Does the name Richard Trevithick mean anything to you? Well he's the inventor of the ""horseless carriage"" (actually the ancestor of the locomotive, not the automobile) and Foster places him in the forefront of her simultaneous history, up there with Napoleon, Jefferson, Toussaint L'Ouverture and Beethoven. Foster's narrative has both the charms and the drawbacks of the elementary school project notebook--hand-drawn maps and portraits that would be the envy of any fourth grader and an unfortunate tendency towards arbitrary lists (the three ""major events"" of American history are given here as the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Louisiana Purchase). Yet her choice of showcased individuals is not frivolous; all are related to the career of Napoleon--even Trevithick whose invention, previously overlooked, was refined by George Stephenson only after the Napoleonic Wars drove up the price of horse feed. As always a highly dramatized lesson, but amusing and original.