This latest entry in the Historical American Biographies series is a one-dimensional treatment of the wife of the fourth president of the United States. Pflueger (Stonewall Jackson, 1997) begins by describing how Dolley Madison courageously refused to leave Washington, D.C., in August 1814 when British troops were approaching, intent on saving her husband’s presidential papers and a valuable portrait of George Washington. That vignette is the last evidence—and discussion—of her courage. Dolley was raised as a Quaker and sent to a Quaker school, which was unusual for girls at that time. At her father’s bidding, she married a lawyer, John Todd, but Todd and one of two sons died during a yellow fever epidemic. She was 26 when she married James Madison (he was 43) and became “the sixth member of her family to be disowned by the Society of Friends” for marrying outside her faith. Dolley began wearing stylish clothes to please her husband and also entertained often; Pflueger sums up Dolley Madison’s importance as “our nation’s greatest hostess. She defined the role of First Lady for future presidents’ wives and inspired them with her gracious manners and patriotism.” But what about her father’s bankruptcy and outcast status, or that Dolley’s son was in debtor’s prison, an alcoholic who forged a will in an attempt to contest Dolley’s? These details are glossed over and will leave readers wondering about the superficial treatment of an obviously complex person. (b&w reproductions, maps, chronology, notes, glossary, further reading, index) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7660-1092-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Enslow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


With an emphasis on Western “makers” of the millennium, and, perhaps inevitably, deep coverage of the last 200 years and fleeting coverage of the first few centuries, this volume offers brief biographical sketches of 1,000 people who had an impact on the last 1,000 years. Profusely illustrated and printed on heavy glossy stock, this is a coffee table book for children, meant to be dipped into rather than read from start to finish. Organized chronologically, with a chapter for each century, the parade of people is given context through a timeline of major events, with those of particular importance discussed in special boxes. As with any effort of this kind, there are surprising omissions (the publisher is creating a website for readers’ own suggestions) and inclusions, a Western predominance that grows more pronounced in the later centuries, and an emphasis on sports and celebrity that finishes off the last few decades. The selection can seem highly subjective and provocatively arbitrary, e.g., the US presidents from Nixon back to Teddy Roosevelt are all covered, but none after Nixon. Still, there is a clear effort to include a wide variety of countries and cultures, and this ambitious effort will be the starting point for many historical journeys. (chronology, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-4709-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet