THE SECRET SUBWAY

THE FASCINATING TALE OF AN AMAZING FEAT OF ENGINEERING

In a grand tale of 19th-century American enterprise, Sandler pays tribute to Alfred Ely Beach, a publisher and inventor who built New York City’s first subway. The author opens with a positively scary picture of what the city’s streets were like at midcentury—swarming with recent immigrants, clogged with carriages and commercial wagons and made deadly by hundreds of horse-drawn “omnibuses.” Not only did Beach come up with a plan to ease the congestion by building an innovative, air-powered subway, he finessed public opinion, the state government and even the all-powerful Boss Tweed by building the first stretch of tunnel in secret, at night. Having solved massive technical problems as he went, he opened it in 1870 to massive acclaim—and then, just as he was about to undertake a huge expansion of the system, he fell afoul of 1873’s devastating economic collapse. Thoroughly illustrated with period images, this is actually a multistranded tale in which Beach, Boss Tweed and New York itself play roughly equal roles; readers will come away admiring the uncommon ambition of all three. (maps, reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4263-0462-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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AFTER THE LAST DOG DIED

THE TRUE-LIFE, HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURES OF DOUGLAS MAWSON AND HIS 1911-1914 ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION

This liberally illustrated survival tale makes reading as compelling as any of the recent accounts of Ernest Shackleton’s contemporaneous ventures. Unlike Shackleton, Australian geologist Mawson mounted his ill-starred expedition for (mostly) scientific purposes. Having set up base camp at Cape Denison, soon discovered to be “the windiest place in the world,” Mawson departed with a small party on sledges in November 1912. He returned alone and on foot the following February, having lost nearly all supplies, and both human companions (one, Bredeson hints, to vitamin-A poisoning from a forced diet of sled-dog livers), but surviving a 320-mile trek back. Supplemented by expedition photos of dim, windswept landscapes, and laced with horrifying details—at one point Mawson takes off his socks, and his soles peel off with them—this lesser-known, tragic episode from the golden age of Antarctic exploration won’t fail to give readers both chills and thrills. (roster, time line, resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7922-6140-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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THE CIVIL WAR AT SEA

In this companion to Portraits of War: Civil War Photographers and Their Work (1998), Sullivan presents an album of the prominent ships and men who fought on both sides, matched to an engrossing account of the war's progress: at sea, on the Mississippi, and along the South's well-defended coastline. In his view, the issue never was in doubt, for though the Confederacy fought back with innovative ironclads, sleek blockade runners, well-armed commerce raiders, and sturdy fortifications, from the earliest stages the North was able to seal off, and then take, one major southern port after another. The photos, many of which were made from fragile glass plates whose survival seems near-miraculous, are drawn from private as well as public collections, and some have never been published before. There aren't any action shots, since mid-19th-century photography required very long exposure times, but the author compensates with contemporary prints, plus crisp battle accounts, lucid strategic overviews, and descriptions of the technological developments that, by war's end, gave this country a world-class navy. He also profiles the careers of Matthew Brady and several less well-known photographers, adding another level of interest to a multi-stranded survey. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1553-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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