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Among the best storytellers writing history today, Blumberg (The Remarkable Voyages of Captain Cook, 1991, etc.) presents one of the most ambitious construction projects in modern times as a colorful tale of relentless cupidity and heroic, roughneck effort. Apparently everyone except teamsters, riverboat operators, and Native Americans agreed that a transcontinental railroad was a good idea, but sorting out the politics of its route and financing (plus the burden of a civil war) took five times as long as its actual construction. Blumberg introduces the main players, from Leland Stanford and other ruthless capitalists to the visionary engineers and tough foremen—especially Theodore Judah, Grenville Dodge and James Strobridge—who saw the work through; she pays tribute to the thousands of Chinese immigrants who carved a path through the Sierra Nevadas, paints a vivid picture of the wild life in Laramie and other railroad towns, and brings the story to a conclusion with the famous meeting at Promontory Summit, Utah (not miles-distant Promontory Point, as many accounts have it), where ceremonies ``neither dignified nor inspirational'' nonetheless touched off a national celebration. A generous selection of contemporary black-and-white photographs and enlarged engravings capture the rowdy town and work-camp life while underscoring the sheer number of people involved in the enterprise. Since Blumberg touches only on the specifics of railroad construction, working conditions, various financial scandals, and railroad lore and legend, pair this with Leonard Everett Fisher's Tracks Across America (1992) for a more complete picture. (map, notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-7922-2715-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1996

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Can too much information give readers intellectual indigestion? When is it better to graze through a book rather than consuming it in one sitting? Is it possible to make good-for-you information as delicious as (guilty) pleasure reading? The adapted version of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (2005) raises all of these questions. Intended to inform middle-schoolers of the wide variety of food traditions as well as discrepancies in access to adequate nutrition, this collection of photos, essays and statistics will require thoughtful concentration. Adapted and abridged text, a larger font size, the addition of small maps and basic facts about each country and the deletion of some photos that might have been judged inappropriate or disturbing help to make the wealth of information accessible to this audience. The plentiful photos are fascinating, offering both intimate glimpses of family life and panoramic views of other lands. Whether used for research or received as a gift from socially conscious adults, this version offers children plenty to chew over—but it’ll take them some time to truly digest. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58246-246-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2008

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This entry in the Oxford Portraits series is both very good and very useful. White presents a clear biography of the Supreme Court justice who served in the Civil War, studied law, and lived long in the shadow of his famous writer father of the same name. By the time he came to the Supreme Court, he was already 60 years old, but served for three decades more. White creates a vivid portrait of this scholarly and philosophical legal thinker while including rich details of his intellectual but reserved home life and his affectionate flirtations with many women. More than that, readers will absorb a history of the development of legal education, the growth of the Supreme Court, and how law unfolds as a study and a discipline. White is especially felicitous in explaining how the elegance of Holmes’s prose occasionally obscured the legal point he was making. Quotations from Holmes’s writing and picture captions with further details add to the story, and not the least of its accomplishments is to show a man who began the greatest of his career challenges when he was already perceived of as old. Excellent. (chronology, further reading, index) (Biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1999

ISBN: 0-19-511667-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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