Archer (A House Divided, 1994, etc.) offers brief biographies of four people he considers “central to the American Environmental Movement” along with succinct coverage of the history of that movement. The lives of John Muir, founder of the National Park System; Rachel Carson, scientist and author of Silent Spring and other titles; Canadian David McTaggert, organizer of Greenpeace; and Dave Foreman, former head of Earth First! are covered in approximately 60 pages each. While the sections on Muir and Carson (a shy, methodical scientist who might be surprised to find herself in the company of such extroverted eccentrics) are pedestrian compared to other available accounts, firsthand interviews with McTaggert and Foreman yielded lively and exciting coverage. That coverage, however, is one-sided as McTaggert recounts his battles to save the animals and the environment from hunters, poachers, and nuclear explosions, and Foreman is linked to spiking trees and sabotaging logging equipment while hotly denying accusations of conspiracy to cut the power lines to the Central Arizona Power plant. Archer relies on such reports, leaving readers to search elsewhere for more balanced information. The title is already dated with references to Love Canal as largely a ghost town, and the last threat of nuclear explosion ending with France in 1995. For those doing research, the volume has a good bibliography but is limited by vague sourcing: “Also consulted were PBS TV documentaries, and articles in and news from: ACLU; Alternatives; American Forests; American Historical Review . . .”—a list that includes House Beautiful, Utne Reader, and 75 others. (b&w photos, index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-87121-4

Page Count: 269

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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At Home With The Presidents (176 pp.; $12.95; Sept. 24; 0-471-25300-6) Morris offers succinct biographical information and anecdotes about all 41 presidents with brief information about homes they grew up it, historic sites dedicated to them, or libraries in which their artifacts are housed. Included are small pictures of the presidents and some of the buildings discussed. Readers will find the book of limited use for research, since the sources for quotations are not given, there is no index, and material considered controversial is not attributed. Appearing out of context are statements such as “George Washington adored his older brother” and “George’s mother was jealous of the two brother’s relationship.” The information on historic sites is upbeat but bland, and could have come right out of tourist brochures. (b&w photographs, illustrations, further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1999

ISBN: 0-471-25300-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Kostyal has written a tight, bracing biography of the renowned Antarctic explorer, illustrated with dramatic black-and-white photographs. Shackleton, a man whose sense of romance and adventure repeatedly drew him from conventional British society to Antarctica (“that lonely, windswept desert of ice and snow at the bottom of the world”), succeeded neither in reaching the South Pole nor traversing the continent, but he exhibited such remarkable valor that, according to the author, his name has become “synonymous with bravery and endurance.” As usual, there is more about his expeditions than the man, but Kostyal renders the tale in vivid prose that is enhanced by maps, quotes, a timeline and some remarkable photographs. This quality book will be a useful addition in both home and school libraries. (map, chronology, index) (Biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7922-7393-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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