THE WORLD IN 1492 by Jean Fritz


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Age Range: 11 - 14
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An ambitious undertaking: a survey with contributions by six eminent authors, plus fine reproductions of artifacts, photos of architecture, and contemporary maps. This is more than a cross section: in order to provide context, the authors travel back centuries. Jean Fritz (Europe) sticks closest to 1492 in a brisk survey of daily life, the arts, and personalities. With her usual grace, Katherine Paterson sums up Asian history in flowing generalizations fleshed out with a laudable number of specifics. Tackling Africa, Patricia and Fredric McKissack reach far back to several great civilizations and go forward into the slave trade; their writing is accessible, their material less well organized. Beginning with a dry catalog of Pacific migrations, Margaret Mahy goes on to vivid depictions of early Maori and Australian aborigines back to the Dreamtime. And, sensibly, Jamake Highwater highlights just a few of the Americas' civilizations, concluding fatefully with the island off San Salvador. The result is far from perfect--Vitale's decorative, rather clumsy illustrations suffer in comparison with the real art, and the few maps are woefully inadequate, while even these authors are driven to oversimplification with such an assignment. But, still, there's a great deal to ponder in this attractive overview--which may be most valuable for such unexpected depictions as the Aztecs supplanting a previous civilization, or the Maori hunting a species to extinction. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1992
ISBN: 0-8050-1674-0
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1992


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