Solid history that doesn’t shy away from difficult truths and important moral and political lessons.

VIETNAM

A HISTORY OF THE WAR

An overview of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

When the French surrendered to Vietminh troops in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “domino theory” and continued the French war to prevent the toppling of countries in Southeast Asia and contain the spread of communism. Only a nonfiction master craftsman can take such complicated history and craft a slim volume so clear, readable, and fascinating without sacrificing significant historical detail and nuance. Freedman covers President Lyndon B. Johnson’s escalation of the war after the Gulf of Tonkin incident (which probably never happened), the growth of the American anti-war movement, the My Lai massacre, the shootings at Kent State, Martin Luther King Jr.’s anti-war speeches, the Watergate scandal, and the unraveling of the Nixon presidency. Early chapters detail Vietnam’s “long road to revolution,” and the volume concludes with its moral lessons, including U.S. Ambassador Peter Peterson’s reflection that “the war could have been averted had we made the effort to understand the politics of the place.” Abundant black-and-white photographs, many of them now-iconic images of the war, round out the volume. Where Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous (2015) offers a majestic feat of historical storytelling, this volume offers masterful concision instead.

Solid history that doesn’t shy away from difficult truths and important moral and political lessons. (timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3658-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist.

MAYA LIN

THINKING WITH HER HANDS

One of the world’s most celebrated creators of civic architecture is profiled in this accessible, engaging biography.

Similar in style and format to her Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family (2014) and Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe (2011), Rubin’s well-researched profile examines the career, creative processes, and career milestones of Maya Lin. Rubin discusses at length Lin’s most famous achievement, designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Chinese-American Lin was a reserved college student who entered and won the competition to design and build the memorial. Her youth and ethnicity were subjects of great controversy, and Rubin discusses how Lin fought to ensure her vision of the memorial remained intact. Other notable works by Lin, including the Civil Rights Memorial for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, a library and chapel for the Children’s Defense Fund, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the outdoor Wave Field project are examined but not in as much depth as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Attractively designed, the book is illustrated extensively with color photos and drawings.

An engaging, admiring, and insightful portrait of an uncompromising, civic-minded, visionary artist. (bibliography, source notes, index) (Biography. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0837-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Broad, deep, and on a significant topic but more utilitarian than inspirational.

DRAWING THE VOTE

A GRAPHIC NOVEL HISTORY FOR FUTURE VOTERS

A history of U.S. voting rights and the unrelenting barrage of challenges to them, with a chapter that updates the original 2020 edition.

Despite an occasional bobble (no, all the states did not send representatives to the Constitutional Convention, and the Shelby County vs. Holder decision, devastating as it was, was not responsible for “overturning” the Voting Rights Act), college professor Jenkins delivers a broadly comprehensive overview that takes readers from “No taxation without representation!” to the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and beyond, with updates covering the failure of the Arizona recount and the recent flurry of legislation designed to further depress our already chronically low levels of voter participation. The additions lend currency to the story, but apathetic readers are more likely to catch a spark from other histories, such as Susan Goldman Rubin’s Give Us the Vote! (2020). The graphic format does little to animate this account, as aside from some redrawn historical news photos, the drably duotone art runs to clumsily rendered portraits of figures in static poses stiffly restating talking points, uttering (in)famous quotes (“Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?”)—or in a running conceit, imitating game show announcers: “Congratulations! John Adams, you’ve won the presidency!” The color scheme also minimizes differences in skin color, and visual elements frequently look crammed in among the fulsome blocks of lecture-y narrative.

Broad, deep, and on a significant topic but more utilitarian than inspirational. (voting information, source notes) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3999-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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