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Oddly compelling tales of disaster averted, sometimes miraculously.

Dramatic accounts of assassination attempts and other brushes with death in the lives of select serving or future chief executives.

Four U.S presidents have been assassinated while in office, but considerably more have had narrow squeaks, as Spradlin, writing with a sharp eye for colorful quotes and details, chronicles. Most incidents occurred before or after their terms—George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower, for instance, were targeted by assassins in wartime; young officers John Kennedy and George H.W. Bush were likewise nearly captured in the Pacific in World War II; Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest on a campaign stop (and went on to deliver a 90-minute speech after examining his spittle to make sure his lung hadn’t been punctured); and Navy officer Jimmy Carter led a crew tasked with shutting down an unstable nuclear reactor (“I had radioactive urine for six months,” he recalls). The author includes substantial asides on the motives and fates of the would-be assassins, significant figures such as detective Allan Pinkerton and his gifted associate Kate Warne, and like high-interest topics. Nearly everyone here is or was white, but though the author’s nods to Washington’s secret agents “Hercules Mulligan and his slave, Cato” are clumsy, he does note that the GIs who blew the whistle on the Eisenhower plot by capturing a trio of German agents were African American.

Oddly compelling tales of disaster averted, sometimes miraculously. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0023-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Logically pointing out that the American cowboy archetype didn’t spring up from nowhere, Sandler, author of Cowboys (1994) and other volumes in the superficial, if luxuriously illustrated, “Library of Congress Book” series, looks back over 400 years of cattle tending in North America. His coverage ranges from the livestock carried on Columbus’s second voyage to today’s herding-by-helicopter operations. Here, too, the generous array of dramatic early prints, paintings, and photos are more likely to capture readers’ imaginations than the generality-ridden text. But among his vague comments about the characters, values, and culture passed by Mexican vaqueros to later arrivals from the Eastern US, Sadler intersperses nods to the gauchos, llaneros, and other South American “cowmen,” plus the paniolos of Hawaii, and the renowned African-American cowboys. He also decries the role film and popular literature have played in suppressing the vaqueros’ place in the history of the American West. He tackles an uncommon topic, and will broaden the historical perspective of many young cowboy fans, but his glance at modern vaqueros seems to stop at this country’s borders. Young readers will get a far more detailed, vivid picture of vaquero life and work from the cowboy classics in his annotated bibliography. (Notes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6019-7

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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