1919

THE YEAR THAT CHANGED AMERICA

An entertaining and instructive look at a tumultuous year.

The year 1919 was a significant one in 20th-century American history.

Sandler draws on a wide range of resources to present some of the most compelling news stories of a banner year. In Boston, a huge tank of molasses exploded, sending a lethal flood of syrup across an area largely occupied by impoverished immigrants. Both soldiers just returned from the Great War and those who’d patriotically served on the homefront discovered that there’d be few jobs for them—most of those at wages insufficient to support families—leading to numerous strikes. Reacting to intolerable repression, black Americans struck back at white abuses in a series of violent racial conflicts (described as “riots”) that rocked both urban and rural communities. The U.S. attorney general pushed back against a perceived “Red Scare” of communist agitators, leading to mass imprisonments and deportations that reflected more a growing sense of anti-immigrant prejudice than any actual danger. Women were campaigning to achieve voting rights, and Prohibition was instituted. Each chapter attempts to relate that section’s issue to modern problems, in one case tenuously drawing a connection between labor unrest and climate change. Sandler’s prose is vigorous, impassioned, and carefully contextualized. If some of his choices seem odd (he fully reports the Molasses Flood, a regional story, while the massive international influenza epidemic of the era receives scant coverage), it’s nevertheless a fascinating story, augmented by numerous attractive archival images.

An entertaining and instructive look at a tumultuous year. (further reading, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 11-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-801-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

MISSISSIPPI RIVER

A JOURNEY DOWN THE FATHER OF WATERS

Intrepid explorer Lourie tackles the “Father of Waters,” the Mighty Mississippi, traveling by canoe, bicycle, foot, and car, 2,340 miles from the headwaters of the great river at the Canadian border to the river’s end in the Gulf of Mexico. As with his other “river titles” (Rio Grande, 1999, etc.), he intertwines history, quotes, and period photographs, interviews with people living on and around the river, personal observations, and contemporary photographs of his journey. He touches on the Native Americans—who still harvest wild rice on the Mississippi, and named the river—loggers, steamboats, Civil War battles, and sunken treasure. He stops to talk with a contemporary barge pilot, who tows jumbo-sized tank barges, or 30 barges carrying 45,000 tons of goods up and down and comments: “You think ‘river river river’ night and day for weeks on end.” Lourie describes the working waterway of locks and barges, oil refineries and diesel engines, and the more tranquil areas with heron and alligators, and cypress swamps. A personal travelogue, historical geography, and welcome introduction to the majestic river, past and present. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-56397-756-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

GIVE ME LIBERTY!

THE STORY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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