates from the Barbary Coast (“The need for protection of merchant vessels in the Mediterranean against the Barbary pirates reminded the new Federal government that a navy indeed had its uses”). As a work of storytelling, the account can be engaging, but as a volume of historical scholarship, it is somewhat troubling. Boynton admits to a lackadaisical approach to his material, explaining that he borrows heavily from his sources, and acknowledges that he uses quotations without attributing them due to “laziness” and an interest in preserving the narrative. His sources are primarily more than 40 years old, and this is reflected in an antiquated examination of events that often has disturbing overtones: paragraphs that reference vague “Indian warriors” who torture and occasionally eat their captives; complaints of “a fog of political correctness” that condemns the early white Americans who “thought they had good reason for acting as they did and acted in times when ideas of fairness and justice were often different from our own”; and the repeated use of the term “Negro slave.” While Boynton acknowledges the need for complexity while looking at the historical record; recognizes that a “manifest destiny”-style exploration is limited; and devotes a few chapters to Native Americans, the overall impression remains that the book employs a traditional, conservative, and Eurocentric viewpoint.

While it often provides a deeper look at American figures and events than can be found in many textbooks, this dense work uses an outdated approach to history.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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