THE ROYAL KINGDOMS OF GHANA, MALI, AND SONGHAY

LIFE IN MEDIEVAL AFRICA

Calling on both contemporary travelers' accounts and songs of the griots, the McKissacks reconstruct the history of three West African empires, each of which flourished in turn, only to be nearly buried by time and scholarly prejudice. Supported by trade in gold, salt, and, later, slaves, all three enjoyed long stretches of prosperity and peace between the 6th and 18th centuries AD, practicing religious toleration and giving women enough freedom to shock visiting Muslims. Mansa Kankan Musa I of Mali (d. 1332) ``governed an empire as large as all of Europe, second in size only to the territory at the time ruled by Genghis Khan in Asia.'' Ironically, and typically, the very location of Musa's capital is disputed today. The McKissacks shed light on the area's enduring social structures and family customs as well as its political history; they present different sides of controversies, sometimes supporting one of them (e.g., the contention that an African expedition crossed the Atlantic during Musa's reign). A final chapter, about two 19th-century slaves from West Africa, one of whom eventually returned to his homeland, probably belongs in another book, but it does help to narrow the gap between today's young readers and this glorious, obscured era in African history. Timeline; endnotes; substantial bibliography. Maps and index not seen. (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-1670-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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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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Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history.

MOTOR GIRLS

HOW WOMEN TOOK THE WHEEL AND DROVE BOLDLY INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Well-documented proof that, when it came to early automobiles, it wasn’t just men who took the wheel.

Despite relentlessly flashy page design that is more distracting than otherwise and a faint typeface sure to induce eyestrain, this companion to Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (2011) chronicles decided shifts in gender attitudes and expectations as it puts women (American women, mostly) behind the wheel in the first decades of the 20th century. Sidebar profiles and features, photos, advertisements, and clippings from contemporary magazines and newspapers festoon a revved-up narrative that is often set in angular blocks for added drama. Along with paying particular attention to women who went on the road to campaign for the vote and drove ambulances and other motor vehicles during World War I, Macy recounts notable speed and endurance races, and she introduces skilled drivers/mechanics such as Alice Ramsey and Joan Newton Cuneo. She also diversifies the predominantly white cast with nods to Madam C.J. Walker, her daughter, A’Lelia (both avid motorists), and the wartime Colored Women’s Motor Corps. An intro by Danica Patrick, checklists of “motoring milestones,” and an extended account of an 1895 race run and won by men do more for the page count than the overall story—but it’s nonetheless a story worth the telling.

Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history. (index, statistics, source notes, annotated reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2697-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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