Broad of historical (if not international) scope and with illustrations that richly reward poring over—but unfocused.

Biesty’s precisely drawn, finely detailed architectural views supply the highlights for this unfocused survey of homes and prominent buildings through the ages.

Dillon (The Story of Britain, 2011) opens with our ancestors in caves and closes with the eco-friendly Straw Bale House built in London. In between, he offers a chronological overview of architectural styles as represented by an apparently indiscriminate mix of homes, public buildings and, in the single case of St. Petersburg, a planned city. He mentions about three dozen specific examples and devotes particular attention to 16—from the Pyramid of Djoser to the Pompidou Center. Biesty provides for each of this latter group a labeled, exploded portrait often large enough to require a single or double gatefold and so intricately exact that, for instance, the very ticket booths in the Crystal Palace are visible. Though the author sometimes goes into similarly specific detail about architectural features or building methods, he also shows a weakness for grand generalizations (“Skyscrapers were the first truly American buildings”) and for repeating the notion that buildings are a kind of machine. With a few exceptions, his main choices reflect a distinctly Eurocentric outlook, and he neglects even to mention Frank Gehry or more than a spare handful of living architects. There is no bibliography or further reading.

Broad of historical (if not international) scope and with illustrations that richly reward poring over—but unfocused. (index, timeline) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6990-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014




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




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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