Scary, sobering stuff.

Stone and Kuznick’s mordant take on this country’s history continues—here spanning the period from the beginning of the Cold War to the Cuban missile crisis.

Reworking two chapters and most of a third from the adult-directed print companion to the lead author’s 2012 documentary film, Singer creates a patchwork narrative that begins with John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946: “the twentieth century’s most important work of journalism”) and ends with Nikita Khrushchev’s decision that “it was not worth killing hundreds of millions of people or more just to prove he was tough.” In between, the authors portray Truman as incompetent, trace Eisenhower’s passage from pacifism to unbridled militarism, and, for JFK, quote Eleanor Roosevelt’s pithy wish that he had “a little less profile and a little more courage.” Along with chronicling rising Cold War “hysteria” and the “cockamamie” schemes of Washington’s rabidly militaristic “lunatics,” they also point to the first stirrings of an anti-war movement, mock the era’s disingenuous civil defense drills, and detail some of the CIA’s various enterprises in meddling. There is much that is elided, but introductions to more than one historical moment when all-out nuclear war was just a button push away will leave readers with considerably more nuanced views of this country’s past…and present. Finished photos not seen.

Scary, sobering stuff. (timeline, source notes and lists, index) (Nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2176-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018



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



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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