First in a projected five-volume series. Unlike Dolan's more traditional World War II: 1941 (1991), this takes an anecdotal approach, inviting readers to witness pivotal moments: Hitler's decision to postpone the invasion of Britain for a Russian campaign; FDR reassuring Churchill (``Hitler first, Japan second''); Rommel's retreat from Tobruk (``Tobruk is relieved, but not as relieved as I am,'' said a British commander); and, of course, Pearl Harbor. There are also more private incidents: an American mother getting a letter from her son several days after receiving news of his death, or Stalin despairingly shouting, as German armies sweep toward Moscow, ``No! All that Lenin created we have lost.'' The vignettes are chronological; readers whose grasp of history is weak can turn to the back, where maps and a chronology summarize the war's progress and where eight capsule biographies introduce major players (but not Mussolini). Though Devaney does point up individual and collective instances of Allied heroism, in general he refrains from value judgments; he also introduces some major themes: racism on both sides, Japanese economic imperatives, etc. Excellent background reading. Bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: June 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8027-6979-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1991



Few topics are more intrinsically interesting to young readers than disasters. Guiberson casts her net wide to examine ten natural and man-made disasters chronologically from smallpox in colonial America to Hurricane Katrina. The 20-page chapters, broken into subsections, describe the events with quotations from contemporary accounts and plenty of grim details. Photographs, drawings and diagrams, all usefully captioned, extend the lively text. The author analyzes causes of the disasters and factors that exacerbated them, such as building on landfill in 1906 San Francisco. In most chapters, she explores steps that could prevent or reduce future catastrophes, although only a brief introduction ties the chapters together. A Notes section highlights major sources for each chapter, without specific references, followed by an extensive bibliography but no further reading suggestions as such. Good for pleasure reading and as a starting point for research. (index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8170-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010



The author of Alexander the Great Rocks the World (2006) offers a lively, informative and aggressively informal portrait of Egypt’s last and most famous pharaoh. Shecter effectively makes the case that Cleopatra was a far more capable and powerful ruler than she has been depicted in art, film and literature. Ascending to the throne at 17, Cleopatra proved herself a brilliant negotiator who used her considerable intelligence and charisma to forge alliances that kept her in power and in control of her kingdom. Describing Julius Caesar as a “dude [with] a reputation for being a player” and calling Marc Antony a “Roman redneck” are examples of Shecter’s relentlessly flippant style, which seems more appropriate for a gossip magazine than a biography. Young readers are likely, however, to appreciate the irreverent approach and goofy puns. Attractively designed, the book is abundantly illustrated throughout with color representations of art works, maps and photographs of artifacts. (source notes, chronology, glossary, bibliography, index) (Biography. 11-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-718-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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