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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009



trike” in New York City and the fate of the sharecroppers in the southern cotton industry, the garment and coal mining industries loom as the real villains in child labor issues. Bartoletti provides numerous examples of how debilitating poverty drove entire families to work in utter squalor and suffer cruel treatment at the hands of profit-driven conglomerates. Personal stories illuminate the wretched conditions under which many of these children labored, with a focus on the instances when a child mobilized fellow workers to demand their rights. The grit and determination of these children who, in the face of police abuse, bureaucratic negligence, and governmental (even presidential) indifference, banded together for a common cause, and the startling black-and-white photographs, ensure that readers will be alternately awed and appalled by this stunning account of child labor in the US. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-88892-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999



Just in time for the millennium comes this adaptation of Jennings and Brewster’s The Century (1998). Still a browsable, coffee-table edition, the book divides the last 100 years more or less by decade, with such chapter headings as “Shell Shock,” “Global Nightmare,” and “Machine Dreams.” A sweeping array of predominantly black-and-white photographs documents the story in pictures—from Theodore Roosevelt to O.J., the Panama Canal to the crumbling Berlin Wall, the dawn of radio to the rise of Microsoft—along with plenty of captions and brief capsules of historical events. Setting this volume apart, and making it more than just a glossy textbook overview of mega-events, are blue sidebars that chronicle the thoughts, actions, and attitudes of ordinary men, women, and children whose names did not appear in the news. These feature-news style interviews feature Milt Hinton on the Great Migration, Betty Broyles on a first automobile ride, Sharpe James on the effect of Jackie Robinson’s success on his life, Clara Hancox on growing up in the Depression, Marnie Mueller on life as an early Peace Corps volunteer, and more. The authors define the American century by “the inevitability of change,” a theme reflected in the selection of photographs and interviews throughout wartime and peacetime, at home and abroad. While global events are included only in terms of their impact on Americans, this portfolio of the century is right for leafing through or for total immersion. (index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32708-0

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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