Fascinating reading for both browsers and those seeking a more thorough understanding of immigration.

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THIS LAND IS OUR LAND

A HISTORY OF AMERICAN IMMIGRATION

As timely as the latest newspaper headline and political debate, Osborne’s latest nonfiction volume offers historical context for the issue of immigration.

“Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the British, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them.” Benjamin Franklin’s remark from 1751 sounds eerily familiar over 250 years later, as Americans still grapple with the challenges of immigration. The title, a play on the words of Woody Guthrie’s 1940 folk song, implies the issue: “Is it our land, the land of the people who already live here….Or is it our land, including the people who still come here for freedom and opportunity?” Osborne, a great-granddaughter of Italian immigrants, writes with an open-hearted belief in the United States’ legacy as a nation of immigrants but doesn’t overlook the challenges, past and present. Who should be allowed to enter the United States? How many? Should we build a wall? How do we prevent terrorism? Clear and accessible prose, a colorful design, and numerous quotations keep the volume personal and lively, never textbook-ish. Chapters are divided by waves of immigration, so the parallels among the generations of immigrants become clear.

Fascinating reading for both browsers and those seeking a more thorough understanding of immigration. (appendix, timeline, source notes, bibliography, credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1660-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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Solid history that doesn’t shy away from difficult truths and important moral and political lessons.

VIETNAM

A HISTORY OF THE WAR

An overview of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

When the French surrendered to Vietminh troops in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “domino theory” and continued the French war to prevent the toppling of countries in Southeast Asia and contain the spread of communism. Only a nonfiction master craftsman can take such complicated history and craft a slim volume so clear, readable, and fascinating without sacrificing significant historical detail and nuance. Freedman covers President Lyndon B. Johnson’s escalation of the war after the Gulf of Tonkin incident (which probably never happened), the growth of the American anti-war movement, the My Lai massacre, the shootings at Kent State, Martin Luther King Jr.’s anti-war speeches, the Watergate scandal, and the unraveling of the Nixon presidency. Early chapters detail Vietnam’s “long road to revolution,” and the volume concludes with its moral lessons, including U.S. Ambassador Peter Peterson’s reflection that “the war could have been averted had we made the effort to understand the politics of the place.” Abundant black-and-white photographs, many of them now-iconic images of the war, round out the volume. Where Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous (2015) offers a majestic feat of historical storytelling, this volume offers masterful concision instead.

Solid history that doesn’t shy away from difficult truths and important moral and political lessons. (timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3658-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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